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Despite ongoing civil insecurity, the agricultural season has started across the region

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • July 2019 - January 2020
Despite ongoing civil insecurity, the agricultural season has started across the region

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Improved rainfall during the first and second dekads of July allowed widespread planting and weeding in the Sahelian and Sudanese zones. Crop development varies from sprouting to early growth in the Sudanese zone. Seasonal cumulative rainfall indicates that rainfall has been average to above-averageover most of the region.  Deficits are small in most affected areas except in western Mauritania, central and northern Senegal where they are severe. Fall Armyworm infestations reported in Burkina Faso and Chad are under control.

    • Ongoing pasture regeneration and surface water availability are significantly reducing livestock feeding difficulties, however, in western Mauritania and northern Senegal, where the lean season started early, livestock feeding remains a concern. In the Liptako-Gourma region and the greater Lake Chad basin, conflict and civil insecurity continue to negatively impact livestock movements.

    • In markets, demand is experiencing a slight seasonal increase, but well below the usual increase. Prices remain below last year and similar to slightly below average in most countries due to good stock levels and low institutional purchases. However, they remain atypically high in conflict areas and in the Tibesti region of Chad, where market flows and operations are disrupted. In the future, demand will experience a seasonal increase as well as prices, but will not exceed last year's levels; they will generally follow the seasonal trend.

    • Most of the region will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2019. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will continue until September, for poor households in Niger in the northwestern Tahoua region and the southern Tillabéry region, in Mali in the rice growing areas of the Niger Delta and in the Timbuktu River Valley in Gao due to the poor harvests in 2018/19. Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) affects host and internally displaced households in northern and central Burkina Faso, poor households in southern Mopti and Gao in Mali and the Diffa region of Niger through food assistance as insecurity continues to disrupt markets and livelihood activities. However, many IDPs still are not able access their agricultural fields or humanitarian aid in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad and Nigeria.

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) affecting the Tibesti region may improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in August with the resumption of trade flows with Libya. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will remain until September in the regions around Lake Chad, the Tillabéry region of Niger, CAR and Cameroon due to armed conflicts and/or civil insecurity that significantly disrupt household livelihoods. Households in northeastern Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram conflict continue to depend on humanitarian aid for access to food and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) particularly in Borno State and incidentally Yobé State. In adjacent areas that remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors, the food situation could be similar or worse.

    Outlook by Country


    • The 2019–2020 agricultural season has begun in Mali, thanks to the onset of rains at the end of May. Agricultural production prospects are up 10 percent from 2018 and 25 percent from the five-year average. The average to above-average harvests expected in October 2019 will support a good supply of cereals to markets.
    • The supply of cereals to markets throughout the country remains sufficient, despite the occasional disruptions to flows in insecure areas. Cereal prices, which are generally similar to slightly above average, are supporting poor households’ access to food.
    • The early lean season in the Gao and Tombouctou river valley and in places in the Inner Niger Delta, as well as declining incomes, are leading poor households to resort to negative coping strategies to meet their food needs. As a result, households’ food security will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), with humanitarian assistance needed from June to September for the most affected areas to prevent the situation from worsening.
    • The average to above-average harvests expected in October 2019, as well as the observed decline in prices and improved terms of trade between livestock and cereals, will improve household access to food. As a result, most households in the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between October 2019 and January 2020. As regards displaced households and flood victims, the aftermath of the degradation of their livelihoods will continue to be a burden, therefore leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), or worse, food security.

    For more information, see the Mali Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.


    • The security crises continue to worsen access to food and livelihoods in the Diffa and Tillabéry regions, where poor resident households and displaced populations are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). This is expected to continue in the coming months.
    • The main agropastoral growing season is advancing gradually, thanks to favorable rainfall conditions. Seasonal forecasts predict average to above-average cumulative rainfall, which would be conducive to average agricultural and fodder production and sufficient food access in the post-harvest period from October 2019 to January 2020.
    • Although the lean season is under way in pastoral areas, the food security situation is average, thanks to the availability of pasture and water points. However, disturbances in cross-border trade linked to civil insecurity mean that livestock prices are falling. Some pastoral areas could be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from the current period until July. However, the food situation in the area should gradually improve and food insecurity is expected to become Minimal (IPC Phase 1) once the lean season ends.
    • Food supplies in most households throughout the rest of the country remain sufficient to cover consumption demand. Agricultural households in deficit are able to access consumer products through favorable cereal purchase prices and the normal income generated by seasonal activities such as horticultural production, soil preparation and seasonal labor migration. Most areas will therefore remain in Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) until September 2019.

    For more information, see the Niger Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.


    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to remain widespread throughout northeast Nigeria through early 2020. Outcomes in inaccessible areas are likely similar or may be worse than neighboring accessible areas, and there remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in these areas. Extreme levels of acute food insecurity, including Famine (IPC Phase 5) are also possible in a worst-case scenario in which conflict shifts and significantly restricts humanitarian access and household movement.
    • Households affected by conflicts and banditry in the northwest and central parts of Nigeria are also of high concern. In localized areas, affected households have lost some typical sources of food and income and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely among these households through September. With the main harvest in October most households are expected to have increased income and food access, except worst affected households in Zamfara state who will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January 2020.
    • The recent Cadre Harmonise (June 2019) confirmed that an elevated number of households continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity and humanitarian needs remain high for the more than 1.7 million IDPs and poorest host populations.
    • Displaced persons within Greater Maiduguri and surrounding areas, particularly those in camps, remain accessible to humanitarian actors and are primarily dependent on humanitarian food assistance and limited income earning opportunities. The protracted conflict is now occurring in a fewer number of areas compared to previous years; however, the frequency and intensity of attacks remains high.

