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Despite harvests, Crisis outcomes expected in some conflict-affected divisions

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Cameroon
  • June 2024 - January 2025
Despite harvests, Crisis outcomes expected in some conflict-affected divisions

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  • Key Messages
  • Analysis in brief
  • Food security context
  • Current food security conditions as of June 2024
  • Analysis of key food and income sources
  • Humanitarian food assistance
  • Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2024
  • Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025
  • Projected acute food insecurity outcomes through January 2025
  • Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist until September in conflict-affected areas of the Far North region, particularly in the Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava divisions. Additionally, an above-average risk of flooding is forecast in these areas between July and September, which could likely result in above-average crop losses and temporary displacements. By October, area-level outcomes will likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with improved food access from own production beginning in September. However, many households are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to below-average harvests following the impacts of conflict and flooding.
    • The main harvest will temporarily improve food access for some areas in the conflict-affected Northwest and Southwest regions from July to September. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to re-emerge from October 2024 to January 2025. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected throughout the scenario period in more remote and insecure divisions of Lebialem, Momo, and Menchum, where production is anticipated to be significantly lower than during pre-conflict years. Many households in these divisions will likely continue to experience food consumption gaps or resort to negative coping strategies, such as buying food on credit or selling remaining assets, through September.
    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through January 2025 in divisions hosting large refugee populations, notably Mbéré in Adamawa and Kadey and Lom-et-Djerem in the East region. Even though food availability and access for refugees and host community households will likely improve as harvesting begins in July, households are expected to continue resorting to negative coping strategies, given the context of high food prices and competition for job opportunities. 
    • FEWS NET estimates that humanitarian assistance needs are currently at their annual peak in June, with approximately 1.5-2.0 million people in need, mainly refugees, IDPs, and returnees. However, as in the last several years, total needs remain significantly higher than planned assistance levels, and a further scaling-down of assistance is likely due to severe funding shortages.

    Analysis in brief
    Figure 1. Market functioning and trade flow activity in the NW and SW regions as of May 2024
    This map shows market functioning and trade flow activity in the NW and SW regions of Cameroon as of May 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Food assistance needs are currently at their annual peak, coinciding with the peak of the lean season in both the southern and northern zones. Household food stocks have long since been prematurely exhausted and many households are facing consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), given eroded coping capacities after several years of compounding conflict and flood shocks. While needs will slightly decline with the arrival of the July harvest in the southern zone, and again in October with the harvest in the northern zone, such declines will be short-lived. Due to another consecutive year of below-average harvests, access to own-produced stocks will only briefly improve households’ food consumption before households have to rely on expensive food purchases.

    Humanitarian response programming for Cameroon remains chronically underfunded relative to humanitarian assistance needs. WFP and its partners will continue to provide emergency food assistance for conflict-affected households. However, due to anticipated funding shortages, FEWS NET assesses that the planned food assistance will not reach 25 percent of the total population in any division analyzed and is insufficient to mitigate area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes. Households facing such a severe level of acute food insecurity are unable to meet their minimum kilocalorie needs without resorting to unsustainable coping measures and are urgently in need of humanitarian assistance.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge in the Northwest and Southwest regions in November 2024 and persist until January 2025. Persistent conflict is expected to result in an eighth consecutive year of below-average harvests and many households are expected to prematurely start purchasing most of their food as soon as October. Once household stocks are exhausted, poor households are expected to engage in severe negative coping strategies to mitigate their consumption gaps, facing high prices with below-average incomes and high prices.

    In the Far North region, particularly in the Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava divisions of the Far North, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through September. Given early depleted stocks, many households are atypically relying on market purchases for basic foods, which, along with high food prices and low incomes, limits food access. Additionally, the high cereal prices have decreased the livestock-to-cereal terms of trade, limiting pastoral households' purchasing power. As seasonal flooding from August to September progresses, a small but growing number of households facing compounding flood and conflict shocks are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Main season harvesting will likely improve outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October to January, generating better household food access. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely continue at the household level for the worst-off populations. According to the latest IPC Acute Malnutrition (AMN) analysis for Cameroon, Alert (IPC AMN Phase 2) and Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) outcomes are expected in these divisions between July and September. 

    The presence of nearly 476,735 refugees from the Central African Republic in the East, Adamawa, and North regions continues to increase competition over resources and income-earning opportunities while compelling prices of food and non-food items to be high. Food access remains limited for protracted and new refugee households and host communities. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity persists in Kadey, Lom-et-Djerem (East), and Mbéré (Adamawa) divisions, where refugees make up more than 20 percent of the total population at the divisional level. In the Mayo Rey division, where the refugee population is estimated to be less than 8 percent of the total population at the divisional level, populations in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) remain high.

    Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes persist amongst poor urban households in Yaoundé and Douala, where the high prices of essential food and non-food items continue to limit their purchasing power. More than 55,000people displaced by conflict in the Far North, Northwest, and Southwest regions now live in Yaoundé, while 16,000reside in Douala. Their presence is increasing competition for limited job opportunities and social support for the poor urban populations, further limiting income earning potential for both poor host and refugee households. Refugees and IDPs are particularly affected, as they have abandoned their traditional livelihoods and assets and are struggling to meet their needs due to challenges in finding income opportunities in urban areas combined with the high cost of living. Some refugee and displaced households are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

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    The analysis in this report is based on information available as of June 14, 2024. Follow these links for additional information: 

    Food security context

    Most rural households in Cameroon have agropastoral livelihoods, though there are some pastoral communities in northern Cameroon. Livestock production is concentrated in the northern and Adamawa areas, with some activity in the west and northwest. The rainy season from March to November in the country’s southern zone and June to September in the northern zone dictates seasonal crop and livestock production patterns. In a typical year, poor households primarily meet their food and income needs through farming by consuming most of their production and selling the surplus at markets. Households also heavily rely on temporary agricultural labor opportunities to earn additional income for food and non-food purchases. Poultry, firewood, charcoal, and fish sales are minor sources of income during the year. By contrast, pastoral households typically buy most of their staple grains using income from livestock (mainly small ruminants) and animal product sales and consume milk and meat from their herds. 

    Conflict is the main driver of acute food insecurity in Cameroon, with two ongoing conflicts in the country. Since 2013, Boko Haram, a terrorist group founded in Nigeria, and subsequently its offshoot, ISWAP, have launched attacks in the Far North region, inflicting widespread destruction on communities. Meanwhile, the Anglophone Crisis stemming from the rise of armed separatist groups in the Northwest and Southwest regions has resulted in significant violence since late 2016.

    Both conflicts severely disrupt agricultural and pastoral activities vital for rural livelihoods. In conflict zones, area cultivated has dropped 30-40 percent below pre-conflict levels due to restricted field access and farm abandonment, leading to diminished agricultural labor demand and poor harvests. Due to below-normal supplies, seasonal food price decreases during the harvest and post-harvest are minimal to nonexistent. Ongoing conflict and insecurity limit market access and operations, reducing open days and trade flows, which negatively impacts supplies and rural incomes. Households face significantly reduced purchasing power for staple grains due to a drop in herd sizes, reduced seasonal sales of livestock and livestock products caused by disrupted market functioning, and historically high cereal prices. During the successive years of conflict, many households have been repeatedly displaced and have a greatly reduced capacity to cope with additional shocks and recover their livelihoods. 

    Acute food insecurity in the country is compounded by seasonal floods in the northern zone, high inflation with rising fuel prices, and the presence of over 350,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. These refugees compete for limited labor opportunities and put pressure on staple food prices in host communities in the East, Adamawa, and North regions. Additionally, in urban areas, notably Yaoundé and Douala, where households rely on purchasing food at markets to meet their consumption needs year-round, high prices of essential food and non-food items are limiting the purchasing power of poor urban households.

    Figure 2: Seasonal calendar for a typical year for the northern zone
    This shows the seasonal calendar for a typical year in the north of Cameroon

    The full set of seasonal calendars for Cameroon is available here.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security conditions as of June 2024

    Early warning of acute food insecurity outcomes requires forecasting outcomes months in advance to provide decision makers with sufficient time to budget, plan, and respond to expected humanitarian crises. However, due to the complex and variable factors that influence acute food insecurity, definitive predictions are impossible. Scenario Development is the methodology that allows FEWS NET to meet decision makers’ needs by developing a “most likely” scenario of the future. The starting point for scenario development is a robust analysis of current food security conditions, which is the focus of this section. 

    Key guiding principles for FEWS NET’s scenario development process include applying the Disaster Risk Reduction framework and a livelihoods-based lens to assessing acute food insecurity outcomes. A household’s risk of acute food insecurity is a function of not only hazards (such as a drought) but also the household’s vulnerability to those hazards (for example, the household’s level of dependence on rainfed crop production for food and income) and coping capacity (which considers both household capacity to cope with a given hazard and the use of negative coping strategies that harm future coping capacity). To evaluate these factors, FEWS NET grounds this analysis in a strong foundational understanding of local livelihoods, which are the means by which a household meets their basic needs. FEWS NET’s scenario development process also accounts for the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework; the Four Dimensions of Food Security; and UNICEF’s Nutrition Conceptual Framework, and is closely aligned with the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analytical framework.

    Key hazards 

    Conflict and insecurity: In the Far North region, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) has intensified military counter-insurgency operations and violent attacks against civilians in the Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari divisions. Violence against civilians, including attacks, kidnappings, and forced disappearances, remains high. Areas such as Amchide, Kolofata, and Mora (Mayo-Sava), Hilé Alifa (Logone-et-Chari), and Mokolo (Mayo-Tsanaga) have been particularly impacted by repeated attacks on the same locations and populations. The conflict has displaced more than 450,000 people within the Far North region as of April 2024 (UNHCR). According to IOM’s Emergency Tracking tool, attacks perpetuated by ISWAP between April and May displaced around 4,496 individuals within Mayo-Tsanaga and Logone-et-Chari divisions, further constraining their access to already limited agricultural activities.

