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Sustained price increases are making it difficult for poor households to access food

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • February - September 2024
Sustained price increases are making it difficult for poor households to access food

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Area of Concern: Agropastoral livelihood zone (NE04) in the Ouallam district of the Tillabéry region (Figure 8)
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Food prices are continuing to increase as a result of market disruptions due to weather conditions, insecurity, and sociopolitical factors. Poor households in Tillabéry and Tahoua regions not only grapple with depleted cereal reserves but also confront limited opportunities for labor sales, resulting in meager earnings. Consequently, these households are forced to resort to negative coping strategies. They are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes, while households in the regions of Diffa and Maradi have transitioned to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) thanks to food aid being distributed monthly to the majority of targeted individuals.
    • The sociopolitical situation is changing significantly with the announced withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), motivated by economic and financial sanctions on Niger. This decision provides a new direction to the negotiations between Niger and ECOWAS, as evidenced during the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State held in Abuja on February 24, 2024, by the lifting of sanctions that were in place for seven months. Nevertheless, the effects of the sanctions on inflation, especially concerning food products, are expected to continue impacting the country's economy and access to food for poor households in the coming months. 
    • Food markets are supplied through internal flows and imports that follow long circuits, affecting food prices. This change is also observed in livestock markets, where export channels to other countries increasingly pass through the Burkina Faso corridor. Even with trade sanctions lifted and borders reopening, the enduring impacts of these alternative trade routes will continue to inflate transaction costs and consumer prices for food items, surging to levels unprecedented in the past five years.
    • Food aid programs, which experienced a slowdown in their implementation during the months following the military coup, have resumed in the regions of Diffa and Maradi. This is because the sanctions provide exemptions for humanitarian actions, particularly the procurement of food products and the funding of food insecurity response plans by humanitarian organizations. They make it possible to provide food aid covering at least 60 percent of the food needs of the targeted populations. In these areas, humanitarian organizations have been able to access food stocks and funding, and the security conditions are conducive to humanitarian access for interventions benefiting the targeted populations.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical situation: The immediate withdrawal from ECOWAS, decided jointly by Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso on January 28, 2024, has changed the sociopolitical context. This official decision brings a major change in the process of negotiations that Niger has initiated with ECOWAS. Although the sanctions imposed on Niger since July 30, 2023, may have influenced the country's decision to withdraw from ECOWAS, the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS held in Abuja, Nigeria, in response to the military coup d'état last July, lifted the sanctions on February 24, 2024. The immediate effects of this lifting of sanctions include the resumption of financial transactions between Niger and ECOWAS, as well as the unfreezing of state assets in commercial banks and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). Niger's relations with the international community are also gradually resuming through official visits by both former and new technical and economic partners.

    Security and humanitarian situation: The situation remains unstable and unpredictable, with terrorist attacks persisting in the various areas of unrest. El Sahel and Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen (JNIM) are responsible for ongoing attacks, especially in the Tillabéry region. However, EI Sahel and JNIM have not been able to carry out complex attacks against fixed security force positions and convoys in western Niger in order to reestablish their position in Tillabéry and Tahoua and degrade the legitimacy of the state. In addition, joint military actions within the framework of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) have made it possible to strengthen counterterrorism efforts along the three borders. However, attacks, particularly those aimed at civilians, have escalated due to the vast expanse of territory to be monitored, limited military resources, and inadequate intelligence on armed terrorist groups. These factors hinder military operations from significantly curtailing the activities of the terrorist groups. According to ACLED data, there were 49 cases of violent events, including armed group attacks, recorded in January 2024, representing a 53 percent increase compared to December 2023. There has been no change compared to January 2023, but a 26 percent increase since January 2022. The highest numbers of security incidents since January 2023 have been recorded in the Tillabéry region, where the cases are estimated to be between 51 and 60. This is followed by the Diffa and Maradi regions, with 41 to 50 cases (Figure 1). The attacks continue to cause civilian and military casualties, the number of which increased significantly in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Aside from the loss of life, the actions of armed terrorist groups are compelling residents to flee from the affected regions, perpetuating forced population displacement. As of January 31, 2024, approximately 687,170 individuals were displaced within the country, comprising 49 percent internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 39 percent refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The highest number of displaced people are in the Diffa and Tillabéry regions, which are home to more than 75 percent of IDPs. The majority of refugees come from Nigeria and are located in the Diffa and Maradi regions, but some are also from Mali and Burkina Faso.

