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With agricultural production considered average overall, household cereal stocks have been depleted in line with normal seasonal trends. Market gardening contributes to ensuring household availability and income, including poor households. This allows for the prevalence of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in most livelihood areas.
With constraints related to rising prices and conflicts causing insecurity, dysfunction among markets and livelihood activities negatively affects poor households in some areas. Households in pastoral areas are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity, with expenditure limited to food due to high commodity prices. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in conflict areas and humanitarian access is limited, while Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is expected in conflict-affected areas but households are accessing food assistance.
Despite a rainfall surplus that has resulted in the satisfactory filling of temporary and permanent ponds and normal regeneration of fodder plants, pastoral conditions have deteriorated due to insecurity, which continues to disrupt transhumance and access to pasture and water resources for animals. Transhumance is also limited due to COVID-19 border closures. The most affected animal species are large ruminants, which make up the bulk of transhumant animals, whose prices are lower than average. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will prevail among poor households in this area until May because of the combined effects of this mobility blockage and low export demand on livelihoods.
The security situation continues to deteriorate along the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso as well as in the Lake Chad basin, and continues to negatively impact food security and livelihoods of the populations affected by violence perpetrated by non-state armed groups (NSAGs). The number of security incidents remains stable or lower than in previous years for the same period, but the number of victims, especially among civilians, has reached very high levels. Attacks by armed groups on civilians in the Tillia department in the Tahoua region on March 21, 2021 resulted in 137 civilian casualties, in addition to the more than 60 civilian casualties caused by the terrorist attack on March 15, 2021 in Banibangou in the Tillabéry region. These same security incidents continue with attacks on military positions in the Diffa region in March and early April. These incidents are causing increasing reactive and preventive displacement in these areas. In the Diffa region, for example, in the first quarter of 2021, 812 protection incidents affecting 1,643 people were reported, compared to 40 security incidents affecting 168 people recorded in the same period in 2020.
The health situation is marked by the prevalence of COVID-19 and the renewal of the State of Health Emergency restricting the movement and gathering of people, the continued closure of land borders, and the observance of preventive measures, in particular social distancing, hand washing, and the use of hand sanitizer.
Despite the persistent incidence of COVID-19, the infection rate is well below the peak observed in the last months of 2020 and the first months of 2021. As of April 19, 2021, a total of 95,658 PCR tests have been administered, of which 5,131 cases were declared positive, compared to 5,108 cases estimated on April 12, 2021. The number of deaths increased from 189 cases on April 12, 2021 to 190 cases on April 19, 2021. The number of cases in treatment is 162 cases compared to 159 cases on April 12, 2021.
Niger has received 400,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from China under the COVAX initiative. The vaccination campaign started on Monday, March 29, 2021 in Niger. This first phase will cover the regions of Niamey, Tahoua, and Agadez with 200,000 people targeted, including healthcare workers, defense and security forces, and people over 60 years of age with or without comorbidity. Vaccinations are taking place with technical and financial support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners (including UNICEF, Gavi, the World Bank, the European Union, USAID, and John Snow, Inc. [JSI]). Nearly 200,000 additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected soon as part of the WHO’s COVAX initiative.
In the agricultural zone, agricultural activities for rice and off-season market gardening crops are progressing normally on sites and irrigated areas. The dominant activities at present are also those relating to the continuation of field preparations (clearing, transporting and applying manure, plowing) to face the forthcoming 2021/2022 rainfed growing season. Thus, although poor households have normally exhausted their cereal stocks and their food access is assured by the markets, maintenance and harvesting of off-season agricultural products offers income opportunities that will improve their food access.
In rural areas, this period is also dominated by the return of young people from domestic exodus to support their families with field work. They will also provide financial support to households as they enter the agricultural lean season starting in June or July.
In the pastoral area, this period is characterized by a scarcity of pasture and water sources, similar to the usual depletion of pastoral resources from April onwards. However, this year, the effects of disruptions to animal movements following COVID-19 border closures are seen in above-normal pasture depletion in most of the pastoral area. The situation is particularly critical in the pastoral area of Tillabéry, Tahoua, and Diffa, where the situation is aggravated by the disruption of cross-border transhumance and the presence and strong pressure on the meager fodder resources available from herds from Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso following the conflicts in Liptako Gourma and the Lake Chad basin. This situation has led to low export demand and a drop in animal prices, especially for large ruminants.
Market supply is considered satisfactory for demand, which is essentially made up of households, institutions, and traders. Supply is strengthened by public stocks being sold at moderate prices.
Significant increases over the five-year average (over 30 percent) are seen on millet markets in the Maradi and Zinder regions, which receive local consumer demand in addition to commercial demand from other regions of the country.
On the livestock markets, the number of animals is considered average to above average depending on the species, due to the extortion of animals by armed groups and border closures and conflicts blocking herd mobility. Demand is average for small ruminants but declining for large ruminants due to the low presence of export traders. Animal sale prices are falling below average for large livestock and are stable or even rising for small ruminants due to sustained local demand for fattening for the Tabaski holiday. Terms of trade between livestock and cereals remain favorable to farmers, who earn an average of 100 to 150 kilograms of millet from the sale of a small ruminant.
Following the depletion of cereal stocks, markets are the main source of cereal supply for poor households in many areas, which is the same as the normal seasonal trend. Irrigated crop products are part of the food consumed by households, but mainly by affluent households.
With income from migrant remittances and the sale of labor, irrigated crop products, and animals, most households are able to cover their food needs without engaging in atypical strategies.
However, poor households in Tillabéry and northern Tahoua, mainly those in areas affected by insecurity due to attacks by armed groups, have low and undiversified food consumption because they have insufficient food resources and no access to food assistance due to their location in limited-access areas. Despite the effects of this insecurity, poor displaced households in the Diffa region and in southern Maradi have acceptable food consumption thanks to their access to food assistance every month.
The assumptions of the most likely FEWS NET scenario for February to September 2021 have not changed, with the exception of the following updated assumptions.
- Security incidents will continue in the Diffa region and in the Liptako Gourma area, causing more displacement of populations targeted by attacks, with an increase at the same level as observed in recent years due flooded roads restricting terrorist group movements.
- Given the continuing pressure of demand and the depletion of producers’ stocks, prices will continue to rise at a monthly rate of five to 10 percent if imports do not arrive or are not regular due to low supply on the source markets of Nigeria and Benin or disruptions from security problems.
According to the joint market assessment conducted in February 2021 by the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), FAO, FEWS NET, WFP, and the Niger Agricultural Market Information System, market supplies will continue to be sufficient to meet demand, which will increase because of regular local demand and demand for the Ramadan feast, institutional purchases in March/April, and seed requirements in May/June. Prices will climb above average during this scenario period to a greater extent than usually observed. However, most households will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity due to income opportunities related to rainy season agricultural activities. There will, however, be a local increase in the number of households, remaining under 20 percent, that will be unable to meet non-food expenditures despite food assistance that will be provided by the government as well as partners. These households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the increase in the number of households exhausting their cereal stocks and climate events (floods) impacting products.
In pastoral areas, grazing and watering conditions will continue to deteriorate, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will prevail until June before improving to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from July onwards, when income from sales will allow acceptable access to consumer goods. Conflict and insecurity will persist and keep poor displaced households in the Tillabéry and northern Tahoua regions in a food deficit situation, facing limited income opportunities due to disrupted agricultural activities and above-average prices. These households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity will continue for poor displaced households in the Diffa and southern Maradi regions with food and non-food assistance including 100 kg of cereals, 25 kg of legumes, and five liters of oil per household per month in addition to shelter (tents), utensils, and sanitation.
Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.