    In the Northwest and Southwest regions, fighting between Anglophone separatists and the Cameroonian military decreased during the first half of 2024 when compared to the same period in 2023. The highest levels of conflict and insecurity persist in Mezam, Menchum, and Momo divisions in the Northwest region and Meme, Lebialem, and Manyu in the Southwest. While overall conflict levels and attacks have declined, there has been a rise in targeted civilian attacks, abductions, and kidnappings for ransom. The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to target military convoys remains common among separatists. According to UNHCR, an estimated 583,113 people in the Northwest and Southwest regions have been internally displaced by the conflict.

    Economy: According to the World Bank, economic conditions in Cameroon continue to face challenges due to global commodity price volatility, ongoing conflict and insecurity in parts of the country, low per capita growth, and high food and energy prices. Domestic inflation remains high and above the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) threshold of three percent, mainly due to higher food and fuel prices. According to INS data, food inflation continues to exceed overall inflation, reaching around six percent in April 2024. Despite stabilizing global prices, imported food and non-food commodity prices remain elevated, driven by import limitations from high shipping costs and transportation expenses. Persistent insecurity in the Far North, Northwest, and Southwest regions also contributes to high prices of locally produced foods. Additionally, Nigeria's high inflation and currency depreciation are exacerbating demand pressure in northern markets. Nonetheless, there has been a decrease in both general and food inflation rates in 2024 compared to 2023 and 2022. This April's food inflation rate was six percent, marking a significant decline from the 11.3 percent recorded in April 2023 (Figure 3).

    Figure 3. Cameroon annual food inflation rates
    This graph shows annual food inflation rates in Cameroon

    Source: National Institute of Statistics (INS), Cameroon

    Analysis of key food and income sources

    Crop production: Engagement in agricultural activities is typical in most parts of the country. However, due to protracted conflict and insecurity, production prospects for the main season in the Northwest, Southwest, and parts of the Far North regions have declined by an estimated 20-40 percent compared to the pre-conflict period. Main season harvests typically account for more than 60 percent of the annual food needs of poor households in these regions. Although no official assessments have been conducted, agricultural officials and FEWS NET estimate that production declines are more severe in localized conflict hotspots. In these areas, severe access challenges have led to more significant decreases in planted areas due to farmland loss and abandonment. 

    Conflict-affected households face more challenges than the typical household in accessing key agricultural inputs like fertilizers and improved seeds, which further constrains crop yields. Despite global fertilizer price declines, prices remain high in Cameroon, especially in conflict zones, due to frequent road blockages and supply disruptions. Due to complicated procedures and insufficient subsidy rates, many poor households do not benefit from the government's fertilizer subsidy program. Green harvesting of maize, cowpea, and beans is underway in early planted fields in the country's southern zone, helping poor households temporarily recover from the lean season. However, in conflict-affected regions, poor households continue to buy most or all of their food due to insufficient supplies of green foods. In the northern region, planting of main season of sorghum, maize, millet, and legumes resumed by the third week of June in localized areas where limited and sporadic May and early June rains had delayed planting. Typically, planting starts around mid-May. According to CHIRPS rainfall data, May rainfall in these areas was 45-75 percent of the long-term average. However, it should be noted that it is still very early in the rainy season, and such delays are common.

    Livestock production: In the southern zone, sufficient rainfall received between March and June is supporting normal pasture and water availability, good livestock body conditions, births, and milk availability. However, pasture conditions across most of the northern zone have not yet seasonally improved. Field reports show that some pastures in this zone are taking longer to regenerate due to heat stress and below-average May-June precipitation. In April and May, the National Observatory for Climate Change (ONACC) issued alerts regarding the risk of atypically high temperatures on livestock production in the Far North and North regions. No heat-related livestock deaths have been reported in these zones. In conflict-affected areas, raids or killings by armed groups, along with household displacements, have significantly reduced herd sizes. This reduction limits the availability of milk, which is crucial both as a food source and as income for pastoral and agropastoral households.

    Off-own-farm sources of income: Agricultural labor demand is at its annual peak in the northern zone with the start of the main season. In the southern zone, poor households have benefited from a seasonal peak labor demand for planting and weeding between March and May. However, a decrease in the total cultivated areas in insecure and volatile regions, particularly in the Northwest, Southwest, and parts of the Far North, has led to a significant decline in agricultural labor opportunities. This reduction in opportunities is limiting the income source for poor households, especially during this time of the year when households are having to purchase more of their food amid seasonally high staple food prices. The demand for labor in conflict areas is also limited due to the decreased financial capacity of better-off households to pay for labor. Furthermore, data collected from the field shows that agricultural wage rates in these conflict zones have decreased, particularly in remote areas. For example, in cropping areas in the northern zone, households now receive FCFA 500-1000 as daily payments for tilling and planting labor since last year, down from FCFA 1000-1500 paid during pre-conflict years. Pastoral incomes have improved due to the seasonal improvement in the availability of livestock products such as milk, butter, and cheese for sale during the ongoing peak sales season. However, sales remain below average in conflict areas due to reduced herd sizes and poor market functioning, limiting the incomes needed by pastoral households to purchase grains for food. Additionally, opportunities for petty trade and other income-generating activities, such as bricklaying and handicrafts, remain hindered in conflict areas by frequent curfews, market closures, movement restrictions, and lockdowns.

