Food Security Outlook Update

Early lean season anticipated in conflict-affected Northwest and Southwest regions

December 2021

December 2021 - January 2022

February - May 2022

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • While most poor households in the Northwest and Southwest regions continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to emerge from February to May 2022. In these conflict-affected areas, poor households' food stocks are below normal following a fifth consecutive year of low agricultural production compared to the pre-conflict period. Market dependency is therefore expected to begin earlier than normal for most poor households, who will be unable to meet all of their basic food needs. In the most insecure departments of Momo, Lebialem, Meme, and Menchum, where poor households depleted their stocks shortly after harvest, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes have been experienced since September.

  • Household food availability has improved for most households in Extrême Nord as a result of average production overall for the season that has just ended. However, prices of the main staple foods have gradually risen to above-average levels since the last week of November, two months earlier than in previous years, driven by growing export demand from Nigeria and other neighboring countries. In the departments of Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, which have been hit by insurgency and where production was lower than in the rest of the region and below the five-year average, poor households are reducing their essential non-food spending, focusing on purchasing sorghum and maize. Current food security outcomes remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), although they are likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from March 2022 to May 2022 as poor households deplete their food stocks and market dependence increases in the context of above-average prices and low incomes.

CURRENT SITUATION

In early December, there was an upsurge in inter-community tensions and violence related to water scarcity between Arab livestock farmers and Mousgoum fishers in the Logone-et-Chari region of Extrême Nord, displacing more than 15,000 people internally and 30,000 to neighboring Chad. A similar incident between Arab livestock farmers and Mousgoum fishers in August of this year displaced more than 11,000 people to Chad.

Conflict continues in the Northwest and Southwest regions, sparking protests and social unrest. Fewer security incidents were reported in October and November 2021 than have been observed in previous years at the end of the rainy season. While the current conflict has been mainly contained to the borders of the Northwest and Southwest regions since 2017, towns around the Anglophone regions have seen an increasing number of attacks targeting security forces and civilians in the Ouest region, particularly in the areas of Mbouda, Galim, Babadjou, Foumban, Foumbot, and Bafoussam.

In the Extrême Nord region, attacks on civilians by violent extremist groups, including the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Jama'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihad (JAS) are still occurring but have decreased since July 2021 due to increased military operations and the death of the JAS leader in May 2021. Large-scale attacks on civilians, schools, and villages have decreased since September, while JAS focuses its efforts on targeting military positions. As a result, there were fewer reported attacks on civilians and security forces than during the same period in 2019 and 2020.

Available data show that the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is increasing, with the average rate slowing compared to the previous two months. However, there are concerns about the possible emergence of the new Omicron variant and the risk of the virus spreading during the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament, which Cameroon will host in January and February 2022. The total number of cases as at December 16 was 107,662. Although an additional 1.2 percent of the total national population has been vaccinated since October 2021, current coverage remains low, with less than 5 percent of the population vaccinated. Government-imposed measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remain unchanged and include social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, restrictions on gatherings and travel, and mandatory screening at ports of entry. Restrictions and fear of infection continue to slow down the business environment, disrupting daily income opportunities (small-scale trade and casual labor) for poor urban households and limiting income-earning capacity.

In the conflict-affected Northwest and Southwest regions, which have experienced a fifth consecutive year of reduced agricultural production compared to the five-year average, household food stocks are currently below pre-conflict levels. Most poor households that still have stocks of staple foods have enough to support only minimally adequate food consumption for a maximum of one month. Maize stocks will be depleted three to five months sooner than in pre-conflict years. In the most insecure departments of Momo, Lebialem, Meme, and Menchum, where production was lower than in other departments and compared to the five-year average, poor households exhausted their stocks shortly after the harvest in October, four to five months earlier than usual, and are therefore entirely dependent on purchasing food in the market.

In most of the reference markets in the Northwest and Southwest regions, staple food prices remain above seasonal averages and are increasing as households use up their stocks and become increasingly reliant on the market. Cassava tuber prices in most reference markets in the Southwest region have been generally stable since the harvest began in September, declining slightly by about 4 percent between October and December. The supply of local parboiled rice has increased in most markets following the November and December harvest, although production remains below pre-conflict levels, increasing demand for imported rice above average. Due to continued high global transaction costs, imported staple food prices generally remain above the five-year average, though similar to last year's prices.

