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The concurrent security and sociopolitical crises are at the root of the food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Niger

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • December 2023
The concurrent security and sociopolitical crises are at the root of the food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Niger

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through May 2024
  • Key Messages
    • Due to insecurity and the impacts of the sociopolitical situation, at least 20 percent of households are facing food shortages in Diffa in the far east, in Tahoua and Tillabéry in the far west, and in Maradi in south-central Niger. As a result, these regions continue to have the highest level of food insecurity in the country, facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
    • The security crisis persists and continues to increase the internal displacement of populations. The majority of internally displaced persons are in the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi, where security incidents perpetrated by terrorist groups are on the rise. In addition to causing population displacement, the activities of terrorist groups significantly affect people's livelihood activities, trade, and income-earning opportunities. Also, intensified military operations against terrorist groups have further curtailed humanitarian operations.
    • The imposition of economic and trade sanctions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after the coup d'état of July 26, 2023, has contributed to the deterioration of the food situation of households. However, the decisions taken at the Conference of Heads of State and Government held in Abuja on December 10, 2023, also include recognition of the coup d'état and the end of the Bazoum regime, as well as the appointment of three Presidents to conduct negotiations with the country's new authorities. 
    • Consumer products are present on the markets, but at a lower level than the five-year average following the many restrictions on internal and cross-border flows as a result of insecurity and the restrictive measures imposed by ECOWAS. Market demand for the replenishment of stocks is very strong, driven by livestock farmers, households with a deficit in agricultural production, and institutions. However, market disruptions are causing price rises of between 25 percent and 40 percent compared with the five-year average for all cereals, including local products (millet and sorghum). 

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical situation: Since the coup d'état that overthrew the Bazoum Mohamed regime and the subsequent sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on July 30, 2023, the conference of Heads of State and Government held in Abuja (Nigeria) on December 10, 2023, ratified the end of the Bazoum regime. The decisions taken include the appointment of a delegation of three presidents to mediate with the new authorities in Niger to come up with a plan to end the crisis. Recent repercussions include the denunciation of other cooperation agreements with France and the European Union and a visit to Mali and Burkina Faso by the president of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CNSP), the ruling military junta. There will also be meetings of the Ministries of Economy and Finance and Foreign Affairs to discuss and agree on the operational content of the Liptako Gourma Charter, which enshrines the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) comprising Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. 

    The security situation: The security situation has evolved in different ways, depending on the areas of security tension and according to the month. Between June and August 2023, the data according to ACLED did not reveal a clear trend, but rather a fluctuating pattern of increases followed by decreases in security incidents. Since September 2023, there has been a steady upward trend in security incidents, with a 24 percent increase in October compared to September and a 54 percent increase in November compared to October 2023. The number of security incidents also varies according to geographical area (Figure 1). In the regions of Maradi and Diffa, where armed banditry and Boko Haram activities prevail, respectively, security incidents have not exceeded 20 cases in the last six months. The types of security incident that are increasingly prevalent in these regions are kidnappings for ransom. In the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, terrorist activities are dominated by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin. From June to November 2023, fewer security incidents were recorded in the Tahoua region, with no more than 10 cases. Meanwhile, in the Tillabéry region, security incidents included murders and physical assaults on civilians, extortion of property in kind, and thefts of cash (tens of millions of CFA francs) and hundreds of large and small ruminants, reaching 30 security incidents up to November 2023, according to ACLED data. 

    Figure 1

    Number of violent incidents in Niger, June to November 2023
    Nombre d'évènements de conflit

    Source: FEWS NET based on ACLED data

    Population movements: Following the security incidents, population movements continue, but the trend observed shows a stability in the internal displacement of populations, as security incidents are increasingly recorded in the sites and villages hosting internally displaced persons. In November 2023, an estimated 335,277 people will remain in internal displacement, the same number as in October and September 2023. The highest proportions of internally displaced people are in the regions of Tillabéry (40 percent) and Diffa (31 percent) (UNHCR). 

    The agricultural situation and cereal availability: According to an assessment of the 2023–2024 agricultural season by the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics in November 2023, production of the main cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, rice, fonio) is estimated at 5,163,867 tonnes, down 13 percent and 2 percent, respectively, compared to 2022 and the 2018–2022 average. However, with available net production, imports, donations, farmers' stocks, traders' stocks, public stocks, and WFP stocks, cereal supplies still totaled only 5,561,311 tonnes, a shortfall of more than 100,000 tonnes compared with annual human consumption requirements. The results of the October 2023 sentinel site survey on food availability showed that, even in areas free of conflict or civil insecurity, almost 27 percent of households have only enough stocks to cover their food needs for up to three months. However, harvests are continuing for irrigated rice, watermelons, cabbage, and other off-season crops, as well as certain vegetables (lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes, among others) in production areas, boosting supplies and also the possibilities for diversifying food rations and incomes. With the support of the government and its partners in terms of agricultural equipment and inputs, as well as the recharging of the water table, off-season production will be at least equal to the average.