    Figure 1

    Number of security incidents from January 2023 to January 2024
    This map shows the number of security incidents in Niger from January 2023 to January 2024

    Source: ACLED

    Macroeconomic situation: Although the economic, commercial, and financial sanctions imposed by the subregional and international community on Niger were lifted on February 24, 2024, the effects persist on the financing of certain development projects and economic activities, as well as on the country's economic situation in general. According to bulletins from the Institut National de la Statistique (INS), the annual headline inflation rate has risen rapidly from an average of 1.5 percent in January 2023 to 4.8 percent in August and even 7.8 percent in September 2023. Although the inflation rate has decreased slightly since October 2023, it remains very high at around 7 percent (Figure 2). Since August 2023, food inflation has been the determining factor in the overall inflation rate. It rose by 3.1 percent in July 2023 to reach a peak of 12.7 percent in September 2023. It has remained high, stabilizing at around 10 percent in November and December and 9.6 percent in January 2024. According to the World Bank, the real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2023 is projected to be 6.9 percent. However, this estimate hinges on an average performance in agriculture and the commencement of large-scale oil production toward the end of the year. However, ECOWAS trade sanctions until the end of 2023 and border closures have reduced exports (including crude oil exports) and imports of foodstuffs and electricity. With the weak performance of agriculture, the GDP growth rate would be around 3 percent, but IMF projections put the GDP rate at 5.51 percent in 2024.

    Figure 2

    Trends in inflation rate
    This chart shows trends in inflation

    Source: National Statistical Institute

    Market gardening season: This is the period for irrigated fruit and vegetable crops, including irrigated rice, peppers, onions, and other market gardening crops, with work in progress dominated by maintenance and harvesting of short-cycle crops. This campaign benefits from technical supervision and support in the form of seeds and other inputs from the government and technical partners. The water conditions are maintained by surface water from rivers and streams, alongside groundwater, although the latter is diminished due to a decreased groundwater recharge resulting from a rainfall deficit. These horticultural crops present excellent opportunities for diversifying food consumption while serving as a crucial income source for poor households. These households rely on selling their farm labor yet face lower daily wages due to decreased demand resulting from reduced cultivation areas. It's also the dry-season campaign for irrigated rice cultivation, with farmers currently engaged in tasks such as weeding and applying fertilizers. Due to the elevated prices of fertilizers, there is a tendency for farmers to use less than the standard amount, potentially resulting in decreased yields and production. 

    Insecurity in the Tillabéry and Diffa production basins has prevented the full development of irrigable potential, leading to a drop in acreage. In the Diffa region, the pepper planting area on the Komadougou Yobé, which was over 7,000 hectares in 2015 to 2016, i.e., before the security crisis, dropped to 3,000 to 4,000 hectares in the period from 2017 to 2020. In 2021 to 2023, following an improvement in the security situation, this area increased to 4,000 to 5,000 hectares, allowing greater access to pepper production sites (Figure 3). However, as a result of the low recharge of rivers and groundwater, water availability will be lower than usual, affecting the duration of the irrigated crop season. Due to these reductions in acreage, expected pepper production in the Diffa region will therefore be lower than last year and below the five-year average.  

    Figure 3

    Trends in pepper planted areas in the Diffa region
    This chart shows trends in the planted area of pepper

    Source: Diffa Regional Directorate for Agriculture

    Pastoral situation: Despite the lack of forage due to a rainfall deficit in 2023, animals are fed with feed sold at moderate prices during the pastoral lean season. These food supplements provided to herds maintain their body conditions and market value at a favorable level. In pastoral regions where there is a significant shortage of forage, the need for early supplementary feeding is becoming increasingly pressing. This will inevitably result in substantial spending on livestock feed, placing added strain on the incomes of livestock-raising households. As their purchasing power diminishes, accessing essential consumer goods becomes more challenging, ultimately impacting households’ ability to obtain food.

