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Food insecurity remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the worsening security situation

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • February 2020
Food insecurity remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the worsening security situation

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Population displacement has increased as a result of significant deterioration in the security situation since the beginning of the year. Newly internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the regions of Tillabéri, Tahoua, Diffa and Maradi were estimated at 11,000 from January to February 2020.

    • The effects of localized droughts and flooding have led to agricultural deficits in some areas. However, good production of cash crops (groundnuts, sesame and cowpea) and ongoing horticultural production are providing average income and food opportunities, increasing access to food for the majority of agricultural and agropastoral households.

    • Markets are functioning with a sufficient supply of products for the low demand, which consists mainly of purchases from local consumers and livestock farmers. Prices have slightly increased, especially for staple foods (maize and sorghum), because of disruption to flows following the closure of the border and border insecurity. 

    • In several pastoral areas, pasture availability is limited to small pasture areas that are insufficient to feed livestock. The cost of fodder, in addition to household food costs, will result in more sales of animals than usual. For poor households, food consumption needs will be covered but at the expense of strong pressure on livelihoods, and the area will move progressively into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in March, until at least July 2020.

    • Acute food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most of the country, although higher levels are observed in the northern areas of the Tillabéri region – which is in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) – and in the Diffa region, where food assistance is keeping households in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Insecurity is still the most important risk factor at the start of 2020. There has been an unprecedented increase in security incidents in the regions of Tillabéri, Diffa, Tahoua and Maradi. This has increased population movements within the country and across the borders with Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso.

    Population flows observed in January 2020 of more than 11,000 displaced persons were recorded, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The largest displacement flows were recorded in the region of Tillabéri, where new IDPs in January and February 2020 represented 6 out of 11 displaced persons. These displaced persons, in addition to an estimated 250,000 previously displaced people, are being accommodated mostly by host families in the regions of Tillabéri, Maradi and Tahoua.

    Supply of cereals is meeting demand on the markets, except in the regions of Tillabéri, Diffa and Tahoua, where supply is very low due to insecurity and conflict limiting flows or leading to the closure of several markets. Supply on the markets comprises both cereals and cash crops, mostly from local production, except for maize and sorghum, where 80 to 100 percent of market supply is from countries such as Nigeria for sorghum and Benin and Burkina Faso for maize. Local demand is average, due to stocks held by farmers and replenishment of stocks by livestock-farming households. Commercial demand is also low, owing to uncertainty about the demand trend, especially in relation to the ongoing deterioration of the security situation in the Lake Chad sub-region and Liptako Gourma. Cereal prices are above seasonal averages and even compared with last year’s prices, especially for imported products, which are taking very long routes due to insecurity and the closure of the Nigerian border. This is creating very high transaction costs, reflected in consumer prices, which are contributing to higher market prices.

    In cattle markets, there has been a significant increase in animals presented for sale, as a result of the early descent into agricultural and agropastoral areas by transhumant herders, who are strategically selling off livestock due to the fodder deficit. The increase in sales is also due to supply by transhumant herders from other countries, in particular Chad and Cameroon, to markets in the regions of Zinder and Maradi, which are considered more secure. However, supply has significantly decreased on markets in the regions of Tillabéri and Diffa, due to security concerns. There is average demand for animals on the markets because, in addition to local demand for consumption, there is the usual export demand despite the closure of the Nigerian border. These favourable conditions for demand, and the good physical condition of livestock, are helping to keep prices higher than the previous year and the five-year average.

    Food availability is mostly comprised of cereals produced during the past agricultural season and producers’ carryover stocks. There is average availability in relation to human consumption needs, except in some areas where production has been destroyed by floods, and in other areas where area planted was reduced due to insecurity reducing access to crop fields. The harvest is complemented by produce from the growing season for irrigated vegetable crops, which is benefiting from good water availability and support from partners. These horticultural crops are at the stage of maturity/harvest in all production areas, and production is expected to be average. They are providing opportunity to diversify food consumption and are sources of income for poor households selling their agricultural labor.

    Cash crop production in 2019/2020 is estimated to be good and is allowing producers to earn farming income on food products, especially as cash crop exports to Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo are following the normal trend, except for cowpeas, where exports to Nigeria have continued to decline since the fall in value of the naira. Sale prices for cowpeas are below their seasonal average, especially in the high-production areas of Zinder and Maradi. Sesame and groundnut production are good, due to increases in the areas planted and use of improved seeds, and producers are securing good prices on the markets thanks to strong export demand.

    With the fodder deficit estimated at more than 11 million tons of dry matter, there is very low availability of pasture for animals in pastoral areas. However, purchases of food supplements are helping to maintain the physical condition of animals and their market value. Nevertheless, animals remaining in the pastoral area cannot find enough pasture and their maintenance is putting an additional financial burden on household expenditure.

