Food Security Outlook for July to December
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Current food security conditions
The joint reassessment of household vulnerability to food insecurity by the SAP (the national early warning system) and its partners in May /June of this year assessed the size of the food-insecure population at approximately 5.5 million based on the deterioration of food security conditions in different areas. The majority of the food-insecure population consists of agropastoral households in Téra, Tillabéri, Ouallam, and Filingué departments, where harvests from the 2011/12 growing season were poor, where food prices have been extremely high, and where assistance programs have been unable to keep pace with significant unmet needs. However, the number of people vulnerable to prevailing poor food security conditions is lower than the previous number determined in October 2011 when the first evaluation identified a vulnerable population estimated at more than 6 million people. Regular SAP monitoring data for food-insecure areas during June 2012 showed a stabilization and, in some cases, improvement in household food insecurity levels compared to April/May, largely due to the numerous ongoing assistance programs in these areas (subsidized cereal sales, targeted distributions of free food aid, targeted distributions of cash, and blanket feeding programs), in spite of the steep upward movement in market prices.
A good growing season, marked by normal to above-normal rainfall allowing for successful planting activities in major farming areas of the country, is also helping to bolster household food security. Reportedly light rainfall through the end of May and early June was followed by a pattern of regular rainfall activity, in line with normal seasonal trends, particularly in the Maradi, Zinder, and Diffa regions. Cumulative seasonal rainfall totals in these regions are well above estimated average cumulative rainfall totals for this time of year, as projected in seasonal rainfall outlooks that predicted normal to abovenormal cumulative rainfall totals in this part of the country’s farm belt. Rainfall activity since the end of June is creating good soil moisture conditions for the growth and development of the crops planted in all farming villages in the Diffa, Zinder, Maradi, and Dosso regions. The growing season has not yet definitively started in parts of Tillabéri and Tahoua, where a number of farming villages, representing approximately 20 percent of farming communities around the country, had still not planted crops as of the middle of July. This year’s crop production assistance program provided farmers with close to 10,000 metric tons of seeds, of which approximately 35 percent were supplied by the FAO. The government and its partners are currently making arrangements to provide farmers with seed aid for the upcoming market gardening season by the end of September. The goal is to plant 100,000 hectares in crops to produce the equivalent of an estimated 500,000 metric tons of cereal.
Promising rainfall for this growing season should encourage steady improvement in market supply of cereals. Currently, cereal supply is currently dominated by traders, who have released stocks, encouraged by what has been a normal start-ofseason. Over 80 percent of current cereal supplies from trader stocks consist of crops imported from Nigeria and Benin. Cereal availability is also bolstered by subsidized sales programs implemented by the government and its partners. In addition, certain surplus-producing farmers are unloading their stocks in order to hire farm workers.
The current high demand for cereals is being driven by increased farming activities and by pastoralists and traders looking to export cereal crops to nearby countries, including Mali. Ongoing distributions of free food aid, blanket feeding, and cash transfer programs for food-insecure households in at-risk areas are helping to improve household food access and to prevent further deterioration of food security in spite of current high prices. The combined effects of cereal demand for local consumption and demand on supply markets are keeping staple food prices extremely high, at approximately 278 XOF/kg, or 47 percent above-average. Generally, millet and sorghum prices, though high, are stable compared to the previous month. However, sorghum prices on the Magaria market are up sharply from May of this year, or by as much as 39 percent, due to the high demand for seeds. Likewise, the steep 31 percent rise in millet prices on the Gouré market is due to demand for local consumption and, in particular, from pastoralists returning from seasonal grazing lands. Prices on 72 percent of the markets tracked by FEWS NET (26 of 36 tracked markets) are up by 40 percent or more compared with figures for the same time last year. The Mayahi market is showing the largest price increases, where millet prices are up by 99 percent due to heavy demand from returning migrants and to meet caloric needs for engaging in farm work. Prices on 66 percent of tracked markets are above the five-year average by 40 percent or more, with the Aderbisnat market showing the steepest price increases, where sorghum prices are 78 percent above-average.
