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Improvements in the food security situation expected, beginning in September/October, except in the Lake Chad Basin

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • July 2017
Improvements in the food security situation expected, beginning in September/October, except in the Lake Chad Basin

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In northern Nigeria, the improvement of the security situation continues to favor the return of displaced persons and refugees, but humanitarian aid remains insufficient due to limited funding. For example, many people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, with an increased risk of high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality. Less accessible areas, particularly in Borno State, experience similar or worse conditions and continue to face an elevated risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in 2017. 

    • Markets remain well stocked with local and imported food, helping to meet rising demand during the lean season. However, food prices are rising seasonally as household stocks decline and households become more market dependent. These increases are more pronounced in the eastern basin, particularly in the Lake Chas Basin where market flows remain disrupted by civil insecurity, and in Nigeria where the depreciation of the Naira enables the rise of prices in the areas in conflict. Despite the increase in market demand until the next harvest in September/October, prices will remain close to average levels throughout the region except in Nigeria.

    • In July, the 2017/18 agricultural season is progressing well with widespread planting in many parts of the Sahelian and Sudanian zones, and weeding for early plantings. Maize and groundnut crops are beginning to enter markets in the Sudanian and Gulf of Guinea regions. According to forecasts for a wet to normal season except for some parts of the Western Gulf of Guinea (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d‘Ivoire) average harvests are expected. However, ongoing infestations of army worm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso are a serious risk. 

    • Most of the region will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until January 2018 due to well-supplied markets, adequate rice and wheat imports, early harvests beginning in September, and the use of usual coping strategies. 

    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will be observed for poor households in the west of the agropastoral zone until early August due to lack food stores in the rice-producing and pastoral regions of Gao and Timbuktu in Mali and parts of the Niger Delta and western Sahel until September, due to the longer than usual lean season and reduced access to markets in these areas.

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) level of food insecurity affect poor households in the Kanam, Bahr El Gazel (BEG), Wadi Fira and Guera regions of Chad due to depletion of food stocks, an early and harsh lean season, the the decline in purchasing power caused by the fall of livestock prices. The persisting insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin continues to disrupt livelihoods and normal market functioning, and will keep the Lake Chad region in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) until September 2017, and the Diffa region of Niger in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until at least January 2018. 



    Burkina Faso            

    • Farming activities across the country have started up earlier than usual and, in general, are going well, spurred by regular rainfall. Based on the forecast for above-normal cumulative seasonal rainfall totals (for July through September) tending towards normal, there should be above-average levels of agropastoral production creating good livelihood conditions and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels of acute food insecurity over the upcoming months. 
    • The equally early recovery of pastures has helped ease grazing problems for livestock. This is helping to reduce normal spending on purchases of agro-industrial byproducts, which is strengthening household food purchasing power, particularly in northern agropastoral areas of the country.
    • The general stability in staple food prices at levels close to the five-year average and earlier than usual availability of wild plant foods are enabling most households to maintain a normal diet. The availability of milk and planned deliveries of humanitarian assistance in the far north where food consumption by poor households is currently strained should ensure that they experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity by the month of July, until the October harvests.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Burkina Faso for June 2017 to January 2018.


    • The deterioration in food consumption by poor households in the Kanem, Bahr El Gazel (BEG), Wadi Fira, and Guera regions with the depletion of their food stocks, the earlier and harsher than usual lean season for pastoral populations, and the decline in household purchasing due to the falling prices of livestock has propelled these areas from the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) up into the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) phase of food insecurity.
    • The reopening of the country’s borders with Libya in early March helped improve supplies in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti (BET) regions. In spite of the atypical pattern of trade limited to three border crossings, it is improving the household food security situation. Thus, parts of this livelihood zone have been in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity since June.
    • The shortages of pasture and watering holes are creating mediocre pastoral conditions in Kanem, BEG, Batha, Guera, Ouaddaï, Wadi Fira, and Ennedi. On average, animals are traveling 15 to 20 kilometers to drink and graze on pasture. This is affecting their physical condition and reproductive performance, reducing milk production, and driving down livestock prices on most markets.
    • The expected average October harvests will provide poor households in nearly all parts of the country (with the exception of the Lac region) with average food stocks meeting their food needs through January 2018. This will put them in the Minimal (IPC Phase 1) phase of food insecurity between October 2017 and January 2018. Households in the Lac region will be in a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation through September due to the magnitude of population displacements in that area.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Chad for June 2017 to January 2018.


