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Continued high and worrying levels of food insecurity in conflict areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • March 2019
Continued high and worrying levels of food insecurity in conflict areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Market gardening products that are widely available at this time of year complement good levels of food production to improve household consumption and income. In areas with low pasture production, early transhumance ensures adequate livestock feed, except in the Liptako-Gourma region and the greater Lake Chad basin where access to resources remains limited by civil insecurity.

    • Market supplies remain satisfactory and are supported by new harvests while demand is seasonally low to average. As a result, food prices are down from previous months and the last year but remain close to the five-year average. However, they remain atypically high in the Great Lake Chad Basin, the Tibesti region of Chad, northern and central Mali, and the Liptako-Gourma region due to insecurity that disrupts market flows and operations.

    • In the outlook period, market supply will be sufficient to meet the increase in household demand as we approach and during the lean season. Prices will remain below last year's level but relatively close to the average or slightly higher. In conflict areas, they will remain atypically high.  Livestock markets in the Sahel, particularly for cattle, will continue to be affected by insecurity and limited export opportunities to Nigeria, but this could be mitigated in May/June by increased demand during Ramadan.

    • Most of the region will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2019. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will affect poor households in the Kanem, Barh El Gazel and southern Chad regions, and the Tahoua region and the southern Tillabéry region in Niger, between June and September due to poor harvests in 2018/19. Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) will affect poor households in southern Mopti and Gao in Mali, and the Diffa region of Niger, due to low incomes caused in part by insecurity that disrupts markets in addition to the early depletion of household stocks in some areas.

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will continue to affect the Tibesti and Lac regions of Chad, the Tillabéry region of Niger, CAR, and Cameroon, through September due to armed conflicts and/or civil insecurity that significantly disrupt household livelihoods with negative consequences on their consumption. Households in northeastern Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram conflict continue to depend on humanitarian aid for access to food and remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4), particularly in Borno State and Yobé State. In nearby areas that remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors, the food situation could be similar or worse.



    • Agricultural production was 34 percent above average and is supporting generally satisfactory cereal availability in the country, despite pockets of decreased production along the river and in the Seno region in Mopti. As a result, most households in the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between February and September 2019.
    • Average to good livestock conditions indicate a normal lean season from March, with average maintenance of livestock body conditions and average livestock production overall. Average income from livestock sales due to the satisfactory condition of animals and animal products will improve the income of livestock farming households.
    • Households’ access to cereals is generally average, owing to the availability of their own production (although low in some areas), low to average cereal prices, and improved terms of trade for livestock/cereals. However, the decline in overall income (pastoral, non-agricultural) due to security disruption in conflict zones will negatively affect the adequate access of poor households to markets.
    • The early lean season, starting in April/May instead of June due to early stock depletion, and lower incomes due to the negative impacts of insecurity, are leading households to resort to unconventional coping strategies. The resulting Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will continue until September, with a need for humanitarian support from June to September for the most affected areas to avoid a worsening situation in the delta, Seno and Ménaka.

    For more information, see the Mali Food Security Outlook for February to September 2019.


    • In most of the country's agricultural and agro-pastoral areas, agricultural production is good and has enabled good stock levels to be built up, which are the main food sources for households. In localized areas of agricultural production deficits, poor households can cover their food and non-food needs but by using livelihoods coping strategies, which places them in Stress (IPC Phase 2).
    • Livestock are benefitting from good forage availability and are maintaining a good body conditions conducive to an improvement in their market value and sufficient food access for households. However, the low nutritional value of available fodder in some areas of Diffa is manifested by poor livestock body conditions and low prices that are forcing households to sell more livestock in order to purchase food.
    • In the northern areas of the Tillabéry region, in addition to the cereal deficit, insecurity causes dysfunctional markets and cereal flows and limits access to livelihoods. The majority of households are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and may reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the increasing insecurity, limiting access to resources by households and reducing humanitarian access.
    • In the Diffa region, households affected by the ongoing conflict continue to rely on available food which allows most households to cover their food needs and allows them to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in February 2019 and in the coming months.

    For more information, see the Niger Food Security Outlook for February to September 2019.