    Markets and prices: Markets are impacted by local factors linked to the decrease in local production and the concomitant decrease in local supply, as well as exogenous factors linked to ECOWAS trade sanctions and their effects on cross-border flows. As a result, food products are now present on the markets through internal channels, as well as through commercial imports via new corridors secured by military escorts. One example of an alternative route to the traditional corridors closed as a result of sanctions is the Lomé-Togo route via Burkina Faso. Although supplies are lower than normal, they are sufficient to meet demand, which is made up of purchases to replenish the stocks of livestock-raising households, farmers in deficit, and NGOs. Average prices for cereals are higher for imported products (e.g., maize) than for local products (e.g., millet), but for all products, average prices are very high, being 20 to 40 percent higher than the five-year average (Figures 2 and 3). 

    Figure 2

    Change in the price of maize in Niamey
    Evolution de prix du maïs à Niamey

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Change in the price of millet in Guidam Roumdji
    evolution de prix du mil à Guidam Roumdji

    Source: FEWS NET

    Food aid measures: The various plans for responding to household food insecurity over the past year are in the implementation phase. The level of implementation of response plans is low following the drop in funding due to financial difficulties that have arisen since July 2023 in connection with the suspension of budgetary and development aid by technical and financial partners. Consequently, the government has been able to implement only 29 percent of its plan to respond to food insecurity. The low level of implementation of response plans is also due to restrictions on the movement of people in the areas of military operations, undertaken by the new authorities to combat terrorist activities. As a result of all these difficulties, the food rations distributed not only have poor geographical coverage, but also, and above all, cover less than 25 percent of household calorie requirements. 

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In December 2023, poor and displaced households in the regions of Tillabéry, North Tahoua, Diffa, and South Maradi will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity because they have no stocks of food products. Given high food prices, their incomes are insufficient and do not allow them to access the quantities of food they need to cover their energy requirements. They also have no access to food and humanitarian aid because of the reduced capacity of the government and the WFP to intervene following the sanctions imposed and maintained by ECOWAS and other development partners after the coup. Furthermore, poor households in all flood-affected agricultural and agropastoral areas of Dosso, Zinder, Tahoua, and Maradi are also in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) following the loss of their agricultural production and other livelihoods. In addition, farm labor income is low in the face of high consumer prices. Food supplies are low in the rest of the country, and poor households are unable to cover expenses other than food, facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions. The availability of pasture and watering points has improved in the pastoral zone, boosting livestock body conditions and market value and livestock-to-cereal terms of trade. As a result, pastoral areas face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    seasonal calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions in the food security outlook report from October 2023 to May 2024 remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook through May 2024

    The period from February to May 2024 coincides with the exhaustion of stocks for many more households. Even in markets, availability will be low due to restrictions on cross-border flow. Consumer demand will consequently increase, pushing prices to very high levels. As agricultural production declines, a growing number of households will resort to selling their labor in small vegetable crop-growing areas. The resulting daily income is expected to be below average, rendering households unable to meet their food purchasing requirements without resorting to negative coping strategies. Acute food insecurity at the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) level will persist in the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi. Smaller proportions of households compared to the December 2023 to January 2024 period will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the zones of Tillabéry, Diffa, Maradi, and Tahoua, where poor displaced households headed by women and made up of young children will be short of food and income. They will suffer from food and livelihood deficits, even if they use negative coping strategies. In the rest of the agricultural and agropastoral livelihood areas, following the depletion of food stocks and high consumer prices, poor households will be able to buy sufficient quantities of food but will not be able to make other non-food expenditures and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity. In pastoral areas, the drastic reduction in fodder resources will lead to a halt in milk production and a significant fall in animal prices and terms of trade, leading to considerably limited purchasing power for food products. This will prevent the majority of households from covering their food needs, even by selling more livestock than usual, and they will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. Moreover, a minority of these poor livestock-raising households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they do not have enough animals to increase sales, while local and external income-earning opportunities will be low. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Niger Food Security Outlook Update December 2023: The concurrent security and sociopolitical crises are at the root of the food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Niger, 2023.

    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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