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Pastoral populations expected to face an especially difficult lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • February - September 2016
Pastoral populations expected to face an especially difficult lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Staple food markets are well stocked following a good 2015/16 cereal harvest. Most farming households across the country should maintain adequate food access through September 2016 and should experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    • Limited pasture availability due to reduced pasture production during the 2015 rainy season will put pressure on pastoral household incomes as they purchase animal feed earlier than normal. This will lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes through at least July 2016.

    • The Diffa region will experience the highest levels of acute food insecurity, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions driven by the continuing Boko Haram conflict disrupting livelihoods and limiting household market access.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    With projected net cereal production for 2015 estimated at 4,651,123 MT and opening cereal stocks of approximately 141, 000 MT, total cereal availability is estimated at 4,791,709 metric tons, compared with 4,119,577 MT in 2014 and an average of 4,607,592 MT. A comparison of cereal availability and consumption needs reveals a surplus of over 229,000 MT.

    The growing season for irrigated vegetable crops is progressing, supported by favorable water availability and assistance from the country’s food security partners. These market garden crops are currently in the maturity/harvesting stage in all crop-producing areas, which are expecting average crop yields, and will provide increased dietary diversity and serve as sources of income for poor households providing farm labor.

    Cash crop production for 2015 is estimated at 1,858,190 MT of cowpeas, 463,413 MT of groundnuts, 33,959 MT of sesame, 68,160 MT of chufa nuts, 37,411 MT of earthpeas, and 157,289 MTof okra, for a total of 2,665,308 MT, compared with the five-year average of 2,204,674 MT and a production figure of 2,234,482 MT for the year 2014.

    The depreciation of the naira could lead to fewer exports of cash crops to Nigeria than in previous years, which is the main destination for these crops. Selling prices for cowpea crops are below seasonal averages, particularly in high-production areas in general and the Zinder region in particular.

    Cereal supply and demand are currently in balance. Supplies include both cereal and cash crops, mostly from local production, except in deficit areas where imports from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Burkina Faso account for 30 to 50 percent of cereal supplies. Market supplies are dominated by imports, particularly in the case of maize and, on certain markets, sorghum. There is an average local demand due tothe existence of on-farm inventories and the conclusion of the stock-building activities of pastoral households. Commercial demand is also low due to the uncertainty over future trends in demand as well as in the exchange rate for the naira and the CFA. The combined effects of the pessimistic outlook of traders with respect to future trends in demand and the deterioration in the security situation in the Lake Chad sub-region have prompted traders to keep just enough inventory to meet consumer demand. Thus, the weak local demand and lack of commercial speculation are putting downward pressure on cereal prices, driving them below seasonal averages and even below figures for last year, except in the Diffa region where soaring trading costs are contributing to the rise in market prices.

    There has been a sharp reduction in the supply of livestock on markets situated in pasture-short areas where local livestock herds migrated to southern farming and agropastoral areas earlier than usual in search of lush pastures and watering holes. With the security problems in the Diffa region, livestock are being sold on the nearest markets in the Zinder region such as Soubdou in Gouré department. Imports from Burkina Faso and Mali account for most of the supply of livestock in the Tillabéri region.

    In spite of the shortage or poor quality of available pasture in certain areas, the use of feed supplements for animal herds intended for sale is helping to keep them in good physical condition and maintain their market value at a reasonably good level. There is an average local demand for livestock from butchers for livestock fattening and slaughter, but very little demand for livestock exports. However, there is a strong and, in some cases, above-average foreign demand for animal species such as camels. Prices for livestock are still generally stable but below average due to a slowing demand for exports to countries such as Nigeria where, with the unfavorable exchange rate for the naira against the CFA, there is little incentive to purchase animals. The situation is expected to improve in July with the beginning of the rainy season creating favorable pastoral conditions putting livestock in good physical shape and with local demand for livestock fattening for the upcoming Tabaski celebration driving up prices.

    The shortfall in pasture production, estimated at 9,355,617 MT of dry matter, will increase the use of crop residues and bush straw as forage. This will create a high demand for animal feed, with the resulting upward pressure on prices affecting the incomes of pastoral households. This could continue to adversely affect the cereal purchasing power of pastoral households through the end of June. Conditions will stabilize as of July with the definitive start of the rainy season in pastoral areas.

    The ongoing conflict with Boko Haram is continuing to drive population movements in the Diffa region, with 270,000 displaced persons as of December 2015. Humanitarian assistance programs could help meet the food needs of most of these displaced households, but there will be dietary diversity deficits. An estimated 50,000 Malian refugees in the Tillabéri region are being housed in several camps spread across Ayorou, Ouallam, and Filingué departments.

