Food Security Outlook Update

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity persist in northern Mali, northeastern Nigeria, and the Central African Republic

June 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Concentration of displaced people – hover over maps to view food security phase classifications for camps in Nigeria.
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity continue in northern Mali, northeastern Nigeria, and the Central African Republic due to the effects of insecurity and market disruptions. 

  • In southeastern Niger, west-central Chad, and central Nigeria, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity have been observed due to atypically high grain prices, civil insecurity, and/or 2012 crop production shortfalls relating to flooding. Other areas of the region are facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. 

    • Grain prices on certain markets in the eastern marketing basin[1] (particularly in central and eastern Niger, northern Nigeria, and Benin) are unusually high this year compared to average due to the effects of market disruptions in Nigeria. On the other hand, prices in the central marketing basin[2] are similar to or slightly above the seasonal average.

    [1] The eastern marketing basin generally includes Benin, Chad, Nigeria, and Niger.

    [2] The central marketing basin generally includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Current Situation

Progression of the growing season:

In general, the month of June was marked by the definitive establishment of the growing season in the Sudanian zone. In the Sahel, the season also started in localized areas although the start of season will become more generalized in July for this zone. In central and northern Nigeria, central and southeastern Niger, and western Mali, significant rainfall deficits have occurred this season, causing seeds planted in April and early May to fail and slowing more recent farming activities. June also marks the start of the peak of the lean season in pastoral areas and the end of the lean season in localized areas of the bi-modal zone, with harvests of short-cycle yam, cassava, maize, and groundnut crops providing food and income for poor households. These crops have started to reach markets in the northern Sahel (Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria), as is typical for this time of the year, but have not yet had a significant effect on market dynamics, price trends, or the food security situation of very poor and poor households in these areas.

Markets:

Rainfall activity in the Sudanian zone and localized areas of the Sahel slightly improved market supplies, with certain farmers selling their stocks to cover expenses for the start-up of farming activities. However, this improvement was short-lived in the eastern marketing basin, where prices are continuing to increase at an atypical rate, particularly in Niger, Nigeria, and Benin. This abnormal upward trend in prices is the result of rising demand in Nigeria, due to the poor 2012 harvest and growing insecurity in the northeast, causing the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. However, specific market conditions vary widely depending on the marketing basin and commodity in question:

  • In the eastern basin (Benin, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad), where the most atypical market-related trends have been observed, both demand and prices continued to rise in June. This is due to the depletion of household food stocks and weak market supply in Niger and Nigeria, despite atypical trade flows from Benin (weaker than normal) and the central marketing basin (stronger than normal). These shifts in trade flows are the result of unfavorable price differentials for grain exports from Nigeria to Niger, which normally take place at this time. As a result, prices for staple grains, such as millet, sorghum, and maize, are rising at a faster rate than is seasonally normal. For example, millet prices on wholesale markets in Dawanau (Nigeria) and Maradi (Niger) are 37 and 41 percent, respectively, above the five-year average. Similarly, maize prices in Malanville (Benin) and Dawanau are also 14 and 28 percent, respectively, above the average.
  • In the central basin (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Togo), the supply of food is sufficient to meet consumption needs, due to good harvests last year. Food is flowing normally between southern surplus-producing areas to northern deficit areas. Moreover, price differentials this year have created usually good incentives for exporting millet, sorghum, and maize from the central marketing basin to the eastern marketing basin, particularly to western and parts of central Niger. Prices in the central basin are more stable and are generally slightly above the five-year average (+3 to +14 percent in the case of millet and -3 to +1 percent in the case of maize). This is facilitating seasonally normal food access for all populations within this zone.
  • In the western basin (Cape Verde, Guinea, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal, and Sierra Leone), the price of rice, the main dietary staple in this basin, has been stable, or even declining in the case of Senegal, compared to the five-year average. This is enabling households to access rice normally. However, prices for coarse grains, such as millet, sorghum, and maize, are generally one to 25 percent above the seasonal average, which will not pose any real threat to food access as households in this basin are mainly consumers of rice.

Pastoral conditions:

Pasture and water availability is still adequate and in line with seasonal norms, despite the pastoral lean season which has been ongoing since the end of May, due to the early start of rains in certain agricultural areas in the Sahel. Livestock prices are steadily increasing, creating favorable terms of trade for pastoralists in the central basin, western Niger, and the western basin. Elsewhere, in central Niger and throughout Chad, prices are in line with normal seasonal trends. On the other hand, with insecurity in Nigeria disrupting markets throughout the Lake Chad area, prices in southeastern Niger, west-central Chad, and northeastern Nigeria are below seasonal averages. This could reduce pastoral income and affect grain access for pastoral populations in these areas.

Nutritional situation:

High prices, particularly in Niger and Nigeria, as well as a depletion of poor households’ food stocks and a reduction in income sources, are increasing the risk of a deterioration in nutritional conditions in agropastoral and agricultural areas of central and eastern Niger and northern Nigeria. There are already reports of a sharp increase in admissions of children under the age of five to health facilities in these areas.

Food security situation:

Most areas of the region are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, areas affected by civil insecurity, such as the Kidal region in northern Mali which is still under pressure from the military occupation, northeastern Nigeria where the federal government recently declared a state of emergency, and the Central African Republic where looting is a still an ongoing problem, are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3):

  • In northern Mali, residual insecurity and the fact that public services have not completely resumed continue to limit large-scale trade activities and food assistance operations.
  • In northeastern Nigeria, the escalating conflict prompted the army to impose a “food blockade” on the northern part of Borno state, prohibiting trucks carrying food supplies from leaving Maiduguri (the state capital) and traveling northward. This measure was designed to prevent these supplies from falling into the hands of Boko Haram insurgents but has driven prices up sharply. Thousands of people, mainly women and children, have been forced to flee conflict-affected areas and seek refuge in southeastern Niger.
  • In the Central African Republic, public services are steadily deteriorating in the face of widespread insecurity, which has also triggering population displacements. There are food shortages throughout the country, particularly affecting women and children (the most vulnerable population group). According to Action Against Hunger (ACF), Save the Children, and Catholic Relief Services, the entire country is threatened by food insecurity.

Elsewhere, particularly in eastern Niger, north-central Nigeria, and northern Mauritania, poor households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity due to the depletion of household food stocks, increasing market prices, and poor 2012 harvests due to flooding.  

Projected Outlook through September 2013

The month of July marks the beginning of Ramadan, which will then continue through the early part of August. It is also the peak of the lean season for agricultural households. However, the definitive establishment of the growing season and the end of the lean season in localized pastoral areas will translate into an improvement in income levels from farm labor activities and the sales of animal products (milk, eggs, and poultry). However, grain prices throughout the region will remain at their seasonal highs during this period.

Terms of trade and/or grain access could start to improve between now and September with the improvement of livestock body conditions and livestock market values, as well as due to employment opportunities as the need for farm labor increases. However, without a sharp decline in grain prices, terms of trade for both livestock and farm wages could remain as much as 10 to 20 percent below-average through the end of September.

Cereal access for poor households will remain difficult in agropastoral and agricultural areas of central and eastern Niger, northern Nigeria, the Central African Republic, as well as in pastoral areas of Niger, Chad, and northern Mali. Poor households in these areas will require assistance through the end of September, without which there could be localized increases in food insecurity.  

The corollary to this escalation in food insecurity could be a rise in global acute malnutrition rates in these areas which, even in a good year, exceed critical and emergency thresholds in the Sahel. Food access has been extremely precarious since February 2013, which could particularly impact the diets of children under the age of two, who are considered the region’s most vulnerable population group. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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