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Crisis outcomes expected in parts of the NW and SW regions during the harvest

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Cameroon
  • June 2023 - January 2024
Crisis outcomes expected in parts of the NW and SW regions during the harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern: River Logone Flood Plain Livelihood Zone (CM01) of the Far North region (Figure 4)
  • Seasonal Calendar for a typical year in the Far North region
  • Area of Concern: Western Highlands livelihood zone (CM09) of Northwest and Southwest Regions (Figure 7)
  • Key Messages
    • Household food availability is expected to improve as dry harvesting begins in the southern zone in July and in the northern zones in September. In most of Cameroon, the harvests will boost market supplies and drive a decline in staple food prices from July to September, which will somewhat improve access to food for poor urban households, many of whom are Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, the impacts of conflict and insecurity, exacerbated by localized seasonal flooding, on agricultural production, market functioning, and food prices are expected to drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across the Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), and Far North regions.

    • In most divisions of the NW and SW regions, access to own-produced maize, potatoes, and pulses and income from crop sales and harvesting labor will likely drive improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from July to September. The key exceptions are Momo (NW), Menchum (NW), and Lebialem (SW) divisions, where the impacts of conflict are more severe, and many poor households did not cultivate crops. In these areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist; some of the worst-affected households will likely be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). By October or November, even households that harvested will begin to run out of their stocks and shift back to primarily purchasing their food, but high staple food prices will limit their meal portions and frequency. A return to widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes is expected in both regions from October to January.

    • In conflict-affected divisions of the Far North, including Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, the main harvest does not begin until September. Much of the population has depleted their own-produced stocks prematurely, and income-earning opportunities are insufficient to support adequate food purchases from the market amid above-average staple food prices and declining purchasing power. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through August, and many poor households are expected to resort to unsustainable borrowing and begging to mitigate their food consumption gaps. While dry harvesting of sorghum, maize, and pulses is expected to drive improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from September to January, some households that have been displaced multiple times, have little or no capacity to cultivate crops, and own few remaining marketable assets will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Furthermore, due to the long-term erosion of market functioning and household coping capacity, a small but increasing portion of worst-off households will likely experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    • In the Mbere (Adamawa), Kadey (East), and Lom et Djerem (East) divisions, where most refugees from the Central African Republic are concentrated, improvement in the availability of harvested crops from July will support increased access to food and income from sales of own production, reducing the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, given the anticipated above-average staple food prices and below-average incomes for refugees and poor host community households, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area-level outcomes are expected to persist throughout the outlook period.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Conflict, insecurity, and displacement: Conflict and insecurity – including violence against civilians – continue to disrupt livelihood activities, trade flows, market access, and market functioning to varying degrees across the Northwest, Southwest, and Far North regions. In affected areas, this is resulting in below-normal access to food and income and significantly above-average staple food prices. In the Northwest and Southwest regions, sporadic clashes between government forces and separatist fighters continue to disrupt households’ access to income-earning activities and drive up the cost of production and trade due to increased financial risks. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a slight uptick in conflict events was reported in the first quarter of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022, as separatists intensified attacks to disrupt senatorial elections in March 2023 and other national commemorations. However, the levels of violence observed in the first quarter of 2023 remain significantly below those observed during the same period in 2021. From April through May, the number of recorded incidences dropped further to 23, down from 39 during the previous two months. Nevertheless, OCHA estimates suggest that thousands of people have been newly displaced in the last few months, mainly in the Manyu (Southwest region) and the Donga Mantung (Northwest region) divisions.

    In the Far North region, specifically in Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari divisions, attacks by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) against the Cameroonian military and violence against civilians continue to cause both new and protracted population displacement as well as limit humanitarian access. Several armed incursions in April and May 2023 displaced thousands of people in the Mayo-Moskota and Mokolo sub-divisions of Mayo-Tsanaga (IOM). However, Islamist groups have shifted their focus from mass-casualty attacks against civilian populations to assaulting military positions and ambushing the military, which, while disruptive, is contributing to an overall reduction in recorded civilian casualties. This decline in civilian casualties has yet to facilitate any improvement in livelihood activities due to the continued threats of spontaneous lockdowns, kidnappings, forced recruitments, and being caught up in the crossfire.  

    In the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR), conflict events and fatalities continue to displace households into Cameroon, particularly from CAR’s northern and eastern regions. According to the UNHCR, Cameroon currently hosts about 349,000 refugees originating from CAR, most of whom currently reside in camps and among host communities in the divisions of Lom et Djerem (East region), Kadey (East), Mayo-Rey (North region), and Mbere (Adamawa region). Given the absence of conflict in this area of Cameroon, however, refugee households – particularly those who have integrated into the community – are able to cultivate crops, raise livestock, and pursue other typical sources of food and income.  However, their financial and social resources tend to be limited and they must compete with the host population for land and labor opportunities.

    Cropping conditions: While household engagement in crop cultivation activities and 2023 crop production prospects are broadly normal across most of the country, cultivation is significantly below normal in conflict-affected areas. The March to May rainfall season began on time in most parts of the unimodal (Adamawa, NW, SW, and Littoral regions) and bimodal zones (South, Centre, and East regions) of the country’s southern area. Maize, root, tubers, and legume crops planted at the start of the rainy season in March are nearing maturity in June. Green harvesting of maize, potatoes, and beans is ongoing, particularly on fields planted early in March. Near-average May to June cumulative rainfall relieved the negative effect of the irregular distribution between March and April, allowing for good soil moisture throughout the rest of the growing season. By June, CHIRPS cumulative rainfall amounts were near the ten-year (2012-2021) average in most of the southern zone except in some localized areas where slight to moderate deficits were recorded. In the northern zone (Far North and North regions), the start of the rainy season was largely on time in the third dekad of May, with localized delays until the first dekad of June in the Diamaré, Mayo-Sava, and Logone-et-Chari divisions (Far North). Planting of millet, maize, sorghum, and legume crops began in May in Mayo-Kani and Mayo-Tsanaga and is ongoing across the rest of the Far North region.