    Food markets and prices: Security and sociopolitical crises continue to disrupt the functioning of food markets. However, the effects of multifaceted crises are felt less on product supply and availability than on prices. In fact, although the availability of all food products may be below average, supplies are sourced from local circuits for millet and cash crops and from imports for maize, sorghum, rice, wheat, roots, and tubers. Imports of agricultural products, as well as exports of cash crops and livestock, fell by between 60 percent and 80 percent, according to the INS business report for the third quarter of 2023. The main cause was the imposition of sanctions that reduced the pace and intensity of trade exchanges with countries implementing ECOWAS measures, resulting in a decrease in the volumes of cross-border flows of foodstuffs and animal products. The ECOWAS measures led to significant increases in food prices because official export bans to Niger and transactions through informal bypass routes resulted in very long circuits, incurring high costs. This new dynamic has been able to maintain food flows, but through a longer-than-normal circuit where transaction costs are increased and reflected in consumer prices. This largely explains the sustained increase in prices of local and imported food products (Figure 4). 

    In the Diffa region, market operations are significantly disrupted because local flows are low due to a decrease in local agricultural production and insecurity along commercial routes (Figure 5). Cross-border flows are also significantly down due to a decline in announced production in Nigeria, the closure of its border, insecurity along commercial routes, and, most importantly, the depreciation of the naira, which has decreased in value by over 50 percent compared to the CFA franc.

    Figure 4

    Trends in the price of imported rice in Niamey (XAF/kg)
    This shart shows trends in the price of imported rice in Niamey

    Source: SIMB

    Figure 5

    Operation of markets in Diffa, January 2024
    This map shows the operation of markets in Diffa, January 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Livestock markets: Livestock market supply, demand, and prices have also been impacted by sanctions, insecurity, and the economic situation, particularly in light of the significant depreciation of the Nigerian naira, given that Nigeria is the main destination for Nigerien livestock exports. Livestock exports decreased by 79.5 percent during the third quarter of 2023 compared to the second quarter of the same year (INS). This decline is mainly attributed to the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). However, with the decrease in Nigerian demand, there is an increase in livestock exports from Niger to coastal countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Senegal), Burkina Faso, and Mali via the Dori market in Burkina Faso. With this corridor, Niger exports animals transported by weekly convoys of trucks with military escorts from a gathering point in Niamey. This new dynamic certainly does not allow the usual volumes of exports to be reached; however, it not only encourages the supply of animals but also, and above all, avoids a sharp drop in demand and prices, which have remained the same as in 2022 but are above the five-year average (Figure 6). 

    Food and income sources: Following the cereal deficit, food sources for poor households consist of purchases, wild products, and fishing. In the regions of Diffa and Maradi, poor households manage to access the food aid distributed by humanitarian organizations such as the WFP. 

    The ongoing off-season irrigated crop campaign offers opportunities for labor demand for maintenance and harvesting work. However, this demand is low compared to the supply due partly to decreases in cultivated areas and partly to the high supply of labor in production areas resulting from the presence of displaced persons seeking local employment. The forage deficit has increased the demand for straw used as an animal feed supplement, as well as the prices fetched by this commodity. However, the availability of bush straw has greatly decreased due to insecurity limiting access to areas. Sales of firewood and artisanal forest products constitute income-generating activities for poor households. In addition to these livelihood activities, this period is also favorable for fishing activities in the Tillabéry and Diffa areas along the Komadougou and Niger rivers, where households earn income from fishing and fish sales. In any event, the income earned for labor is below average due to the low demand resulting from the decrease in off-season crop areas following a shortage of water for irrigation. The income for those engaged in self-employment through straw sales is moderate due to sustained demand for animal feed supplements.

    Figure 6

    Trends in the average price of a bull in Niamey (XAF/unit)
    This chart shows trends in the average price of a bull in Niamey

    Source: SIMB

    Nutritional situation: Data recorded for children under five admitted to health facilities in 2023 indicate a total number of approximately 933,984 cases of acute malnutrition in all forms. Among them, 474,946 cases were moderate, and 459,038 cases were severe, of which 54,867 cases presented complications, according to monitoring data shared by the nutrition department. The number of cases of malnutrition varied greatly during the year 2023. Until August, evidence of the impacts of food deficits were observed. Throughout the year, intermittent disruptions in pharmaceutical and nutritional inputs have been linked to ECOWAS sanctions, while insecurity has also severely hampered the functioning of health facilities. However, from September onward, a downward trend of 10 to 15 percent was observed thanks to new harvests (Figure 7).

