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Sharp rise in food insecurity in areas surrounding Lake Chad

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • April - September 2015
Sharp rise in food insecurity in areas surrounding Lake Chad

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that could Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Boko Haram-related conflicts are disrupting markets in the Lake Chad area and are contributing to the deterioration in the livelihoods of the many households forced to abandon their usual income-generating activities. With the onset of the lean season, the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity in northeastern Nigeria will deteriorate into Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between now and September 2015.

    • This year’s lean season will begin earlier than usual in localized areas of Mauritania, Senegal, and Mali with below-average levels of crop and pasture production. This will force affected households to resort to atypical coping strategies. Consequently, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity are expected between April and July in pastoral areas and until September/October in agropastoral areas.

    • Below-average incomes in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the general economic slowdown in these countries are limiting food access for certain poor households. Despite ongoing harvests of off-season crops and the start-up of agricultural activities for the upcoming growing season, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity are still expected in the worst-off areas.

    • In other parts of the region, above-average food stocks, ongoing harvests of off-season crops, normal income levels, and regularly functioning markets are enabling households to meet their basic food and nonfood needs without resorting to unusual coping strategies. These households are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between now and the end of the consumption year in September 2015. 

    Outlook by Country
    Burkina Faso             
    • Acute food insecurity of very poor and poor households in the far northern communes of Tin-Akoff, Nassoumbou, and Koutougou has deteriorated from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). These households, whose cereal stocks have been depleted usually early since January, are also facing below-average prices for the sale of livestock, which is their main source of income.  
    • The pastoral lean season has intensified with increasingly rare pasture and watering holes resulting in a deterioration of livestock body conditions, increasing livestock diseases, and below-average livestock prices in far northern areas of the country.
    • In the rest of the country, acute food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1). The relatively stable household demand and above-average market supplies of cereals are helping to stabilize and, in some cases, reduce retail prices in certain localized areas. The government’s resumption of its subsidized sales program for maize is helping to strengthen cereal availability and improve household food access.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Burkina Faso.

    • Boko Haram conflict has extended into Chad, and the number of refugees, displaced persons, and returnees now stands at more than 40,000. Food consumption and livelihoods have deteriorated due to the pressure from new arrivals. Households in host areas (Lac, Kanem, BEG, and Hadjer Lamis) are having difficulties generating income from farming, fishing, and trade due to insecurity.
    • Household cereal stocks have fallen below average in the west (Kanem, BEG, Lac, and Hadjer Lamis), in southern Guera, and in Wadi Fira. In general, household food consumption is down slightly, and the pastoral lean season has started two months early. The situation will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) due to ongoing interventions.
    • Households in the Djourf Al-Ahmar Region (western Sila) and northern Guera have depleted their stocks early and are now facing an abnormal seasonal increase in cereal prices and an atypical decline in livestock prices. They will therefore remain in Stress (IPC Phase 2).
    • Refugees and returnees from the Central African Republic (nearly 150,000 people, according to OCHA estimates) are continuing to receive a range of humanitarian assistance, without which their food security situation would become concerning. Since the start of the year, WFP has continued to regularly provide food coupons to returnees from the Central African Republic, assisting more than 63,770 people in all returnee sites in the south.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Chad.

    • Poor pastoral conditions are limiting animal production and income from the sale of livestock in certain parts of northern Mali. It is also posing an above-average risk of animal mortality.
    • In the absence of humanitarian assistance programs, very poor and poor households who experienced shortfalls in their income and crop production this year in riverine areas of Gao and Bourem, the lake area of Goundam, the Haoussa area of Niafunké, and northern Youwarou will have difficulty meeting their food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies. These households will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity from July until the next harvest in September.
    • A cereal surplus of more than one million metric tons is helping to provide markets across the country with adequate supplies of foodstuffs at prices close to the five-year average. This is also helping to improve market access for most households, enabling them to meet their current food needs. Thus, households in most other parts of the country should experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between now and September.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Mali.

    • With the large shortfall in annual cereal production and sharp decline in seasonal incomes, poor households in the central and southern reaches of the country have been experiencing food consumption and livelihood protection deficits since February. Very poor and poor households in especially hard hit central and southern agropastoral areas are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3), if not higher levels, of food insecurity between April and the end of the lean season in September.
    • Pastoralists are selling atypically large numbers of animals in order to purchase food and animal feed, which is creating food consumption and livelihood protection deficits, particularly in the central reaches of the agropastoral zone. These populations will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity, depending on the specific area and time of year.
    • Barring an unforeseen shock to food or livestock markets and/or human mobility, households in other livelihood zones currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity are expected to face, at worst, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity between April and September, driven by the effects of crop production deficits and shortfalls in seasonal income which are curtailing  food access.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Mauritania.

    • At the national level, food availability remains typical on markets and in households, and market prices are average to below-average due to low consumer demand.
    • While food insecurity was generally Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the country in April 2015, the situation is still concerning in some regions. Cereal stock levels will fall significantly by September. Pasture availability will also be greatly reduced in May-June 2015 in agro-pastoral areas of Ouallam, Tanout, and Goure, the agricultural area of Doungass, and pastoral areas of Ouallam, Tanout, Abalak, and Tchintabaraden. Poor households in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), not be able to cover all of their essential non-food expenditures.
    • Persons displaced by the conflict in northeastern Nigeria, now present in southern Diffa, will also face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. Pastoralists in northern Diffa (Nguigmi) will be significantly impacted by limited sales opportunities for livestock and high food prices. Pastoral areas of Nguigmi will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at least through September.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Niger.

