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Rising levels of food insecurity in agropastoral and conflict areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • May - September 2014
Rising levels of food insecurity in agropastoral and conflict areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by country
  • Events that could change the outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Poorer than usual pastoral conditions, below-average harvests in localized areas, and disruptions to livelihoods due to civil insecurity are creating elevated levels of food insecurity across the region. With the lean season gradually getting underway, there will be a visible escalation in food insecurity through the end of June in pastoral areas and through the month of October in agropastoral and conflict areas.
    • The ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) and northeastern Nigeria will continue, with growing numbers of displaced persons in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Households in affected areas, particularly the poor and internally displaced persons (IDPs), will have insufficient purchasing power to buy adequate amounts of food on the market and, thus, will have difficulty meeting their basic needs.
    • Farming activities for the 2014-15 growing season have started up in localized areas across the region. Land preparations, crop planting, and field clean-up activities are already underway in areas where the season got off to a two to three-week earlier than usual start in May. This is already creating labor demand that is benefiting poor households, although income-generation from these activities is still insufficient to bring down food insecurity levels in areas that suffered poor 2013 crop production.
    • In general, cereal availability will be adequate to ensure normal market supplies. However, millet supplies will be tight in certain areas, particularly in Niger, Chad, and Nigeria, after last year’s below-average production. The seasonal increase in demand during the lean season will drive prices above-average through the month of August, particularly in the eastern basin, limiting food access.

    Outlook by country

    Burkina Faso

    • Most very poor and poor households in the northern part of the country will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions between April and September as their purchasing power is weakened by rising staple food prices, which are already above the five-year average. Thus, these poor households will be unable to ensure the protection of their livelihoods.
    • Most very poor and poor households in other parts of the country will face a normal lean season, with cereal prices and household incomes in line with seasonal averages. Thus, barring any negative shocks to their livelihoods, they will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.
    • According to the seasonal outlook, the rainy season will get off to a normal start, spurring the start-up of farming activities between June and July, the growth of new plant cover, and the timely return migration of transhumant herds. This will help maintain normal levels of seasonal income from farm labor and will improve pastoral conditions in most parts of the country.

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Burkina Faso.

    Chad

    • Poor households in the Wadi Fira and southern Bahr El-Ghazel (BEG) areas are facing food consumption deficits on account of the premature depletion of their food stocks, the unusually steep increases in food prices, and poor pastoral conditions. While projected humanitarian assistance should prevent a further deterioration in their food security situation, these households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the upcoming October harvests.
    • Livestock body conditions in the Sahelian zone are poorer than usual due to pasture deficits in that area. This is reducing milk availability and livestock prices and is eroding the purchasing power of pastoralists. Affected households in the Batha, northern BEG, Kanem, Guera, Sila, and Hadjer Lamis areas will have difficulty maintaining their food access and, thus, will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and September.
    • The presence of refugees and returnees in Logone Oriental, Moyen Chari, Mandoul, and Salamat is creating additional costs for their host families, is increasing the household dependency ratio, or number of dependents per household, and is putting pressure on household demand, consumption, and spending. As a result, these households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Chad.

    Mali

    • Poor households on the Dogon Plateau are facing a premature depletion of their food stocks. This is causing them to resort to coping strategies, such as increasing their wage labor, borrowing and reducing their nonfood expenditures, in order to meet their basic food needs. Poor households in this area are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in spite of ongoing food assistance programs by humanitarian agencies serving over 25 percent of the food-insecure population.
    • The earlier than usual start of the lean season in northern pastoral areas is reducing animal production (milk, butter, and meat production) more sharply than usual, adversely affecting food consumption for pastoral households. This factor, along with below-average income levels from other local activities due to the residual effects of civil insecurity, is limiting food access and contributing to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in spite of the presence of humanitarian assistance.
    • The Stressed levels of food insecurity facing poor agropastoral households in northern riverine areas, millet-producing and transhumant livestock-raising areas (livelihood zone 4), and areas on the Dogon Plateau will escalate with the continuation of the lean season. The deterioration in household food consumption and the sale of assets to access cereals on local markets will accelerate as of June-July, propelling poor households into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Households in southern areas of the country who experienced average 2013 crop production levels will rely on their typical activities to access food. Normal seasonal trends for food prices (with prices remaining stable or increasing slightly), along with average income levels, will enable households to access staple foods normally. Consequently, most households in these areas are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity and will continue to do so through September.

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Mali.

    Mauritania

    • With the below-average levels of rainfed crop production, the sharper than usual deterioration in pastoral conditions, and the depreciation in terms of trade in northern Guidimakha, Gorgol, and Brakna, poor households in these areas are beginning to experience food consumption deficits and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between April and July. Households in other less affected agropastoral areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • The beginning of the rainy season in June will create seasonal employment opportunities for farm labor. For pastoralists, the good availability of pasture and water will also help strengthen access to food and income from livestock-related activities. This will in turn improve food security conditions, with households in most livelihood zones experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity before September.
    • Nouakchott will continue to furnish rural markets with regular, adequate supplies of imported foods. Moreover, the expected normal start of the rainy season in June should prompt Malian farmers to begin offloading their cereal stocks, which will jump-start the flow of cross-border trade. This will limit price increases, maintaining them within a range that will not severely impair the food access of poor households.

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Mauritania.