    Market functioning and trade flow: While most markets and trade routes across the country operate normally, conflict and insecurity continue to constrain many local markets’ access and functioning in affected areas (Figures 4 and 5). This has resulted in fewer market days and a decrease in the flow of goods, negatively impacting the supply and incomes of rural populations. In the Northwest and Southwest regions, during regular "ghost town" or occasional lockdown days, separatists have prohibited markets from opening and allowing the movement of goods and persons, with defaulters facing the risk of being penalized. Trade flows within the region and with neighboring Nigeria came to a standstill in April and May due to a 30-day movement ban along the Bamenda-Batibo-Mamfe road axis and an additional eight-day lockdown across these regions. Several roads have been mostly blocked since March, especially along the Bamenda-Fundong, Bamenda-Mbengwi, and Bamenda-Ndop axis. In the Far North region, local markets in Mayo-Tsanaga, Mayo-Sava, and Logone-et-Chari divisions, particularly along the border areas with northeast Nigeria, are experiencing low market attendance and curfews due to frequent attacks from Islamist insurgents. Cross-border trade flows have been reduced as a result. Market participation in insecure areas is further limited by armed groups' forceful collection of illegal taxes.

    Figure 4. Market functioning and trade flow activity in the NW and SW regions, May 2024
    This map shows market functioning and trade flow activity in the NW and SW regions, May 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5. Market functioning and trade flow activity in the Lake Chad basin, May 2024
    This map shows market functioning and trade flow activity in the Lake Chad basin, May 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Commodity prices: FEWS NET price monitoring data shows that domestic prices of food and non-food commodities continued to trend significantly above the five-year average throughout the first part of 2024. Imported rice prices in reference markets in Yaounde and Douala in May were 21-30 percent above 2020 levels but close to 2023 levels and declined by 5-7 percent in Yaounde between March and May. In April, the government announced price reductions of up to 15 percent for imported rice from India, Pakistan, or Thailand. However, data collected by FEWS NET in mid-June suggests that rice prices in most monitored markets have yet to decrease significantly following the announcement. 

    On the other hand, prices of locally produced cereals, such as maize and sorghum, nearly tripled in all markets in the Far North region in 2024 compared to 2023. The persistent illicit exportation of cereals to Nigeria is also putting upward price pressure on these locally produced staples. As of May, they were 16‑79 percent higher than last year, with Yagoua and Mora markets recording the highest prices. Maize prices in the Northwest and Southwest regions continued to trend 48 percent above the previous five-year average, with increases of about 20 percent recorded during the last quarter in the Southwest compared to the same time last year. Cassava was sold at 25‑45 percent higher prices in May compared to April and twice last year's prices at the Meiganga and Djohong markets in the Adamawa region.

    Petrol and diesel stayed consistently 33‑40 percent above 2022 levels following a second round of price hikes implemented by the government last February. Reports indicate prices are higher in rural areas due to additional delivery costs. Furthermore, following the recent fuel price hikes in Nigeria and the depreciation of the Nigerian Naira against the US dollar, the prices of illegally imported fuel from Nigeria have reportedly tripled in most towns in northern and coastal Cameroon by up to 150 percent since February 2023. These above-average fuel prices are leading to increased transportation and food costs, putting a strain on poor and conflict-affected households with limited incomes.

    Household purchasing capacity: Continued high food prices and rising transportation costs further constrain poor households' purchasing power, limiting their access to basic food and non-food needs.

    Significantly above-average cereal prices have led to a decline in goat-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) for pastoral households in the northern zone, who typically sell small livestock to purchase grains around this time of the year. In the Far North region, goat-to-red sorghum ToT ranged from 27-30 percent lower than the previous five-year average across reference markets in April (Figure 6). Although livestock prices have increased, staple prices have increased at a higher rate to offset gains for pastoral households. In Mokolo, for instance, the sale of a medium goat in April bought 30 percent less red sorghum than the five-year average. However, ToT during the first semester of 2024 slightly increased compared to last year's average, likely driven by the increase in goat and sheep prices in connection to the Ramadan and Tabaski holidays.

    Figure 6. Goat to red sorghum terms of trade for the Far North region
    Shows evolution of goat to sorghum terms of trade over time in Maroua, Kaele, Mokolo, and Yagoua markets.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Additionally, due to higher-than-usual food prices and reduced wages in the current off-season farming in many conflict-affected areas in the Far North, daily wage rates of between 700-1000 FCFA can only buy between two and four kilograms of sorghum and maize in the Kousseri, Mora, and Mokolo markets. This is a decrease from the five to ten kilograms that could be purchased in 2020.

    Wild foods: The gathering of wild foods for sale and for consumption, particularly fruits such as Bel Bel (wild cocoa) and baobab, and wild vegetables locally known as Tasba, Loulou, and Okok, is currently taking place in the northern region as they become seasonally available due to the ongoing rainfall. Key informants report that wild food availability is near typical levels. However, the destruction of natural habitats through overgrazing and forest destruction for firewood reduces the availability of wild foods, including fish and bush meat, in several locations. Additionally, insecurity and displacements are disrupting wild food gathering in insecure areas, limiting seasonal access to this typically marginal food and income source.

