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Food availability prospects satisfactory, but reduced in conflict zones

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • October 2019 - May 2020
Food availability prospects satisfactory, but reduced in conflict zones

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The security crises in the sub-region and their effects are the most serious threats to food security and household livelihoods in Niger. The number of security incidents is increasing, and these are continuing to cause population movements in the Diffa, Tillabéri, Tahoua and Mardi areas. The poorest households and displaced persons will find it difficult to meet their food needs without assistance and will be Stressed and in Crisis (IPC Phase 2! and IPC Phase 3).

    • The average to high rainfall recorded between July and September made up for the late start of the growing season. However, cereal and fodder shortages are expected in Maradi, Zinder, Tillabéri and Diffa due to pest attacks, seasonal delays and conflicts. Livelihoods will be disrupted as a result of early declines in the physical condition of livestock and early depletion of stocks, and pastoral areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from March 2020.

    • On crop and mixed farms, in addition to rainfed crop yields, from December 2019 to March 2020 irrigated crops will benefit from good availability of water due to the high rainfall recorded in August–September 2019. These irrigated crop yields will increase households’ food availability and diversify their food consumption while improving their incomes.

    • Markets are well supplied and prices are below last year’s prices and average prices, with the exception of markets in conflict areas in the Diffa, Tillabéri and Tahoua regions. However, this overall favorable situation will be disrupted by the closure of the border with Nigeria, whose markets are an important source of cereal supplies and a key destination for cash crops from Nigerien producers.


    Current situation

    Regular rain recorded in July, August and September 2019 allowed crops to complete their growing cycle in good water conditions in most parts of the country. Despite the delay in the onset of the season this year, seasonal rainfall is at least average throughout most of the country thanks to the resumption of good rains from July onward. However, there are localized pockets where the accumulated rainfall recorded since July has not been enough to make up for the shortfalls recorded at the beginning of the season, especially in Tillabéri, Filingué and Ouallam (Tillabéri), Tahoua and Bouza (Tahoua), Dogon Doutchi (Dosso) and Tanout (Zinder).

    The current harvests of rainfed crops suggest that results will generally be comparable to the average for all cereal crops and cash crops, except in some departments in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions. In Maradi and Zinder, yields and agricultural production are said to be heavily affected by millet head miner attacks.

    In the pastoral sector, fodder production suffered from a short period of precipitation, lasting no longer than two months, following a late start to the growing season. The low precipitation levels since early September have prevented grass from growing normally in some pastoral areas. Fodder production is described as average to good in several agricultural and agropastoral areas, pastoral enclaves and forests. However, low or mediocre production may be recorded in the area between the departments of Tassara (Tahoua), Tanout and Tesker (Zinder), N’Gourty and N’Guigmi (Diffa) and Ayorou, Abala, Bankilaré, Téra, Ouallam and Banibangou (Tillabéri).

    Persistent insecurity along the borders with Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria results in kidnapping and theft of livestock in the Diffa, Southern Maradi, Tillabéri and Tahoua regions.

    Animals are watered primarily at surface water bodies, which are sufficiently full. The livestock body conditions are currently average in all regions of the country thanks to sufficient fodder and water, and a stable animal health situation.

    Markets have an adequate supply of cereals. Part of this supply comes from the carryover stocks from the 2018 growing season, which inherited two to three years of average cereal crop harvests.

    Household demand for basic cereals (millet, sorghum) is falling compared with previous months as a result of harvests that are enabling households to supply their own needs. Cereal and cash crops from the latest harvests are beginning to appear on markets at lower producer prices compared to the average and to the same period in 2018. These decreases are most pronounced in Diffa Commune, Birni N’Gaouré, Doutchi, Gaya and Loga (Dosso), Dakoro, Tchadoua and Tessaoua (Maradi), Galmi and Bouza (Tahoua), Ballayara (Tillabéri), and Koundoumawa, Magaria, Matamèye and Mirriah (Zinder).