The seasonal supply of dry cereals in rural and urban markets in the Extrême Nord region increased following the October and November harvests, but levels are below average in the more affected and inaccessible areas due to limited local production and restricted access to markets from production areas. However, the prices of major cereals such as sorghum, maize, and millet in reference markets in the Extrême Nord region have been trending upward since the last week of November, after remaining close to average in October and early November following the harvest. The price increase is due to abnormally high demand from Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Onion prices in the region are 50 percent higher than in September, and have doubled in the Kaélé market. Red sorghum prices were approximately 8 percent higher in November than in October, while maize, rice, and cowpea prices have also risen. Poor households in the departments of Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, which had a poor harvest last season, are facing limited production and high prices. To cope with this situation, poor households are reducing essential non-food spending and prioritizing the purchase of cereals.

Cross-border trade with neighboring countries in the Extrême Nord region is improving following an average harvest between October and November. Trade with Chad resumed after the reopening of the Ngueli port of entry, which had been closed by government officials in early December following an upsurge in inter-community violence between the Arab and Mousgoum ethnic groups. However, overall cross-border trade between the two countries remains below average levels due to COVID-19 and security restrictions.

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the Cameroon Food Security Outlook for October 2021 to May 2022 remain unchanged, except for the following updated assumptions:

  • Based on the current upward trend in the number of cases, low vaccination rates, the emergence of another variant, and the likelihood of increased travel and overcrowding during the upcoming AFCON soccer tournament to be hosted by Cameroon in early 2022, the virus is likely to spread at higher-than-expected levels. This is likely to prompt the government to tighten restrictions after the competition, which may reduce or disrupt economic activities and daily income opportunities for poor urban households to a greater extent than expected. However, the tournament is also likely to create casual labor and small-scale trade opportunities for poor urban households, particularly in the hotel, restaurant, and entertainment sectors, thereby increasing overall seasonal income levels. The tournament is also likely to increase demand for certain staple products in the cities hosting the tournament, which will likely result in a temporary increase in prices above seasonal levels.
  • Seasonal prices for staple foods in the main markets of the Extrême Nord region are likely to rise earlier than expected due to increasing demand from neighboring Nigeria and Chad, and from the Central African Republic. This is likely to further reduce the purchasing power of poor households in insurgency-affected areas, and these households are expected to rely on the market from March 2022 onwards, when their stocks will run out prematurely.
  • Competition for water resources is likely to lead to community clashes in the Extrême Nord region, and future conflicts are likely to resume from mid-April, when livestock migration returns to the northern zone. The conflict in the Central African Republic is likely to continue at its current high level, with violent incidents likely to be reported in 2022 with the same frequency as in 2021. Despite the renewed mandate given to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) by the United Nations Security Council, clashes between government forces, international allies, and rebel groups are unlikely to abate. This will affect cross-border trade and transhumance, which will continue at below-average levels. Fewer security incidents resulting from the Ambazonian separatist conflict were reported in October and November than would have been expected with the end of the rainy season in October 2021. However, insurgent violence against civilians and attacks on security forces are likely to increase from current levels, following typical seasonal patterns, through May 2022.

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2022

Poor households affected by the insurgency in the Extrême Nord region continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, as disrupted access to typical income sources continues to limit the ability of poor households to cover essential non-food needs (clothing, schooling, and medical care). Early upward price trends are further reducing the purchasing power of poor households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to emerge among poor households beginning in March 2022, when prematurely depleted food stocks exacerbate market dependence against the background of low incomes, forcing households to face inadequate food consumption or engage in negative coping strategies to meet their minimum food needs. Poor households affected by recent inter-community tensions are facing a further reduction in livelihood activities and access to food and are likely to fall into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) more quickly.

Starting in February, poor households in the Northwest and Southwest regions will cover as many of their food needs as possible through market purchases. However, given low purchasing power due to minimal incomes and above-average basic prices, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in May 2022.

For poor households in the rest of the country, current levels of self-produced cereal stocks should cover food consumption for at least four months, while agricultural labor and livestock sales will provide sufficient purchasing power to meet food and non-food needs. The rest of the country is likely to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity at least until May 2022.

 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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