    Despite normal rainfall and cropping conditions, conflict remains the major impediment to area planted, crop development, and harvesting. For example, in Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari divisions, total production is estimated to have dropped by more than 30 percent, driven by substantial decreases in area planted. After more than nine years of the Islamist insurgency in the Far North and several years of separatist clashes in the NW and SW, households continue to face reduced access to fields, farmland losses and abandonment, and repeated displacements. Furthermore, reduced access to fertilizers and seeds is a constraint that limits crop yields. While these factors do not typically result in large anomalies in national production levels, the impacts on food availability are significant among poor households, conflict-affected households, and refugee households. Access to seeds remains low amongst households in conflict-affected areas who no longer keep seed stocks due to poor harvests and must plant what is available. Persistently high fertilizer prices, which are currently more than double the five-year average, and conflict-related logistical challenges are decreasing the availability of government fertilizer and seed grants. Input access is further reduced in rural and conflict-affected areas due to limited supplies and increased prices. FEWS NET price data collected in May shows that NPK (20:10:10) fertilizer prices were 14 to 25 percent higher in the Northwest and Far North (Kousseri, Mora, and Kaele) than in Douala.

    Labor demand: Given ongoing crop cultivation activities, seasonal increases in agricultural labor demand are providing a relative increase in income for poor, labor-dependent households in areas of Cameroon where security conditions remain calm. On the other hand, agricultural labor demand remains significantly and atypically below normal in the conflict-affected Northwest and Southwest regions and parts of the Far North that are affected by the insurgency. Poor households in conflict-affected regions have reduced access to labor opportunities due to reduced area planted by households in the middle and better-off wealth groups and insecurity-related movement restrictions in many cropping areas. Furthermore, in the Southwest region, State-owned oil palm, rubber, and banana plantations continue to scale or shut down their operations due to separatist threats, with most of their over 17,000 laborers laid off. Finally, labor demand on cocoa and coffee farms in conflict-affected areas has also dropped due to farm abandonment.

    Demand for non-agricultural casual labor remains below normal levels in the Northwest, Southwest, and Far North regions because of the negative impact of conflict on economic activities. Results from the latest available IOM labor market assessment (April 2022) conducted in the urban, semi-urban, and rural areas in the Northwest and the Southwest regions suggest a high percentage of workers have lost their jobs due to job closures, with a significantly higher number of jobs lost in the construction/manufacturing and agricultural sectors. In addition to increasingly shifting their engagement to other typical non-agricultural income-earning activities such as bricklaying, stone cracking, petty trade, and firewood/charcoal sales, the study also reveals that a higher-than-usual number of poor and middle-class households are resorting to money-lending mechanisms to compensate for income losses.

    Livestock production conditions: While cropping livelihood systems comprise most of Cameroon, livestock production is an important source of food and income among pastoral communities in the Far North and, to a lesser degree, among herder groups in the North, NW, and Adamawa regions. Following the 7-month dry season in the Far North, ongoing rains are easing water scarcity and regenerating pastures to some extent in the northern zone. However, field reports in June suggest that pasture availability remains low across most of the Diamare, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga divisions of the Far North region, where rains began in June. According to key informants, livestock body conditions are yet to recover fully, given that many herds still must trek long distances in search of richer pasture. Furthermore, herd sizes in the Far North have declined in recent years due to conflict, insecurity, and flooding. For perspective, according to a World Bank report, over US$1.7 million in livestock were killed or confiscated in the Northwest region in 2021. In addition to cattle rustling, thousands of livestock in the Far North region are lost to flooding each year. The 2022 floods destroyed thousands of livestock heads, particularly in the Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Danay, and Mayo-Sava divisions. By contrast, favorable vegetation following three to four months of near-average rainfall in the Northwest, Adamawa, and West regions is producing good body conditions and improved productivity. Livestock market supply remains near normal in the Adamawa and West regions, unaffected by conflict and insecurity.

    Staple food prices: As of May, the below-average supply of imported rice, wheat, and vegetable oil stemming from globally high price trends and shipping costs maintained historically high prices across the country. Imported food commodity first began rising during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and accelerated further after the start of the war in Ukraine. For example, the price of imported rice has risen by 18 percent on average since February 2022 and, during the second quarter of 2023, trended nearly 30 percent higher than the same period in 2020. In May 2023, rice prices in select reference markets were, on average, eight percent higher than the same time last year and significantly above the five-year average (Figure 1). Price trends are more elevated in urban centers such as Yaoundé and Douala than in other rural reference markets, likely due to a higher demand for purchased foods by urban households. The price of imported vegetable oil has followed similar trends, rising by 21-32 percent since the start of the war in Ukraine. High transportation costs partly driven by increased fuel prices and the impacts of conflict are an exacerbating factor, placing upward pressure on both imported and locally produced staple food prices.

    Figure 1

    Retail prices of imported rice in selected markets between 2019 to 2023
    Line chart showing retail prices of imported rice in selected markets between 2019 to 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on data from DRADER

    High and increasing imported rice prices have led to some substitution towards maize, sorghum, and roots/tubers, with corresponding increases in demand and prices. As of May, maize prices in Douala and Yaoundé had increased by 13 and 46 percent, respectively, compared to last year, and trended around 60 and 100 percent, respectively, above the five-year average. In both markets, cassava prices in May were, on average, 75 percent higher than the five-year average. Similarly, in Douala and Yaoundé, the price of a liter of palm oil – a vegetable oil substitute – rose by 6 percent and 38 percent, respectively, compared to May 2022.

    In conflict-affected areas, prices are generally higher than in pre-conflict years as reduced production drives below-average supplies and atypically high demand. Maize prices in key markets in the Northwest region rose by an average of 60 percent between May 2022 and May 2023 and stayed significantly higher compared to an average pre-conflict year. In the Far North region, sorghum prices as of May 2023 in Kaele, Mokolo, Kousseri, and Yagoua ranged between 15 and 35 percent higher than in May 2022 and nearly 60 percent higher than in a typical year on average. This trend was also observed for other locally produced staples. For example, local parboil rice prices in the Far North were 14-27 percent higher when compared to average, while palm oil prices continued to increase across all markets and, in May, sold 27 percent above the same time last year.

