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Food insecurity is generally Minimal except in conflict-affected areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • December 2018 - May 2019
Food insecurity is generally Minimal except in conflict-affected areas

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Events that Might Chance the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The provisional results of the preliminary crop assessment, published by the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics, indicate national cereal production is 5,952,562 tons, representing a surplus of 685,620 tons over human consumption requirements. However, there are areas with agricultural and fodder production deficits and as well as those impacted by flooding. Cash crop production is higher than in 2017 and above average.

    • The actual fodder available is estimated at 30,113,640 tons, representing an overall fodder surplus of around 3,301,978 tons. Ligneous fodder has been rehabilitated this year, paving the way for additional food sources in the dry season and a normal lean season in pastoral areas.

    • Agricultural markets have an average level of supply, with lower prices compared with last year’s and the five-year average.

    • Insecurity in the Diffa region, following the conflict with Boko Haram, and in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, due to the presence of armed groups, continues to disrupt household livelihoods, markets, and domestic and international trade.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    Agricultural production is estimated at about 6 million tons, an increase of 1 percent compared with 2017 and 13 percent compared with the five-year average. Production is also good for cash crops, with a total production of more than 3 million tons. Except for yellow nutsedge, production of all cash crops – cowpea, sesame, Bambara groundnut and peanut – has increased by between 4 and 21 percent compared with 2017 and by 10 to 31 percent compared with the five-year average. The equivalent in kilocalories of this cereal production, coupled with that of pulses and tubers, ranges from 2,500 to 5,900 kilocalories in the main agricultural areas of Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua and Dosso, compared with an average need estimated at 2,100 kilocalories per person per day.

    However, due to localized weather shocks, cereal production is estimated to be in deficit in some areas. The largest cereal deficits of over 100,000 tons are in the Agadez and Diffa regions, which are not, moreover, areas where agricultural production is high. In the Tahoua region, cereal deficits range between 30,000 tons and 60,000 tons in the departments of Abalak and Tchintabaraden, which are also agricultural production areas with a structural deficit. In agricultural and agropastoral areas, production deficits were recorded in the departments of Mayahi (Maradi), with a deficit of 17,770 tons; Tibiri (Dosso), with a deficit of 20,842 tons; and Torodi (Tillabéry), with a deficit of 41,514 tons.

    In areas with market garden crop potential, current supplies are supplemented by horticultural and flood-recession crops, which continue to be cultivated and harvested at production sites. These irrigated crops offer enormous opportunities for improving and diversifying household diets, local agricultural employment and access to income for poor and very poor households, except in areas where water availability will be reduced due to low groundwater recharge.

    Assessments of the pastoral growing season by the technical departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock estimate fodder production at 13,761,896 tons of dry matter, representing the highest fodder availability in the years 2010 to 2017, except for the 2012 estimate of more than 16 million tons of dry matter. However, there has been a sharp decline in fodder production in the Tillabéry and Diffa regions, where deficits are estimated at between 400,000 and 600,000 tons of dry matter.

    Market availability is characterized by a regular and adequate supply of food products, mostly supplied by importing traders (sorghum, rice and maize) and local traders (millet and cowpea). Supplies are being used not only to meet local consumption demand, but also to build up stocks as part of institutional purchases. This is allowing staple food prices to follow seasonal trends, with a fall in prices observed since the start of the harvest in October/November. Flow and trade levels are limited in the Diffa and Tillabéry regions due to the prevailing state of emergency, which is also disrupting commercial activities and weakening household purchasing power.

    Floods during the winter growing season in 2018 caused significant damage to homes, water infrastructure, market gardens, growing fields and livestock. By the end of September, the number of people affected by the flooding was estimated by the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management at 208,416 people, compared with 206,000 people in 2017, 146,000 people in 2016 and 103,000 people in 2015. Those affected by flooding in the Dosso and Agadez regions account for more than 50 percent of the total affected population.