Rainfall in pastoral zones is beginning to replenish animal watering holes in areas with new emergent ground cover, promoting return migration by transhumant herds to these areas. The pastoral lean season is ending and the steady improvement in the physical condition of livestock is increasing market value compared with previous months, reflected in 5-12 percent price increases reported on most livestock markets. However, terms of trade are still below-average.
Free food distributions (31,672 MT per month through September) and subsidized cereal sales (an average of 26,500 MT per month through September) should strengthen food access. However, this assistance will not fully meet food needs of recipient households, nearly 80 percent of which are in the Tillabéri region, the main receiving area for Malian refugees.
The inadequacy of these assistance efforts and higher than usual cereal prices will mean food gaps for very poor and poor households in Ouallam, Filingué, Tillabéri, and Téra departments in July, August, and September.
The nutrition situation is marked by a steady stream of admissions of patients suffering from malnutrition to treatment facilities, though the total number of reported cases of malnutrition in June of this year in Tillaberi was virtually identical to the figure for May. The cholera outbreak in the Tillabéri region continues, with recent reports of nine cases of cholera at intake facilities for Malian refugees. As of July 15th of this year, there were 2,897 reported cases of cholera, including 58 fatalities. There are active outbreaks in both the Tillabéri (2,060 cases and 28 fatalities) and the Téra health districts (420 cases and 21 fatalities). The Kollo and Say health districts have also reported 369 and 41 cases of cholera, respectively.
Good rainfall is also creating environmental conditions that are conducive to a locust outbreak. Groups of desert locusts from Libya and Algeria have entered northern Niger, scattering across the Tamesna plains, the Aïr mountain zone, and Sahelian grazing areas. Locust sightings have also been reported farther south, in cropping areas of central and southern Niger between Tanout and Termit, affecting a 2,295 hectare area as of July 10th, of which 1,200 hectares have been treated. The deployment of locust control teams (CNLA) have neutralized all located groups and reduced the population density of the current generation of locusts which, according to the assessment of the desert locust situation by CNLA as of July 17th of this year, is extremely low (1 to 12 insects per site). There are no indications of damage to crops in any food-insecure areas except for Tabelot and Kawar, where locusts have destroyed local palm and date trees. However, there are reports of egglaying and locust hatchings in Tamesna and Damergou and, with the dispersion of locust groups infiltrating northern Niger, the situation in northern Tamesna, northern Aïr, and northern Termit (bypassed by canvassing operations), where environmental conditions are conducive to desert locusts a possible outbreak remains potentially dangerous.
The National Locust Control Center has drawn up an emergency action plan for July and August of this year to effectively combat the desert locust threat, with an objective to protect crops and pastures from infestations and damage. More specifically, the goal is to locate and neutralize any infiltrating groups of winged adult locusts or swarms before they can reach farming areas and prevent any swarms from escaping from breeding and gregarization areas within the country, in particular, Aïr and Tamesna. To this end, the plan calls for the immediate deployment of 14 canvassing teams, 14 treatment teams, and one aerial spraying team covering the entire country. According to data furnished by the National Food Crisis Prevention and Management Network, all necessary funding for implementation of this action plan has been assembled and there is an alternative emergency plan in place against a possible infestation of crops and pastures by desert locust populations invading the country from Mali, where treatment efforts are hampered by the civil insecurity problems in the north.
Most likely food security scenario (July through December 2012)
The most likely food security scenario described below for the three main focus areas for the period from July through December of this year is based on the following general assumptions:
- The seasonal rainfall outlooks predicting normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall totals for the period from July through September are accurate, except in Tillabéri which may receive more sporadic rainfall activity.
- Institutional procurements and stock-building activities by cooperatives in November and December will take place as usual. Institutional procurements to build food aid reserves for distributions of free rations will not disrupt markets.