    Elevated prices of food and essential non-food commodities continue limiting the purchasing power of poor households. Although wages are above average in urban and peri-urban areas, wages are below average in most rural areas due to decreased agricultural labor demand; the decline in demand is also suppressing the number of opportunities available to earn income for daily wage earners. Poor and displaced households in conflict-affected areas are the worst off, given that they face the most significant disruptions to earning income and given the additional impact of high staple food prices that has further reduced their purchasing power. In the Northwest, for example, the labor-to-cereals terms of trade between February to April 2023 dropped by an average of 43 percent below the same period of last year in Bamenda and even more steeply in other divisions.

    Livestock prices: Cattle prices are rising nationwide due to inflation, partly due to the rising costs of complementary feed and transportation. Prices are above average except in conflict-affected areas, where reduced export demand has shifted away from Cameroon due to conflict, resulting in below-average prices. In May, goat prices in the Far North ranged from nearly 10 to 30 percent above the previous five-year average but remained stable between April and May due to increased distress sales resulting in excess supply before the start of the lean season. However, overall high livestock prices are not keeping pace with the increase in staple food prices, resulting in declining terms of trade. Between February and April 2023, the amount of sorghum that can be purchased with a goat in the Far North (Figure 2) fell by 17 to 30 percent compared to the same period of last year and by an average of 21 percent compared to the four-year average.

    Regardless of recent trends in purchasing power, however, livestock trade between the Far North and the rest of the Lake Chad Basin remains restricted by insecurity. In the Northwest region, key livestock markets in Bui and Donga Mantung remain shut down. Many herders in areas affected by conflict are afraid to make large financial transactions for fear of being attacked or taken hostage for ransom.

    Figure 2

    Goat/red sorghum terms of trade for the Far North region
    Bar chart showing goat/red sorghum terms of trade for the Far North region. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: Calculations based on data collected by the Regional Delegation of Agriculture (DRADER) Far North

    Humanitarian food assistance: The reach of food assistance remains very limited, even during the lean season, due to funding shortfalls, logistical constraints, and humanitarian access constraints. The presence of armed groups continues to hinder distributions, particularly in divisions such as Lebialem, Momo, and Donga Mantung. In March, humanitarian activities in some areas of Mayo-Sava had to be suspended following increased threats of kidnappings and a resurgence of alerts and incidents related to explosive devices. According to the Northwest Southwest Food Security Cluster (NWSW-FSC), humanitarian partners have only reached an average of 257,000 people each month in these two regions since January 2023 with in-kind, cash/voucher, and livelihood support; this number of recipients represents less than 10 percent of the total NW-SW regional population. FEWS NET was unable to obtain details on food distributions in the Far North, East, Adamawa, and North regions. Due to logistical challenges, CBT (Cash Based Transfer) assistance was also suspended in some areas.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In areas unaffected by conflict or insecurity, many poor households continue to have near-normal access to food from own production and earn average incomes from typical sources such as crop and livestock sales, casual agricultural labor, and firewood/charcoal sales. Consequently, they can maintain near-normal food consumption and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are assessed in Yaoundé and Douala, where relatively higher price levels and urban households’ reliance on purchased food means they face greater difficulty affording minimally sufficient amounts of food. Many urban poor households can only meet their basic food needs if they switch to purchasing less preferred or less expensive foods and reducing meal portions.

    Due to a below-average crop production last year, much of the population in the Northwest and Southwest regions depleted their food stocks from last year’s harvest several months earlier than usual. As a result, households must now primarily purchase their basic food needs from the market. Overall, income-generating opportunities and household incomes are limited by conflict through weekly ghost town days, frequent lockdowns, and violent punishments for violating these measures, along with the long-term erosion of productivity and market functioning. Overall, it is estimated that over 20 percent of poor households face moderately inadequate food consumption during this lean season, which spans March to mid-June, as they cannot earn enough income to purchase their basic food needs. Many who reported consuming less preferred and cheaper food or relying on relatives in safer zones to provide food earlier this year are now resorting to increasingly negative food consumption coping strategies, such as reducing meal portions and frequency as the lean season peaks. While food assistance is mitigating food consumption gaps among recipients, most people do not receive it, and increasingly widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing.

    In the Far North, rising and historically high staple prices are limiting poor households’ purchasing power at the time of the year when reliance on the market peaks. Atypically high consumption of available wild foods (okok, tasba, and loulou) by poor households is ongoing as they cannot afford to purchase basic cereals such as sorghum, maize, and rice; however, the caloric density of these wild foods is insufficient to prevent food consumption gaps. In Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari divisions, the livelihoods of poor households have been severely diminished after several years of Islamist insurgency and violence. Many poor households in these divisions are currently engaging in negative food consumption and livelihood coping strategies, such as reducing meal portions and frequencies, relying on less preferred foods, and purchasing food on credit. Additionally, reliance on livelihood coping strategies such as borrowing, using savings, and selling assets is rising. However, some households have reported that they no longer have savings or any marketable assets. Incomes earned from typical activities such as agricultural wage labor, livestock sales, and firewood/charcoal sales will repay outstanding debt. Many are also cutting off expenses on non-food needs such as medications, school fees, and farm inputs. Increasingly widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing.

    Most refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are concentrated in Mbere (Adamawa), Kadey (East), and Lom et Djerem (East). Most poor refugee and host community households continue to earn low incomes relative to high staple food prices, linked to the increase in labor supply and competition over jobs and natural resources. Many of these households rely on negative coping strategies such as consuming less preferred or less expensive food, borrowing food from friends or relatives, reducing portion sizes at mealtimes, and reducing expenditures on health and education. Such reductions in education expenditures have reportedly led to parents increasingly pulling their children out of school. Those who have already exhausted their savings have a significantly reduced capacity to cope with the recent surge in food prices. Given increased market reliance at the peak of the lean season (May/June) and suppressed purchasing power, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist at the area level, and some very poor refugee households are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    A small number of IDP and refugee households are likely experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in the Far North and NW/SW. These households have been subjected to repeated displacements and have lost all their assets. Access to income-generating opportunities is particularly challenging given a lack of social connections in an already competitive labor market. Besides a lack of social capital, lack of access to land and financial capital prevents these households from re-establishing sustainable sources of food and income. Given limited incomes and capacities to produce their own food and having exhausted less severe coping strategies, households are left with no other option but to beg, often on the side of the road, or go hungry. Members of these worst-off households are likely to be malnourished, particularly as food availability is at its lowest point and food prices are at their highest point during the ongoing lean season. Levels of humanitarian assistance are low, and conflict-related barriers to registering for and accessing food assistance prevent households from accessing it to mitigate their food consumption gaps.

