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Food insecurity in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Anglophone regions despite average production

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Cameroon
  • February 2020
Food insecurity in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Anglophone regions despite average production

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Most poor households in the country are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, with stocks from their own production enabling them to maintain a typical diet until March. They will experience a typical lean season while awaiting an estimated average harvest in July.Most poor households in the country are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, with stocks from their own production enabling them to maintain a typical diet until March. They will experience a typical lean season while awaiting an estimated average harvest in July.

    • However, in departments with high concentrations of internally displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees (Ouest and Adamaoua regions) and in the districts of the Extrême-Nord affected by flooding and Boko Haram looting, deteriorating food access and income will push poor households to adopt Stressed (IPC Phase 2) coping strategies between February and May. Between June and September, the first harvests will contribute to increased food consumption in the Ouest and Adamaoua regions; however, in the Extrême-Nord, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will continue throughout the period.

    • In the conflict-ridden Northwest and Southwest regions, early depletion of household stocks from February, limited access to fields, and lower purchasing power in the face of high prices in urban centers will continue to expose disadvantaged households to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity between February and September. Continued conflict will result in a decline in household production and livelihoods for the fourth consecutive season.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Throughout the country’s various regions, the last agricultural season saw average to above-average production levels except in the conflict-ridden Northwest and Southwest regions, and locally in the districts of the Extrême-Nord, which have been affected by flooding or Boko Haram looting and violence. Despite favorable agroclimatic conditions, the low level of prices recorded for certain crops over the past year has not encouraged large producers to maintain or increase their areas planted. For example, cowpea production in the department of Mayo-Danay has decreased by about 20 percent compared to last year, although it is still above the five-year average. In Adamaoua, maize production fell slightly compared to last year. In the department of Noun (Ouest region), problems with the supply of seeds from the Northwest led to a decline in potato production in 2019 compared with the previous year.

    Flooding of the Logone River in the Extrême-Nord in November 2019 affected more than 40,000 people and contributed to the reduction of areas for dry season crops, thus resulting in less production than last year.

    In the rest of the country, with the late end of the rains in November, water sources are sufficient to enable successful dry season production of fruit, vegetables and irrigated rice.

    The availability of fodder and water is adequate to ensure the normal physical condition of livestock and an estimated average dairy production between March and May 2020. However, insecurity in the Extrême-Nord and the conflict in the Anglophone regions have forced large-scale livestock farmers to migrate to safer areas in the Ouest and Adamoua regions. This could exacerbate conflict between farmers and herders in host areas due to increased competition for pasture and water resources.

    Poor households still have sufficient stocks from their own production to maintain a typical diet until March. As a result, they are seasonally less dependent on markets and markets are well supplied with staple foods, except for urban markets in the Northwest and Southwest regions. However, urban households still rely on markets to meet their food needs. Traders still have stocks from last season and are able to meet demand from industrial brewing and poultry production units without causing market failure. Following a reduction in outward flows of livestock and agricultural products to Nigeria due to the conflict in the west and Boko Haram violence in the north, the major urban centers in Douala and Yaoundé and neighboring countries (Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea) have become the main destinations.

    With supply exceeding demand, prices for agricultural products are generally below the levels seen last year and below the five-year average. For example, in the main markets of Extrême-Nord, sorghum prices (rainy and dry season) and maize prices in January were down from the five-year averages by 23 and 13 percent respectively. However, in the Ouest and Adamaoua, which host IDPs from the Northwest and Southwest regions, rising demand is leading to an increase in prices. For example, in the Banyo market in the department of Mayo-Banyo (where there are 6,301 IDPs), the maize price in December was 28 percent higher than in the previous year. In the department of Menoua, bean and potato prices increased by 19 and 33 percent, respectively, in December, compared with the previous year. In the department of Mbéré, where refugees from the Central African Republic account for almost 19 percent of the population, maize and cassava prices rose in December by 20 and 25 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year.

    Household incomes, which are mainly derived from the sale of agricultural products, are generally below-average due to lower prices. As a result of the good physical condition of animals and the availability of food stocks on the market, livestock farmers can negotiate prices on the markets. In the livestock markets of Maroua, Yagoua, Mokolo and Moulvoudaye, prices in January were up on average by 14 percent for bulls and 17 percent for rams and goats, compared with the same period in the previous year. Poor households can also rely on the sale of wild products and other forest products. However, because of the high transport costs resulting from the poor road conditions, buyers are not prepared to offer attractive prices. Other sources of income come from sales or labor associated with market gardening and fishing activities, operating motorcycle taxis in cities, small-scale trade in agricultural products and the sale of timber and charcoal.