    For more information, see the Nigeria Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.


    • The food situation is relatively calm, except in conflict areas. In Tibesti, insecurity continues to prevail, leading to a deterioration in livelihoods and a consumption deficit that now affects households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In Lac, internally displaced persons receive food assistance and have minimal food consumption. The income that they generate does not cover certain expenses. They are therefore experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. 
    • Poor households’ cereal stocks are almost exhausted in some parts of the south, including the two Logone regions, Tandjilé, Moyen-Chari and Mandoul. These households maintain food access through subsidized sales but have difficulties covering non-food expenses and have therefore been experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity since early June.
    • In the Sahel-Saharan area, markets are well supplied with food and stock levels are slightly higher than average, with the exception of the markets near Lake Chad and in Tibesti, which are constantly disrupted by insecurity and incursions by Boko Haram. In the Sudanian area, traders’ stocks are supported by those of the National Food Security Agency (ONASA) intended for sale at affordable prices.

    For more information, see the Chad Food Security Outlook for June 2019 to January 2020.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]

    Burkina Faso

    • Escalating acts of violence by armed groups resulted in a 26 percent increase in the number of internally displaced persons at the start of May, in just one month.  These populations, as well as host households, are dependent on assistance. In areas that are less affected by incidents that have become a daily occurrence, households still have reserves from their own production to maintain their stressed food security situation. 
    • In the northern part of the country (Livelihood Zones 5, 7 and 8), where 95 percent of internally displaced persons are located, populations no longer have access to gold mining sites, which is where they usually derive their second source of income. The supply of staple food to local markets is becoming difficult. Similarly, humanitarian access has become limited, particularly in the province of Soum. This will make internally displaced persons and host households in this province vulnerable to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between June and September.
    • In addition to households’ deteriorating food access, limited access to health services and disruptions to regular malnutrition prevention and management programs throughout the lean season could lead to higher acute malnutrition rates than in the previous year, which will be more severe among internally displaced populations and host households.
    • Although seasonal forecasts indicate favorable conditions for average or above-average rainfall in most parts of the country, the likelihood of poor rains in high-production areas in the west, increasing flows of internally displaced persons and limited population movements could negatively impact agricultural activities, leading to a decline in production below the average of the last five years.

    For more information, see the Burkina Faso Remote Monitoring Update for June 2019


    • Livelihoods continue to deteriorate as conflict continues in the South-West and North-West regions. The conflict also limits access to fields and labor opportunities and together with high food prices, has led to further deterioration in household purchasing power. As a result, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and poor households are most likely to continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through January 2020.
    • In the Far North region, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected to persist for IDPs and poor host households through January 2020 owing to the gradual depletion of stocks between June and August and continued looting and destruction of property by Boko Haram. The conflict is adversely affecting livelihoods in areas of Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava and Mayo-Tsanaga departments.
    • In the Far North region, the increase number of IDPs returns, partner support and good rainfall prospects will most likely lead to favorable yields. In the North-West and South-West regions, on the other hand, food and export production are expected to be below average owing to producers’ limited access to fields, rising input and labor costs and series of stoppages that halt work on plantations.

    For more information, see the Cameroon Remote Monitoring Update for June 2019

     Central African Republic

    • Due to the high number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and irregular access to planned humanitarian assistance, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) is expected to persist in Haut-Mbomou, Mbomou, and Haute-Kotto until October. From October to January, the availability of the harvest in late 2019 and associated decline in food prices is expected to improve food security outcomes to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) even in the absence of food assistance.
    • Although conflict remains a driver of food insecurity in the rest of the country, access to agricultural production activities and humanitarian food assistance is relatively better. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is expected in IDP sites while Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected outside of IDP sites. In the absence of assistance, these IDP sites would deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Despite a delayed start of season, cumulative rainfall from April to September is forecast to be average. Given the overall improvement in the security situation and the return of some IDPs to typical agricultural livelihood activities, 2019 harvests are expected to be higher than 2018. However, total agricultural production is still expected to remain below the pre-crisis average.

    For more information, see the Central African Republic Remote Monitoring Update for June 2019


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


    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    Northern Mali, Northeastern Nigeria, Lake Chad Basin, Liptako Gourma region, Central African Republic, CameroonWorsening civil insecurity
    • Increase in the number of internally displaced persons and refugees in neighbouring countries
    • Serious disruption of trade flows
    • Very low supply to local markets
    • Serious deterioration in household livelihoods
    • Reduction in humanitarian access to areas for assistance
    • Significant deterioration in household consumption
    Eastern and Central Basin (Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali)A significant improvement in the value of the Nigerian currency
    • Re-launch of livestock demand allowing prices, particularly for cattle, to rise above the five-year average.
    • Increase in pastoral household incomes.


    Figures West Africa seasonal calendar  In the North, Main season cultivation is from mid-May to mid-August. Main harvest is from mid-

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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