    Niger

    • Even with regular market supplies and normal seasonal price trends, cereal prices will remain above the five-year average, although at levels relatively similar to 2013. Increasing transportation costs, trade disruptions, and check points in central and southeastern Niger due to the conflict in Nigeria will contribute to prices remaining above-average through September.
    • Poor households in certain pastoral, agropastoral, and agricultural areas are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity due to the premature depletion of their food stocks, coarse grain prices that are above seasonal averages, and poor pastoral conditions. However, some poor households, particularly in Ouallam, could face deteriorating food insecurity conditions to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels between July and September.
    • Starting in July, livestock body conditions in pastoral areas, along with production and consumption levels of milk, will return to normal with the growth of fresh pasture. This improvement in conditions will cause food insecurity to decline in these zones and households will begin to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Niger.

    Nigeria

    • The conflict with Boko Haram is continuing to displace local populations and disrupt markets and income-generating activities. Moreover, household food stocks have been depleting earlier than usual due to below-average harvests. As a result, households in Borno and Yobe, the epicenter of the conflict, are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity between now and September. Similarly, households in Adamawa State will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.
    • After two consecutive poor cropping years, most poor households in Niger State are market-dependent two to three months earlier than usual. Dwindling household food stocks and rising cereal market prices are consequently complicating their food access and these households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through September.
    • Most households in areas unaffected by conflict and dry spells still have adequate food stocks from last season. In addition, the normal start of the rainy season should jump-start farming activities. This will give poor food-deficit households normal access to wage income from farm labor with which to purchase food. Thus, these households will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through September.

    To learn more, see the complete April to September 2014 Food Security Outlook for Nigeria.

    Remote Monitoring Countries1

    Central African Republic

    • The Central African Republic is expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity between now and the start of the upcoming harvest season (July to October, depending on the area). Appropriate, well-targeted humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.
    • The ongoing conflict is continuing to severely disrupt livelihoods. As of April 23 of this year, there were approximately 600,000 internally displaced persons, which is equivalent to 13 percent of the country’s total population. Despite humanitarian interventions, poor households and IDPs in areas especially hard hit by the conflict, including the northwestern and west-central regions and Bangui, are facing below-average incomes, limited food access, and food consumption gaps.
    • The beginning of the harvest in July in the south and in October in the north will ease the severity of the crisis. However, according to humanitarian organizations on the ground, poor access to fields and a critical shortage of farm inputs will disrupt the upcoming growing season. If the 2014 harvest is again below-average, as it is currently expected, food security will likely deteriorate again in 2015.

    To learn more, see the complete April 2014 Remote Monitoring Update for the Central African Republic.

    Guinea

    • The normal pursuit of preparatory work for the 2014/2015 growing season is helping poor households generate average income levels and meet their basic needs without resorting to any negative coping strategies. These households are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through the end of September.

    To learn more, see the complete April 2014 Remote Monitoring Update for Guinea.

    Liberia

    • Even with the seven percent shortfall in national rice production levels compared to average and the normal start of the lean season in the southeast, poor households across the country are still able to meet their basic food and nonfood needs due to normal levels and sources of food and income, along with stable imported rice prices. Thus, these households will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least September.

    To learn more, see the complete April 2014 Remote Monitoring Update for Liberia.

    Senegal

    • The 20 percent below-average cereal production this year and lower than usual food stock levels are causing households in northern parts of the country to have poor food access. In addition, unusually weak industrial demand for peanuts from processing plants has caused producers to deplete their cereal stocks earlier than usual, by April rather than May/June, as in a normal year.
    • With income levels still below-average, poor households in affected areas are not able to fully protect their livelihoods. As a result, these households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity between April and September.

    To learn more, see the complete April 2014 Remote Monitoring Update for Senegal.

    Sierra Leone

    • The average to above-average levels of household food stocks are allowing households to cover food and nonfood needs and is translating into a normal lean season starting in June. With typical income-generating activities producing normal income levels, households will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through September.

    To learn more, see the complete April 2014 Remote Monitoring Update for Sierra Leone.

     

    1 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, reporting 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

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Sahel

    A generally poor growing season (with well below-average levels of crop and pasture production) prevent the usual recovery in food security conditions

    • Earlier than usual food shortages in September created by traders hoarding their inventories, depleted food supplies that are not replenished with fresh crops, and unusually sharp price increases curtail food access for poor households
    • Unusual displacements of local populations and livestock
    • Unusual decline in food consumption
    • Rising rates of acute malnutrition

    Chad, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso

    Late start of the 2014 rainy season delays farming activities and prolongs the lean season for pastoral populations

    • The hoarding of trader inventories results in limited market supplies. Ensuing sharp price increases in July/August in the central and eastern basins curtail food access for poor households
    • Below-average levels of seasonal income for farm workers starting in May

    Pastoral areas of Niger, Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso with pasture deficits

    A somewhat earlier than usual start of the 2014 rainy season in southern transhumant farming areas limit access to pastures in the south, forcing pastoralists to begin migrating north

    • Poor grazing conditions, leading to:
    • increasingly poor livestock body conditions;
    • excessively or unusually high animal mortality rates
    • Below-average livestock to cereal terms of trade
    • Limited access to animal products and staple foods for pastoral households

    Sahel

    Large-scale locust infestation

    • Mass destruction of crops and pastures
    • Hoarding by agricultural households and traders, leading to  premature market price increases
    • Complete crop failure and the extension of lean season conditions in affected areas
    • Unusually sharp decline in food consumption

    Northern Mali, northeastern Nigeria, southeastern Niger, Central African Republic, and border areas

    Escalation in ongoing conflicts and growing numbers of displaced persons

    • Growing disruptions to local markets
    • Food shortages and unusually high food prices
    • Difficult food access for poor households, refugees, and IDPs
    • Growing food assistance needs for IDPs and refugees

     

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Source:

    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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