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • In the Northwest and Southwest regions, levels of conflict between government forces and separatist fighters are expected to remain similar to that observed during the same period in 2022. Attacks targeting government forces and civilians are expected to decrease relatively during the middle of the rainy season (May-August 2023) when impassable roadways hamper the movement of troops. Following the end of the rainy season, attacks by separatist forces are expected to increase relatively from October to January, in line with observed seasonal trends.
    • In the Far North, levels of conflict associated with ISWAP operations in Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari divisions are expected to be below the levels observed in 2021 and 2022, as ISWAP has continued to de-emphasize mass-casualty attacks against civilian populations and instead focus on assaulting military positions and ambushing military convoys. However, ISWAP’s levying of taxes on territories under their control will likely result in recurrent but small-scale violence against civilians, as they will continue to use violence to enforce collection. Seasonally, the number of attacks perpetrated by ISWAP and associated fatalities is likely to decrease relatively during the ongoing rainy season (May/June – September), when poor road access is expected to hamper military movements. Following the end of the rainy season, ISWAP attacks are expected to increase relatively in line with observed seasonal trends.
    • Based on forecasts produced by FEWS NET’s science partners at USGS, NOAA, and UCSB CHC, cumulative rainfall during the main rainfall season (June to September) in northern Cameroon will likely range from average to above average. Localized flooding is expected in the country’s northern zone, particularly along the Chari and Logone. A timely start of the second rainy season in the Center, East, and South regions is forecast in mid‐August, and cumulative rainfall from September to November is anticipated to be above average.
    • Average to above-average rainfall is expected to support average staple crop yields nationally. However, conflict and displacement will likely result in localized shortfalls in area planted and production totals in conflict-affected areas. Projections made by the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO suggest that national cereal production will remain near 2022 and the five-year average regardless of localized deficits.
    • Fertilizer prices are expected to be largely stable during the scenario period, as price increases have recently slowed across the country. However, prices are expected to stay at historically high levels and will continue to limit the level of government-funded grants and subsidies available for poor households. Poor households will likely apply fertilizer at atypically low rates and experience decreased yields; however, this is unlikely to affect national production levels significantly. Better-off farmers can still afford fertilizers even at these high prices, contributing to near-average national cereal crop production projections. 
    • Agricultural labor demand is generally expected to increase to seasonally average levels with the start of the harvest period in July in the southern zone of Cameroon and October in the northern zone. However, demand for agricultural labor will likely stay below average in the Far North, Northwest, and Southwest regions, where conflict is driving reductions in area planted.
    • Seasonal flooding anticipated in the northern zone from August is expected to limit weeding labor demand during the July/August peak period. In addition to reduced daily wage rates, this will maintain significantly lower income levels for poor households already affected by flooding and an Islamist insurgency across the zone.
    • Typically, the casual labor supply in urban areas increases when children are out of school on summer holidays between July and September. This leads to a seasonal decline in casual labor wage rates in urban areas. However, based on FEWS NET’s monitoring of the daily casual labor wage rate for construction and cargo handling in Yaoundé and Douala, inflationary tendencies will likely maintain the urban casual labor wage rate at levels slightly above that of 2022, offsetting the impact of this seasonal decline.
    • Given persistently tight global supply conditions, Cameroon’s inflation rate is expected to remain high and close to the 2022 level of 6.3 percent (INS), primarily driven by high international commodity prices and increased shipping costs. Prices of key imported commodities such as rice, wheat, fish, refined vegetable oil, and fertilizers will likely increase beyond 2022 levels and reduce households’ purchasing power. Additionally, further reductions in national import levels are expected following government plans to discontinue tax exemptions for rice, fish, and wheat in 2023 as part of its import substitution policy.
    • Based on FEWS NET’s integrated projections for imported rice in Douala (Marché Central), retail prices will increase 26 percent above the five-year average and 7 percent above 2022 levels during the scenario period (Figure 3). Even higher price increases are anticipated in the Far North, Northwest, and Southwest divisions, where conflict and insecurity have significantly disrupted local supplies. Recent increases in consumer fuel prices and transportation costs are expected to further limit farm-to-market trade flows across the country, compounding existing inflationary pressure.

    Figure 3

    Observed and projected the price of imported rice in Douala-Marché central, Cameroon, in 2023 compared to last year and the five-year average
    Combined bar/line chart showing observed and projected the price of imported rice in Douala-Marché central, Cameroon, in 2023 compared to last year and the five-year average. Described under heading Assumptions.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on data from DRADER, Littoral

    • The abrupt removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, which has brought supply reductions and price hikes in Nigeria, is beginning to drive increased gasoline prices along Cameroon's border with Nigeria and shortages of petrol sourced from Nigeria, which is informally imported and in high demand. Shortages and high fuel prices are expected to further push up already high prices of food and non-food commodities across border towns and villages in the Far North, Northwest, and Southwest regions. Additionally, a rise in inflation in Nigeria will likely increase the demand – including smuggling and informal trade – for relatively cheaper cereals and other essential foods from Cameroon, contributing to driving up prices of these products.
    • Widespread insecurity, including cattle rustling, is expected to continue to disrupt and delay the seasonal movement of local and regional nomadic groups between the northern and southern grazing lands. Most notably, the typical movement of Nigerian and Chadian pastoralists back to their country between July and September will be limited by their fear of being kidnapped or having their cattle seized, with many expected to settle in atypical locations within Cameroon. These dynamics are expected to increase the likelihood of farmer-herder conflicts and reprisals owing to increased competition over natural resources. Livestock movements in the Far North and Northwest and cross-border livestock trade flows between the Far North, Chad, and Nigeria are expected to remain below average.
    • Details on distribution plans for humanitarian food assistance delivery in Cameroon are only available for the Northwest and Southwest. According to the NWSW-FSC, humanitarians plan to reach 303,000 displaced and conflict-affected people across the Northwest and Southwest regions (approximately 7 percent of the combined regional population) monthly for the remainder of the 2023 calendar year. However, as of June 5th, 2023, only 7 percent of requested food security funding has been received, which is significantly less than the 23 percent of food security funding that had been received by this month last year. Given the conflict-related humanitarian access constraints and current funding gaps, FEWS NET assesses that humanitarian food assistance targets are unlikely to be met.

