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Insecurity and declining agricultural production lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity in conflict-affected areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • October 2023 - May 2024
Insecurity and declining agricultural production lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity in conflict-affected areas

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Transhumant and Camel Nomad pastoral livelihood zone (NE 03) in the Tillia department of the Tahoua region (Figure 8)
  • Millet and Sorghum-dominated agricultural livelihood zone (NE 05) in the Guidan Roumdji department of the Maradi region (Figure 10)
  • Key Messages
    • Harvests are underway and improving food availability, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in the regions of Tillabery, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi as a result of conflict and insecurity, the effects of which combined with rising food prices are causing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity among some groups of poor households which lack the human capital to sell labor. Population displacement and the abandonment of crop fields and income-generating activities due to terrorist attacks have led to a decline in agricultural production and the purchasing power of poor households. The disruption of markets and cross-border food flows caused by conflict has led to significant price increases. The security situation has also deteriorated further since the coup d'état, prompting the new authorities to launch major combined military operations and take measures to ban the movement of people, limiting humanitarian action in areas affected by insecurity. 
    • The socio-political situation following the coup d'état of 26 July 2023 has not changed significantly, given the continued suspension of trade and financial relations and the closure of borders imposed by ECOWAS and UEMOA, with the support of development partners. In fact, cross-border flows are declining in intensity, with the corollary of reduced availability of food products, sanitary products and materials following the closure of the borders with Nigeria and Benin (the countries applying the sanctions and on which Niger depends for imports and exports of products). The support provided by technical and financial partners in the implementation of sanctions concerns development aid, the suspension of which leads to a reduction in the financial resources of the government and humanitarian organizations for implementing response plans to food insecurity and a decline in economic opportunities. These measures could persist during the first period of the scenario, from October 2023 to January 2024, and could be lifted between February and May 2024 following the outcome of probable negotiations between the new authorities and regional and international institutions. This will make it possible to restore the routes and volume of cross-border flows and support from development partners.   
    • As a result of agroclimatic hazards combined with pest attacks and reductions in planted areas due to insecurity, agricultural and forage production is estimated to be lower than last year and the five-year average. Cereal and forage deficits will mean that food supplies will only be sufficient for three to four months consumption at most. Food and livestock prices will rise significantly, and the body condition and market value of animals will deteriorate, leading to a significant reduction in food access for poor households, who will be forced to adopt negative adaptation strategies.     

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Socio-political situation: The socio-political situation has remained tense since the coup d'état on 26 July 2023, which put an end to the regime of President Bazoum, who was replaced by General Tchiani at the head of the Conseil National pour la Sauvegarde de la Patrie (CNSP). Indeed, Nigeria and Benin, the two countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic and Monetary Union of West African States (UEMOA), and bilateral and multilateral partners, are maintaining measures and sanctions involving the closure of borders and the suspension of all forms of commercial and financial transactions with Niger, and budgetary aid. The military option threatened by ECOWAS to resolve Niger's political crisis seems unlikely, but the announcement of Benin's preparation of military forces as part of this military option prompted Niger's new authorities to suspend security cooperation with the Beninese authorities (ACLED). For the moment, there has been no change in trade and financial relations and development aid, which has been suspended following the sanctions imposed by the regional and international community's financial and economic partners, who have, however, accepted exemptions for the humanitarian sectors of their cooperation with Niger.

    Security and humanitarian situation: Overall, security incidents persist, with attacks by armed terrorist groups against civilians, security forces, and self-defense groups. According to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), the number of attacks recorded in 2023 remained almost the same as in 2022, i.e., 225 attacks in 2023 against 227 in 2022. However, deaths associated with these attacks increased by 27 percent in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, i.e., 338 deaths in 2023 compared to 266 deaths recorded in the same period in 2022 (Figure 1). These terrorist attacks were  concentrated in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions (ACLED). In addition to these attacks, there are cases of banditry mainly in the Maradi region and inter-community conflicts concentrated in the Tillabéry region involving looting, livestock theft, kidnapping, and targeted assassinations. These persistent security incidents since 2015 continue to lead to the forced displacement of an estimated 700,349 people in the country as of 31 August 2023. Forty-eight percent of displaced persons are internally displaced, and 41 percent are refugees, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The displaced population is concentrated in the Tillabéry and Diffa regions with 40 and 31 percent, respectively (Figure 2). Refugees, according to UNHCR, total 285,495 people as of 31 August 2023, and come mainly from Nigeria (68 percent), Mali (21 percent), and Burkina Faso (9 percent). 

