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The number of areas in Stress continues to increase

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • March 2014
The number of areas in Stress continues to increase

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Increasing numbers of households are depleting their food stocks earlier than usual, particularly in the Tillabéri, Diffa, Tahoua, and Zinder regions. This year, poor households will rely more on market purchase to meet their food needs and will do so for a longer period of time.
    • The food security situation of very poor and poor households in pastoral and agropastoral areas of the above-mentioned regions is Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited incomes with which to purchase cereals and meet nonfood expenses. The number of such areas in Stress is steadily growing with the approaching lean season.
    • These households do have access to well-supplied markets, though prices are reportedly above-average. Despite their generally average levels of seasonal income, rising food prices are making market purchase difficult.

    Current Situation

    Poor households in most parts of the country would typically be beginning to deplete their production stocks by this time of year and begin to rely more heavily on local markets for their food access. This year, however, poor households in areas with crop production shortfalls, including parts of Tillabéri, Tahoua, Zinder, and Diffa, began to deplete their cereal stocks one to two months earlier than usual and are now atypically dependent on market purchase for their food access.

    Still, sources of income for very poor and poor households during the ongoing off-season in areas with below-average levels of crop production are still functioning normally, namely sales of wood and straw and local wage labor. This is also the labor migration period, with larger than usual numbers of laborers sent from areas with production deficits. Income levels from short-term seasonal labor migration are generally in line with the norm, except in the case of migrant workers from eastern Niger who would typically leave for Nigeria and Libya, where access to seasonal work in those countries has been problematic for the last three or four years.

    According to the February 2014 joint market assessment by CILSS, FAO, FEWS NET, WFP and the Nigerien Government’s market information system, the staple cereal stocks of large-scale grain producers are at near-average levels. There are adequate market supplies of staple commodities provided largely by local and foreign traders with sufficient import capacity in spite of the security problems in Nigeria. However, food expenditure by very poor and poor households on markets in areas with production deficits is above-average. Although the high prices are not as elevated above average as was seen in previous months, they are still as much as 30 percent or more above-average, particularly in the eastern part of the country. This gives poor households in areas with below-average levels of production just enough purchasing power to buy staple commodities, though incomes are unable to cover expenditures on livelihood protection.

    Conditions in pastoral areas are shaped mainly by the beginning of the lean season, which is unusually difficult in certain pastoral areas with the earlier than early drying of animal watering points and the depletion of pasture resources. The main affected areas are nomadic areas of Abalak and Nguigmi. The impact on the physical condition of livestock is negligible owing to the preventive measures taken at the local level, involving the earlier than usual strategic culling of livestock herds. However, livestock prices across the country for all livestock are still more than 40 percent above-average after inching upwards between January and February. In general, terms of trade for male goats-millet, currently in favor of pastoralists, are above the national average and figures for last month by 19 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in food security indicators support the projected food security outlook for the period from January through June 2014.  The sole exception is the delay in the start-up of the government’s social safety net program.

    Projected Outlook through June 2014

    According to the February 2014 joint market assessment by CILSS, FAO, FEWS NET, WFP and the Nigerien Government’s market information system, there should continue to be adequate market supplies to meet the growing demand driven by local demand, institutional procurements in March/April, purchases in preparation for Ramadan as of the end of May, and needs for seeds in May/June. Prices will remain above-average throughout the outlook period, though at levels relatively less high than seen the last two years. However, with the growing numbers of households depleting their food stocks earlier than usual beginning of April, the number of households facing Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) in previously affected areas (Ouallam, Nguigmi, Tahoua, Magaria, and neighboring departments) will increase. Small groups of households in these areas could begin to face food consumption gaps, putting them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by May or June of this year.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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