    Humanitarian food assistance

    Humanitarian food assistance – defined as emergency food assistance (in-kind, cash, or voucher) – may play a key role in mitigating the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes. FEWS NET analysts always incorporate available information on food assistance, with the caveat that information on food assistance is highly variable across geographies and over time. In line with IPC protocols, FEWS NET uses the best available information to assess where food assistance is “significant” (defined by at least 25 percent of households in a given area receiving at least 25 percent of their caloric requirements through food assistance); see report Annex. In addition, FEWS NET conducts deeper analysis of the likely impacts of food assistance on the severity of outcomes, as detailed in FEWS NET’s guidance on Integrating Humanitarian Food Assistance into Scenario Development. Other types of assistance (e.g., livelihoods or nutrition assistance; social safety net programs) are incorporated elsewhere in FEWS NET’s broader analysis, as applicable. 

    WFP and its partners have continued to provide emergency food assistance to refugees, IDPs, returnees, and other conflict-affected persons through in-kind distributions and cash-based transfers. However, humanitarian response programming for Cameroon remains chronically underfunded relative to humanitarian assistance needs. Earlier in March, WFP and the UNHCR issued a press release highlighting that vital food assistance to refugees in the Far North, Adamawa, East, and North regions of Cameroon, resulting in incomplete food baskets missing items such as pulses, vegetable oil, and salt. Humanitarian operations in Cameroon are also negatively impacted by rising transportation and food costs and insecurity-related access challenges.

    According to distribution reports from the Northwest-Southwest Food Security Cluster, about 350,000 people were reached monthly in the Northwest and Southwest regions from January to April. Distributions were concentrated in the Mezam and Bui divisions, with little to no distributions in Donga Mantung, Momo, and Lebialem divisions. FEWS NET is currently unable to access recent statistics on food distribution in the Far North, East, Adamawa, and North regions.

    Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2024

    Based on the analysis of food security conditions, FEWS NET then assesses the extent to which households are able to meet their minimum caloric needs. This analysis converges evidence of food security conditions with available direct evidence of household-level food consumption and livelihood change; FEWS NET also considers available area-level evidence of nutritional status and mortality, with a focus on assessing if these reflect the physiological impacts of acute food insecurity rather than other non-food-related factors. Ultimately, FEWS NET uses the globally recognized five-phase Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale to classify current acute food insecurity outcomes. In addition, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of ongoing humanitarian food assistance.

    Far North region: The ongoing conflict has severely limited household access to food and income from agropastoral activities in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava divisions. The early depletion of the main season stocks harvested in October, coupled with below-average off-season harvests in March, has forced many households to rely on purchasing food from the market much earlier than typical. Most households would have exhausted their stocks by January, about three to four months earlier than a pre-conflict year. High food prices and low incomes have made it challenging for households to meet their minimum food needs. Pastoral households have very few or no livestock and milk for consumption or sale, and the soaring food prices have further reduced their purchasing power. To cope with such reduced access to food and income, many households in these areas are resorting to skipping meals, selling off remaining assets, and, in the worst cases, begging. Worst-off households displaced multiple times due to conflict and flooding have seen their income sources and coping strategies eroded. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes prevail in these zones, with the worst-off populations facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes given the intensifying conflict and significantly high and rising cereal prices in the last few months. Unfortunately, refugees and IDPs in these areas are reportedly facing reduced access to much-needed humanitarian food assistance due to funding shortages, with ration sizes reportedly reduced by 50 percent and food baskets arriving incomplete.

    Northwest and Southwest regions: In the Northwest and Southwest regions, where conflict has significantly disrupted typical agropastoral livelihood activities, household access to food and income remains below normal. Given a lack of carry-over stocks from the 2022/23 harvests, households in these regions have had to rely heavily on buying food from the market since early 2024. Although poor households have engaged in some agricultural labor activities since February, reduced demand for labor and lower wages have kept their income below normal levels. At the same time, cereal prices have been rising and trending above average, further undermining purchasing power. While the ongoing green harvesting of maize, cowpea, and beans temporarily supports food availability for some households in the zones, food consumption gaps and negative coping remain high amongst many households who continue to buy most or all their food due to insufficient supplies of green foods. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in both regions. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely amongst very poor households living in remote areas of Lebialem, Menchum, and Momo, who have eroded their coping capacities due to the impact of conflict on production, repeated forced displacements, and generalized food and fuel inflation.

    Communities in the East, North, and Adamawa regions with large refugee populations: The presence of a large population of refugees from the Central African Republic in Kadey, Lom-et-Djerem (East), Mayo Rey (North), and Mbéré (Adamawa) divisions continue to sustain high demand for food and non-food purchases and heightened competition over resources and income-earning opportunities. With elevated prices of staple goods and below-average wages, many households struggle to meet their essential non-food needs, engaging in coping strategies such as reducing educational or medical expenditures. Very poor households have been forced to take their children out of school entirely or reduce meal portions and frequency. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity persists in Kadey, Lom-et-Djerem (East), and Mbéré (Adamawa) divisions, where refugees make up more than 20 percent of the total population at the divisional level. In the Mayo Rey division, refugee populations are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, they only comprise about eight percent of the division population, so area-level outcomes are assessed as Minimal (IPC Phase 1). 