    Figure 1

    Annual national figures for security incidents and casualties between January and September
    Les incidents sécuritaires

    Source: ACLED

    Figure 2

    Distribution of the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees by region as of 31 August 2023
    Répartition des personnes déplacés internes

    Source: HCR

    Agricultural situation: Harvests are underway for both cereal and cash crops. The results of these millet and sorghum harvests, as estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture's statistics department, are below average due to late planting, seedling abortion, dry sequences, attacks by several crop pests, and low rainfall in September and October, in addition to security shocks. According to the most likely scenario drawn up by the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics, production will be around 4.9 million tonnes, down 18 percent and 8 percent, respectively, compared to last year and the five-year average. Reductions in agricultural production also follow a decrease in the planted areas due to the abandonment of crop fields in over 100 farming villages in the Tillabéry, Diffa, Maradi, and Tahoua regions affected by insecurity.   

    Pastoral situation: The rains settled late in the pastoral area, in mid-July, and stopped at the end of August. The break in rainfall in July prevented the herbaceous biomass from benefiting from the normal rainfall period to complete its cycle in good water conditions. This situation is leading to a decrease in forage production in pastoral zones, particularly in Bermo (Maradi), N'Guigmi and N'Gourty (Diffa), Tillia and Tassara (Tahoua), and Tanout and Tesker (Zinder), where the local availability of herbaceous biomass and watering holes means that animals cannot be fed for more than 3 to 4 months. Early departures of animals are observed in the pastoral zone of Agadez, Diffa, Maradi, and Zinder, increasing the concentration of animals in the host zones and the pressure on pastoral resources.  Overall body condition is currently considered good, especially for small ruminants, which have easy access to plant cover. 

    Markets and prices: The availability of local cereals has improved overall in most markets due to the gradual arrival of new harvests and food imports due to military escorts. However, supply levels for all products are below last years and the five-year average due to the low inflows of imported products (resulting from the closure of the borders with Benin and Nigeria), the low level of harvests, and the fall in internal flows due to growing insecurity, and security measures limiting the movement of people and goods. Demand remains high compared to last year's level and the five-year average due to the high demand on local markets for stock replenishment needs, because the closure of the borders does not allow purchases on the sub-regional markets of Nigeria and Benin. Apart from imported rice, the price of which is still 25 percent higher than last month (Figure 4), the average prices of all other cereals (millet, sorghum, and maize) show a seasonal downward trend compared to last month's levels. This is due to the improvement in the availability of cereals, particularly local cereals, during this harvest period (Figure 3). Average prices for cash crops, including cowpeas, fell significantly by 21 and 12 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year and the five-year average, due to weak export demand following the continued depreciation of the naira and the closure of Benin and Nigeria's borders.      

    Figure 3

    Weekly change in the average price of millet in 2023 (before and after the coup)
    Evolution du prix du mil

    Source: SIMA

    Figure 4

    Weekly change in the average price of imported rice in 2023 (before and after the coup)
    Evolution du prix du riz

    Source: SIMA

    Livestock markets: The supply of animals remains generally stable on most markets outside those located in conflict/insecurity zones, where it remains below the five-year average due to the disruption of flows. Demand is mainly local (local traders, fatteners, and local butchers) and is decreasing due to the drop in demand for exports to Nigeria and Benin following the closure of the border and the depreciation of the naira. Average prices have fallen compared with the same period last year, but they are stable compared with the five-year average (Figure 5). This downward trend in prices follows the combined effects of insecurity, the decline of the naira and the closure of the borders on the demand of animal exporting traders in ECOWAS countries, particularly those of Benin and Nigeria.