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    In secure unimodal areas of the northern zone and secure bimodal areas of the country’s southern zone, household food availability and access are expected to generally improve due to increased supplies of own production as dry harvesting of maize, beans, cowpea, potatoes, and cassava begins in July. Increased incomes from crop sales and harvesting labor will boost poor households’ purchasing power for imported foods and essential non-food needs. In areas unaffected by conflict or insecurity, poor households are expected to have near-normal levels of own production and earn average incomes from crop sales as they benefit from anticipated above-average food price trends. Average incomes will allow for purchases of imported staple foods such as rice and compensate for increased production costs stemming from elevated input prices. Area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to continue in these areas throughout the scenario period. However, in Yaoundé and Douala, where most households primarily purchase their food and have little to no means of growing their own food, poor households are expected to continue to face difficulty meeting their minimum kilocalorie needs given above-average prices of imported and local food staples. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected as poor households will likely consume less preferred foods and reduce meal portions and frequencies.

    For many CAR refugees and host households in Mbere (Adamawa), Kadey (East), and Lom et Djerem (East), improvement in the availability of harvested crops at the household level is also expected to support increased access to food and income from sales of own production, reducing the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, given anticipated below-average crop production and incomes for refugees and poor host community households in these localized areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area-level outcomes will likely persist throughout the outlook period.

    The availability of the harvest in July in the Northwest and Southwest regions is expected to provide several months of food stocks and income from harvesting labor and crop sales, facilitating improved food consumption for many poor households and driving improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes between July and September. More significant improvement will be limited by locally below-average levels of crop production and below-normal income from crop sales and labor due to conflict, constraining the ability of poor households to afford their essential non-food needs. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist in the worst conflict-affected areas of Menchum, Momo, and Lebialem throughout the harvest period due to larger crop production losses, larger reductions in incomes, and insufficient food assistance. By October or November, most households across the Northwest and Southwest are expected to exhaust their own-produced food stocks from the July harvest. Once this occurs, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to re-emerge across the two regions and persist through January. Household income will be inadequate to cover the cost of their minimum food needs given high staple food prices, and many households will have food consumption gaps and/or turn once again to using negative coping strategies to access food and incomes.

    In the conflict-affected divisions of the Far North region, including Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, the current difficulties households face in purchasing their minimum food needs will not be alleviated until the start of the main harvest in September. Until then, poor households in these areas are expected to continue to face moderate to severe food consumption gaps consistent with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, as the ability to borrow food and cash or sell off their assets to purchase food is increasingly limited given the protracted impacts of conflict on economic activity and market functioning. However, households are expected to harvest several months of sorghum, maize, and pulses in September, which is anticipated to support improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from October to January. A subset of households whose typical income and food sources have been worst affected by the compounded impact of insecurity, elevated food prices, localized seasonal flooding, and multiple displacements are expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through January.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1

    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario

    Area Event Impact on food security outcomes
    National A further increase in pump prices of fuels such as diesel and premium petrol and an increase in cooking gas and kerosene as the government considers gradually phasing out fuel subsidies in the medium term.  Further upward pressure on transportation costs and food commodity prices would likely further limit food access, especially for primarily market-dependent households who may already be struggling to afford necessities. Higher food prices would restrict their ability to access food. As a result, they would be forced to choose between buying food and other non-food essentials.

    Far North, Northwest, and Southwest regions

    Sufficient funding and adequate logistics are secured to support increased humanitarian access and scale up monthly food assistance to at least 25 percent of the total population in these regions, with an increase in the cash/voucher amount to a minimum monthly wage level of 41,000 FCFA.

    It is likely that reaching 1 in 4 households in these regions with sufficient assistance to cover at least 25-50 percent of their monthly kilocalorie needs would prevent the occurrence of food consumption gaps and mitigate the use of livelihood coping strategies amongst conflict-affected populations. In the NW/SW, there would likely be Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes in ML1 and Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in ML2. In the Far North, there would likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in ML1 and Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) in ML2.

    Northwest and Southwest regions

    Peace talks between the parties involved in the Anglophone Crisis

    This could lead to the uplifting of lingering border restrictions, restoring cross-border trade and labor migration to near-average levels. Prices of essential commodities would likely fall, improving food access for poor households. This could also end regular ghost towns and lockdowns, allowing poor households a typical number of workdays. As markets reopened, access to income-generating opportunities would improve. There would unlikely be sufficient improvements in food security outcomes to improve the phase classification until the next cropping season, which is outside the scenario period.

     

     

    Far North region

     

    Worsening insecurity situation as well as an increase in civilian attacks by Islamist groups

    This would likely increase the number of displaced persons and further limit households’ access to food and income sources.  Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would likely persist in ML2 if this event occurred during the cultivation period. There would likely increased households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), particularly those who experienced total losses.

    Higher than usual levels of seasonal flooding

    This would likely lead to additional increases in displaced persons, decreases in crop yields and livestock numbers from flood damage, and increases in the number of poor households with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.


    Area of Concern: River Logone Flood Plain Livelihood Zone (CM01) of the Far North region (Figure 4)

    Current Situation

    Livelihood zone CM01 is in the Sahelian ecological band and comprises the Logone-et-Chari division of the Far North region. Agricultural production in this zone is mainly rain-fed, and its unimodal rainy season typically runs from June to September. The lean season in this zone begins from June to August, with the main harvest from September to November and the off-season harvest from January to March. The Logone flood plain of about 8,000 square kilometers supports off-season crops of sorghum, maize, market gardening, and herds of cattle on transhumance from within the Lake Chad Basin. In an average year, poor households meet their food needs by growing their own sorghum, maize, and cowpea crop and fishing and obtaining incomes through farming labor, producing charcoal, and crop and fish sales.

    Incidences of violence, abduction, and looting perpetuated by the ISWAP persist in the zone. Latest updates from OCHA in May 2023 show that about 131,000 internally displaced persons currently reside in the zone in addition to 55,000 returnees and 40,000 refugees (mostly Chadians and Nigerians). Many of these households have already been subjected to multiple displacements from insecurity and seasonal flooding, have lost most or all their livestock, lack access to land, and have insufficient access to income-generating opportunities. The IOM also reported the arrival of 856 refugees from Rann and Gambarou in Nigeria to the Makary sub-division in the Logone et Chari division in May. Field information suggests that poor households in the zone ran out of own-produced grains for consumption and sale in February, about three to four months earlier than before the conflict, due to no carryover from the 2022 harvests.

