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Continuing food insecurity in Diffa even after the end of the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • October 2015 - March 2016
Continuing food insecurity in Diffa even after the end of the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The average to above-average levels of cumulative rainfall in August-September helped compensate for the late start of the growing season, creating good soil water conditions for what is expected to be near-average crop and pasture production. However, there are localized areas with production deficits, particularly in Tera, Ouallam, Tanout, Abalak, Bermo, and Aderbissinat.

    • There will be good water availability for irrigated crops grown between December 2015 and March 2016 from the heavy rains in August-September 2015. These irrigated crops, harvested between January and March 2015, will bolster household food availability and diversify household diets while, at the same time, boosting household income.

    • Trends in market supplies and prices are in line with the norm, except on markets in conflict zones in the Diffa region. Barring any large local procurements, these favorable market conditions should extend into March 2016, with prices even liable to come down in December-January-February once all crops have been brought in.

    • Driven by these generally positive factors, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in most areas of the country between October 2015 and March 2016. However, conditions in certain pastoral areas of Abalak and Bermo and certain agropastoral areas of Téra, Ouallam, and Tanout will begin to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and March 2016. Displaced populations and poor local populations in the Diffa region will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by January 2016, for as long as they are largely market-dependent for their food access.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    The regular rainfall in August and September 2015 created good soil water conditions allowing crops to successfully complete their growing cycle in most parts of the country. In spite of this year’s late start-of-season, cumulative seasonal rainfall levels in practically all parts of the country are average to above-average owing to the good rainfall activity as of July. However, there are small pockets in which cumulative rainfall totals since July cannot compensate for the rainfall deficits at the beginning of the season, particularly in Téra, Say, and Ouallam in Tillabéri, in Tahoua, and in Tanout in Zinder.

    Deliveries of farm input assistance in the form of 8,136 metric tons of improved seeds, large quantities of fertilizer, and 239,063 liters of plant health products helped maximize crop production potential and control crop pests. According to the National Meteorological Service, simulated millet yields are between 400 and 900 kg/ha in southern farming areas and 200 kg/ha in certain agropastoral areas, compared with the national five-year average of 466 kg/ha.

    Based on ongoing harvests of all rainfed cereal and cash crops, in general, yields are expected to be near-average, except in certain departments in the Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder regions and in the Diffa region, where the size of the cropped area has been reduced.

    As far as pastoral conditions are concerned, in spite of the late start-of-season, pasture production has not suffered from any periods of drought. The heavy rains since July have helped spur the normal development of fresh grass cover. There is average to good pasture production in many farming areas, agropastoral areas, grazing enclaves, and forest areas, with a high biomass density of 550 to 1,500 kg of dry matter per hectare. However, there could be poor to mediocre pasture production in the area between Tchintabaraden and Abalak departments (in Tahoua), Bermo department (in Maradi), and Ingall and Aderbissanat departments (in Agadez), as well as in pastoral areas of Téra and Ouallam.

    At present, there are normal livestock herd movements, with larger concentrations of livestock in pastoral areas and on large plateau rangelands in farming areas. The main wave of transhumant herd movements has not yet started up. Animals are being watered mainly at surface watering holes, which still have adequate supplies of water. Livestock in all parts of the country are currently in average physical condition, with their needs for pasture and water met and stable animal health conditions.

    Markets have adequate cereal supplies, in part from carry-over inventories from the 2014 growing season, the legacy of two to three years of average cereal harvests. Household demand for staple cereals (millet and sorghum) is slowing compared with demand in the past few months with the consumption of home-grown crops from ongoing harvests. Cereal and cash crops from these new harvests are making their way to markets. Producer prices are down by six to 17 percent compared with the average and figures for the same time in 2014. September 2015 prices for cattle, male sheep, and goats were above-average by 13 percent, 27 percent, and 24 percent, respectively, fueled by a sustained demand for the celebration of the Feast of Tabaski.

    Household livelihoods are marked by normal access to wage income from work in the harvest and proceeds from the sale of recently harvested cash (cowpea) crops, small ruminants, wood, and straw. Income levels from these activities are normal to above-normal owing to an average to high local demand and with terms of trade above figures for 2014 and the average by 20 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in all parts of the country. However, livelihoods in the Diffa region are severely eroded with the security crisis in that area restricting access to cropland. Remittance income and proceeds from the sale of pepper crops and animals are also down due to the effects of the sociopolitical crises in Libya and Nigeria.

    The nutritional survey carried out in conjunction with the National Survey of Socioeconomic and Demographic Indicators (ENISED) conducted over the period from August 11 through September 9, 2015 estimated the nationwide global acute malnutrition rate for children between the ages of six and 59 months based on a weight-for-height z-score of <-2 and/or the presence of edema at 15.0 percent (95% CI: 13.6-16.6). The Dosso (15.5 percent, 95% CI: 12.0-19.9), Maradi (16.7 percent, 95% CI: 13.2-20.9), Diffa (17.1 percent, 95% CI: 12.6-22.6), and Zinder (18.0 percent) regions all had GAM rates above the national average, compared with the five-year averages for these same regions of 13.54 percent, 16.02 percent, 15.78 percent, and 14.26 percent, respectively.