    Figure 7

    Trends in the number of cases of malnourished children
    This chart shows trends in the number of cases of malnourished children

    Source: Directorate of Nutrition

    Food aid situation: The sanctions imposed on Niger following the military coup on July 26, 2023, resulted in a decrease in funding for humanitarian actions due to the blocking of food orders and the suspension of financial aid. Additionally, large-scale military operations launched to combat the activities of armed terrorist groups have contributed to restricting humanitarian access to areas and populations in need of assistance. The reductions and exceptions granted in the ECOWAS sanctions for humanitarian goods and materials have enabled humanitarian actors to have access to food and financial stocks to relaunch humanitarian aid actions. Therefore, in the 12 municipalities of the Diffa region, 261,000 targeted individuals out of the 387,000 identified in need receive food aid from 51 humanitarian actors. According to key informants interviewed as part of a rapid assessment of the food situation conducted at the end of January 2024, food aid supplies are distributed monthly in particular in areas of concern in the form of cash transfers of 3,500 to 5,500 CFA francs per person or in kind rations consisting of 7 kg of cereals, 2 kg of pulses, 0.5 kg of oil, and 0.2 kg of salt per person. According to estimates made on the basis of this ration, more than 37,000 kilocalories (kcal) are provided monthly and individually to 261,000 people, covering 67 percent of people and 58 percent of their food needs. The beneficiary populations represent approximately 31 percent of the total population of the Diffa region. According to interviews with assistance implementation partners, the situation of humanitarian interventions in the Diffa region is similar to that of the Maradi region. In the regions of Tillabéry and Tahoua, where assistance needs are acute, similar to those in the regions of Diffa and Maradi, humanitarian organizations report having the necessary stocks and funding for the implementation of assistance distributions to households in need. However, military operations and other security measures limit access to areas hosting targeted populations. 

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, cereal stocks are depleted for most households following insufficient harvests due to unfavorable weather conditions and decreased cultivated areas due to insecurity. Consumer prices remain on a sustained upward trend. Income-earning opportunities are reduced due to insecurity, which has decreased labor opportunities, and there is intense competition for other income-generating activities due to the increased presence of poor households as a result of the displacement of persons. In these areas, displaced and resident poor households have depleted their cereal stocks due to harvests that covered less than three months of consumption. At the same time, their access to food on the markets is reduced due to very high prices. Also, ongoing military operations in these areas prevent access to populations for food aid. Poor households, both displaced and residents, are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes characterized by inadequate food consumption, with households reducing meals to only one or two per day and some household members resorting to begging. 

    In the regions of Diffa and Maradi, food security conditions are unfavorable, similar to those prevailing in the regions of Tillabéry and Tahoua, and poor households heavily rely on food aid to meet their caloric needs. However, there is a strong presence of humanitarian actors with significant humanitarian intervention capacities, and there are no restrictive security measures for food aid operations. Poor displaced and refugee households regularly receive monthly food rations, allowing them to transition to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. 

    In the rest of the country, budget constraints have prevented food aid from being provided to populations, the majority of whom lack livelihood protections. As a result, these households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    calendrier saisonnier