    Poor rainfall distribution and seasonal flooding have also contributed to reduced crop yields in the zone. In addition, atypically high input prices further limit access to essential farm inputs to sustain an optimum harvest. Field-tilling and planting maize, sorghum, and cowpea are underway in most areas after light rains in the zone. Fertilizer (Urea and NPK) prices in the Kousseri market are trending 60-95 percent higher than in 2021 and three times higher than the five-year average. Higher input prices are reported in the hinterland areas where supplies have been significantly reduced by insecurity and impassable roads. Fertilizer use is typically high among poor households due to the unfertile soils with high nutrient requirements, but very few poor farmers purchase fertilizer themselves. Many poor households rely on government fertilizer grant programs, but available quantities have decreased due to high prices and difficulty delivering in very insecure areas. Many poor households are increasing their use of animal manure as a substitute for mineral fertilizers. In cattle-rearing areas such as in Zina, Logone Birni, Waza, and Blangoua sub-divisions, better-off cattle owners now sell previously-free cattle dung at 700FCFA per 60kg bag.

    Figure 4

    Area of concern reference map: CM01 livelihood zone of Far North region
    Map of Cameroon with CM01 livelihood zone shaded in purple.

    Source: FEWS NET

    In a typical year, poor households in this zone sell their own stocks from the off-season harvests through June. Below-average off-season harvests are leading to lower incomes from crop sales. At present, many can only earn income from the seasonal land preparation and planting activities underway, and reduced agricultural labor demand is maintaining below-average incomes. Some poor households are reporting much lower daily wage rates due to hirers’ reduced financial capacity. The daily wage rate for tilling and planting labor ranges between 500 and 700 FCFA, compared to 1000 and 1500 FCFA before the insurgency. Ongoing fish sales are also supporting seasonal incomes for riverain households. However, fishing levels in the zone remain reduced by displacements and the fear of herder-fishermen conflicts with associated below-average income for the actors in the chain. Low local demand for livestock during the dry season due to increased feeding constraints, deteriorated body conditions, and reduced market values result in lower incomes. Some poor households living around urban and peri-urban areas in Kousseri have stepped up charcoal/firewood production and sales and are receiving higher incomes from this activity. However, access to wooded areas remains limited by insecurity.

    According to field reports, ongoing rains are easing water scarcity and regenerating pastures to some extent, although livestock body conditions are yet to recover fully. Price data collected by FEWS NET shows that the prices of livestock feed concentrate such as cotton cake, rice bran, and wheat bran in May were 14-28 percent higher than this time last year and more than 30 percent above the five-year average because of increased production costs from higher fuel prices. Reduced access to livestock feed and limited migration options stemming from widespread insecurity contributes to faster deteriorating body conditions and reduced market values. The cost of sheep in the zone is rising due to increased demand, given the upcoming Ramadan feast in July. Market supply in livestock is lower than usual because most poor households in the zone who typically owned one to three sheep or goats no longer have any livestock for sale. However, prices continue to trend about 20 percent below seasonal levels due to fewer buyers overall.

    High staple food prices persist in the zone as poor households are atypically more reliant on market purchases for basic grains. The price of red sorghum in Kousseri in May was 18 percent higher than last year and 54 percent above the five-year average. Maize sold 22 percent and 40 percent higher than in May 2022 and the five-year average. Imported rice and wheat flour have risen 20-23 percent since April 2022 and are currently more than double their five-year average. Below-average production, increasing export demand from Nigeria, and the increase in fuel and transportation costs since February 2023 are contributing to these typically high prices. While key informants are reporting improvements in trade flows towards Nigeria and Chad since the official re-opening of the Gambarou-Fotokol-Kousseri-N'Djamena corridor last December 2022, flows remain disrupted by widespread insecurity to some extent (Figure 5).

    Figure 5

    Market functioning and trade flow activity in the Lake Chad basin as of April 2023
    Map showing market functioning and trade flow activity in the Lake Chad basin as of April 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    The WFP Cameroon Country brief for March 2023 suggests that emergency food assistance is ongoing amongst refugees, IDPs, returnees, and the host populations in the zone. Children aged 6-23 months, pregnant and breastfeeding women and girls (PBWG), and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in care centers are targeted to receive emergency nutrition support. FEWS NET could not access food distribution data for this livelihood zone. The food basket and daily rations include 350g of cereals, 100g of legumes, 35g of vegetables, 5g of salt, and 70 percent of the daily kilocalorie needs (2023 HRP). Those living in areas where markets are functional receive monthly cash transfers with a transfer value of 7,500 CFA francs per person per month. However, based on the currently low levels of the 2023 HRP funding, HFA during the projected period is likely to remain at current levels and less than in 2022. Impassable roads, insecurity, and logistical challenges will continue limiting access to worst-off areas, especially during the rainy season. FEWS NET assesses levels of humanitarian food assistance will not be sufficient to prevent worse levels of acute food insecurity outcomes due to funding and humanitarian access challenges.