    By relying on their own horticultural and cereal production, agricultural and agropastoral households generally have sufficient access to food and incomes. Food and income sources are also generally supporting a nutritional situation in line with the seasonal trend. However, in conflict zones where health facilities are destroyed or inaccessible, the reduction in agricultural production and the loss of livelihoods may lead to a deterioration in the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age.

    Therefore, most households in agricultural and agropastoral areas are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. This is thanks to food resources, from cereal and horticultural production, which are enabling access to adequate food to meet their consumption needs without resorting to atypical strategies. Good cash crop production is providing income from the sale of these crops, which is covering essential non-food needs.

    Nomadic livestock households remaining in the pastoral area are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), as rising consumer prices and the deteriorating condition of livestock are requiring farmers to sell more animals than usual to cover essential food and non-food expenditure.

    In the southern part of the Maradi region, a minority of households, consisting of refugees and poor host households, are meeting their food needs with food assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) and nongovernmental organizations under the rapid response mechanisms in place.

    In the Diffa region, most households in agricultural and agropastoral areas are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), due to poor agricultural and pastoral production as a result of localized rainfall deficits and floods. However, affected populations are benefiting from ongoing government social safety net measures. In areas where livelihoods depend on peppers and rice in Komadougou, and on fishing and flood recession crops around Lake Chad, food insecurity is generally Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). This is due to conflict and flooding, which have destroyed food and income sources for households. Despite receiving humanitarian food assistance to cover their needs, households are unable to cover non-food expenditures.

    Food insecurity remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the agropastoral livelihood areas of the Tillabéri region, due to insecurity which is preventing people from engaging in normal livelihood activities and from accessing income and food. In the pastoral part of this region, food insecurity is Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Populations have lost a large part of their livelihoods in the form of livestock capital, as a result of attacks, looting and excessive sales to meet food needs. 


    The most likely food security scenario from February to September 2020 is based on the following underlying assumptions regarding trends in nationwide conditions.

    Agropastoral season: The agricultural and pastoral season should start at the usual time, with normal cumulative rainfall but with local surpluses that could cause flooding with loss of livelihoods.

    Food availability: The availability of staple foods in households and markets is expected to develop in line with the normal seasonal trend, with adequate access and supply between February and April due to food and financial contributions from horticultural production, and a normal decline coming up to the start of the lean season in June.

    Income sources: Cash crops (cowpeas, groundnuts, sesame, tiger nuts and Bambara nuts), the production of which is estimated to be average overall, will yield monetary income in February/March. Horticultural products will contribute to household resources between February and April 2020. Poor households will also receive average to above-average incomes from harvest work on flood recession and off-season crops, which will be abundant until April 2020 thanks to the good level of groundwater recharge supported by heavy rains. Small-scale trade, handicrafts and the sale of timber and straw will provide other sources of income. However, these earnings will be lower than average, given the number of people and the higher supply, as most displaced persons and those facing agricultural and fodder deficits will be adopting these survival strategies.

    Migration: Due to the persistent security crises in Nigeria, Mali and Libya, migration departures will decrease or will be short term. Remittances will remain low and below the seasonal average.

    Pastoral season: There is a significant deficit in fodder production, compounded by three to four years of below-average production and availability of fodder. Overall, this will lead to the lean season starting early, from March, and lasting longer than usual, resulting in a deterioration in the condition of livestock and their market value, as well as a decrease in milk production. Consequently, incomes in pastoral areas will decrease. To cover food and non-food expenditure, faced with the decline in animal prices and the rise in consumer prices, households will sell more animals than usual and this will reduce the size of herds between April and July.  However, support is expected from the Government in the form of moderate sale prices for fodder, to slightly reduce the effects of the fodder deficit in April, May and June.

    Institutional purchases: Institutional purchases will most likely be largely made up of procurements for humanitarian assistance to address growing needs for interventions due to security crises and forced displacement of populations. This significant procurement may also sustain price increases, although within seasonal norms, between February and March/April 2020 and limit access for poor households in need.

    Humanitarian actions: Humanitarian partners and the Government developed response plans for February to September 2020, targeting 1,444,905 people outside the lean season and 1,932,539 people during the lean season. Response measures include free distribution of food, money and non-food items, as well as addressing acute malnutrition through prevention activities and blanket supplementary feeding programs. These responses will cover populations estimated to be in need, but security measures and terrorist attacks are resulting in restrictions to movement, making it difficult to access populations in conflict-affected areas.

    Market demand: This will comprise demand from traders and institutions, households with deficits and livestock farmers in February/March and April/May. Local demand and demand from traders will be at an average level, due to good production levels discouraging traders from stockpiling more than usual. However, there will be above-average demand from institutions, due to growing needs of humanitarian assistance in several parts of the country.