    • Seasonal forecasts for 2017 predict normal to above-normal levels of cumulative rainfall across the country, with a typical distribution of rainfall and normal to late end-of-season. The same applies to flooding levels which, together with large-scale farm input assistance, in general, should translate into average to above-average levels of cereal production across the country.
    • All parts of the country are reporting a steady seasonal rise in cereal prices. Price levels in the north are above the five-year average by five to 15 percent. The combined effects of the rising price of cereals and falling price of livestock are sharply eroding terms of trade for livestock/cereals, negatively affecting the market access of poor households in these areas.
    • The longer than usual lean season and limited market access will keep food insecurity in rice-growing and pastoral areas of the Gao and Timbuktu regions and parts of the Inner Niger River Delta and Western Sahel at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels between June and September. Very poor households in these areas will be unable to meet their food needs without outside assistance and, thus, will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity between June and September.
    • The expected average to above-average cereal and animal production in all parts of the country, the decline in cereal prices, and the improvement in terms of trade for livestock/cereals will strengthen household food access in October. Thus, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in all areas of the country between October 2017 and January 2018.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Mali for June 2017 to January 2018.


    • Good imported supplies of international foods (wheat, rice, wheat flour, sugar, oil, milk, and tea) on retail markets are ensuring good food availability across the country despite the decline in national crop production and cross-border cereal trade with Mali.
    • The limited availability of coarse cereals is triggering sharper than average rises in sorghum, maize, and millet prices. Livestock prices are moving in opposite directions, with prices in rural areas atypically low and sharp rises in prices in urban areas and on assembly markets frequented by traders stocking up on supplies for the upcoming holidays (Korité, marking the end of Ramadan, and Tabaski).
    • In general, pastoral conditions around the country are still adequate in spite of the increasingly large pockets of pasture shortages due to rainfall deficits (in western agropastoral areas) or overgrazing by transhumant livestock herds (in central and southern agropastoral areas). Birth rates are in line with the average and milk production is down, in line with normal seasonal trends.
    • The lean season has started in most rural areas (with the probable exception of oasis areas, where date production is currently underway). Based on rainfall forecasts, it should extend through the month of July and, as usual, start to wind down between August and October with the improvement in milk production (as of July) and the harvests between September and October. Only poor households in the western part of the agropastoral zone may continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions due to their continuing livelihood protection deficits for the past several years.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Mauritania for June 2017 to January 2018.


    • The growing season for rainfed crops has started up in most parts of the country’s farming and agropastoral zone. The main farming activity is the planting of crops, occupying more than 78 percent of farming villages. As usual, it is a time of good livelihood opportunities for poor households earning average incomes enabling them to maintain good food security conditions, which will keep acute food insecurity at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through at least January 2018 in crop-growing areas.
    • However, the rains are getting off to an extremely slow start in pastoral areas, which are feeling the effects of a protracted lean season. This is creating added financial costs for maintaining livestock herds, whose poor physical condition and prices are curtailing the food access of poor households. The definitive establishment of the rains by the end of July could improve food security conditions, easing current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity down to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels as of August for most households in the pastoral zone.
    • There were low cereal supplies on most markets in the month of June with the limited flow of imports from Nigeria due to continued restrictions and the higher prices on source markets in that country. Demand is rising in line with normal seasonal trends, fueled by needs for seeds for rainfed crops, for the Ramadan fast, and for the replenishment of the food stocks of returning transhumant pastoralists. This has sharply increased prices, driving them more than 25 percent above the five-year average on certain markets such as Maradi, Zinder, and Agadez. 
    • The ongoing security crisis disrupting normal market operations and major livelihoods such as fishing and the sale of peppers and livestock will prolong the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity in the Diffa region through at least January 2018. There will be a continuing need for humanitarian assistance to prevent poor households from experiencing any further food consumption gaps, particularly in areas without access to humanitarian assistance.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Niger for June 2017 to January 2018.