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions 

    The most likely scenario for food security from February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Sociopolitical situation: After the lifting of sanctions and the opening of borders, negotiations with the authorities of Niger will focus on reversing the decision to withdraw from ECOWAS and will continue throughout the scenario period.
    • Macroeconomic situation: The lifting of freezes on state assets and the resumption of banking transactions will lead to an improvement in financial liquidity, as well as public investments in social and economic sectors. Inflation, which has been on a downward trend for the past three months, may stabilize at this high level. Given the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions, economic growth in 2024 could exceed the 5.3 percent forecasted by the IMF if oil production and exports commence on a large scale.
    • Security situation: Overall, the activity of armed terrorist groups is expected to follow past seasonal trends, with attacks increasing until the peak of the 2024 rainy season, followed by a relative decrease due to increasing constraints on movements associated with flooding. In the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, El Sahel and JNIM attacks could continue throughout the scenario period. EI Sahel is likely to take advantage of a possible weakening of the state's security system in terms of intelligence and surveillance. In the Diffa region, violence is expected to continue at current levels until September 2024, with sporadic attacks by Jama'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihad (JAS) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Diffa and Bosso departments. However, levels of violence are expected to remain well below those seen in 2019 and 2020. In the Maradi region, security incidents involving bandits are expected to continue at higher than seasonal levels. After an observed increase, incidents are expected to rise, albeit in line with seasonal trends, due to the increase in ISWAP attacks in the neighboring states of Sokoto and Kaduna, Nigeria.
    • Population displacement: The continuation of militant attacks in the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi is expected to result in population displacement at a level equal to that currently observed and to that of previous years, while attacks in neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria will lead to continuous flows of refugees into Niger.
    • Seasonal rainfall forecasts for agropastoral production: Expected seasonal rainfall will be average to above average for Niger from June to September 2024, which will result in overall moderate production of millet, sorghum, cash crops, and pasturelands in the country. In the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi, where security constraints will limit access to crop fields and reduce cultivated areas, production will nevertheless be below average. Both market and household food availability will be reduced from March to September 2024 due to cereal deficits and disruptions in cross-border flows. 
    • Fodder availability and water for livestock will be reduced from March until June/July due to the fodder deficit recorded throughout the pastoral zone; livestock migration will begin early, with herds moving toward areas with more abundant pastures and greater security. However, cross-border transhumance will be hindered by the closure of borders with Benin and Nigeria and insecurity in certain pastoral areas of the country, impacting livestock body conditions and market value and animal production. The pastoral situation will improve from July/August 2024 until September 2024, thanks to the favorable impacts of the rainy season, which will improve pasture and water availability and lead to a return to good livestock body conditions, market value, and dairy production. 
    • Market gardening and flood-recession crops: Water availability will be low for dry season agricultural productions such as lettuce, tomato, watermelon, and irrigated rice due to a reduction in groundwater recharge and surface water resulting from rainfall deficits. Market garden crops will be impacted by below-average water conditions, so expected yields will be below the five-year average. However, the Food Sovereignty Initiative through Intensification of Livestock Production and Irrigated Crops program, which involves the development of 299,778 hectares under small-scale irrigation for a forecasted production of 7,648,056 metric tons of all horticultural crops combined, or 1,340,439 metric tons of cereal equivalent, will help optimize the production of market gardening crops. 
    • Institutional purchasing: The lifting of sanctions, effective since February 24, 2024, will enable purchases to be made on subregional markets at lower costs than at present and to increase the volumes and quantities of products purchased at amounts similar to those at present.
    • Labor, migration, and transfers: Agricultural labor activities such as planting and maintenance work will continue for rainfed crops, providing income-earning opportunities for poor households. Agroclimatic conditions will stabilize in June and improve from July to September, offering agricultural employment opportunities for poor households. Food conditions will be at their worst during this period from June to September 2024, even though it will also be marked by increased demand for agricultural labor. Seasonal internal migration to the country's urban centers to provide labor for housekeeping, domestic work, and petty trading will be impacted by disruptions to the local economies of certain destination countries, notably Nigeria. This could lead to a drop in demand and prices for seasonal migrant labor, as well as decreased remittance flows from countries in the subregion, notably Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire.
    • Market flows and supply: Despite the lifting of sanctions and the reopening of borders with Nigeria and Benin, internal flows will continue to ensure millet supplies but at a relatively below-average level due to the gradual depletion of merchant stocks. Cross-border flows from Burkina Faso and Mali through the Lomé corridor, as well as from Nigeria and Benin, will keep markets supplied but at below-average levels due to high transaction costs despite the lifting of sanctions. The financial capacities of importing traders have been greatly reduced by the huge economic losses caused by the blocking of goods at the borders with Benin and Nigeria. 
    • Market demand: Given the early depletion of stocks as a result of the cereals deficit, demand will increase earlier than usual, prompting a more rapid recourse to the markets. The Ramadan period will further increase consumption demand. Excessive demand to replenish stocks for humanitarian operations will put further pressure on cross-border trade. 
    • Food prices: Very high price levels compared with the five-year average are set to continue due to the ongoing effects of disruptions to local and cross-border supply chains and rising demand. The additional costs of food transactions caused by circumvention and informal channels will be reflected in consumer prices, which will be at levels unmatched for the last five years.
    • Livestock markets and prices: Livestock markets are operating at below-average levels due in particular to the closure of the borders with Nigeria (the main destination for livestock exports), the sharp depreciation of the naira, and insecurity on the roads disrupting trade. This situation, combined with the loss of animal body fat due to the hunger gap, will keep livestock prices significantly below average, especially for large ruminants, following the drop in export demand. The price situation is set to improve from June to September, thanks to demand linked to Tabaski and the possible reopening of borders, including those with Nigeria and Benin. 
    • Food aid: Government food aid will be planned and implemented thanks to the lifting of economic and financial sanctions and the reopening of borders with Nigeria and Benin, which will enable the government to benefit from budgetary aid. The food and financial stocks of humanitarian organizations, notably the WFP, will be replenished, but at a level below assistance needs, due to purchase prices which will remain very high as a result of the effects of previous sanctions. The plans drawn up to assist food-insecure populations in the Diffa and Maradi regions will be implemented while respecting food calendars and rations to cover the kilocalorie needs of the majority of the targeted populations. In the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, security constraints will persist, limiting access to food-insecure areas and populations.
    • Nutritional situation: The prevalence of diseases affecting children's nutritional status will increase during the rainy season, as will associated illnesses. Admissions of malnourished children to nutritional centers are set to increase at an above-average rate due to household food deficits and the decline in preventive activities following the disruption in the nutritional input supply chain.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Across the country, and particularly in livelihood zones unaffected by conflict and insecurity, food security conditions will be marked by the depletion of stocks, although the availability of products and income from irrigated crops will ensure access to food. However, the rise in food prices from February to May 2024 will limit the purchasing power of poor households. Poor households in agricultural, agropastoral, and pastoral livelihood zones will have sufficient incomes to access enough food to cover their dietary needs but will not be able to cover non-food expenses. These households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. From June to September, food conditions will be at their worst as stocks are fully depleted, while food prices will also be at their highest in the face of average farm incomes. At the same time, this coincides with the peak flooding period, which will reduce household livelihoods. However, these conditions will be mitigated in pastoral areas by an improvement in livestock body conditions, market value, and milk production. Poor households in agricultural and agropastoral areas will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but 5 to 10 percent of them, particularly flood victims, will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Poor households in pastoral areas will generally transition into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) due to access to livestock and animal products, which will enable them to benefit from good terms of trade for livestock and food products. 