- The government’s assistance plan for July, August, and September will be implemented.
- There will be fair to good levels of crop and pasture production in all parts of the country with the exception of the Tillabéri region, where delays in the planting of crops could create a cereal deficit without continuous regular rainfall activity.
- Consistent start-of-season conditions will create a high demand for labor, with average wage rates of around 1500 CFAF/man-day throughout the outlook period.
- In the absence of any current data regarding locust behavior, locations, activity, and movements, the most likely scenario assumes eventual arrival of locusts and light, localized damage to pastures and crops. However, this assumption will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
- The emergency locust control plan will be funded and implemented on time, with detection teams surveying any potential invading locusts from Mali, establishing an effective warning system. Additional resources will be mobilized to cover the risk of a locust invasion from Mali.
- There will be regular market supplies of cereal thanks to good growing season conditions, prompting traders and surplus-producing households to unload their cereal inventories in July/August. These supplies will be bolstered by stocks of corn from upcoming harvests in the Sudanian zone in August and September and by harvests of local cereal crops in October, November, and December.
- There will be rise in local demand with the observance of Ramadan in late July-August and September. On-farm production will help soften local market demand between October and December.
- Prices will stay above seasonal averages in July/August, remaining high but stable through September. Subsequent drops in prices will put them on par with the five-year average between October and December.
- There could be relatively minor to fair amounts of flooding in transhumant and nomadic pastoral/camel-raising areas, with a limited number of small ruminant fatalities.
- The expected average to above-average rainfall activity will mean a higher prevalence of seasonal illnesses beginning as of August, particularly malaria. However, assistance programs focused on prevention could keep health conditions in line with normal seasonal trends.
- Ongoing humanitarian assistance programs (distributions of free food aid, cash transfer programs, and subsidized sales programs) will continue through September.
- Terms of trade for male goats/millet will begin to improve in August and should be fair to good in September, October, and November with the growth in demand associated with the celebration of Tabaski.
- There will be a normal flow of cross-border cereal trade between July and December.
- The political situation in Mali will not change from the status quo.
- Rises in child malnutrition rates in July, August, and September will be in line with normal seasonal trends.
- There will be a good harvest of market garden crops and prices will not suffer from the same strong competition as last year, which caused sales to slump and prices to plummet.
Poor and middle-income households, particularly in farming and agropastoral areas of Téra, Tillabéri, Ouallam, and Filingué departments, will face food consumption gaps between July and September in spite of the mounting of assistance programs, which cannot possibly cover all households in all parts of the country. The household food security situation will continue to depend on external assistance through the end of September, subsequently improving between October and the end of December of this year, propelling most very poor and poor households in farming and agropastoral areas of Maradi, Zinder, Diffa, and Dosso from IPC Phase 2 (stressed) into IPC Phase 1 (minimal acute food insecurity). Markets will be well-stocked, mainly with imports. These supplies will be bolstered by freshly harvested crops from the Sudanian zone as of August/September. Supplies of local crops could improve in October, November, and December. Prices will be well above five-year averages between July and August, fueled by a continued strong consumer demand. Market demand will gradually soften in October, reduced to normal demand from pastoralists, the government, humanitarian agencies, and farmer organizations looking to rebuild their cereal reserves. However, in the Tillabéri region, the added demand from the refugee population and a strong local demand as of November/December due to the late start of the growing season could create localized cereal deficits. The nutritional situation will gradually begin to improve as of October of this year and should improve by December with the first harvests of off-season crops.