    Urban livelihoods in Yaounde and Douala: Despite improving urban employment opportunities after the COVID-19 pandemic, many poor urban households are struggling to afford the historically high and rising prices of essential food and non-food items. In Yaoundé and Douala, where households primarily rely year-round on food purchases at markets to meet their consumption needs, many urban poor households have been reducing meal portions and frequencies or expenses on non-food needs. Additionally, the presence of over 55,000 IDPs in Yaoundé and 16,000 in Douala is increasing competition for labor opportunities and social support for urban poor populations, impacting income-earning potential for both poor and displaced households. Given the competition for income-earning opportunities amid high prices, Yaoundé and Douala are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area-level outcomes, with the worst-affected poor households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025

    The next step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to develop evidence-based assumptions about factors that affect food security conditions. This includes hazards and anomalies in food security conditions that will affect the evolution of household food and income during the projection period, as well as factors that may affect nutritional status. FEWS NET also develops assumptions on factors that are expected to behave normally. Together, these assumptions underpin the “most likely” scenario. The sequence of making assumptions is important; primary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to weather) must be developed before secondary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to crop or livestock production). Key assumptions that underpin this analysis, and the key sources of evidence used to develop the assumptions, are listed below.

    National assumptions

    • Through January 2025, conflict between government forces and separatist fighters in the Northwest and Southwest regions is expected to occur at slightly lower levels compared to 2023. This is likely due to multiple factors, including greater capability of government forces, limited popular support, and continued disunification of many separatist factions. Peace negotiations between the government and separatist groups are unlikely during this period, following the failure of the Canada peace initiative in 2023.
    • The number of armed clashes perpetuated by ISWAP is expected to slightly increase above levels seen in 2023, while ISWAP is likely to continue prioritizing attacks on government forces. However, to maintain their hold on territories and continue imposing taxes, ISWAP will likely continue using violence, abductions, and forceful disappearances to collect ransoms and enforce illegal taxation.
    • According to the World Bank, Cameroon’s economic situation will remain challenged by global commodity price volatility, ongoing conflict and insecurity in some regions, exchange rate fluctuations affecting debt and fuel subsidies, and climate change-related shocks. While inflation pressures have eased slightly, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) projects that general inflation will remain around seven percent through the end of 2024, more than double the threshold set by CEMAC.
    • The price trend for imported food commodities such as rice, vegetable oil, and wheat flour is expected to remain high during the scenario period due to anticipated below-average imports caused by high transportation costs and commodity price volatility. 
    • FEWS NET's price projection for imported rice (5 percent broken) in Douala (Marché Central) indicates that prices during the scenario period will be significantly higher than last year and the five-year average (Figure 7).
    Figure 7. Observed and projected prices of imported rice in Douala-Marché Central, 2024
    This graph shows observed and projected prices of imported rice in Douala-Marché Central, 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    • The demand for harvesting labor will increase to near seasonal levels from July to September across most of the southern zone. In conflict-affected areas where significant reductions in cultivated areas persist, cash and in-kind earnings from harvesting labor will remain reduced, with households expected to increasingly engage in off-farm income-earning activities such as petty trade, collecting and selling firewood, charcoal production, and sales to earn enough income for food purchases. However, earnings from these activities are likely to remain constrained by widespread insecurity.
    • The main harvest is expected to start in July in the unimodal and bimodal areas of the country’s southern zones and in September in the northern zone. Cereal harvest is expected to be below average in the Northwest, Southwest, and parts of the Far North region areas where ongoing conflict, insecurity, and restricted access to fields and inputs in the Northwest, Southwest, and parts of the Far North region due to an estimated 20-30 percent decline in area cultivated because of conflict and insecurity. However, in areas where the IDPs have returned to their farms, particularly in the Northwest and Southwest, there is likely to be a slight improvement in the harvest compared to the 2019/2020 season.
    • Production deficits in conflict-affected areas, high nationwide transportation costs, and strong export demand are expected to keep prices of locally produced cereals above last year's levels and the five-year average nationwide. The government has indefinitely extended the ban on cereal exports. Despite this, informal exports of rice, maize, and sorghum, particularly to Nigeria, are expected to remain high in the northern zone due to poor production prospects in northeastern Nigeria.
    • In pastoral areas in the northern zone, prices are expected to rise due to seasonally tightened market supplies as animals return to grazing areas. Improved livestock body conditions from better pasture and water during the rainy season also positively impact prices. Livestock prices are expected to remain above average in most markets due to the rising costs of feed supplements, veterinary drugs, nutritional supplements, and transportation. In the rest of the country, livestock prices in most markets are expected to follow the usual seasonal trend, rising as household demand for beef increases during Ramadan around July and the end-of-year festivities.

