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Humanitarian assistance helps to stabilize staple food prices

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Cameroon
  • June 2018
Humanitarian assistance helps to stabilize staple food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Poor displaced and host households that have depended on markets since April, following the depletion of their stocks, have adopted Stressed (IPC Phase 2) strategies to access food, such as reducing their number of meals and changing their food habits.

    • Although staple food prices have, remained stable in the last two months due to average market supplies and food assistance, in general they remain above the five-year average (by 30 percent in the case of sorghum and by 5 percent in the case of maize).

    • Certain activities have decreased during the rainy season, particularly fishing and collecting firewood for charcoal. Reduced exports to Nigeria continue to have a negative impact on income from livestock sales. As a result, terms of trade for livestock and cereal have halved.





    • Around 658,070 displaced persons and refugees, including 249,370 Central African refugees, 87,804 Nigerian refugees and 337,174 displaced Cameroonians live mainly in French-speaking regions in the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East of the country. In addition, the sociopolitical crisis in the English-speaking region has caused 21,291 Cameroonians to flee to Nigeria.
    • The sociopolitical crisis in the English-speaking regions in the northwest and southwest has triggered the internal displacement of 160,000 people and caused more than 20,000 Cameroonian refugees to flee to Nigeria in May, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA).
    • While the security situation remains precarious, due to incursions by Boko Haram, the redeployment of security forces will encourage displaced persons to return to these regions. Between December 2017 and April 2018, the number of returning refugees increased by 13 percent.
    • Flooding is likely to occur in the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East regions, due to a moderate amount of excess rainfall compared to the ten-year average.
    • In the English-speaking regions, the sociopolitical crisis, together with escalating tensions and increasing hostilities between armed groups and defense forces, may increase the number of internally displaced persons and Cameroonian refugees fleeing to Nigeria.

    Far North

    • Due to recurrent attacks and threats by Boko Haram, the region has 352,921 displaced persons, including 238,099 internally displaced persons, 31,681 refugees outside camps and 83,141 returning refugees (International Organization for Migration (IOM), Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), April 2018).
    • The depletion of stocks in poor displaced and host households is forcing them to change their food habits and reduce their number of meals from three to two per day.
    • Increased household dependence on markets will keep staple food prices above the five-year average between June and September.
    • Districts bordering Nigeria will remain exposed to violence from Boko Haram, halting the return of displaced persons and the resumption of economic activities.


    Except for in a few regions in Logone-et-Chari, the rainy season started earlier than usual in Cameroon’s main agricultural areas. In the second dekad (10-day period) of June, the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East regions recorded an above-average level of total rainfall.

    The timely start of the season has led to traders and private market actors releasing their cereal stocks. In addition, certain corridors have been opened, which is encouraging maize imports from Nigeria (through Bourha and Mogodé) and onion exports to Chad (through Gobo, Gueré, Djiguilao and Mada). As the government’s ban on exporting cereals to neighboring countries is still in force, market supplies of staple cereals and legumes (cowpea) remain average.

    Since April, staple food prices have stabilized or even decreased slightly. Following sorghum production in the dry season (February–March), wealthy households and traders stored stock, thus creating price volatility. As a result, sorghum prices remain 27 percent higher than last year and 30 percent higher than the five-year average. Increases of between 30 and 50 percent compared with the five-year average were observed in the Maroua, Kousseri, Kaélé and Mora markets.  Between June and September, the price of rainfed sorghum in the Maroua market may remain 20–40 percent above average. Maize inflows from Nigeria and ongoing food assistance have helped to stabilize maize prices relative to last year or keep them slightly above average.

    Poor displaced and host households that have depended on markets since April are relying on the sale of animals, fish, timber and charcoal as their main source of income. With the slowdown in livestock exports to Nigeria, the main flows are being directed to markets in the south (Yaoundé and Douala). However, the opening of the Fotokole-Gambarou corridor has allowed some livestock exports to Nigeria. Livestock from Chad also passes through the same corridor to Nigeria. Due to household food needs, more livestock are on the market than usual and selling prices are low. In the Maroua market, the sale of a healthy goat will provide a farmer with around 140 kg of cereals, whereas in other markets, the prices are much lower, only providing around 50–60 kg of cereals.

    Fishing tends to take place along the Logone River and around Lake Chad and the artificial Lake Maga. However, due to insecurity, these areas are being reduced and fishers are focusing their activities in more secure areas, such as Lake Maga. As the supply of processed fish in urban markets is lower than usual, those involved in the chain are seeing their income decrease. In addition, rising water levels will cause activities to slow down as usual.

    Growing populations in urban centers are increasing the demand for timber and charcoal, resulting in price increases. In rural areas, a 25 kg bag of charcoal costs XAF 3,000–4,000, whereas in urban centers the same bag costs XAF 8,000. These price increases of 20 percent and 33 percent respectively, compared with the costs before the security situation worsened, are playing a part in reducing purchasing power for other basic necessities, including food.

    As part of ongoing food assistance planned until September, distributions of monthly food rations (World Food Programme (WFP) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)) and money (WFP, ICRC and International Rescue Committee (IRC) are being provided to refugees, internally displaced persons and host families, reaching 11 percent of the region’s population and 39 percent of the population exposed to Crisis  (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. This assistance is helping to reduce poor households’ market demands and stabilize staple food prices. In addition, it has helped households minimize the extent of their crisis strategies, which include only consuming one meal per day (usually in the evenings), adults drinking less Bil-Bil (a local drink), using cereal loans from traders or wealthy households, and consuming more lean season foods (mixture of leaves and cowpeas). The majority of poor households usually eat only two meals per day, rather than three meals. In addition, some poor households use rice instead of sorghum (a staple cereal), as it is more easily accessible. Despite receiving humanitarian assistance, the majority of poor displaced and host households will experience acute food insecurity at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September. From October, households will have a normal diet based on new crops and food insecurity will reduce to Minimal (IPC Phase 1).


    Figures Price projection of rain-fed sorghum at Maroua. The price will be more than the average of last 4 years and also more than la

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Projected price of rainfed sorghum in Maroua

    Source: FEWS NET

    Cameroon seasonal calendar  Mid-August to January is the main harvest. Mid-October to January is livestock migrantion north t

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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