    In the conflict- and insecurity-affected zones of Tillabéry and Tahoua, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes will persist from February to September 2024, as the majority of poor households will experience food deficits. Significant changes in livelihoods will occur as a result of lack of food stocks and low or non-existent incomes, limiting household purchasing power. Food consumption will be limited to one meal a day, made up of cereal products generally obtained by begging. Households will receive little or no food aid due to the restrictions on the presence of humanitarian actors imposed by the security measures and official military operations maintained in the areas. Some poor households, representing 5 to 10 percent of flood-affected households, will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

    In the conflict- and insecurity-affected areas of Diffa and Maradi, the majority of poor households will not have sufficient food stocks from February to September 2024, and their purchasing power will be very low amid peaking food prices. However, these households will not be forced to resort to crisis strategies to access food due to planned and funded food aid. The security conditions will allow these food assistance programs to be implemented to cover household energy needs, sustaining Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalSignificant decrease in terrorist activities The reduction of terrorist activities would lead to the return of internally displaced persons and the resumption of livelihood activities in areas affected by insecurity. This would also be followed by the normalization of market operations and a gradual decrease in prices, as well as improved access to areas and populations for the distribution of food aid. There would be no populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), while the share of the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would decrease, and many households would transition to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).
     The decision to withdraw from ECOWAS is upheld and not reversedIf negotiations to cancel the ECOWAS withdrawal decision fail, this would lead to higher customs duties on imported products and strict restrictions on trade exchanges. Trade flows would be disrupted, and a significant decrease in market supply would be observed, accompanied by a surge in prices. There would be a food access gap for poor households, more of which would face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes from June to September.
    Late onset of rains and poor progress of the season A delay in rainfall would result in a consequent decrease in agricultural and pastoral production, as well as a more pronounced reduction in household stocks and market availability. Further exacerbation of market supplies and a significant decrease in availability would constitute an additional factor contributing to the increase in consumer prices of food products. An increase in populations facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would be likely. 