    Sub-national assumptions for the northern zone

    • Given the above-average June to September rainfall forecast in the country's northern zone, the demand for harvesting labor in most cropping areas will likely increase and stay near seasonal levels during the September-November peak period. However, in areas affected by conflict, reduced cultivation will likely lead to reduced demand for labor. 
    • Anticipated above-average seasonal rainfall also poses a high risk of localized flooding, particularly between August and October, as monthly and seasonal surplus rainfall amounts are likely to drive above-average flows in the Logone Basin. In flood-prone areas, notably Mayo Danay, Logone-et-Chari, Mayo Sava, and Mayo Tsanaga, flooding is expected to disrupt harvesting around September and October and cause crop, property, and livestock losses.
    • Improving rangeland conditions in pastoral areas in the northern zone is expected to produce improved livestock body conditions and productivity, as well as market value and incomes from livestock and milk sales from August through December. However, livestock-to-cereal ToT are expected to remain unfavorable for pastoral households, particularly in conflict areas, driven by high cereal prices and reduced livestock sales.

    Sub-national assumptions for the Northwest and Southwest regions

    • Conflict incidents will likely increase seasonally from October through at least January 2025, in line with observed seasonal trends. This is supported by seasonally improved road conditions, which will facilitate the movements of armed groups. This is expected to disrupt market flows of harvested foods, as well as lead to temporary displacements, including the displacement of people who are already displaced.
    • The main harvest in the zone is expected to start in July. Although there may be some slight improvements in harvest compared to the 2019/2020 season in areas where returnees have been cultivating, overall production in the zone is expected to remain below the pre-conflict average for another consecutive season. Income earned by poor households during the July to September harvesting period is expected to stay below average due to reductions in cultivated area.
    • Due to poor July-September main harvests, most poor households in this zone will have little to no carryover cereal stocks from November to December. 
    • Although the prices of harvested crops like maize, beans, and potatoes across the zone are expected to decline seasonally between August and September, it is unlikely to be significant due to low production combined with anticipated persistently high household demand. The ongoing insecurity will likely disrupt market functioning and trade flows, limiting market supplies. Maize prices are expected to remain high and above average even during the harvest and post-harvest period in the region. 

    Humanitarian food assistance

    National assumption

    WFP plans to continue assisting displaced and affected households in the Northwest and Southwest regions, targeting an average of 303,000 people (approximately seven percent of the combined regional population), according to the Food Security Cluster. However, due to funding gaps and insecurity-related humanitarian access constraints, it is unlikely that the targeted humanitarian food assistance goals will be achieved. Additionally, the flow of humanitarian supplies to very insecure and remote areas across the country will likely remain disrupted by insecurity and seasonal road deterioration. FEWS NET could not access food distribution plans for other regions.

    Table 1
    Key sources of evidence FEWS NET analysts incorporated into the development of the above assumptions 
    Key sources of evidence:
    Weather and flood forecasts produced by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, USGS, the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California Santa Barbara, and NASAConflict analysis and forecasts produced by ACLED and the International Crisis GroupKey informant interviews with local extension officers, humanitarian implementing partners, and community leaders
    IPC Acute Malnutrition analysis for Cameroon conducted in January 2024WFP’s Overview and outlook on rising fuel prices and Food security in Cameroon, April 2024 World Bank economic outlook and macro poverty outlook, April 2024
    FEWS NET routine monitoring market and price dataOCHA Situation report for Cameroon, June 2024WFP food assistance distribution plans from the Food Security Cluster, including analysis of historical trends

    Projected acute food insecurity outcomes through January 2025

    Using the key assumptions that underpin the “most likely” scenario, FEWS NET is then able to project acute food insecurity outcomes by assessing the evolution of households’ ability to meet their minimum caloric needs throughout the projection period. Similar to the analysis of current acute food insecurity outcomes, FEWS NET converges expectations of the likely trajectory of household-level food consumption and livelihood change with area-level nutritional status and mortality. FEWS NET then classifies acute food insecurity outcomes using the IPC scale. Lastly, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate any areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of planned – and likely to be funded and delivered – food assistance. 

    Far North region: In the Far North region, especially in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava divisions, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected during the peak of the lean season from June to August. During this time, households will have to purchase most or all of their food, given the premature depletion of household stocks by December. Household food access will remain limited by high and increasing cereal prices and below-normal household purchasing power. As the lean season progresses, poor households will likely increase sales of wild foods, firewood/charcoal, and handicrafts to buy food. Although access to wild fruits and vegetables for consumption will also increase due to the ongoing rainy season, the contribution of wild foods to households' total food requirements will be low and insufficient to mitigate consumption gaps. Many poor households are likely to face moderate to wide food consumption gaps or continue to engage in severe coping strategies such as prioritizing the purchase of staple grains over essential non-food needs and reducing meal portions and frequency. Conflict-affected households living in flood-prone areas in the region are expected to experience even more limited access to food during flooding from August to September due to the resulting market closures, displacements, and damage to standing crops, homes, and assets. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the Logone-et Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava divisions through September; as floods progress, a small but increasing number of worst-off households in the region will likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes due to the compounding shocks of flooding and conflict.