    Product flows: Cross-border flows (Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire) will continue normally and will supply Niger’s local markets. However, flows from Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso will see a downward trend, due to the security crises and tensions associated with the upcoming elections. Outward flows for cash crops and animals will also be reduced, due to the constraints observed in Nigeria. Internal flows from areas of good agricultural production in Maradi and Zinder will be disrupted, and few will reach remote markets, especially those in areas of security crises.

    Agricultural prices: Cereal prices in most markets from February to May 2020 are likely to maintain their stable trend in relation to the five-year average and the previous year, but with some rising trends caused by additional demand from institutions. From June to September 2020, following the depletion of stocks of local producers, demand will rise and lead to an increase in prices, although within seasonal norms, except in markets located in areas of security crises. Prices for cash crops will show a downward trend, due to low export demand caused by the closure of the border with Nigeria and persistent border insecurity.

    Livestock markets and prices: There will be an average number of animals for sale, due to export demand and local demand for fattening in preparation for Eid al-Adha celebrations in July/August 2020. Because of this relative improvement in demand and in the naira exchange rate, as well as a drop in supply following the departure of transhumant livestock farmers, livestock prices will be average in March, April and May 2020. However, they will fall in June/July when supply increases in exchange for cereal purchases, in the lead up to the ascent back to pastoral areas. 

    Impacts of depreciation of the naira and closure of the border with Nigeria: The relative improvement in the exchange rate between naira and XOF will not significantly improve the transfer of staple foods to local markets in Niger over the outlook period. This is due to the impact of the conflict and the closure of the border, which will reduce the export of livestock and cash crops to Nigeria and lead to higher prices for products imported into Niger.

    Security situation and population movements: Security incidents will continue, and the unconventional movement of animals due to the fodder deficit will increase intercommunity conflicts between herders and agricultural farmers more than usual in the regions of Tillabéri, Diffa, Tahoua and Maradi. This will also exacerbate population movements, with far greater numbers involved than at present.


    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From February to May 2020, households in agricultural and agropastoral areas, in most livelihood areas, will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. Food availability and access to food will be covered by residual cereal stocks and horticultural products, which are typical livelihood strategies and will allow for normal non-food expenditure.

    In the pastoral zone, food insecurity will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), due to poor households having difficulty accessing food as their purchasing power will be affected by the fall in fodder production and the decline in livestock – the main source of income for the population.

    In conflict-affected areas, food insecurity will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the Diffa region, with the exception of livelihood zones focused on peppers, fishing and flood recession crops, where it will be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) due to planned and current humanitarian food assistance. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will continue in the agropastoral area of Tillabéri affected by the conflict, which is disrupting livelihoods and causing a food consumption deficit among displaced households and poor host households, who are seeing pressure from displaced populations on their food resources and not receiving food aid due to the conflict limiting their access to humanitarian actors.

    In the southern part of the Maradi region, host households, representing only about 3 percent of the population of the host areas for Nigerian refugees, will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), due to a consumption deficit resulting from sharing food rations. Planned and current food assistance is covering food needs and enabling non-food expenditure.

    Increases in acute malnutrition admissions to care centers are expected from March to September 2020, especially in areas affected by conflict and intercommunity tensions, where high prevalence of global acute malnutrition may be observed due to the destruction of health facilities, combined with poor health coverage, food deficits and water, hygiene and sanitation problems during the rainy season.

    Between June and September, small percentages of poor households in all agricultural and agropastoral zones will become Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to depletion of stocks and the effects of floods on livelihoods, which will reduce their access to food, the price of which will be high.

    Livestock farming households will move into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in August/September 2020, due to the start of the new season and to improvements in the condition of livestock and in terms of trade, which will improve their ability to cover food needs and meet all essential expenditure.

    Most livelihood zones in the Diffa region will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but in livelihood zones focused on peppers, fishing and flood recession crops, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity will only be maintained though planned humanitarian food assistance.

    In the agropastoral area of the Tillabéri region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will persist due to the absence of cereal stocks for self-consumption and the loss of income for accessing food. The security situation will prevent access to food assistance to reduce the food deficit faced by poor and displaced households. Households in the pastoral band of this region will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as a result of looting and theft which has damaged their livelihoods, but income from above-average sales of animals will enable them to access the necessary food to meet their food consumption needs.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Increasing conflict and border insecurity

    Significant reductions in the flow of consumer, cash and livestock products and a decrease in migration and remittances would increase the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3)


    Rainfall deficit

    Decrease in agricultural production and supply

    Decrease in fodder production with impact on incomes of livestock farming households

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Carte representant les mouvement de populations a tillabery, tahoa, et diffa.

    Figure 2

    Figure 1


    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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