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Increased food insecurity in the Diffa region

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • July - December 2015
Increased food insecurity in the Diffa region

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The 2015 rainy season started late in the country's agricultural and pastoral areas, where the pastoral lean season is lasting longer than usual.

    • Despite the late start to the rainy season, rainfall totals since the first dekad of July 2015 have been favorable, allowing for the planting of crops to finish and for the normal growth of crops already planted. Seasonal forecasts indicate average to above-average rainfall totals for the rest of the season.

    • Despite the ongoing lean season, which is resulting in increased market dependance, consumer prices of cereals remain below the seasonal average thanks to sufficient supply. The exception is in the Diffa region, where Boko Haram conflict is disrupting normal trade.

    • With the exception of the Diffa region, where households are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the effects of the Boko Haram conflict, acute food insecurity should remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the rest of the country from October through December thanks to improved food availability and access during the harvest period and better pastoral conditions.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    Comparing the planting situation to that of last year and previous years, this growing season started later than usual. However, since late June and early July, rainfall has improved in all of the country's agricultural regions, with dekadal totals of 100 to 200 millimeters recorded in areas receiving the most rain. Even though most gauge stations are reporting below-average seasonal rainfall totals, good spatio-temporal distribution has resulted in a significant rise in the rate of planting, which rose from 32 percent in the second dekad of June to 50 percent in the third dekad of June, 68 percent in the first dekad of July, and 86 percent in the second dekad of July. This rate was just below the 89 percent seen in 2014 and an average of 92 percent for the same period. Planting rates are nearly 100 percent in the Dosso, Tahoua, Tillabéri, and Maradi regions, 78 percent in Zinder, and 21 percent in Diffa. The majority of farming villages that had not planted crops as of July 20, 2015 were observed in the Zinder region, where the proportion of farming villages which had not yet successfully planted crops was estimated at 73 percent in Belbedji, 46 percent in Dungass, 36 percent in Goure, and 34 percent in Tanout. To assist poor households facing cereal shortages and ensure good planting coverage, the government and its partners provided 16,000 metric tonnes of improved seeds to 664,031 households in 237 municipalities around the country in June 2015.

    Rainfall conditions reported until now have produced sufficient water for crops in localized areas of the Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, Dosso, and Tillabéri regions. In these areas, the water requirement satisfaction index for crops ranges from 80 to 100 percent. This situation has favored the normal growth of crops, which are in stages varying from establishment to tillering (millet) as observed in the Dioundiou and Gaya departments (Dosso region). For other crops, such as sorghum, cowpeas, and groundnuts, establishment is still the dominant stage. On the whole, the crop pest situation has remained calm. To effectively fight against pest attacks during the rainy season, 239,153 liters of pesticide have been made available, corresponding to an intervention capacity of 314,000 hectares out of a projected 300,000 hectares, ensuring 100 percent coverage.

    The pastoral situation is characterized by a relatively long lean season with a late start to the farming-forestry-pastoral season. Most animal feed consists of natural pasture (young shoots at the emergence stage, bush straw, abundant herbaceous and woody perennial forage) and stored crop residues. Feed availability is reinforced by the local distribution of 18,820 metric tonnes of feed supplements (wheat bran and cottonseed cakes) by the government and its partners in different regions of the country. Animals are being watered both around wells and pastoral boreholes and at surface watering holes filled with rainwater. On the whole, animal body conditions are fair and could improve in the coming weeks with the widespread growth of pasture. Animals have started their usual movement from the south to the north in order to free up the few planted fields. In Tillabéri, however, a significant number of herds (all species) have atypically migrated from Mali to the Bankilaré department and the pastoral area of Banibangou and Inatès. This unexpected situation could disrupt the fragile balance between livestock density and available pasture in July, but that balance could be restored beginning in August with the good progression of the season in pastoral areas.

