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Conflict zones face area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as lean season peaks

  • Key Message Update
  • Cameroon
  • May 2024
Conflict zones face area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as lean season peaks

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  • Key Messages
  • Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Cameroon Key Message Update May 2024: Conflict zones face area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as lean season peaks, 2024.

    Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area-level outcomes are expected to persist through September in parts of the Far North region, where conflict incidents, notably armed clashes, attacks, and abductions, have been intensifying. According to ACLED, about 285 incidents and 247 deaths were recorded from January through April 2024, nearly double the number recorded during the same period in 2023. Fotokol, Hilé Alifa, Logone Birni (Logone-et-Chari), Kolofata and Mora (Mayo-Sava), and Mayo-Moskota and Mokolo (Mayo-Tsanaga) remain the most impacted. High levels of conflict and insecurity continue to displace households, many of whom have been repeatedly displaced, and disrupt market activities, agropastoral activities, and the gathering of firewood and wild foods. The premature exhaustion of main season stocks, harvested in October, and below-average off-season harvests in March is forcing many to rely on market purchases for basic food needs. Given high food prices and below-average incomes, many households are expected to skip meals, sell remaining assets, or, in the worst cases, resort to begging to mitigate their consumption gaps.
    • In Momo, Menchum, Mezam, and Lebialem divisions of the Northwest and Southwest regions, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist even after dry harvesting begins in July. Persistent insecurity and high food prices have led to increasing households experiencing deteriorating food consumption. Access to agricultural labor opportunities during the current cropping season has been further restricted by the prolonged April-May lockdown, the closure of the national road, and increasing attacks and abductions of civilians by armed groups. Many households will be unable to meet their minimum food needs with significantly reduced harvests and household incomes, and the use of credit and sales of remaining assets to access cash for purchasing food is expected. Some areas in the zone did not receive humanitarian assistance as planned in April and May due to the separatist-imposed movement restrictions (OCHA).  Outside of the most insecure areas of the Northwest and Southwest regions, the start of harvesting activities is expected to improve household food consumption and area-level outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.
    • While 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, area-level outcomes for the Mberé, Kadey, and Lom-et-Djerem divisions are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The significant presence of refugees in these zones is sustaining high demand for food and non-food purchases and heightened competition over resources and income-earning opportunities. With elevated prices of basic goods and below-average wages, many households are likely to struggle to meet their essential non-food needs even during harvest and may reduce educational or medical expenditures. Very poor households may be forced to take their children out of school entirely or reduce meal portions and frequency.
    • Maize and rice prices have continued to rise nationwide, with an average increase of 8-12 percent compared to last year. In the Far North region, April prices of maize and sorghum rose 23-54 percent compared to last year and were significantly above their five-year average. In the Northwest and Southwest regions, maize prices averaged 54 percent above 2020 levels and were highest in the Southwest. Nationwide, bean prices surged and were between 24 and 40 percent higher than last year. In addition to typical seasonal trends, current price increases are a result of higher fuel and transportation costs and increased demand in conflict zones, where many households heavily rely on food purchases. Following the recent fuel price hikes in Nigeria and the appreciation of the Nigerian Naira against the US dollar, the prices of illegally imported fuel from Nigeria have reportedly increased in most towns in northern Cameroon by up to 150 percent since February 2023.
    • The 2024 main cropping season is currently underway in the unimodal and bimodal areas of the southern zone of Cameroon. CHIRPS preliminary data indicates that rainfall in April and May was below the historical average by 10-100 mm in most parts of the central, southern, and western regions. Nevertheless, total precipitation was sufficient for crop cultivation and agricultural engagement remains normal except in the Northwest and Southwest regions, where conflict is the major impediment to production. As of mid-May, maize crops were generally at their vegetative phase, while legume crops had begun flowering. In Cameroon's northern zone, households have begun preparing their land for planting cereal crops. Available forecasts for July-September rainfall from FEWS NET’s science partners indicate average precipitation across most of the country, with average to above-average rainfall totals over the northern zone.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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