    • Through September, poor households are facing a period of high market dependence for food access and high food prices. In much of the northeast, income-generating opportunities are extremely limited due to conflict-related disruptions to normal livelihoods patterns. Large populations in accessible areas are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance for food access. Large areas of the northeast are expected to continue face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, although some moderate improvements in food security outcomes for some are expected after harvests in October.
    • Despite some improvement in the security situation in areas near major towns in northeastern Nigeria, many areas remain inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. It is likely civilian populations remaining in these areas are experiencing similar or worse conditions to neighboring, accessible areas, and as such there is an ongoing risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in inaccessible areas of Borno State.
    • Humanitarian agencies have scaled-up their response to the food security situation in the northeast, reaching over two million people with food assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States in June 2017. However, the response plan elaborated by the food security sector for 2017 was only 24 percent funded as of May 2017, and humanitarian agencies have already reduced operations in some LGAs. As many households in accessible areas of the northeast have very few income-generating opportunities and face very high food prices, they will remain highly dependent on humanitarian assistance throughout the outlook period.
    • The rainy season has started with near-normal timing and cumulative rainfall across most of Nigeria. Outside of the northeast, staple harvests that begin as late as October in northern areas are likely to be greater than last year, due to increased access to inputs as well as strong production incentives for farmers due to very high staple food prices.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Nigeria for June 2017 to January 2018.


    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]

    Central African Republic

    • The presence and activities of armed groups are feeding the new outbreak of violence in affected areas. This is creating a troubling humanitarian situation and continuing to displace local populations to DP camps, host households, or the brush. According to estimates by the UNOCHA, there are still more than 500,000 internally displaced persons in the country. Most of these households are still without access to basic social services, making it necessary to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.
    • The growing season is going normally, with the average levels of rainfall over the period from April 1st through June 20, 2017 helping to promote the normal pursuit of seasonal activities such as farm work. This is creating opportunities for poor households to earn extra income, enabling them to maintain their food access. However, the escalation in security incidents across the country could negatively affect crop planting and crop maintenance activities, translating into below-average levels of crop production.
    • With the residual effects of the civil conflict disrupting the smooth operation of markets and major sources of food and income, certain households of DPs and returnees, poor resident households, and host households in the Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Central CAR (in Ouham, Ouham Pende, Nana Gribizi, Vakaga, and Ouaka) will remain in the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) phase of acute food insecurity through at least January 2018. Most of these households are unable to meet their basic needs and have very limited staple food access.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook for Central African Republic for June 2017 to January 2018.


    [1] Avec le suivi à distance, un analyste travaille habituellement à partir d’un bureau régional proche, comptant sur un réseau de partenaires pour les données. Par rapport aux pays ci-dessus où FEWS NET dispose d’un bureau local, les rapports concernant les pays suivis à distance peuvent être moins détaillés.



    Table 1: Possible events in the next eight months that could change the outlook


    Possible events

    Impacts on food security conditions

    Northern Mali, Northeast Nigeria, Central African Republic, neighboring countries






    Worsening of civil insecurity

    • Increase in the number of IDPs and refugees from neighboring countries
    • Border closures with neighboring countries
    • Significant decrease in trade, very poor supply of local markets
    • Very poor cereal trade to Nigeria from Niger, Chad and northern Cameroon
    • Serious deterioration of household livelihoods and of food security and nutrition
    • Continuing or worsening levels of food insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin

    Ghana, Nigeria, Benin

    Further spread of army worm

    Spodoptera frugiperda on crops and worsening damages

    • Significant decrease in production
    • Increase in local demand for consumption and sale
    • Early increase in prices in the region


    Regional spread of army worm

    Spodoptera frugiperda to crops


    • Damage to crops in affected areas
    • Decrease in production, particularly for maize
    • Uncertainty in the maize market
    • Early increase in prices in the region


    Significant flooding of crops in areas of production

    • Decrease in production and in households stocks

    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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