    The country’s security situation remains a concern, particularly in the Extrême-Nord, which faces threats from Boko Haram, and in the Northwest and Southwest regions, where separatist armed groups oppose the army, erect road barriers and impose so-called “ghost town” days. While the overall number of security incidents fell by 15 percent compared with 2018, the security situation in the Extrême-Nord is nonetheless deteriorating in the departments of Mayo-Sava and Logone-et-Chari, with 166 and 40 incidents recorded in 2019, respectively, compared with 132 and 18 in 2018. Over the past two months, there has been a fresh upsurge in incursions by Boko Haram with kidnappings, suicide attacks and looting of property in three departments (Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga and Logone-et-Chari).

    Updated statistics on displaced persons in January (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR) indicated that there were nearly 977,000 IDPs, with 70 percent as a result of the conflict in English-speaking areas and 30 percent due to Boko Haram. There were nearly 110,000 Nigerian refugees in the Extrême-Nord region and almost 272,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the Adamaoua, Est and Nord regions. IDPs live with host families or independently within the community. Fifty-six percent of Nigerian refugees are at the Minawao site and 29 percent of refugees from Central African Republic are at various dedicated sites. Overall, the trend shows an increase in the number of IDPs and refugees, as the precarious security situation both within the country and in neighboring countries does not encourage significant returns.

    Thanks to stocks from their own production, along with the seasonal decline in market prices, most poor households in the country are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, populations that do not meet the 20 percent threshold for classification of the area, who have suffered from poor production and reduced purchasing power, are in a Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security phase. In the Extrême-Nord, the decline in dry season production due to flooding and to Boko Haram incursions has resulted in a Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity situation. Poor host households and IDPs in the Northwest and Southwest regions are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as a result of insecurity that is limiting agricultural activities and causing price increases in urban centers in the area.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario from February to September 2020 is based on the following underlying assumptions regarding trends in nationwide conditions:

    Rainfall: Seasonal forecasts available for February to April and April to June (North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), precipitation anomalies) indicate the arrival of rains and a near-average cumulative precipitation total.

    Pastoral situation: Current pasture and water levels are sufficient to sustain normal conditions for maintaining the physical condition of livestock and typical livestock movements. However, insecurity in the Extrême-Nord and conflicts in the English-speaking regions have forced large-scale livestock farmers to migrate to safer areas in the Ouest and Adamaoua regions. This poses the risk of increasing conflict between farmers and livestock farmers and is contributing to a reduction in the availability of food resources in these host areas during the dry period. However, this situation will improve between April and September with new pasture growth when the rainy season returns in March/April.

    Agricultural production: In all regions, market gardening and irrigation activities will continue as normal until April. Despite the late planting of dry season sorghum crops and the reduction of planting areas in the department of Logone-et-Chari, production expected in February and March should remain similar to the regional five-year average. The Ouest region could continue to benefit from the availability of labor due to the presence of IDPs, support for production and an increased share of exports (to the detriment of conflict zones) to Congo and Gabon to increase its production of tomatoes and beans. However, problems with the supply of potato seeds from the Northwest region could limit this production.

    Production of products for export: With the ongoing conflict in Anglophone regions, household access to fields will continue to be limited. In addition, the reduction of input subsidies by the government and agro-industrial companies will contribute to below-average national cocoa and palm oil production, since the productive share of these regions was 70 and 47 percent, respectively, in 2014, before the crisis.

    Household stocks: At the national level, most poor households will have average or above-average stocks from their own cereal production. The exceptions include poor households in the Southwest and Northwest regions, and in districts of the Extrême-Nord affected by flooding and Boko Haram looting.

    Market supplies of staple foods: Overall, cereal supplies will remain above average due to average to high production levels and the fact that wholesale traders have carryover stocks. However, in urban centers in the Northwest and Southwest regions, difficulties in receiving supplies from production areas will keep stock levels lower.

    Supply of livestock markets: With a typical lean season expected, households will not be forced to sell more animals. As a result, the supply of livestock will remain similar to the average.