    According to the results of the national survey on malnutrition among children aged 0 to 59 months, which was conducted in October 2018, the national average rate of global acute malnutrition was 14.4 percent. Prevalence rates above the national average were recorded in the regions of Maradi (15.4 percent), Tahoua (16.6 percent) and Zinder (17.7 percent), and in the departments of Ngourty (15.8 percent) and Maine Soroa (19.3 percent).

    More than 300,000 people have been displaced as a result of conflict, mainly in the regions of Diffa, Tillabéry and Tahoua. Internally displaced persons account for more than half of the total displaced population and more than two thirds of those displaced are in the Diffa region.

    The response is currently focused on the conflict zones, but there is acceptable coverage of the needs of displaced populations in the Diffa region and limited access to humanitarian aid for people in the Tillabéry region. The map of humanitarian actors compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates that the number of humanitarian actors working in the Diffa region across all sectors ranges between 20 and 40 actors in the departments of Maine Soroa, Nguigmi and Diffa, and between 4 and 15 actors in the departments of Ngourty, Goudoumaria and Bosso.

    The food security outcomes indicate Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity overall in December 2018, except in the Diffa region, where assistance is helping keep food insecurity at Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and in the Tillabéry region, where the security situation is reducing humanitarian access to internally displaced persons, the disruption of whose livelihood activities is causing a food deficit for some displaced persons, especially in the areas of Ayorou, Inates, Banibangou and Abala.


    The most likely food security scenario for December 2018 to May 2019 is based on the following underlying assumptions regarding the trends in nationwide conditions:

    • The availability of staple foods in households and the markets is expected to change in line with the normal seasonal trend of sufficient access and supply in January and February and a decline as the lean season approaches (June). Given the good performance of the agricultural growing season and food stability in source markets in Nigeria, supply will remain average on the whole between February and May 2019.
    • Off-season crop production is occurring as normal with support from the State and its partners and thanks to the replenishment of the main watercourses to a good level. Medium to above-average market garden production is expected to result in average incomes for poor households, enabling them to maintain their access to food while improving dietary diversity and also nutrition in children under five.
    • Fodder production is in surplus, guaranteeing the availability of pasture, but there are vulnerabilities in places owing to the retroactive effects of the last three years of significant fodder deficits. This will result in a normal pastoral lean season overall, which will lead to favorable pastoral conditions for normal livestock growth and market value. The transhumance of animals will happen as usual, except in deficit regions and conflict-affected areas in the sub-region. Nevertheless, unfavorable situations are expected in certain areas from April/May, which will be managed with the support of the State and its partners. Milk production is expected to remain at a normal level and improve incomes in pastoral areas.
    • Stocks will continue to be replenished by traders, institutions and state structures until February/March. Moreover, given the stability of cereal prices immediately after the harvest, stock replenishment is expected to remain near average and should lead to stable market availability. Ongoing seasonal price increases are expected between February and March 2019 as a result, limiting access for poor households in deficit.
    • Demand will come from traders and institutions, as well as households in deficit and livestock farmers, in February/March and April/May, and will be at an average level in view of the good production, which will not encourage traders and institutions to keep stocks above the usual level.
    • Cross-border flows from the regional market (Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali) will continue as usual and will supply local markets in Niger. However, flows from Nigeria will fall to below average due to the expected decline in production caused by flooding and continuing insecurity as a result of the Boko Haram conflict and election-related tensions. The flows of cash crops and animals will be affected by the same constraints in Nigeria. Internal flows will behave normally and will serve isolated markets and those in areas with structural deficits.
    • Food prices are likely to be stable compared with the five-year average in most markets from January to May 2019. Cash crop prices will change in line with good production and low to medium export demand.
    • Poor households will continue to earn average to above-average incomes from harvesting flood-recession and off-season crops until April 2019. Other sources of income such as small-scale trade, handicrafts, and straw and timber sales should increase the purchasing power of households and maintain their access to food.
    • The impact of the depreciation of the naira will decrease given that the relative improvement of the naira against the CFA franc will support the transfer of staple foods to local markets in Niger during the January–May 2019 scenario period. However, livestock and cash crop exports to Nigeria will fall below average given that the naira/CFA franc exchange rate will remain below average. This will limit the purchasing power of livestock farmers and producers of cash crops.
    • Population migration and exodus will decline compared with normal levels given the ongoing civil conflicts in Nigeria, Mali and Libya, which will continue to disrupt the flow of migrants to these countries between January and May 2019. Remittances will remain low and below the seasonal average.
    • Given the state of emergency, which will continue in the Diffa, Tillabéry (Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilaré, Abala, Banibangou, Torodi, Téra, Gotheye and Say) and Tahoua (Tassara and Tillia) regions and extend to other areas of the Tillabéry region (Téra, Torodi and Say) throughout the scenario period due to the ongoing civil conflicts in northern Mali and northeastern Nigeria, as well as inter-community conflicts between livestock and crop farmers, population movements will continue see an upward trend in the event that the response by peacekeeping forces is inadequate.
    • The nutritional situation will evolve in line with the normal seasonal trend, with increased admissions of acute malnutrition cases to treatment centers in January to May 2019. However, in areas affected by the Boko Haram conflict and inter-community tensions, high levels of global acute malnutrition could be observed due to food shortages, low coverage of health services, and water, sanitation and hygiene problems.
    • Vulnerable households will continue to receive support from the State and its partners from March to May 2019. Other forms of intervention will help maintain good food availability in markets and households, as well as facilitating access to cereals for poor households in areas with structural deficits.
    • Humanitarian interventions will continue in conflict-affected areas but will be limited for displaced persons in areas where humanitarian access is restricted due to security measures.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Food security conditions will be favorable to food access for most poor households in the country, whose food and income sources will stem from agricultural labor at irrigated crop sites and government food and cash for work schemes. However, global acute malnutrition will prevail in most areas, where nutritional centers will admit many cases of malnourished children, especially in April to May, periods in which diseases such as cholera and meningitis are prevalent. Most of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, with the exception of conflict-affected areas.