Aïr Massif Irrigated Gardening Zone
Market purchase is the main source of food consumed in this area for the entire outlook period. Vegetable (onion) sales, sales of small animals, and wage labor are the main sources of income for the local population. The high demand for cereal in this area has driven prices up sharply, making them hard to afford for local households affected by the slump in onion sales (their main cash crop) and the nonpayment of wages normally paid in April/May, which are still outstanding. Very poor and poor households are currently generating income from sales of hand-made goods and wage labor in farming and market gardening operations. Some are being paid in kind by better-off households, whose purchasing power has been weakened by weak onion sales. The combination of these earnings and humanitarian aid through distributions of free food rations, cash transfer programs, and subsidized sales programs, should enable them to meet their food needs through September. Favorable levels of pastoral production, good physical condition of livestock, and high demand for live animals for the celebration of Tabaski should improve terms of trade.
Better than usual streamwater flow rates are creating good conditions for market gardening activities in parts of the Tabelot area regarded as good market gardening sites. Harvests of cereal and market garden crops are expected by late September/early October and this year’s good growing season conditions suggest the likelihood of a good harvest. Since local produce will not be competing with crops from other producing areas (no onion currently produced) and given the good start-of-season conditions for cereal crops, prices should return to normal. This should facilitate the payment of outstanding wages to poor households, propelling them from IPC Phase 2: Stress to IPC Phase 1: Minimal acute food insecurity in October, November, and December.
Transhumant and nomadic pastoral areas (Tchirozérine, Tchintabaraden, Abalak, Tanout, and Gouré)
This zone contains approximately 483, 000 households, or 38 percent of the total population of transhumant and nomadic pastoral areas. Pastoral activities (cattle, sheep, goats, and some camels) are the mainstay of the local economy of this area, where annual rainfall is between 100 and 200 mm. Market purchase represents anywhere from 40 to 90 percent of local sources of food, depending on the wealth group. The main sources of household income are sales of animals, milk and dairy products, straw, and firewood and animal caretaking activities.
Conditions in July were marked by the growth of new ground cover benefiting small animals and tree strata for camels and an improvement in the levels of animal watering holes. With the end of the lean season in pastoral areas, this is helping to improve the physical condition of livestock, strengthening demand and increasing prices, which are up by five to 15 percent from previous months, though terms of trade for male goats/millet are poorer than at the same time last year due to the high price of cereal. Markets are sufficiently well-stocked with cereal and prices are well above-average, particularly on the Gouré market, due to a combination of strong local demand and demand from transhumant pastoralists in that area. Trends in income from other economic activities such as sales of firewood and straw are in line with the norm. July wage rates for animal husbandry were normal for that month.
The heavy July rains were responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 head of livestock (small ruminants) in Tchirozérine and Tchintabaraden departments. While there are always a certain number of animals lost during a strong rainy season, the magnitude of the losses reported in July is unusual and more liable to hurt very poor and poor pastoralist households relying on their herds of small animals as their main source of food and income. However, the strong social assistance networks in pastoral communities could significantly reduce the short-term impact of these large losses of livestock affecting very poor and poor households on food security outcomes. In particular, middle-income and better-off households are able to supply poor households with milk, loans of breeding animals under the so-called “habbanayé” system, and gifts of food and cash to make up for losses of food and income as a result of herd losses.
The main driver of food security over the next six months will be the improvement in pasture availability as a result of regular rainfall activity in August and September. However, the continued heavy rainfall in this area will result in flooding, likely entailing additional losses of livestock. Dietary improvement in October will help fatten animals and increase their market value. The high demand for live animals as of September/October for the celebration of Tabaski will normalize prices by September, causing them to peak in October and November. These positive trends will translate into an improvement in milk production and terms of trade and the attractive prices commanded by livestock will generate more income for better-off households, and cash and in-kind payments (in milk) for animal caretaking activities will dramatically improve food security conditions for very poor and poor households in this area. In general, this group of households will be in Phase 2 (stressed) of the IPC acute food insecurity phase scale in July and August. Social assistance networks will keep very poor and poor households in Tchirozérine and Tchintabaraden departments, where losses of small animals have eroded their livelihoods, in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) until December, while other household groups should experience only minimal acute food insecurity between September and December.