    Staple food prices: The current trend for below-average prices is set to continue until September. However, in urban centers in the Northwest and Southwest regions, and in departments hosting IDPs or refugees in areas of the Ouest (Menoua, Ndé, Noun) and Adamaoua (Mayo-Banyo and Mbéré) regions, the increase in demand will keep prices above average until September.

    Livestock prices: With the increase in demand during Muslim festivals in June and July and the improvement in the physical condition of animals following new pasture growth, livestock prices will remain higher than last year. Therefore, given below-average prices of staple foods, the terms of trade are expected to be above-average and in livestock farmers’ favor.

    Household income: Due to the high transport costs to reach producers, buyers offer them low prices. The trend of below-average prices will therefore result in below-average household incomes, despite the increase in production. The fall in prices for the second consecutive year could discourage large-scale producers and lead them to reduce the areas that they sow, thus reducing agricultural labor incomes during the coming season. However, poor households will be able to rely on the sale of forest products. Until September, the demand for timber and charcoal will remain higher than normal, especially in urban centers hosting displaced persons.

    Displacement: Continued conflict in the English-speaking regions and the fresh upsurge in Boko Haram incursions in the Extrême-Nord will increase the number of IDPs and slow returns to areas of origin. There have been few repatriations of refugees from the Central African Republic over the past year and the risks of tension in connection with the elections scheduled for the end of the year in the Central African Republic are not conducive to voluntary returns during 2020.

    Humanitarian assistance: Planned food assistance in the Extrême-Nord (food and cash) is expected to reach nearly 5 percent of the population between February and September. There were also plans to maintain assistance to refugees at the sites, but since the previous year, 80 percent of the basket has been covered. Plans for IDPs in the Northwest and Southwest regions are not yet available.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Except for IDPs and poor households in conflict areas, most poor households in the various regions have stocks from their own production to maintain a normal diet and are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, poor households in most departments affected by declining production and income, comprising less than 20 percent of the population, will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the projection period.

    Between February and May, dry season production and below-average price levels will help encourage a typical diet during this period. As in a normal year, the lean season will occur between March and May in the Est, Adamaoua and Ouest, and between June and August in the Nord and Extrême-Nord regions. However, with the decline in income from the sale of agricultural products and wild products, purchasing power for imported food and non-food items (inputs and seeds) will be reduced.  In departments where there are a lot of IDPs (Noun, Ndé and Menoua in the Ouest region) or refugees (Mbéré in Adamaoua) and the districts of the Extrême-Nord affected by flooding (Zina, Kai-Kai, Manga) and looting (Fotokol, Mayo-Moskota, Blangoua, Kolofata Mora, Mayo-Moskota), the deterioration in access to food and income will push poor households to adopt Stressed (IPC Phase 2) strategies, such as reducing the quantity of food and the number of meals consumed per day.

    Between June and September, with the exception of the Extrême-Nord and regions in conflict, the first season harvests are expected to help improve household consumption. However, in the Extrême-Nord, poor households will have to rely on livestock sales, timber and charcoal sales, income from small-scale trade and agricultural labor. With terms of trade in their favor and planned assistance, they will be able to maintain Stressed strategies until September and remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    In the Northwest and Southwest regions described in more detail below, the early depletion of stocks will lead to a longer lean season between February and June (as opposed to March and May, as normal) pending an improvement with access to first season harvests in July.  However, estimated below-average output of agricultural production, as well as rising market prices and declining purchasing power of poor households in urban centers in these regions will cause food insecurity to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September. 

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next six months that could change the most-likely scenario

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    National

    Irregular rains at the beginning of the season

    Irregular rains at the beginning of the season could lead to a reduction in the crops sown for the first season. It will also contribute to possible infestations of Fall Army Worm, which will reduce yields. Overall, harvests could be delayed until July and could be below average, thus causing the lean season to remain longer.

    Areas with high concentrations of IDPs and refugees

    Broader coverage of at least 50 percent of food assistance in areas hosting IDPs and refugees

    This would help improve household food consumption and reduce dependence on markets. This decline in demand would promote similar or below-average price levels and thus contribute to improving household food access. 

    Figures Calendrier saisonnier de l'Extreme Nord du Cameroun
Récolte principale : mi-août à janvier. Migration du bétail du nord vers

    Figure 1

    Source:

    Projection de prix du maïs sur le marché principal de Bamenda. Les prix restent au-dessus de la moyenne mais en dessous de l'

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source:

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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