    Security problems continue to trigger population movements. There are still approximately 50,000 Malian refugees in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions and roughly 140,000 refugees, returnees, and IDPs in the Diffa region.


    The most likely food security scenario for October 2015 through March 2016 was established based on the following underlying assumptions with regard to trends in nationwide trends:

    • There will be average levels of cereal and cash crop and pasture production across the country for the “winter” season with the favorable rainfall conditions since July and continuing rain into early October. However, there will be some localized pasture deficits, the largest of which will be confined to the area between Tchintabaraden and Abalak departments (in the Tahoua region), Bermo department (in the Maradi region), and Aderbissenat and Ingal departments (in the Agadez region). Likewise, there will be cereal production deficits in Téra, Tillabéri, Ouallam, Tanout, and Tahoua departments.
    • There will be normal herd movements by transhumant livestock in December/January, except in the Diffa region, where the security situation will disrupt herd movements to Nigeria, and in pasture-short areas, which will affect the market value of livestock in February/March 2016.
    • There will be average levels of vegetable production for the 2015/2016 growing season for irrigated crops, bolstered by the expected large volume of assistance in the form of 178,736 metric tons of vegetable seeds and 2,000 metric tons of potato seeds and good water availability. This production, estimated at a cereal equivalent of 500,000 metric tons, will strengthen food availability between January and March 2016.
    • There will be a more or less average volume of rice production from the upcoming harvest of irrigated “winter” rice crops in December/January. This harvest will boost the cash and in-kind incomes of river dwellers along the Niger River, particularly in Téra, Tillabéri, Niamey, Say, and Dosso.
    • There will be normal local employment and income-generating opportunities from harvesting activities between October and December 2015 and crop maintenance work for irrigated crops between January and March 2016. As usual, this income will be supplemented by earnings from cash-for-work activities under the government’s planned social assistance program.
    • Traders, farmer organizations, and government agencies will all take advantage of ongoing harvests to optimize their reserve stocks and maintain adequate food availability to meet consumer demand between October and January.
    • Markets will have regular adequate supplies of food crops from harvests for the main growing season between October and December 2015 and mainly from trader inventories of locally-grown crops and imports from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Benin between January and March 2016. Trade in the southeastern part of the country will be slowed by the effects of the conflict with Boko Haram, but there will be a continuing flow of trade along trade routes through Maradi and Zinder.
    • Cereal demand will be in line with the norm throughout the three-month period from October through December 2015 with the availability of crops from an expected overall average volume of production. There will be a typical rise in demand between January and March 2016, driven by direct institutional procurements and market purchases by poor households and households in normal crop-short areas.
    • Good biomass and crop residue production and the resulting longer than usual good availability of these plant products from October 2015 through March 2016, compared with their average coverage period of October through February, will translate into above-average self-employment opportunities and income (from the sale of wood, straw, and artisanal products).
    • There will be a normal flow of migration to urban areas of Niger and traditional destination countries, where there will be a favorable economic and political climate for petty trading activities and employment in low-paying urban jobs, producing a normal volume of remittance income. However, this will not be the case for households counting on heading to northern Nigeria and Libya, where conditions are less attractive due to the security situation in these areas.
    • The government assistance plan for the outlook period in the form of cash-for-work programs will be implemented between February and March as opposed to its normal start-up date in January due to funding problems.
    • There will be no significant increase in the number of refugees and returnees from Nigeria and Mali. However, the violent conflict in Nigeria could go on, triggering new population displacements during the outlook period. The humanitarian assistance plan will help meet the needs of displaced populations, except in areas to which access is restricted by security measures.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    The expected good harvests will translate into generally good household cereal availability across the country between October and March. Markets will have adequate stocks of locally grown crops and imports from neighboring countries (Nigeria, Benin, and Burkina Faso) selling at prices close to the seasonal average. This cereal availability and income from livestock sales, migrant remittances, wage labor, and sales of cash and irrigated crops will help ensure adequate food consumption by households in all livelihood zones across the country, except in the Diffa region. Terms of trade for livestock/millet across the country are up from 2014 and above-average by 20 percent and 47 percent, respectively. While there will be small pockets in which below-average levels of production will limit food availability and food access to some extent, in general, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in most parts of the country between October 2015 and March 2016. Certain poor households in agropastoral areas of Tanout, Ouallam, and Téra and pastoral areas of Abalak, Bermo, and Aderbissinat will have difficulty getting enough to eat with the shortfalls in crop and pasture production in these areas as of January. Thus, there will be livelihood protection deficits in these areas between January and March 2016, where local households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes with the premature depletion of household food stocks and lower market value of livestock.

    New population displacements triggered by the security crisis in the Diffa region will swell the ranks of the poor and at-risk population in that area. This crisis will also disrupt markets and sharply reduce cereal and cash crop production, including pepper production, by radically cutting the size of cropped areas as fields are abandoned by farmers fearing terrorist attacks or as a security measure. This state of affairs will continue to undermine the food security of local and displaced households in this area, putting displaced populations concentrated in Bosso, Diffa, and Nguigmi in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January and March 2016. However, for the most part, food security outcomes will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between October and March with the help of a social program designed to protect local livelihoods in agropastoral areas of Mainé Soroa, Goudoumaria, and Diffa.


    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

    Figure 2


    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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