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Security shocks persist and are the main causes of food deficits

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • December 2020
Security shocks persist and are the main causes of food deficits

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Current food security conditions are generally characterized by food access ensured by the country’s own cereal production, which is estimated to be sufficient for the caloric needs of households whose quality of food consumption is enhanced by the current harvests of irrigated agricultural products. These favorable food conditions will continue through May 2021 in most of the country’s agricultural and agro-pastoral livelihood zones.

    • The security crisis persists in the regions of Diffa, Tillabéry, Tahoua, and Maradi. In addition to its significant impacts on livelihood activities and the functioning of markets, this crisis limits access to households for humanitarian activities, especially in the regions of Tillabéry and Tahoua, where Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity prevails and will persist through May 2021.

    • The availability of animal feed has greatly improved as a result of the good rainfall recorded during 2020, ensuring Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in the pastoral zone. However, as a result of the limited mobility of herds due to border closures, animals’ physical condition and market value will decline. This will lead to decreased food access for poor households, who will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity due to the aggravating factors of rising consumer prices.


    According to official provisional results published by the Government of Niger, the projected cereal production for 2020‐2021 is comparable to the five-year average. This projection applies both to millet (the main staple food) and cowpea (the main cash crop). These crops benefited from good water conditions that would have resulted in a surplus if the floods, following heavy rainfall in August and September 2020, had not destroyed crops in some areas. These floods ultimately caused losses estimated at 2,575 hectares of millet, sorghum, and cowpea, or 0.03 percent loss of area, 2,000 hectares and 15,000 tons of irrigated rice, or 17 percent loss of production; and 2,908 hectares of market gardening crops estimated at 24,588 tons.

    Production levels were achieved thanks to sustained normal rainfall through late September throughout the country and average control of crop pests. This allowed households to replenish their food stocks and rely less on markets for purchasing staple foods as in a normal year. Harvests continue for rainfed rice, melon, watermelon, and other flood recession crops as well as some vegetables (lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes, among others) in production areas, increasing availability and opportunities to diversify food rations as well as incomes. Government contributions of agricultural equipment and inputs, coupled with good groundwater recharge, will help achieve at least average off-season production.

    Cereal crop harvests and market gardening crop harvests and maintenance will continue through May 2021. These will provide significant income opportunities for poor households with overall average daily earnings. Poor households in rural areas affected by floods, as well as those in urban centers also affected by floods in addition to COVID-19 restrictions, will receive in-kind (shelter and food) and cash support from the government and its partners through February 2021. This will help them ensure sufficient food consumption without engaging in negative strategies.

    The pastoral situation continues to benefit from good biomass production, allowing sufficient food for animals whose movement and physical conditions are normal. Additionally, incomes are improving as average prices during this year-end period are impacted by a demand for exports to Nigeria. Some Nigerian borders have been reopened, allowing some resumption of flows, and the Nigerian naira continues to depreciate. However, due to the resurgence of COVID-19 and the upward trend of positive cases recorded since early December 2020, the Government of Niger has kept all land borders closed. This has resulted in weak flows, including animal exports.

    Market supply is regular and satisfactory following the arrival of new harvests at the main markets. Cereal prices are currently following their normal seasonal downward trends compared to the past months. However, they remain higher than seasonal averages in all areas, particularly in those that have recorded deficits in agricultural production, especially the departments of Dungass and Belbédji (Zinder), Arlit (Agadez), Diffa and Maine Soroa (Diffa), Mayahi (Maradi), Abalak (Tahoua), and Ayorou (Tillabéry). Increases above 20 percent have been recorded in these areas.

    The security crisis in Lake Chad and Liptako Gourma, and in the southern part of the Maradi region is experiencing a new development after a relative lull observed in November. The regions of Diffa, Tillabéry, Tahoua, and Maradi have experienced a resurgence in non-state armed groups’ activity since October. This has led to a marked increase in the number of security incidents compared to the past months and compared to 2019.

    In addition to these security shocks, these same regions are affected by flooding, most recently in the regions of Diffa and Tahoua, as a result of overflowing waterways such as the Komadougou River.


    The assumptions of the most likely FEWS NET scenario for October 2020 to May 2021 have not changed, with the exception of the following updated assumptions.

    • The Nigerian government announced the opening of the country’s land borders in Ilela and Maigatari on December 16, 2020, as well as a gradual reopening of its other land borders through December 31, 2020, after being closed for close to a year for economic and political reasons. In view of the COVID-19 resurgence, restrictions are being maintained and others escalated, such as those related to the closure of Niger’s land borders. However, population movements and trade flows across the Nigerian border are expected to increase while remaining below average.


    Seasonal economic activities, especially those related to off-season crops, their sales, and ongoing agricultural labor, will continue until March to April 2021 and will provide good opportunities for poor households to earn normal incomes. This situation will increase households’ access to staple foods and keep most areas in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity until at least May 2021. However, with the above-average increase in consumer goods prices and the below-average income level caused by COVID-19, food access difficulties will be observed among some poor households, a small portion of which will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or will even face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in April and May 2021. In the Diffa region, livelihood activities and markets will continue to be disrupted as a result of security incidents that will continue and even increase in intensity. Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity will be maintained by planned and ongoing humanitarian support in the regions of Diffa and Maradi, while the regions of Tillabéry and Tahoua will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    In the pastoral zone, exports will decline from February through May 2021, especially with the seasonal deterioration of livestock’s physical conditions. The demand for animals is expected to be mostly local and low, especially with the food concerns that will mark the period of March, April, and May 2021. Prices will drop, especially for large livestock, as these animals have the highest demand for export. This situation will lead to lower incomes for poor herders whose livestock sales provide insufficient financial resources for food purchases given the higher prices of consumer products. These households will have insufficient income to cover their non-food needs, and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in March 2021.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: données de OCHA

    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.

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