    Area of Concern: Agropastoral livelihood zone (NE04) in the Ouallam district of the Tillabéry region (Figure 8)

    Figure 8

    Area of concern reference map: Agropastoral zone of Ouallam
    This is a reference map for the area of concern: Agropastoral zone of Ouallam

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Security situation: The Ouallam department is facing a volatile and unpredictable security situation across all four communes of the Ouallam department (Tondikwindi, Simiri, Ouallam, and Dingazi). This continues to result in population displacement affecting 10,597 individuals, which translates to 1,421 households in the area according to the regional directorate of humanitarian action as of December 31, 2023. The situation is still marked by kidnappings and assassinations targeting civilians and military personnel, recurring livestock thefts, hijacking and burning of vehicles, sabotage of telecommunication networks, and the enforcement of forced tithes or zakat

    Food availability: The provisional results of the assessment of the 2023 agricultural campaign show a production deficit of 32,928 metric tons of cereals, compared to 22,933 metric tons in 2022, for an annual requirement of 99,797 metric tons. This means only 67 percent of human consumption needs are covered, compared to 76 percent last year. The combined effect of the early cessation of the rainy season and the persistence of civil insecurity has reduced the cultivated and harvested areas by 15 to 30 percent. As a result, cereal stocks are depleted for the majority of poor households. However, as part of the irrigated campaign for 2023/2024, 400 hectares are currently being developed, employing 11,129 farmers. Ongoing market gardening harvests will contribute to household food access and dietary diversity but at a lower level than average because vegetable crop production is decreasing due to the reduction in cultivated areas caused by insecurity. 

    Market and food prices: In December 2023, the level of market supply in the area decreased by 30 to 50 percent, while consumer and trader demand remained significant. According to data from the Agricultural Market Information System (SIMA), cereal prices have been on the rise since July 2023 following the coup d'état, exacerbated by the seasonal increase during the lean period. Starting in October 2023, prices slightly decreased (Figure 9). However, in January 2024, the prices of essential cereals increased compared to the same period last year by 29, 17, 15, and 10 percent for imported rice, maize, sorghum, and millet, respectively. Maize and imported rice also significantly increased by 32 percent compared to the five-year average, while sorghum increased by 25 percent and millet increased by 21 percent. The closure of the borders with Benin and Nigeria and persistent insecurity on commercial routes have caused a decrease in production and disruption of supply flows, leading to a continuous decline in carryover stocks in the area. This situation limits access to food products, particularly for poor households and displaced people.

    Figure 9

    Trends in prices of basic cereals (XAF/Kg)
    This chart shows rends in prices of basic cereals

    Source: SIMA

    Sources of income: The security situation in the department is very volatile. This limits seasonal employment opportunities, resulting in a 30 to 40 percent drop in income for poor and displaced households in the area compared to normal. Poor households derive their income mainly from preparatory work in the fields, the sale of straw and wood, petty trade, and the sale of wild products. Income from these activities has fallen by between 20 and 40 percent compared with the average due to the increase in the number of people involved in these activities as a result of the constant influx of displaced people practicing the same activities in the area. In addition, according to data from the rapid survey, remittances from migrant workers have also fallen by between 20 and 50 percent due to the economic situation, both locally and in host countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.

    Pasture availability and accessibility: Provisional results for the department's 2023 pastoral season show a forage availability of 379,804 metric tons of dry matter (DMT) against an annual requirement of 762,484 DMT (49.81 percent), representing a deficit of 382,680 DMT. This situation has led to a shortage of forage resources in the area. In addition, civil insecurity in Liptako-Gourma and restrictions on transhumance in Benin limit the movement of animals and access of herds to fallback areas. This leads to a concentration of animals in the most secure areas, causing early degradation of pastoral resources and loss of livestock body weight.