    Seasonal Calendar for a typical year in the Far North region
    Seasonal calendar for a typical year in the Far North region in Cameroon.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Pastoralists in this zone will continue to benefit from closeness to the Logone plain, a typical dry season destination for livestock transhumance. Nevertheless, increased livestock movement is expected to increase the risk of agro-pastoral conflicts and reprisals, especially in the Logone Birni sub-divisions, where Mousgoums fishers/farmers and Arab cattle herders continue to clash over limited land spaces.
    • Seasonal flooding, anticipated between August and September, is expected to result in low-to-moderate sorghum and millet crop losses, thousands of livestock deaths, and reductions in livestock health and productivity, especially in the flood-prone sub-divisions s of the zone such as Logone Birni.
    • The impacts of insurgent activity and farmer-herder conflicts, exacerbated by seasonal flooding, are expected to displace farming households, disrupt farmers’ access to fields or lead to farm abandonment, limit investment and access to agricultural inputs, and reduce area planted, resulting in a ninth consecutive year of below-average crop production. Low cereal harvest prospects in this zone and high export demand from northeastern Nigeria are expected to result in sorghum, millet, and rice prices remaining near 2022 levels in key markets.
    • Overall, livestock prices are expected to follow seasonal trends but stay above 2022 levels due to increased transportation costs. However, based on recent and anticipated trends, livestock prices are expected to be outpaced by rising cereal prices, leading to declines in the livestock-to-cereals terms of trade. In the North and the Far North regions, small ruminant prices are expected to decrease during the lean season from July to August/September due to seasonally increased supplies as poor households sell off their animals to earn income to cover atypically food prices.
    • Below-average local cereal production, high baggage and transport costs, and high export demand from northeastern Nigeria are expected to keep sorghum, millet, and rice prices persistently high, especially when demand peaks during end-of-year festivities and religious feasts. Consequently, the significant price declines typically recorded during harvests between October and November will unlikely occur.  FEWS NET projects that the price of red sorghum in Kousseri will trend on average 10 percent and 58 percent above the 2022 and five-year averages, respectively (Figure 6). FEWS NET projects that the price of yellow maize in Mora will trend on average 13 percent and 39 percent above the above 2022 and five-year averages, respectively.

    Figure 6

    Observed and projected price prices of red sorghum in Kousseri, Cameroon, in 2023 compared to last year and the five-year average
    Combined bar/line chart showing observed and projected price prices of red sorghum in Kousseri, Cameroon, in 2023 compared to last year and the five-year average. Described under heading Assumptions.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on data from DRADER, Far North

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    As the lean season peaks, households are expected to continue to eat reduced meal portions, reduce the number of meals per day, and consume atypically high amounts of wild foods, with the worst affected resorting to begging. Although many still have outstanding debts, purchases of food on credit will likely continue. However, given elevated prices of basic staples and significantly reduced purchasing power, food consumption gaps are anticipated to remain wide, maintaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area-level outcomes until the end of the lean season in August. Some households in areas such as Logone Birni, Blangoua, and Makary sub-divisions subjected to multiple displacements from insecurity and seasonal flooding have their coping capacities largely eroded. Given reduced funding alongside physical and logistical constraints, levels of humanitarian assistance are expected to remain low, and some households will likely remain inaccessible due to insecurity. It is assessed that the worst-affected households in these areas who lack access to food assistance are more likely to face large food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    The dry harvesting of sorghum, maize, and pulses from September is anticipated to support a transition to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in some areas where less severe levels of conflict have allowed for some level of crop cultivation. Worst-affected households who lack access to land for cultivation and are not expected to harvest crops or access any income or food assistance will also continue to face challenges in meeting their minimum food needs. Given that they will have food consumption gaps, these worst-off households will likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worst outcomes until January.


    Area of Concern: Western Highlands livelihood zone (CM09) of Northwest and Southwest Regions (Figure 7)

    Current Situation

    The Western Highlands livelihood zone (CM09) comprises a large part of the Northwest (NW) region (primarily Menchum, Boyo, Mezam, Momo, and Bui divisions) and parts of Donga Mantung and Ngoketunjia divisions, and a small part of the Southwest (SW) region (specifically, the Lebialem division and Bangem sub-division). Production in this zone is mainly rain-fed, with a unimodal rainy season that typically runs from March to October. The main harvest occurs between July and August, following the lean season between March and mid-June. In a typical year, the livelihood zone is surplus maize producing, with maize and bean stocks from their own production typically providing up to 8-9 months of food. Poor households meet their food needs by growing their own maize, potatoes, rice, beans, and cowpea crops and obtain incomes through on-farm and off-farm labor, petty trade, and crop and poultry sales.

    Figure 7

    Area of concern reference map: CM09 livelihood zone of NW and SW regions
    Intersection of CM09 and NW and SW regions is shaded in purple

    Source: FEWS NET

    Since 2016, Mezam, Momo, Menchum, and Bui divisions in the NW and Lebialem and Meme divisions in the SW have experienced the highest levels of conflict. At the same time, the divisions of Menchum and Momo in the NW and Lebialem, Meme, and Ndian in the SW are chronically underdeveloped, more isolated from key market outlets and the city, more reliant on agropastoral activities for livelihoods, and under greater control by separatist groups due to the lower presence of government forces. While conditions are volatile in the Mezam division, it is the destination of most IDPs from other areas in the zone due to a higher concentration of government forces and humanitarian assistance and presence.

    Mezam division, host to the administrative headquarters and the biggest city (Bamenda) in the livelihood zone, has recorded the highest number of incidents and civilian casualties since February 2023 following government forces’ reprisals and in-fighting among separatist groups. However, the number of violent events in the zone remains lower than in 2022 and 2021 (ACLED). Internal and external displacements persist, especially after significant clashes or in anticipation of a lockdown. The zone currently hosts more than 231,000 internally displaced persons (OCHA), nearly 10 percent of the population. Anglophone separatists continue to impose and enforce weekly “ghost towns” every Monday in urban and rural areas, and random lockdowns tend to occur before national celebrations, commemorations, or political events. If civilians violate these ghost town strikes and lockdowns, punitive measures depend on the location and or person violating these strikes. Besides the risk of being caught up in the crossfire, political opponents and teachers have been abducted and killed, and schools have been burnt down. Vehicles that run on strike days are often seized or burnt. Between April 27th and May 20th, 12 days were spent either in spontaneous lockdowns or observed as ghost town days.

    Reductions in areas planted persist due to crop field abandonment, reductions in the agricultural workforce, and high costs of fertilizers and improved seeds. Most producers in the zone report that they have yet to receive any input support (certified seeds, fertilizer) from the government for consecutive seasons due to high input prices and decreasing levels of government support. As a result, many have not been able to fertilize their fields. Frequent roadblocks have also further limited fertilizer supplies to the hinterlands. Weeding and fertilization activities are underway but below seasonal levels.

    Daily wages in most urban and sub-urban localities have risen to about 20 to 50 percent above the five-year average, likely due to generalized inflationary tendencies and a shrinking young workforce. Many young people have moved out of the region to escape the conflict or have been forcefully recruited by armed groups. Despite higher wages, poor households earn below-normal incomes because of significant reductions in planted areas and agricultural labor demand. Many banana, coffee, and cocoa plantations, representing thousands of hectares, have shut down and stopped hiring labor. Ghost towns and lockdowns have reduced the number of field days, further limiting agricultural activities, access to inputs, and incomes.