    The combined results of the nutritional survey and the National Survey of Socioeconomic and Demographic Indicators (ENISED) conducted from August 11 through September 9, 2015 estimated the national global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate for children between six and 59 months of age based on a weight-for-height z-score of <-2 and/or the presence of edema at 15.0 percent (95% CI: 13.6-16.6). Regions with GAM rates above the national average include Dosso (15.5 percent, 95% CI: 12.0-19.9), Maradi (16.7 percent, 95% CI: 13.2-20.9), Diffa (17.1 percent, 95% CI: 12.6-22.6), and Zinder (18.0 percent). In comparison, the five-year average GAM rates in these same regions are 13.54 percent, 16.02 percent, 15.78 percent, and 14.26 percent, respectively. With a relatively stable food security situation and limited outbreaks of epidemic diseases, trends in the nutritional situation are expected to stay in line with seasonal averages. At approximately 55,123, the estimated number of detected cases of child malnutrition in January 2016 was comparable to the number of reported cases in January 2015.

    Farming and agropastoral household livelihoods depend on personal cereal and market crop production to provide access to food and income. Poor households in particular have normal access to income from the sale of straw at double or triple its average price in pastoral areas. Farm labor in market gardening schemes is generating a near-average stream of income estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000 CFA per day. Normal job opportunities tending livestock are generating average levels of income.


    The most likely food security scenario for February through September 2016 is based on the following assumptions:

    • The growing season for dry-season crops between February and April/May 2016 will be average, supported by good water availability and assistance from the government and its partners. It is expected to produce average crop yields, with an average impact on household income and dietary diversity.
    • Cereal stocks from harvests will allow farming and agropastoral households to meet their food needs without relying on local markets for a near-average period of time, except in deficit areas of Diffa, Tillabéri, and Tahoua, where there will be an earlier-than-usual sharp reduction in cereal reserves.
    • Cereal imports from Burkina Faso, Benin, and Mali will continue at normal levels, whichwill help maintain adequate market supplies in most parts of the country. Market supplies of cereal crops should be sufficient between February and September 2016, though somewhat reduced by the security problems in Nigeria and resulting disruption in trade channels for cereal imports, particularly in the Diffa region. The volume of imports may even benefit from the favorable exchange rate encouraging larger imports.
    • Livestock and market garden crop supply is expected to be average between February and September 2016, driven by a good food security situation.
    • Demand for cereal and market garden crops will be normal, except for an earlier-than-usual demand from households in deficit areas of Diffa, Tillabéri, and Tahoua.
    • Demand for livestock and cash crops will be affected by the unfavorable exchange rate for the naira, which is discouraging market attendance and purchasing by export traders.
    • In general, market prices are expected to be lower than in 2014/15 and close to the five-year average, with a seasonal rise in prices between now and September. However, prices in certain areas such as Diffa and northern Tillabéri in particular will be above average due to the reported deficits in these areas.
    • Trends in the nutritional situation are expected to be in line with seasonal averages, with cyclical deteriorations in nutritional conditions related to outbreaks of diseases such as meningitis and cholera between February and April/May and malaria in June/July/September, as well as the approach of the lean season between March and June in pastoral areas and between June and September in farming areas.
    • Initial forecasts indicate a normal start to the 2016 rainy season in May-June, with average levels of cumulative rainfall.
    • Household income levels will be average and comprised of the sale of hay for livestock-raising activities between February and June 2016, farm labor for the growing of dry-season and “winter” crops between April/May and September, and from the sale of livestock for the celebration of Ramadan and Tabaski in June/July and August/September.
    • There will be a normal pattern of labor migration in January/February and return migration in April/May 2016, producing average levels of remittance income with the stable socio-political situation in destination countries providing job opportunities for migrant workers.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    According to available data on food security indicators, most livelihood zones will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in February and between March and September 2016. Most households will have normal and adequate food access due to the good food availability from the average 2015/16 harvest, average purchase prices for cereals, average to above-average levels of income from wage labor, short-term seasonal labor migration, and petty trade, and generally average sales revenues from livestock in many areas. However, poor households in pastoral areas of the Tahoua and Zinder regions in particular will face livelihood protection deficits as a result of the unusually low rainfall in 2015 and limited new pasture growth. Many pastoral areas of Niger may continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes through June if not September 2016. The effects of the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram will keep acute food insecurity in the Diffa region at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most likely estimated food security outcomes for February through June 2016

    Figure 2

    Most likely estimated food security outcomes for February through June 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Trends in the nominal retail price of millet in Maradi

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    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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