    Markets are receiving adequate food supplies from importers from Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso and from producers with surplus crops, who began drawing down their stocks with the start of the 2015 growing season. Food supplies are reinforced by moderately-priced sales of 23,000 metric tonnes of cereals at a price of 13,000 FCFA/100 kg bag, organized by the government and its partners from July through September 2015. Demand for these staple foods is average, coming from pastoralists and households in structurally deficit areas. This household supply and demand situation kept food prices in June 2015 similar to below those during the same period in 2014 and to the average. The average national price of millet during this period was 19,000 FCFA/100kg bag, compared to 23,000 FCFA in 2014 and the five-year average of 22,800 FCFA. In June 2015, maize, millet, and sorghum prices were 20 percent lower than the five-year average on most markets in the country. However, normal increases in cereal prices of one to eight percent were observed on certain markets, such as Gaya (where maize is up 7.5 percent) and Diffa (where sorghum is up 5 percent).

    Poor households are accessing food mainly through sales of livestock, straw, wood, labor, milk and/or animal products and through the tending of livestock herds. While farm labor and wood prices are, as usual, between 1,000 and 1,500 FCFA per person/day and 250 and 500 FCFA a bunch, respectively, the price of straw is significantly higher than during the same period in 2014. This situation is the result of the late start to the 2015 growing season, which was unfavorable to pasture growth. In the Ouallam department, where straw sales are an important source of income for very poor and poor households, poor households are currently selling a cart-load of straw for an average of 30,000 FCFA, compared to 27,500 FCFA in 2014. For the most part, milk, animal product and livestock tending prices are in line with the average.

    In terms of livestock trade, animal prices have not fallen significantly. On several markets, they are similar to slightly below those during the same period in 2014 and to the average. This situation is due to demand from Nigeria on the main livestock markets in Ayorou, Mangayzé, Téra (Tillabéri), Tchinta (Tahoua), Boureimi, and Bagagi (Dosso) and pastoralists' strategy of selling animals with acceptable body conditions. As usual, Nigerian traders are supplying the markets with cereals and buying livestock in return. This demand, combined with local demand from projects to reconstitute herds for vulnerable populations and animal fattening ahead of Tabaski, has stabilized livestock market prices. In general, terms of trade are favorable to pastoralists in almost every region and are above average. A pastoralist could trade a male goat over one year old for 131 kg of millet in June 2015, compared to an average of 120 kg. However, male goat-to-millet terms of trade were 11 percent below the five-year average in the Diffa region, where the security situation linked to the conflict in Libya and persistent attacks by Boko Haram has significantly impacted trade flows between the region and Nigeria.

    In the Diffa region, the food security and nutritional situation continues to deteriorate following new developments in the security situation and deteriorating livelihoods. Poor security conditions are causing not only population movements from Nigeria to the region and within the region but are also preventing farmland from being used to grow crops (maize and peppers, the main sources of cash and in-kind income for households). The population's economic activities have been compromised by the combined effects of poor rainfall in 2014 and security problems, which are preventing farmland from being used to grow maize and peppers in the Lake Chad and Komadougou Yobe valleys. Other economic activities in southern Diffa, particularly fishing and fish sales, practiced around Lake Chad, have stopped, resulting in lost income.