Agropastoral areas of Filingué, Tillabéri, Téra, and Ouallam
Growing season conditions in these areas are marked by a poor distribution of rainfall. As of the second dekad of July of this year, approximately a third of all villages in Tillabéri department were still waiting to plant crops whereas, on average, the start-of-season generally falls somewhere between June 20th and July 10th in this area. The northernmost municipalities are in the worst position, with 100 percent of all villages in Dessa, 91 percent in Anzourou, and 69 percent in the municipality of Ayorou failing to plant crops. In Filingué department, 37 percent of farming villages in the rural municipality of Sanam had not received rainfall sufficient for cropping activities. Several areas in this department were hit by dry spells, requiring the partial replanting of crops in virtually all municipalities, including 51 percent of villages in Fillingué, 36 percent in Imanan, 24 villages in Tagaza, 38 percent in central Kourfey, 16 percent in Tondikandia, and 11 villages in Sanam. Crops in successfully planted areas are in anywhere from the sprouting to the tillering stage of their growth cycle. With the growing season getting off to such a late start in many parts of this region, progress in these areas should be closely monitored.
On the whole, markets are well-stocked with cereal by traders, most of which is imported from Nigeria. Average corn prices were more or less stable and average millet and sorghum prices edged upward (by five and six percent, respectively) between May and June. However, prices for certain crops have been rising. The sharpest increases were in millet prices on the Ouallam market (16 percent) and sorghum prices on the Téra market (14 percent). The rising prices of these crops are attributable to the steady depletion of trader inventories with the restrictions imposed on sorghum exports by the government of Burkina Faso. The rise in millet prices on the Ouallam market is due mainly to significant purchases by cereal-short households receiving assistance in the form of cash. Millet and sorghum prices could continue to rise between July and August during the month-long observance of Ramadan, when both crops are heavily consumed, and may stabilize as of October and even begin to fall during the harvest season between October and December. The stability in corn prices is attributable to imports of newly harvested corn crops from Sudanian areas. Market prices in this region are up sharply, by 15 to 46 percent, compared with the same time last year and the five-year average. With the mixed start-of-season conditions in certain parts of Tillabéri, Ayorou, Abala, and Sanam, food prices in this area could continue to rise through September. Terms of trade for male goats/millet are well below-average.
Sources of income
Sources of income in June/July are limited to farm labor and sales of straw and firewood, and income from market garden crops (potatoes, onions, and tomatoes) and wage labor in market gardening operations is not contributing significantly to income. The price of farm labor in terms of cereal equivalent in June of this year was 18 percent lower than at the same time last year due to trends in cereal prices which, in some cases, are 50 percent higher than last year. The high prices of straw and firewood are affording access to larger quantities of cereal than last year, though not enough to meet the significant food needs associated with the current farming period and with the observance of Ramadan.
Situation of refugees
There is a continuing influx of refugees due to the persistent problems in northern Mali. As of July 25th , more than 52,000 Malian refugees remain in the Ayorou, Abala, and Ouallam camps, compared with the April count of 29,000. Their presence is not significantly affecting markets. The refugees are receiving sufficient levels of food aid from the government of Niger and international organizations to meet their food needs, and will continue to receive assistance throughout the coming months. Some of the refugees are beginning to assimilate into the local economy by producing and selling hand-made goods on local markets. With the first meaningful rains, others applied for and were granted plots of land, which they have planted.
Food aid programs include distributions of free food rations and cash transfer programs for severely food-insecure households. The first phase of blanket feeding programs started up in early May, with the second phase launched at the end of July. In addition, more than 3,000 metric tons of cereal is being sold at subsidized prices in this region. The government and the FAO distributed 449 metric tons of millet seeds to poor households in Filingué department for the planting and replanting of millet crops. This is all planned assistance and will continue through September of this year in view of the especially high levels of food insecurity in the Tillabéri region.