    Pastoralists that migrated to the Tikar plains during the dry season in search of pastoral resources have now returned to their homesteads, concentrated in Boyo, Donga Mantung, and Menchum divisions. The body conditions of cattle, sheep, and goats improved overall following sufficient pasture and water availability due to the rainy season. However, the reduction in herd sizes from years of conflict theft and seizure by armed groups is keeping trade below average. In addition, more than half of the livestock markets, notably in Donga Mantung, Bui, and Ngoketunjia divisions, have been closed, with many animals relocated to safer zones in Adamawa and West regions.

    By November 2022, most poor households in the zone had run out of their own-produced 2022 crop three to five months earlier than usual due to below-average harvests and low carry-over. Some households in the worst-off localities in Menchum, Momo, and Lebialem divisions reported harvesting less than a month’s worth of food in the last season. As a result, poor households are making higher-than-usual market purchases to fulfill basic food needs. Green harvesting in June somewhat boosts maize, beans, and potato supplies, but many poor households will continue to buy most of their food supplies until dry harvests in July.

    Although the town of Bamenda remains mostly connected to the rest of the country, the delivery of food commodities from the neighboring regions and the seaport town of Douala is significantly lower than normal due to widespread insecurity. Most trade routes within the livelihood zone are also considerably disrupted by frequent road blockages, insecurity, and regular ghost towns, some currently impassable during the rainy season. Overall, rural-urban trade flows remain lower than usual, with hinterlands poorly supplied with imported commodities (Figure 8). Atypically high market reliance and reduced supplies have maintained prices significantly above typical seasonal levels. Between April and the last week of May, maize prices rose by 19 percent in Wum, 10 percent in Ndop, and 8 percent in Nkambe, and were about 15 to 20 percent higher than the same period in 2022 and on average 50-70 percent above the five-year average. Beans followed a similar trend in Kumbo, Ndop, and Wum and were respectively 12, 15, and 32 percent higher than April and ranged from about 20 to 55 percent above the five-year average. The increase in fuel and transportation costs in February 2023 across the country has been putting additional pressure on the prices of imported staples. In April, the price of imported rice (5% broken) in Bamenda was 15 percent higher than at the same time in 2022, and 28 and 47 percent, respectively, above 2018 prices and the five-year average.

    Data from the NWSW-Food Security Cluster shows that 303,000 persons in the NW and SW regions have been targeted with monthly distributions of food and/or cash rations covering 30 to 50 percent of daily kilocalorie needs since January 2023. However, WFP has been unable to reach its planned monthly targets due to funding and humanitarian access constraints, which have significantly hindered distributions in most divisions. In March, for example, WFP reported an “increased risk of food diversion, looting, and safety concerns for beneficiaries between the food distribution points and their homes. Precautionarily, WFP prioritized distributions at easy-to-reach food distribution points to avert incidents.” According to the NWSW-FSC, only about 60 percent of targeted beneficiaries were reached during the mid-lean season in April. The NWSW-FSC dashboard for April 2023 reports that about 134,698 persons received in-kind food assistance and 25,833 livelihood assistance (home gardening, grants for small businesses, eggs production) in April. During that period, there were no distributions in Lebialem, Momo, and Donga Mantung divisions, while no IDPs received in-kind assistance in the areas that were reached. FEWS NET could not access disaggregated data for the livelihood zone, but deliveries have reached less than 7 percent of the total combined regional population to date.

    Figure 8

    Market functioning and access map in the NW and SW regions as of April 2023
    Map showing Market functioning and access map in the NW and SW regions as of April 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Weekly “ghost town” days and sporadic lockdowns (ranging from 3 days to two weeks) imposed by Separatists will continue to limit household access to crop fields, reduce the number of working days, reduce the number of market days, and disrupt trade flows. These factors will continue to result in atypically low household incomes derived from crop sales, labor, petty trade, and other activities, disrupt market access, and contribute to high food prices.
    • Given the reductions in area planted this year due to the impacts of conflict, a seventh consecutive year of below-average crop production is expected. Consequently, the income typically earned by poor households from harvesting activities between July and September is projected to stay below normal.
    • Based on below-average production of local cereals and conflict-related disruptions to market functioning and trade flows that limit supplies, staple food prices are unlikely to decline significantly following the July to August harvest. Last year, the price of maize in Bamenda, Kumbo, and Nkambe rose between 12 and 35 percent during the harvest period and has since stayed high. Staple food prices are expected to remain largely above the five-year average but close to 2022 levels.
    • Given above-average prices and reduced domestic gas supplies, consumer demand for firewood and charcoal as a cooking fuel substitute will likely remain elevated. Poor households will likely increasingly collect and sell firewood and charcoal to earn more income than usual from this source.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Household access to own-produced foods and incomes is expected to increase seasonally across the zone as harvesting starts in July. Increasing supplies of new harvests at the market and household levels, reduced market demand, and anticipated seasonal price declines are expected to support improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes beginning in July across most of the livelihood zone. However, food consumption will likely remain marginal, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist in worst-off divisions such as Momo and Menchum in the Northwest and Lebialem in the Southwest, where relatively more severe impacts of conflict will likely allow only up to a month’s worth of harvests and where incomes are expected to stay significantly reduced. Access to food assistance is expected to remain very low. Anticipated below-average income levels from reduced crop sales and labor will continue limiting the ability of poor households to afford typical essential non-food needs.

    Due to significantly below-average production in the zone, own-harvested stocks for many poor households are expected to have depleted by October, compared to the following February/March in a typical year. Rising prices will further reduce purchasing power from October through January, compelling households to resort to negative coping strategies to access food, especially as prices of maize, beans, cowpea, and potatoes rise amid below-average incomes. Many are expected to cease purchasing basic non-food needs (medication, education, clothing) to prioritize maize and rice purchases and shift their reliance to livelihood activities such as bricklaying and stone cracking. During this time, access to food and income is expected to decline and produce more widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across the whole livelihood zone.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Cameroon Food Security Outlook June 2023 to January 2024: Acute food insecurity will persist in areas affected by conflict despite harvests, June 2023

    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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