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

    • Despite the late start to the rainy season, seasonal forecasts indicate an average to above-average progression of the season. Seasonal rainfall totals could be average or at least adequate for crop growth (Figures 1 and 2), with a normal end of the season.
    • In August, September, and October, crops could benefit from hydrological conditions favorable to the normal progression of their growing cycle, resulting in average millet and sorghum production levels. Harvests will take place beginning in October and will improve food availability and income from farm labor, as usual.
    • Even though the pastoral season started late, according to seasonal forecasts, rainfall will stabilize at average to above-average levels. Pastoral conditions will improve beginning in late July, improving animal body conditions and milk production from October through December 2015.
    • Livestock prices will remain stable until July, followed by a normal upward trend from August through December 2015 with the improvement in livestock body conditions and high demand for animals for Tabaski in September/October and year-end celebrations.
    • Markets will have sufficient supplies of foodstuffs, which will mainly be imported by traders from Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso in July/August and September and with internal trade flows in October/November/December during the harvest period. There will be an average flow of trade between Niger and these source countries, except in the case of trade flows from northeastern Nigeria, where the security situation will impact trade flows to the Diffa region.
    • Market demand will rise typically during the end of the consumption year in July/August/September and will fall in line with seasonal trends beginning in October. However, the presence of Malian refugees in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions and displaced persons from Nigeria in the Diffa region will cause additional demand.
    • Harvests of millet and sorghum (the main staple foods) are expected to be average and will take place from October through December. These harvests will reduce demand on the markets, as usual, pushing food prices on the markets downward.
    • The conflicts in northern Nigeria, Libya, and Mali and the subsequent displacement of persons will persist, and the number of refugees and returnees will remain stable or will rise between now and December 2015.
    • Demand for and wage income from farm labor will remain normal from July through December.
    • The availability of bush straw will improve beginning in August, and supplies will rise as usual, with prices following normal trends.
    • The reconstitution of the national food security stock for sales at moderate prices and free food distributions will reach the expected level with average to above-average harvests and food availability.
    • Government assistance programs will be implemented in August and September as scheduled in the food assistance plan.
    • Humanitarian interventions on behalf of Malian refugees and of refugees and returnees from Nigeria could be hindered by the persistent climate of insecurity, especially in the Diffa region.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    In most agricultural and agropastoral areas, particularly in the regions of Maradi, Tahoua, northern Zinder, and southern Tillabéri, most households will be able to access enough food to meet their food needs. However, poor households in several areas will only be able to do so thanks to inter-annual food assistance and will not be able to cover non-food expenditures to prevent malnutrition and a deterioration in their livelihoods in July/August and September. These areas will generally be characterized by Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, and some households in certain regions within them will experience Stress (IPC Phase 2) from July through September. Harvests, which will begin in October and intensify in November and December, will allow households to consume their own crops and improve income from labor. Most households will be able to feed themselves and cover their expenditures without assistance, which will improve food insecurity conditions in farming areas to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from October through December.

    In pastoral areas in the Tahoua and Tillabéri regions, households will spend more than usual in July to feed their livestock and to buy cereals due to the short prolongation of the pastoral lean season caused by the late start to the rainy season. Conditions will quickly improve in August/September with pasture regrowth, improving animal body conditions and market values, which will rise, especially in October, November, and December. Poor households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in pastoral areas through July, but the situation will improve to one of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity beginning in August.

    In the agropastoral area of southern Diffa, persistent security problems will continue to disrupt trade flows and market supplies, leading to a significant drop in cereal and cash crop production levels in the area due to problems accessing fields. Consumer demand for cereals will rise with the presence of displaced persons. Local poor households and displaced persons will face significant difficulty meeting their consumption and livelihood protection needs due to market dysfunction and the loss of livelihoods and purchasing power in a context where food assistance will be difficult to deliver. Most of the area will experience Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity from July through December 2015.

    In the pastoral area of Diffa, livelihood activities (particularly livestock sales and labor migration to Libya and Nigeria) will remain significantly disrupted. Poor households will continue to lose income, not only due to low demand for exports but also to a decrease in migration, which generates remittance income, and the low value of local labor. Poor households in this area will not have enough cereal purchasing power to meet all of their basic food needs. Above-average sales of livestock and labor and food assistance will not affect the majority of households located in remote towns given the prevailing insecurity in the area. As a result, they will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until at least December.


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

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes for July 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes for July 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall trends given precipitation already recorded in 2015 – millet production area, Zinder, Niger

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2.  Cumulative rainfall trends given precipitation already recorded in 2015 – Ouallam, Niger

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 5


    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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