    • Conflict in northeast Nigeria continues to threaten lives and livelihoods. Affected resident and displaced populations continue to face significant difficulty meeting their basic food needs, and worst-affected areas are likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Inaccessible areas are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as neighboring, accessible areas. More extreme levels of acute food insecurity are possible in a worst-case scenario where displaced populations become cutoff due to a shift in conflict and emergency assistance provision is halted.
    • Many households continue to be impacted by farmer/herder conflict in central and northern states, and affected populations remain displaced in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, and Adamawa states. The conflict keeps households from engaging in normal livelihood activities in affected areas. Larger populations have restricted access to market and income opportunities in Zamfara and Katsina states and will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September 2018.
    • In much of the rest of the country, households are consuming own food stocks in the postharvest period. Households are engaged normally in dry season activities, petty trading, and labor work to earn income. Staple food prices are generally exhibiting typical trends and will peak during the lean season period between July and September. Consequently, most households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between February and September 2019 across the country.

    For more information, see the Nigeria Food Security Outlook for February to September 2019.


    • Faced with the loss of their livelihoods, some IDPs and refugees from Lake Chad are dependent on humanitarian assistance for food and will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until May. Their situation will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from May/June with the uncertainty of assistance and low employment opportunities. In Tibesti, conflict-affected households face consumption deficits.
    • The food security situation of poor households could deteriorate in Kanem, Bahr el-Ghazal (BEG), Tandjilé, the two Logones, Mandoul and Moyen Chari, between March and September, due to the depletion of cereal stocks. They will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between June and September. Most households in the rest of the country have average stocks and will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
    • Pastoral conditions are generally good. Livestock body conditions are satisfactory and will remain so until April before deteriorating between May and June, as in normal years. This situation will improve from July onwards with the regeneration of pastureland, but pastoralists' incomes will remain low due to low livestock prices.

    For more information, see the Chad Food Security Outlook for February to September 2019.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]

    Burkina Faso

    • The deterioration of the security situation, characterized by increased action by armed groups against civilians and their property and the risk of community conflicts, has resulted in flows of displaced persons from northern communes to urban centers in livelihood zones 7 and 8.
    • In this pastoral area (livelihood zones 7 and 8), where households generally rely on livestock sales to buy cereals, insecurity is leading to a reduction in basic food supplies and a decrease in the use of local markets by livestock purchasers, especially in border communes.
    • However, with harvests at average or higher levels in comparison with the past season, host households have typical access to food and are expected to depend on markets from May onwards. Internally displaced persons are beginning to buy their food, and in the central markets, prices remain near average, or 10 to 20 percent higher than, the five-year average. Poor host and displaced households could be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between May and August.
    • The timely arrival of the rainy season between April and June will help to regenerate pastures, which will limit farmers’ dependence on agro-industrial by-products to feed their livestock. It will also help to limit the retention of cereal stocks by traders and large-scale producers. For more information, see the Burkina Faso Remote Monitoring Update for February 2019


    • Despite above-average agricultural production, the income of poor households in the Far North continues to be negatively affected by conflict from Boko Haram and reduced trade with Nigeria. As a result, poor households are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • Humanitarian food assistance continues for internally displaced persons in the South-West region helping to maintain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). Meanwhile in the North-West, where assistance is less common, poor and displaced households have limited purchasing power are dependent on markets and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • In the coming months, markets are expected to remain well supplied in the Far North due to higher local production. On the other hand, in English-speaking regions, supply disruptions and high household dependency on markets will likely lead to unusual price increases, especially during the atypically long lean season from February to May.

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

    Central African Republic

    • Conflict-affected households are expected to experience food deficits until September, partly due to higher market prices during the lean season. The distribution of food aid in January and February probably prevented considerable food deficits for some households in Ouham, Mbomou and Nana-Gribizi. However, assistance remains underfunded and most displaced households, host families and returnees are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.
    • In relatively stable regions of the country, household food stocks are expected to be depleted by March. Most will probably depend on food purchases, wild foods and stressed consumption strategies until green crops are available in June. Most households will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, persistent tensions between farmers and transhumants could temporarily disrupt livelihoods.
    • The proportion of households engaged in agriculture increased to 84 percent in 2018. Given the redeployment of security forces, the increase in the number of internal returns in 2018 and planned interventions by humanitarian actors on livelihoods, it is likely that more households will be able to engage in agriculture during the 2019 production season.

    For more information, see the Central African Republic Remote Monitoring Update for February 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.



    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    Central Basin (Mali and Burkina Faso) Atypical institutional purchases (or shifting the procurement schedule) for national and/or regional reserves from March 2019 onwards
    • Significant increase in demand
    • Early seasonal increase in local cereal prices
    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.


    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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