    Livestock trade: Livestock marketing in the department is generally modest due to a 70 to 90 percent drop in the number of foreign traders, particularly from Nigeria and Mali. This is linked to the persistence of civil insecurity on the main roads, the continued depreciation of the naira (NGN), and the closure of the Nigerian border. Current goat prices have decreased by 22 percent compared to the same period last year and 13 percent compared to the five-year average. In addition, goat to millet terms of trade are also down by 28 and 24 percent compared with January 2023 and the five-year average, respectively (Figure 10). In January 2024, one adult goat could fetch an estimated 107 kg of millet, compared with 148 kg in January 2023. The five-year average is 142 kg. The drop is due to the atypical rise in cereal prices following persistent civil insecurity on supply corridors and the closure of Benin and Nigeria's borders following ECOWAS sanctions. 

    Nutritional situation: Admissions of malnourished children under five to health facilities increased atypically in May and August 2023 compared with 2022 due to low dietary diversity following the atypical rise in food prices and the blockage of therapeutic inputs following the coup d'état of July 26, 2023 (Figure 11)

    Figure 10

    Changes in the goat to millet terms of trade in Ouallam
    This chart shows changes in the goat to millet terms of trade in Ouallam

    Source: FEWS NET

    Food aid: According to the overall situation of the Regional Directorate for Humanitarian Action, the department currently has 10,597 IDPs (1,421 households) as of December 31, 2023, compared with 10,576 people (1,417 households) in January 2023. However, food aid operations are on the decline in the department due to the drop in funding since 2023, exacerbated by their suspension by most partners since the military coup of July 26, 2023. Currently, cash transfers are underway in the area, consisting of 27,000 FCFA per person per month or 45,000 FCFA per household per month for three months and cash for work of 2,300 FCFA per person per day for 45 days; the beneficiary populations are estimated at less than 20 percent of households in the area. 

    Figure 11

    Number of malnutrition admission cases in 2022 and 2023
    This figure shows the number of malnutrition admission cases in 2022 and 2023

    Source: Directorate of nutrition

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • The average availability of water will allow irrigated crops to develop normally.
    • The rainy season will be normal both in its onset and course.
    • Insecurity is set to remain at a similar level to last year and the average due to continuing attacks by armed groups, despite the intensification of military operations in the Sahel states.
    • Conflicts will continue, leading to the abandonment of cultivated fields and a consequent drop in the area planted, with a reduction in harvests of at least 10 percent of the cultivated area.
    • Continuing civil insecurity will lead to a reduction in income from income-generating activities such as petty trade, the sale of wood and straw, off-season work, and the demand for local agricultural labor. As a result, the income generated will be below the five-year average.
    • The shortfall in fodder production by more than half of requirements and the persistence of civil insecurity, which limits access to pastoral resources in several localities in the zone (particularly in the north), will lead to early exhaustion and a prolonged pastoral lean period in the zone. In addition, the forage deficit will lead to a deterioration in livestock body conditions, strategic destocking by livestock farmers, and a fall in demand and prices for livestock in the area.
    • Low levels of local production, combined with disruptions to trade flows following persistent civil insecurity and the closure of the borders with Benin and Nigeria will lead to low supplies to the area's markets and price levels well above average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The food stocks of poor households, sufficient to cover only three to four months, will be exhausted from February to May 2024. In addition, there will likely be few job opportunities in agriculture due to the decline in demand for field clearing and market gardening. The daily income earned by poor and displaced households is expected to be below average due to high competition for available income-earning opportunities. Due to very high prices, households will be unable to buy sufficient quantities on the markets to cover their food needs. Harvests of off-season crops are also expected to remain low due to the reduction in cultivated areas and will contribute only slightly to the consumption and dietary diversity of poor and displaced households. As a result, households are expected to reduce meals to only two a day (as opposed to the usual three), and their calorie intake will be below the energy requirement of 2,100 kcal per day. Security risks will continue to impede access to populations for the distribution of food aid. Poor households will continue to experience food deficits with the use of negative coping strategies and will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 

    From June to September 2024, poor households will be forced to rely on markets for food due to the depletion of own stocks. With the continuing civil insecurity in the area, the area planted will continue to shrink, leading to a drop in demand and prices for agricultural labor. Households will engage in sales of non-timber forest products as well as migration, but insecurity preventing access to rural areas will limit the incomes they earn. Poor households will face food deficits that they will be unable to meet, and they will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Niger Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Sustained price increases are making it difficult for poor households to access food, 2024.

    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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