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Typical lean season expected in the Far North, but more difficult in the Northwest and Southwest

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Cameroon
  • December 2018
Typical lean season expected in the Far North, but more difficult in the Northwest and Southwest

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the availability of host household food stocks, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity persist in the Far North and humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees outside camps coverage is low. Also, livelihoods are strained as incomes continue to decrease due to the impact by the continued precarious security situation.

    • Owing to limited access to fields, decline in crop production, and income from exports, poor host households and IDPs in the Northwest, Southwest, and surrounding areas will likely experience an atypically long lean season from February to May. These areas and households are anticipated to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    • The insecurity related to Boko Haram incursions and violent attacks in the Far North and clashes between armed secessionist movements and security forces in the Northwest and Southwest regions will continue to adversely affect the economy and the livelihoods of households.





    • Cameroon has approximately 348,000 refugees (from the Central African Republic and Nigeria), mainly in the Adamawa, East, and Far North regions; 244,347 IDPs in the Far North; and 437,513 IDPs in the Northwest, Southwest and neighboring regions.
    • The increase in the number of refugees returning home during 2018 may continue as a result of the tripartite dialogue process with their countries of origin.

    Far North

    • The downward trend of suicide bombings and abuses by Boko Haram over the past 12 months, leading to an increase in the number of IDPs returning to their place of origin, which rose from 69,730 in December to 100,925 in September (IOM_DTM). 
    • Rainy season harvest is above average. 
    • The continued return of IDPs due to the increased security along the border with Nigeria and current gaps in humanitarian assistance. World Food Program (WFP), the main provider of aid, only has enough resources to assist 50,000 IDPs, out of over 130,000 in need (WFP).


    • Prices of cash crops below the five-year average (11 percent for groundnut and 6 percent for cowpea) due to supply exceeding demand.
    • Local markets will likely remain well supplied and have normal household demand; staple food prices will be below or similar to the five-year average through May.

    Northwest and Southwest

    • Household access to fields has been particularly difficult with the intensification of the conflict. As a result, food and cash crop production remains below average.
    • Declining income from agricultural production, labor, and trade with curfews and roadblocks is hampering IDP and host population market access.
    • Food assistance for IDPs is being provided in the neighboring Littoral region (50,000 recipients), but has not yet reached the majority of IDPs in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
    • The number of IDPs is likely to increase due to continued clashes between armed secessionists, defense, and security forces.
    • The lean season, normally occurring between March and April, will be longer, extending from February to May, due to the reduced production and difficulty in accessing fields.
    • Atypical price increases for staple foods in areas with a high concentration of IDPs and urban centers where demand has increased, but some will face difficulties with supply.


    Far-North Region

    The 2018/2019 growing season started on time in the Far North with normally distributed geographical and temporal rainfall, and above or near average seasonal cumulative rainfall compared to the last decade. The delay to the end of the season, favored the establishment of dry-season sorghum crops. In addition, the relative stability in the security situation in 2018 allowed IDPs to return to their places of origin to work the fields. As a result, the area planted during the rainy season increased by about 10 percent compared with the past year, according to the Far North Regional Delegation of Agriculture and Rural Development (DRADER). Similarly, harvests have been good in the region and are expected to be above the five-year average. Moisture conditions favor the development of dry-season sorghum crops, which are currently at the flowering stage. However, these crops are vulnerable to damage from pachyderms and ongoing fall armyworm attacks, which could reduce yields. Fodder availability is average and water points are at a sufficient level to see animals through the normal lean season between April and June. 

    Fishing has resumed at Lake Maga, but catches are still low due to high water levels, providing average income for households through May. Additionally, households will rely on trading agricultural products and livestock to generate income over this period. However, this agricultural income will remain below average due to falling prices (6 percent decline for cowpea and 11 percent decline for groundnut) and limited trade with Nigeria, the main outlet for the region’s produce. Livestock prices increased compared to September 2018 (by 11 percent for bulls, 27 percent for rams and 18 percent for goats, on average) are households do not have to to sell off their animals. The sale of one goat does provides them with 100 kg of cereal. As cereal prices near average through May, the livestock and cereal terms of trade should only deteriorate slightly over the period, but slightly more over the course of the next pastoral lean season, when food prices begin to see a seasonal rise.

    The number of refugees returning home is increasing among Nigerian refugees (24,505 between January and November 2018, according to (UNHCR)/Nigeria returning refugees dashboard) and refugees from the Central African Republic (21,520, according to IOM/DTM, September 2018). Refugees outside camps and IDPs will likely remain more dependent on the markets beginning in April as they will have fewer stocks than host households. Food assistance programs ended in October and there is no planned, funded and likely assistance for 2019. The resources available will only cover about 20 percent of IDPs and will not fully cover their needs in the coming months. This will force them to reduce their food consumption. With livelihoods under pressure, poor host households, IDPs and refugees outside camps will remain at risk of Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) until May 2019.

    Northwest and Southwest

    In the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions, ongoing violent clashes between armed secessionists and security forces continue to exacerbate the security situation causing internal population displacement. Currently, the number of IDPs stands at 437,513, i.e. a little more than 10 percent of the population. The conflict that started in 2016 intensified between April and October 2018, coinciding with the start of the main growing season. The resulting population displacement and restriction of movement has limited household participation in agricultural activities. In addition, reduced state and cooperative support with supplies has limited the fertilization of fields. As a result, food and export crop production will likely be below their 2016 level. The decrease in production has negatively impacted banana exports, which remained in August well above the figures for 2015 (279,493 tons), according to statistics from the Cameroon Banana Association. In the first half of 2018, exports fell 16.8 percent in value and 24.7 percent in quantity compared with the same period in 2017, due to a decline in sales of the main agro-industrial products (cocoa and its derivatives, coffee and rubber), more than half of which comes from the Northwest and Southwest regions (National Institute of Statistics (NIS), External Trade Report).

    The economic slowdown due to road blocks, curfews, the destruction of markets (e.g. Bamenda) and the closure of agro-industrial units will most likely continue to adversely affect employment and income-generating opportunities. With limited access to fields and the decline in agricultural production, the usual lean season from March to April will be longer, extending from February to May. Food access for host households and IDPs will remain restricted during this period and beyond due to high staple food prices as well as limited income in urban centers and areas with a high concentration of IDPs. Food assistance for IDPs is being provided in the Littoral region, but has not yet been fully deployed in the regions most affected by the conflict.  As such, between February and May, the combined factors of difficulty in accessing fields, depletion of stocks, and reduced purchasing power will expose poor host households and poor IDPs to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity.

    Figures Figure 1. Projection de prix du sorgho pluvial à Maroua

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Projection de prix du sorgho pluvial à Maroua

    Source: FEWS NET/ DRADER, Extrême-Nord

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Conflit par zone de préoccupation


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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