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Persistent insecurity and rising prices continue to limit household food access in conflict zones

  • Key Message Update
  • West Africa
  • March 2024
Persistent insecurity and rising prices continue to limit household food access in conflict zones

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The moderate rainfall recorded in March in the Gulf of Guinea bimodal zone has slowed down. However, the amount of rainfall enabled planting to continue. Seasonal forecasts for 2024, drawn up in April by regional (AGRHYMET, ACMAD) and national centers, indicate a generally wet rainy season for Sahelian countries, with late to normal start dates in the Central Sahel and early to average dates in the Western and Eastern Sahel. Late to average end-of-season dates and short dry spells at the start of the season are expected in the Western Sahel, while medium to long dry spells are expected in the Eastern Sahel and generally long dry spells toward the end of the season are likely throughout the Sahelian strip. Runoff from the main river basins will be above average in the Sahel, which could lead to localized flooding.
    • Soil preparation is underway in the Sudanian zones of the Sahel, and planting could begin as early as May. On the pastoral front, livestock conditions are deteriorating seasonally, with pastures dwindling and water levels decreasing or even drying up in certain rivers and watering holes. This situation is particularly worrying in the pastoral zones of Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, and Senegal, where pasture production has been very poor. The result is a deterioration in livestock body conditions and a fall in prices, especially for small ruminants. The increase in demand due to the Tabaski holiday in June may boost prices, but this will not benefit poor households in insecure areas due to low numbers of livestock holdings. 
    • The security crisis persists in the Sahel and continues to lead to population displacement, although returns of displaced people are increasingly being recorded in some places. In March 2024, 3,046,874 displaced people were registered in the central Sahel and Liptako-Gourma, 69 percent of them in Burkina Faso. In the Lake Chad basin, 6,041,927 displaced persons were registered, 74 percent of whom were in Nigeria (IOM). Livelihoods, market-related activities, trade, seasonal livestock movements, and access to basic social services have been severely disrupted in these areas. Increasingly, the security crisis is spilling over into coastal countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin), which are facing growing numbers of refugees from the Sahel. In March 2024, these countries welcomed a total of 118,249 people.
    • Cereal prices remained stable or rising from February to March 2024, reflecting the seasonal depletion of household stocks and the resulting increase in demand, especially given the month of Ramadan. Prices remained well above their five-year averages due to factors such as below-average supplies, rising production and transportation costs, insecurity, and persistent trade restrictions. Production shortfalls and the lingering effects of sanctions recently lifted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also kept prices up in Niger, while rising transportation costs and the influx of refugees from neighboring Sudan exacerbated price levels in Chad. In Nigeria, the rise in staple food prices continued against a backdrop of 33.2 percent annual inflation in March 2024, the highest in almost 30 years, due to foreign exchange losses and the removal of fuel subsidies. Prices are expected to remain above average across the region until the end of the lean season.
    • The majority of areas will continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes until September 2024. Areas affected by civil insecurity are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, notably in the provinces of Kossi, Sourou, Yatenga, Séno, Sanmatenga, northern Bam, northern Namentenga, Komondjari, Gourma Tapoa, and Kompienga in Burkina Faso, the northern and western regions of Tahoua and Tillabéry in Niger, the regions of Kanem, Bar el Gazel, Borkou, Tibesti, Ennedi East and West, Wadi Fira, Ouaddaî, and Sila in Chad, the south of the Gao region in Mali, Borno State, parts of Yobé, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Plateau in Nigeria, and in the far north of Cameroon. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in these areas until May 2024. From June to September, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will spread to other provinces in Burkina Faso (Bam, Gnagna, Koulpelogo), to the Hadjer Lamis region in Chad, to other LGAs in the above-mentioned states, and to Niger in Nigeria. In the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will improve slightly from June and July onward, thanks to new harvests, which will enable households to transition to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    • The level of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) currently observed in the provinces of Lorum, Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha in Burkina Faso, in Menaka in Mali, and in inaccessible LGAs in the northeastern states of Nigeria (Abadam, Guzamala, Marte, Bama) in Nigeria will persist until September due to limited household food stocks and limited access to markets and humanitarian aid. From June onward, this level of food insecurity will extend to the Séno province, currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso. As for the Djibo commune in Burkina Faso, which has been under blockade for almost two years, FEWS NET estimates in March 2024 that the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) during this projection period (February to September 2024) is low. This is due to market garden production around the Djibo dam at higher levels than last year, the increase in the security radius around the town, enabling households to collect more wild foods, the creation of small supply circuits to the town by traders, and the increase in remittance flows to Djibo. However, Emergency food insecurity (IPC Phase 4) remains the most likely outcome, given the depletion of most income sources and persistent consumption gaps. These results will worsen during the lean season, with an expansion of areas in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across the north of the country, as well as an increase in populations in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the most inaccessible areas.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. West Africa Key Message Update March 2024: Persistent insecurity and rising prices continue to limit household food access in conflict zones, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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