    Beginning October through January, outcomes are expected to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in Mayo-Tsanaga, Logone-et-Chari, and Mayo-Sava supported by improved availability of own-produced sorghum, maize, and legumes at the household level. Nevertheless, some very poor households will likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes due to the compounded flood-related crop losses and rising staple food prices. 

    Northwest and Southwest regions: Although the conflict has led to a decline in main season harvest prospects in these regions, food consumption for most poor households will likely improve due to improved access to own-produced staples such as maize, beans, tubers, and legumes after dry harvesting starts in July. Consequently, in most areas, outcomes are expected to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July until September. However, many households will likely struggle to meet their essential non-food needs due to below-average incomes from crop sales, harvesting labor, and the need to repay accrued debts. Very remote and insecure locations in Lebialem, Menchum, and Momo divisions continue to experience more significant decreases in harvests and incomes compared to the years before the conflict. Since crop production is crucial for households' total food access and incomes in areas, many households are likely to face sustained food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Many households are expected to try and cope by becoming increasingly indebted and buying food on credit, selling remaining assets, or begging. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to persist from July through September, with a small proportion of households likely facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

    However, due to the limited own-harvested food stocks, many households are expected to again rely on market purchases for food from around October. Given low incomes and high prices, it is likely that food consumption gaps or severe negative coping will reemerge amongst many poor households and drive widespread deterioration in area-level outcomes from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from November 2024 through January 2025. Additionally, humanitarian assistance in these areas is expected to be limited.

    Communities in the East, North, and Adamawa regions with large refugee populations: The harvest season from July to September is expected to improve food availability for Central African refugees and host communities in the East, North, and Adamawa regions, reducing the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, area-level outcomes for the Mbéré, Kadey, and Lom-et-Djerem divisions are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Refugees and host households will continue to encounter challenges accessing food and income due to limited opportunities to increase earnings and higher-than-average staple prices. 

    Urban livelihoods in Yaounde and Douala: Area-level outcomes are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in these cities throughout the outlook period. Poor households in these towns will likely continue using unsustainable strategies to generate some income to purchase food, particularly given the expectation that food prices will remain significantly higher than average. Displaced households will remain vulnerable and continue to face challenges in finding earning opportunities, leading some to resort to severe coping strategies, reducing meal portions and frequency or in worst cases, begging.

    According to the latest IPC Acute Malnutrition analysis for Cameroon, Alert (IPC AMN Phase 2) and Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) outcomes are expected in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava between July and September. This is due to limited food access, driven by high market dependence and elevated prices, and a seasonal increase in water-borne diseases. Similar levels of acute malnutrition are also projected among Central African refugees and host communities in the East, Adamawa, and North regions despite this being a harvest period, likely due to high food prices and limited incomes. Very poor households in the Northwest and Southwest regions, whose livelihoods and coping strategies have been eroded, will likely experience increasing acute malnutrition starting in November. This is due to reduced food access driven by a lack of own-produced food stocks, high cereal prices, and reduced access to cash for food.

    Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes

    While FEWS NET’s projections are considered the “most likely” scenario, there is always a degree of uncertainty in the assumptions that underpin the scenario. This means food security conditions and their impacts on acute food security may evolve differently than projected. FEWS NET issues monthly updates to its projections, but decision makers need advance information about this uncertainty and an explanation of why things may turn out differently than projected. As such, the final step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to briefly identify key events that would result in a credible alternative scenario and significantly change the projected outcomes. FEWS NET only considers scenarios that have a reasonable chance of occurrence.


    Further reductions in humanitarian food assistance to refugees in the Far North, East, Adamawa, and North regions. 

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: Any further decrease in humanitarian assistance would increase the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Refugee households would face widening food consumption gaps and likely resort to increasingly desperate coping strategies such as selling remaining livestock, begging, or engaging in illicit activities such as stealing and prostitution. 

    Heavier-than-anticipated August to September rainfall in the Far North, with seasonal flooding reaching or exceeding levels recorded in 2022.

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: Significantly above-average cumulative rainfall in the Far North would likely result in significant population displacement beyond current estimates. It would also cause damage to standing crops and lead to increased water-borne diseases. Some households in the affected areas may be unable to access their fields. Consequently, they would not earn the expected income from agricultural labor opportunities between August and September. The combined impact of flooding and conflict in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo Sava, and Mayo Tsanaga would lead to widespread disruption of livelihoods and income-earning activities among affected households. This will further increase the number of households facing food consumption gaps or relying on unsustainable coping measures to meet their minimum food needs, increasing the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. 

    Northwest and Southwest regions

    Escalation of violence perpetuated by separatist groups during the lead-up to the 2025 elections in Cameroon.

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: A significant escalation of violence affecting civilians in the lead-up to the 2025 election would further disrupt livelihoods and increase population displacements, negatively affecting agriculture and livestock production, supply chains, market functioning, and raising already high prices of staple commodities. The number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes would likely increase. Increased insecurity might further hamper already limited humanitarian assistance for the most conflict-affected households.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Cameroon Food Security Outlook June 2024 - January 2025: Despite harvests, Crisis outcomes expected in some conflict-affected divisions, 2024.

    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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