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Diffa region experiencing food insecurity due to civil insecurity in northeast Nigeria

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • January - June 2015
Diffa region experiencing food insecurity due to civil insecurity in northeast Nigeria

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • With the majority of households not experiencing significant issues accessing cereals, the food security situation was better in January 2015 than in 2014. It is expected to remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in most parts of the country from February through June 2015.

    • The most concerning acute food insecurity situation is in the Diffa region, where poor households in northern areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) beginning in April due to declining pastoral incomes and low cereal supplies leading to high prices on markets.

    • The Diffa region also needs assistance for the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 refugees and returnees fleeing insecurity in northeast Nigeria. Assistance currently available in the southern part of the Diffa region will help maintain acute food insecurity in the area at a level of Stress! (IPC Phase 2!) until June 2015.

    • With the approach of the lean season, which this year will coincide with the early depletion of cereal and forage stocks in areas with rainfall shortages, food insecurity could increase. This will particularly be the case beginning in May-June, with cereal prices rising higher than the purchasing power of poor households in agropastoral zones of northern Tillabéri, pastoral zones of northern Tahoua, and farming/pastoral zones of eastern Zinder.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    The official results of the 2014/15 cultivation and agropastoral season are not yet available. However, in light of the farming conditions observed during the rainy season, various assessment mission results, the evaluations of key informants, markets that are following normal seasonal trends, and typical demand pressure, cereal availability is expected to be generally above average throughout the country. Many households in farming and agropastoral areas are consuming their own cereal stocks. In areas with irrigated rice crops, food availability is being bolstered by rice crops. However, households in some areas, such as Ouallam (Tillaberi), Dungass/Magaria (Zinder), Abalak, and Tchintabaraden (Tahoua), have become market dependent with crop production levels estimated at more than 60-70 percent below their food needs.

    In these areas and throughout the rest of the country, the market gardening season has begun, with crops being placed in nursery beds in some cases and the start of crop maintenance activities in others. This season has begun normally thanks to above-average aquifer recharge and input assistance expected from the government and its partners, including the FAO. The necessary conditions will therefore be in place to fully develop potentially irrigable lands and assure near-average production levels. The harvests that will run through the entire period from February through March/April 2015 will improve household food access and diversity.

    All markets are currently functioning normally except for those in the Diffa region, which are being disrupted by the effects of the sociopolitical crisis in northeast Nigeria. Supplies on the main markets are high due to above-average cereal availability in importing countries. On the whole, prices of staple products (millet and sorghum) are in line with the five-year average. On the markets in Maradi, Zinder, and Tahoua, millet prices range from 135 FCFA to 188 FCFA per kilogram, more than 10 percent lower than the five-year average. These fluctuations in market prices for millet are similar to those observed for sorghum.

    The situation in the pastoral area is characterized by normal demand for livestock and stable or even above-average prices. Prices for small ruminants are stable but bull prices are above average due to high demand for local terminal fattening activities and for exports to countries such as Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.

    However, the pastoral area of the Diffa region, particularly the Nguigmi department, is feeling the combined effects of deteriorated animal body conditions resulting from pasture deficits and the decreased demand for exports to Libya and northeast Nigeria. The majority of demand is therefore local, coming from traders from other regions (Zinder and Maradi) who export to central Nigeria and other coastal countries and to meet demand from mine workers in Zinder, Agadez, and Diffa. Livestock prices are already below average and will continue to fall. This will negatively impact pastoral households' purchasing power, especially if the additional demand from traders from the Zinder and Diffa regions falls with an escalation of civil insecurity in Nigeria.

    Elsewhere in the Diffa region, particularly in the agropastoral departments in the south, most households only have enough crops to cover 5 to 10 percent of their annual consumption needs, or 1 to 2 months of consumption compared to 3 to 4 months in a normal year. Outside of food assistance, most of the food consumed in agropastoral areas experiencing severe shortages was purchased beginning in December, instead of February-March in a normal year. Increased demand for cereals from pastoral and agropastoral households and displaced persons from Nigeria is keeping market prices of these foods above the five-year average.

    With the start of production of off-season crops, including irrigated rice along the Niger River, peppers, maize, and cowpeas on the Komadougou Yobé River, onions, and other horticultural products in the country's different production basins, there is normal demand for farm labor, namely for placing crops in nursery beds and maintaining crops that have already been planted. Thanks to the availability of sufficient quantities of water for irrigation and assistance in the form of farm inputs, the areas being planted are comparable to an average season, making it possible to hire and pay local farm workers as usual. However, the areas planted in maize and cowpeas on Lake Chad are well below average, leading to lower demand  and therefore less income earned from farm labor.