    • Frequent clashes between Boko Haram and the Multinational Joint Task Force (consisting of troops from Nigeria, Niger, and Chad) have claimed numerous victims, triggering wave after wave of population displacements in northern Nigeria. The conflict is disrupting markets and preventing households from pursuing their usual livelihood strategies. Due to limited market access and low food supply levels, poor households in northeastern Nigeria will continue to face, at a minimum, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity between now and the upcoming October harvest, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity expected for populations in worst-off conflict zones.
    • Most households in areas outside of northeastern Nigeria are engaged in their usual off-season activities. Good off-season crop harvests and favorable market prices will keep acute food insecurity in these areas at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through at least September.
    • According to the federal Department of Veterinary Services, the bird flu outbreak has reportedly spread to 18 states across the country.

    To learn more, see the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook for Nigeria.

    Remote Monitoring Countries1

    Central African Republic
    • The food security situation in the Central African Republic is marred by continuing population movements from conflict areas under attack by armed groups. The number of displaced persons as of March 2015 is estimated at 436,256, up from 426,308 in February 2015 and 390,718 in November 2014. A large part of the displaced population is concentrated in Ouham, Nana Gribizi, Ouaka, Ombelle Mpoko, Loubaye, and Bangui prefectures.
    • As of April 2015, displaced households and their host families in prefectures in the central, northwestern, and southern reaches of the country have been facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity due to the continuing attacks in these areas disrupting food access and livelihoods activities.
    • The continuing security crisis will likely also result in a reduction in cropped area during the coming season, leading to another shortfall in food production for the third consecutive year. Displaced households and affected resident populations will be subject to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity until at least September, with a minority of the worst-off households more than likely facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    To learn more, see the April 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for the Central African Republic.

    Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
    • With the general depletion of household stocks and an earlier than normal start to the lean season in some places, food security outcomes are beginning to deteriorate compare to previous months. In addition, incomes from most sources remain below average due to an economic slowdown across all three countries. Consequently, household purchasing power will remain below average, contributing to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in many areas through September 2015.
    • Agricultural activities, such as land preparation and off season cropping, are ongoing and providing certain households with income to maintain their food access through market purchases. However, reports from certain regions, particularly in Sierra Leone, indicate that agricultural activities and associated labor opportunities are at slightly below normal levels due to continued Ebola-related disruptions.

    To learn more, see the April 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

    • Pastoral households in the northern and central areas of the country will have below-average incomes due to poor conditions in pastoral areas, negatively affecting the market value of livestock.
    • Good harvests of market garden crops are currently generating average to above-average levels of income for households in market gardening areas in central areas and in the river valley, improving their purchasing power and food access. In riverine areas, the same outcome is expected from the rice harvest in June-July.
    • Generally below-average incomes are preventing households in Thiès, Louga, Matam, and northern Tambacounda from meeting their food and nonfood needs without resorting to negative coping strategies such as selling off productive assets and cutting their food intake. As a result, these households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between May and August.

    To learn more, see the April 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Senegal.

    With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to the previous series of countries in which FEWS NET has a local office, reports on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.


    Events that could Change the Outlook

    Table 1: Possible events over the next six months that could change the most likely scenario 



    Impact on food security conditions

    Northern Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Diffa region of Niger, Central African Republic, and neighboring areas

    Escalation in civil insecurity and conflict

    • Larger numbers of IDPs and refugees in neighboring countries
    • Border closures with neighboring countries
    • Suspension of trade, extremely tight supplies on local markets
    • Severe erosion in household livelihoods and a deterioration in the food security and nutritional situation
    • Growing assistance needs for IDPs and refugees


    Late start of the rainy season, below-average rainfall

    • Delayed recovery of pastoral conditions
    • Prolonged spending on animal feed in pastoral and agropastoral areas
    • Atypical decline in the production of livestock-related products
    • Decline in wage income from farm labor
    • Larger sales of animals by pastoralists
    • Extension of the lean season in pastoral areas between June and August and in farming areas between September and October with a deterioration in food security outcomes (reduced food consumption and rising malnutrition rates)

    Guinea and Sierra Leone

    Flare-up in the Ebola epidemic or spread of the disease to new areas


    • Isolation of affected areas
    • Disruptions to local markets
    • Localized disruptions to the seasonal calendar
    • Reduced labor pool for farming activities for the main growing season


    Unusually severe desert locust outbreak

    • Mass destruction of crops and pastures
    • Hoarding of food stocks by agricultural households and traders, resulting in a premature rise in market prices
    • Failure of the harvest and extension of lean season conditions in affected agricultural areas
    • Atypical reduction in food consumption

    Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, northeastern Nigeria, and northern Senegal

    Increase in humanitarian assistance

    • Improvement in food consumption
    • Better livelihood protection (fewer sales of animals, etc.)
    • Increased crop production (with poor households finding the time to work their land)

    Figure 1


    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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