    In the pastoral zone, food conditions will be favorable until April, but will become more difficult locally in May as a result of a lean season that will be affected by the retroactive effects of successive deficits in previous years. Fodder supply is estimated to cover two thirds of the food requirements for resident herds, but this coverage does not take into account the additional burden that could result from the presence of animals from Mali in the area. The threat of attacks and the consequences of the state of emergency in insecure areas in the western part of the country will result in a sharp reduction in livelihood activities and disruption to markets. Humanitarian access will be reduced for some people and the distribution of assistance will be limited to accessible displaced populations. Food security outcomes will generally remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in areas affected by conflict, while inaccessible displaced households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from December 2018 until May 2019.

    The insecurity associated with Boko Haram in and around the Diffa region, and the security measures taken by the authorities, will significantly limit access to land for pepper production, which is the main source of household income. The outcomes of the agricultural growing season indicate a shortage of food supplies among households, which will also have limited resources to respond to the decline in income from the exodus to Nigeria and Libya. Households will depend on humanitarian assistance; humanitarian access and food distribution will be maintained and able to meet the needs of the majority of those within reach. However, consumption deficits will be observed among displaced persons in areas with a high security risk. Food insecurity will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) on the whole for people who have access to assistance and in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for those in remote areas and without livelihood activities.

    Events that Might Chance the Outlook

    Table 1. Possible events over the next six months that could change the most likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    New developments in the Boko Haram conflict

    • Increase in the number of refugees 
    • Increase in the demand for cereals, the supply of labor and food prices – above seasonal trends
    • Increased need for food assistance
    • Reduction of humanitarian access
    • Unusual decrease in purchasing power, with livelihood protection deficits


    Increase in the number of security incidents, involving frequent attacks by armed groups and inter-community conflicts

    • Increase in the number of internally displaced persons
    • Destruction of livelihood activities and opportunities
    • Reduction in the flow of food and animal products
    • Decrease in livestock prices and significant increases in food prices
    • Livelihood protection deficit
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Sécurité alimentaire courante, décembre 2018

    Figure 2

    Sécurité alimentaire courante, décembre 2018

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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