    With the receding and gradual fall in water levels, permanent and seasonal rivers have become areas for fishing, and sales of fish locally and in urban centers are generating substantial income for fishermen, as usual. Sources of household income also include the gathering and sale of bush products (wood, straw, and gum arabic), which are helping to maintain normal income levels.

    With the combined effects of food security problems, child healthcare practices, and the occurrence of seasonal diseases, the food security situation for children will be marked by a normal rise in admissions of cases of malnutrition from January through at least June.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2015 described below was established based on the following underlying assumptions with respect to trends in nationwide conditions:

    • With above-average water availability and assistance from the government and its partners, the dry growing season will begin normally in January-April 2015. Crop production in February-April is expected to be average and to make an average contribution to household income and food diversification.
    • Harvested cereal crops will allow farming and agropastoral households to cover their consumption needs without depending on markets for a normal period of time, except in areas with production shortfalls in Tillaberi, Tahoua, and Zinder, where households will significantly deplete their cereal stocks earlier than the average period.
    • Cereal imports from Burkina Faso, Benin, and Mali will remain normal, which will help maintain sufficient supplies on markets in most parts of the country. Cereal supplies will be sufficient, as usual, on the markets from January through June but will be impacted by insecurity in Nigeria, which will lead to fewer cereal imports, particularly in the Diffa region. Supplies of livestock and market garden produce will follow normal trends from January through June.
    • Demand for cereals, livestock, and horticultural products will continue at a normal pace, except among households in areas with production deficits in Tillaberi, Tahoua, and Zinder, where demand for cereals will rise earlier and more significantly than normal for this period.
    • On the whole, market prices in real terms are expected to be lower than in 2013/14 and in line with the five-year average. However, in certain areas with production deficits, particularly in Diffa and north Tillabéri, prices will be above the five-year average.
    • The nutritional situation is expected to deteriorate to an average level in traditionally impacted areas (Maradi and Zinder), as well as in areas which normally have a better nutritional situation.
    • As of yet, there is no indication of an atypical start to the 2015 rainy season in May/June. Seeds will be available in time to be distributed for the 2015/16 growing season to households experiencing shortages. Fertilizer prices and availability are expected to be normal.
    • Household incomes will remain average for the season thanks to increased demand for farm labor, namely for maintaining irrigated crops in January-March/April and for preparing land for the start of the rainy growing season in April-June.
    • Migration will take place normally, with migrants leaving in January and returning in April/May 2015, generating average income from remittances.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Given all of these factors, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity will generally dominate in all livelihood zones from January through March 2015, except among a minority of poor households, particularly those in the pastoral and agropastoral zones of Abalak, Tchintabaraden, and Ouallam. A limited number of them will experience Stress (IPC Phase 2) due to the depletion of household food stocks, increased demand for cereals, increased cereal prices, and a decline in cereal purchasing power.

    This situation will correspond to the depletion of farmers' stocks in April-June 2015. In many cases, the return of migrants in April/May is synonymous with an influx of financial resources, which will improve household incomes. Markets will be sufficiently supplied, with prices similar to the five-year average beginning in April 2015. However, localized price spikes will be seen in areas where cereal shortages are cyclical, and these higher prices will lead to deteriorated food access for poor consumers in April/May/June. Food assistance will help compensate for this deterioration. Plans have already been developed for its implementation, and funding is under negotiation with partners. Food access and consumption will be ensured through food assistance to identified households under Stress (IPC Phase 2) in pastoral and agropastoral zones, especially in north Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder and in south Diffa, beginning in April 2015.

    The food insecurity situation in Nguigmi, which will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in January-March thanks to food assistance, will rise to one of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in April-June due to a disruption in income sources, market dysfunction, and a prolonged, atypical deterioration in the ability to access cereals.

    In Diffa, the situation of refugees from northeast Nigeria has gotten significantly worse since November, with attacks in several communities bordering the region. The largest numbers of refugees have been reported in the Bosso area and the islands of Lake Chad, which have taken in an estimated 32,464 and 40,953 people, respectively. Humanitarian organizations in Diffa estimated the number of refugees/returnees in the region at 109,489 people on November 13, 2014. The number of displaced persons currently in the Diffa region is estimated to be 150,000 to 200,000. This is in addition to the more than 3,000 refugees/returnees registered at the Gagamari site in the Chétimari rural community after the attack in Damassak, Nigeria on November 24, 2014. Even with ongoing assistance, most displaced persons in Niger will be unable to meet their basic non-food needs.


    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 2

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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