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Agricultural and pastoral production is in deficit compared to annual household consumption needs. However, thanks to residual cereal stocks and market garden produce, current food availability allows for food consumption by most households in livelihood zones.
However, the decline in agricultural production in conflict areas, consumer prices that are more than 23 percent higher than last year on average (according to the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)), and the low income and purchasing power of poor households, are significantly reducing poor households' access to food.
According to the Food Security Cluster, food assistance from the government and partners covers 80 to 100 percent of poor households in the regions of Diffa and Sud Maradi, and less than 20 percent of poor households in the regions of Tillabéry and Nord Tahoua, where insecurity is hampering humanitarian activities.
Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) prevails in non-conflict areas because, with sufficient crop yields and income opportunities, poor households (over 80 percent in these areas) have sufficient food access to protect their livelihoods. However, the outlook indicates that Diffa and Maradi will be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), with the support of food assistance that allows households to cover their food needs, and Tillabéry and Nord Tahoua — regions where, in addition to agropastoral production deficits, conflict and insecurity have disrupted livelihood activities and limited access to food assistance — will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Conflicts and related civil insecurity persist in Niger and are most severe in the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi. Security incidents recorded in October and November increased by 45 percent compared to the previous two months. There were half as many security incidents perpetrated by militant groups in October and November 2021 compared to the same period in 2020; however, they were 12 times as deadly, resulting in 162 casualties in 2021 versus 36 in 2020. This trend is most likely due to the resurgence of vigilante militias assembled on the basis of their ethnic group and their increasing willingness to fight jihadist militants. Attacks were directed against civilians and the defense and security forces, and were most concentrated in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions.
According to the Planning, Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, provisional agricultural production in 2021 was 3,001,845 tonnes for cereals, against consumption needs estimated at 4,950,711 tonnes for the population; thus a gross cereal deficit of 1,948,866 tonnes, i.e. 39 percent below consumption needs. Fodder production was also 46 percent below requirements for livestock. The largest deficits were in the pastoral zones of Tanout (Zinder), Bermo (Maradi), Abalak and Tillia (Tahoua), Banibangou and Abala (Tillabéry), and Tchirozérine and Aderbissenat (Agadez). These poor yields of the agricultural growing season resulted from the combined effects of the delayed onset of the rains, long dry spells, and the early end of the rainy season, as well as disruption of agropastoral activities due to insecurity in the interior of the country and in the border areas with Mali and Burkina Faso. However, as at December 2021, cereal stocks from new harvests are not yet fully depleted, and these allow food access for poor households in key production areas that are not affected by conflict and insecurity.
Food availability and diversity are enhanced by the ongoing harvest of market garden produce, the maintenance and harvesting of which provide income opportunities for poor households. These households also benefit from the availability of surface water for the manufacture and sale of bricks, as well as fishing activities. Other seasonal activities that provide cash income for poor households include small-scale trade; handicrafts; and the sale of milk, straw, and firewood. However, the situation is more worrying in the areas of Tillabéry, Tahoua, and Diffa which are affected by insecurity, causing a significant drop of over 50 percent in agricultural production due to reductions in areas planted and the abandonment of rainfed and irrigated fields. The level of grazing is below average in the pastoral zone, but the fodder deficit has not yet had a significant effect on the physical condition of livestock or their market value.
The availability of cereals is generally satisfactory on most markets, due to new harvests. However, stock levels remain below average due to lower agricultural production and reduced cross-border flows caused by continued restrictions on imports in some areas or transportation costs that are considered to be very high. Reductions in flows also result from the continuation and spread of insecurity in some supply corridors. Demand comes mainly from traders, institutions, and some consumers (sedentary and nomadic), for replenishing their stocks. Average prices for millet, sorghum, and maize are 16 to 23 percent higher than the same period in 2020, and 19 to 27 percent higher than the five-year average. Cowpea prices are up 60 percent on the same period in 2020, and 49 percent on the the five-year average, due to reduced supply.
Livestock supply and demand remains generally stable, except in areas of conflict and insecurity. However, it remains below average in all markets due to the disruption of flows caused by insecurity. Demand comes mainly from local stakeholders (traders and butchers) and foreign stakeholders (from Burkina Faso and Nigeria). Average prices are up slightly on the same period in 2020 for goats (15 percent), bulls (11 percent), and rams (5 percent). These prices have also increased compared to the five-year average, by 5 percent for bulls, 14 percent for rams, and 18 percent for goats. The terms of trade are estimated as follows: in November 2021, one adult goat for 124 kg of millet, compared to 125 kg for the same period in 2020, and 133 kg for the five-year average for the same period. The food assistance plan, which includes 100 kg of cereals and 10 kg of legumes per month per household, continues to benefit poor and displaced households; however, the quantities distributed and the number of households covered are less than 20 percent in the conflict zones of Tillabéry and Tahoua, while they vary between 80 and100 percent in the regions of Diffa and Sud Maradi.
The most likely FEWS NET scenario for the period from October 2021 to May 2022 has not changed, except for the updated assumptions as follows:
- During the dry season from January to May 2022, violence perpetrated by armed groups is expected to increase to above average seasonal levels until at least May 2022, and will cause further internal displacement. This will be observed as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group continues to demonstrate that it remains united after the death of its leader, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, in September 2021.
- In western Niger, the recent rise in the strength of vigilante militias assembled on the basis of their ethnic group is expected to lead to an increase in inter-community conflict up to May 2022.
- Given the insecurity, decline in production, and disruption of product flows, supplies of consumer products are expected to be below average until May 2022. This will follow the irregularity of imports due to decreased availability and exports from the source markets of Nigeria, Benin, and Burkina Faso. At the same time, demand will increase, as there will be demand from the state and other institutions, including NGOs, for stock replenishment and humanitarian interventions. There will also be pressure from consumer demand, which will also increase over a longer period of time as a result of the early depletion of household cereal stocks, especially in deficit areas and conflict zones. Prices are expected to continue to rise at a monthly rate of 5 to 10 percent until May 2022. However, a significant upward movement in consumer product prices beyond the seasonal trend could be observed from March 2022 through May 2022.
- Support in the form of agricultural supplies, materials, and equipment will be provided to producers and will help them conduct agricultural activities in the dry season by taking advantage of the availability of surface and ground water to obtain at least average market garden production.
PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2022
Food availability will be low in poor households, but will be bolstered by market gardening, which will provide income and food until April/May 2022. Market supplies will continue to be insufficient to meet demand, which will increase as stocks are depleted and humanitarian partners replenish their stocks. Prices will increase to above average during this period of the scenario, with spikes of 30 to 40 percent. The state and its partners have developed an interim emergency plan covering the period from January to March 2022. This plan will be implemented for the benefit of poor households in deficit areas and conflict zones, and includes actions to mitigate food insecurity for the period January to March 2022. Implementation of this plan will be hindered and limited in the conflict zones of Tillabéry and Tahoua, where secure spaces will be reduced. Thus, poor households in all livelihood zones will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in February through May 2022, assisted by harvests and income opportunities from market gardening, small-scale trade, and sales of wood and straw.
Conflict and insecurity will persist and keep poor displaced households in the Tillabéry and Nord Tahoua regions in a food deficit, leaving them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until May 2022. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will persist for poor displaced households in the regions of Diffa and Sud Maradi, which receive assistance in the form of food and non-food items.
Seasonal Calendar for at Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.