    In September 2019, livestock prices (especially cattle prices) remained stable in almost all markets, except those in Diffa, Dosso, Gabi (Maradi), Birni N’Konni (Tahoua) and Balleyara, Gothèye, and Téra (Tillabéri), where they are falling as a result of the decline in livestock exports to Nigeria following the closure of the border. The prices of small ruminants are down compared with last month, due to reduced demand after the Tabaski holiday, but are generally stable or higher than last year’s prices.

    Household livelihoods are characterized by normal access to income earned from the sale of agricultural labor during harvests, and the sale of recently harvested cash crops (cowpea), small ruminants, straw and timber. Income from these activities is normal to high due to average to high local demand and higher terms of trade compared with 2018.

    Income from migrant worker remittances and from the sale of cash crops and livestock is reduced due to the effects of the sociopolitical crises in Libya and Nigeria.

    The security crises in the sub-region are the most serious threats to food security and household livelihoods in Niger. This year, there has been an increase in the number of security incidents, and these are continuing to cause population movements. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Regional Civil Registry Office (Direction régionale de l’état civil, DREC), the Protection Cluster and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), as at October 8, 2019 there were 432,000 displaced persons in Niger, including 55,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 34,000 refugees in the Tillabéri region, 23,000 IDPs and 19,000 refugees in the Tahoua region, 109,000 IDPs, 120,000 refugees and 30,000 returnees in the Diffa region, and 42,000 refugees from Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina (Nigeria) who have settled in the Maradi region. The arrival of these displaced persons in the Maradi region has significantly increased population density in the host areas where they are living with host families. This hospitality is offered despite the host families’ precarious situation, thus increasing the food and health vulnerability of local people. The results of a rapid assessment of the food and nutritional situation carried out jointly by the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Management of Disasters and Food Crises (Dispositif National de Prévention et de Gestion des Catastrophes et des Crises Alimentaires, DNPGCA) and humanitarian partners in August 2019 show that the pressure that displaced populations are placing on resources has accelerated the depletion of food reserves in host households and that the frequency of market supplies is complicated by growing insecurity. Multisectoral assessments (MSAs) conducted by the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) in 40 villages have highlighted how the arrival of refugees has affected local populations’ food consumption and children’s nutritional situation. Indeed, 43 to 88 percent of the households surveyed have poor food consumption scores and food diversity is also poor with an insufficient number of meals, especially among adults. The proportion of children aged 6–59 months who were screened and found to have moderate acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition varies from 5 to 17 percent and from 3 to 8.6 percent, respectively.

    Current food security outcomes: Food availability is good, with new harvests in addition to carryover stocks and favorable market prices. This means Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity can be established in the majority of livelihood zones. However, civil insecurity, linked to social conflicts, is causing a deterioration in food supply and livelihoods in the affected areas of the Tillabéri region, where households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to their poor coping abilities and limited access to humanitarian efforts. Livelihood strategies in the Diffa region are also weak, but households are managing to meet their food needs with food aid, enabling them to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2019 to May 2020 is based on the following key assumptions about how the national context will develop:

    • At the national level, the results of the winter growing season are expected to be average for cereals and cash crops as a result of the resumption of favorable rain conditions from July until the end of September 2019. However, cereal shortages are still expected in the agricultural and agropastoral departments of Téra, Tillabéri, Ouallam, Ayorou, Magaria, Kanché, Aigué, Guidan Roumdji, Tessaoua and Tahoua.
    • Irrigated rice from the winter growing season should be harvested in December/January, with volumes expected to be average to low due to flooding that destroyed large areas of rice. However, this harvest is expected to increase the in-kind and cash incomes of households along the Niger River, especially those in the Tillabéri, Niamey and Dosso regions.
    • Horticultural production is anticipated to be average for the 2019/2020 irrigated crop growing season, especially with the significant traditional support expected from the government and its partners. This vegetable and fruit production would represent a significant cereal equivalent that would increase the level and duration of producers’ stocks.
    • Local employment and income opportunities are expected to be created and maintained at normal levels between October and December 2019 for cereal harvesting and between January and May 2020. Planting out and maintaining irrigated rice crops in rice fields during the dry season and horticultural crops are likely to provide income opportunities for poor households. Such income is expected to receive the usual boost, between January and May 2020, from the cash-for-work initiatives under the government-planned social program and sales of wood and straw.
    • There are likely to be localized fodder shortages, most significantly in the band between the departments of Tassara and Abalak (Tahoua region), Ngourty and N’Guigmi (Diffa), Tanout, Tesker and Belbedji (Zinder region), Bankilaré, Ayorou, Téra, Ouallam, Abala and Banibangou (Tillabéri region).
    • Livestock transhumance is expected to be normal in December/January, except in the Diffa and Tillabéri regions where the security situation is likely to disrupt the movement of livestock to the host countries of transhumant livestock farmers. The negative impacts of insecurity and fodder shortages are expected to result in a deterioration of the livestock’s body condition and lower livestock prices from March 2020 to May.
    • Between October and January, traders, producer organizations and state structures should be able to draw on new harvests to build their reserve stocks back up to optimal levels and maintain sufficient food availability to meet consumer demand.
    • Markets should be regularly and adequately supplied with food. The supply is expected to be provided by the main growing season harvests between October and December 2019 and primarily by traders, who should have access to local stocks and stock imported from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Benin between January and May 2020. In the southeast and northwest of the country, flows are likely to be disrupted due to the effects of conflict and insecurity and the closure of the border with Nigeria.
    • Demand for cereals is expected to be normal from October through December 2019 because of the availability of crops from production that is estimated to be average overall. Between January and May 2020, demand is likely to follow a standard pattern of increase with institutional purchases, and purchases by traders and cooperatives, as well as the use of markets by households facing shortages.
    • Migration to, and remittance income from, urban centers in Niger and traditional host countries where economic and political conditions are likely to remain favorable for small-scale trade and urban employment are expected to be normal. The exception is for households that rely on northern Nigeria and Libya, where the security situation is producing less attractive conditions.
    • Conflicts and insecurity on the borders with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali are likely to continue and to cause further displacement of people. The number of displaced persons is expected to increase and to exceed that of past years. The humanitarian assistance plan should help meet the needs of displaced persons, except in areas with limited access due to insecurity and security measures.
    • The nutritional situation is expected to be in line with the seasonal average, with cyclical deteriorations linked to diseases such as malaria, meningitis and cholera in November–December and January–May. Deterioration is also likely to be noted in pastoral areas between March and May as a result of a difficult food situation.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Cereal availability at the household level will remain average thanks to new cereal production in addition to rice and horticultural crop production. The majority of agricultural and agropastoral households will have acceptable food consumption without changing livelihoods. They will not be in a food insecurity phase (IPC Phase 1) in October 2019, or before May 2020.

    Markets will be adequately supplied with local and imported products, and access among livestock farmers and agricultural and agropastoral households facing shortages will be facilitated by stable consumer prices that increase purchasing power for consumer products. However, the shortage of fodder and the fall in livestock weight between March and May 2020 will lead to unfavorable terms of trade for poor livestock farmers, whose reduced purchasing power will not any allow non-food expenditure. This period from March to May will be characterized by gaps in livelihood protection and thus poor livestock farmers will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Conflicts and insecurity will continue to place populations in affected areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), but populations in areas that are accessible for humanitarian aid distribution, including in Diffa, will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Increasing conflict and border insecurity

    Significant reductions in the flow of consumer, cash and livestock products, and a decrease in migration and remittances would increase the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Figures Le cumul de précipitations présente des zones assez humides dans le sud du pays, mais des conditions plus sèches dans la band

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Le Niger présente des zones sèches de biomasse, notamment dans la zone pastorale.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: ACF

    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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