Food security outcomes
Over 80 percent of available cereal supplies in this region will be imported from neighboring countries such as Nigeria, Benin, and Burkina Faso. Selling prices will be above seasonal averages between July and September/October. Food access in July, August, and September will be maintained through market purchase. With the high price of food, households are not able to purchase large enough quantities with self-generated income to meet their needs and, even with ongoing food aid programs, acute food consumption deficits are putting very poor and poor households in ICP Phase 3: Crisis in July, August, and September.
The late start of the growing season could potentially reduce output and crop yields, creating cereal deficits that further destabilize an already unstable situation. However, even in the event of production shortfalls, very poor and poor households will still have stocks of cereal from the upcoming harvest helping to close any short-term food gaps, gradually improving their situation to IPC Phase 2: Stress between October and December.
Factors that could change the scenario
At present, no evidence suggests a widespread desert locust infestation. However, this could change rapidly as updated information on locust movements, behavior, and locations are made available. Moreover, given the rapid evolution of the locust threat, its impact could be more severe in terms of damage to crops and pasture and food security outcomes. An infestation by migratory locust populations could mean the loss of market garden crops in Aïr and pasturelands in pastoral areas of northern Zinder, destroying the livelihoods and means of subsistence of households in both areas. This would also mean large localized losses of crops in August/September, further weakening food security outcomes in these areas in October, November, and December. Locust infestations in the Tillabéri area will destroy crops and supplies of straw. The effects of resulting crop and pasture production shortfalls would create food deficits by September and reduce income from the sale of straw. Conditions would steadily deteriorate beginning as of October, keeping the entire area in IPC Phase 3: Crisis levels of food insecurity in November and December of this year.
Shortened rainy season
With the growing season getting off to a late start in several parts of the country, continued rainfall activity through the end of September or into early October is required in order for crops in 20 to 30 percent of cultivated areas to mature normally and perform well. Sharp reductions in rainfall intensity beginning in August, which is normally a critical time for the growth and development of early-planted crops (in the flowering/seed-setting stage) would foster a major infestation of crop pests such as millet head miners, causing significant crop losses, particularly in areas where the growing season got off to a normal start such as the Diffa, Maradi, and Zinder regions.
|geographic area||Events||Impact on food security conditions|
Shortened rainy season
|Locust infestations and a shortened rainy season will sharply reduce crop and pasture production. Market supplies will tighten and prices will be very high, with food deficits and soaring malnutrition rates in parts of the country.|
|Nationwide||Spread of the conflicts in Nigeria and Mali to Niger||Reduction in livestock exports, particularly cattle exports. Large supplies on domestic markets will outstrip demand, dramatically cutting prices and limiting herd rebuilding efforts. Disruption in cross-border trade, with a reduction in imports and increase in prices, particularly for cereal imported from Nigeria. Traders will speed up the pace of increases in cereal prices and terms of trade will be 30 to 50 percent lower than usual in September, October, November, and December. Very poor and poor households without the means to counteract these market conditions will curtail their demand for cereal and will be facing severe food insecurity problems.|
|Poor households in the Aïr market gardening area||Civil security threats; Effective desert locust control plan; nonpayment of outstanding wages to workers; Ongoing fighting in Mali and nigeria||Problems selling crops, lower prices for market garden crops, nonpayment of wages, lower incomes, limited restocking, food deficits, severe food insecurity problems.|
|Pastoral areas||Pasture production deficit||Massive sales of livestock, including young breeding animals, to maintain food access; drop in livestock prices and deterioration in terms of trade by more than 50 percent; reduction in wage income, triggering earlier than usual labor migration and seasonal migration by transhumant herds. This would create food security conditions classified in IPC Phases 2 (stressed) to 3 (crisis) and could even affect middle-income households in these areas.|
|Agropastoral areas of Filingué, Tillabéri, and Téra||Limited food aid; desert locust Infestations||
Strong market demand, rising prices, food deficit, food crisis emergency in the worst case.
Poor harvest, low market supplies, sharp rises in crop prices to 30-50 percent above-average
About Scenario Development
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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