    Figure 5

    Average price of goats
    Evolution du prix du bouc

    Source: SIMB

    Sources of food and income: Due to the ongoing harvests, the majority of households access food with their own production in agricultural and agropastoral areas. Households that have been unable to grow crops or have lost seedlings and households in pastoral areas continue to rely on markets for their food supplies. Seasonal sources of income for poor households consist of agricultural work on crops whose demand is low compared to the average due to the fall in agricultural production and the unfavorable socio-economic context. The combined effects of this fall in demand and the high supply resulting from the presence of displaced persons in certain areas of the country lead to a drastic decrease in daily incomes.  Sales of straw and firewood provide income but are below average due to a supply that has increased with the presence of displaced persons. Poor households earn below-average incomes from handicrafts and small-scale trade. In addition, migrant remittance flows are also declining due to the unfavorable economic situation in host countries. In the pastoral zone, the terms of billy goat/millet trade remain unfavorable for farmers due to the fall in animal prices linked to the decline in export demand following the devaluation of the naira and the closure of the borders with Benin and Nigeria. Thus, the price of a goat allows a farmer to acquire 118 kg in September 2023 against 161 kg at the same time last year and 168 kg on average, representing reductions of 27 percent and 30 percent, respectively (Figure 6).

    Figure 6

    Terms of trade for goat/millet on national average
    Termes de l'échange bouc/mil

    Source: SIMA et SIMB

    Nutritional situation: Data on acute malnutrition admissions for children under five indicate increases in August 2023 compared to August 2022 (Figure 7). The very high prices of essential food products, which limit access to food, and the persistence of civil insecurity, which hampers the operation of health facilities, could contribute significantly to this increase. The closure of Benin's and Nigeria's borders implies a reduction in imports of health products, vaccines, and other necessary medical consumables, and a low capacity to manage severe cases. 

    Figure 7

    Change in the number of cases of malnourished children
    Enfants malnutris

    Source: Direction de la Nutrition

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Food security conditions are marked by harvests that improve food access in most livelihood areas. However, civil insecurity and poor agrometeorological conditions have reduced agricultural production and opportunities to earn daily income and disrupted internal and cross-border flows, leading to a scarcity and high price of consumer products in the affected areas. This scarcity and price of food products is exacerbated by the closure of the borders with Nigeria and Benin, whose trade flows of cereals usually contribute to significantly strengthening food supplies in Niger and stabilizing prices. International partners supporting ECOWAS sanctions have suspended their budgetary support and development aid, reducing the capacity of the government and humanitarian partners to finance and implement their food aid plans. Also, food deficits are not mitigated by food aid because not only are the volumes of this assistance reduced as a result of funding problems, but access to the populations is also limited because of the military operations carried out in the areas subject to insecurity. The results are Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes observed among poor households in the regions of Tillabéry, Diffa, North Tahoua, and Southwest Maradi, and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in livelihood areas not affected by conflict and insecurity.                                         

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to changes in the national context:

    Socio-political situation: Tensions between Niger and ECOWAS are expected to remain high until at least May 2024. However, these tensions will gradually ease as Niger's transitional authorities propose and accept compromises, notably in the form of a modification to the transition timetable and an increase in the number of civilian civil servants appointed to the CNSP or the transitional government cabinet. Negotiations could begin during the first scenario period (October 2023 to January 2024) and could lead to a probable lifting of sanctions during the second scenario period (February to May 2024). 

    Security situation: EI Sahel and Jama’at Nusrah al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) attacks in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions are expected to increase until May 2024, with EI Sahel likely to take advantage of the perceived weakening of the Nigerian state and state security apparatus following the July 2023 coup. It is likely that EI Sahel and JNIM will seek to carry out complex attacks against fixed Defence and Security Forces (DSF) positions and military convoys in western Niger in order to re-establish their position in Tillabéry and Tahoua and degrade the legitimacy of the state. It is likely that the DSF's combat capabilities will be considerably hampered in Tillabéry and Tahoua due to the limited support of Western partners (particularly in terms of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) for the DSF, and this trend will be exacerbated by the withdrawal of French forces. The Alliance of Sahel States (ASS) is unlikely to strengthen Niger's counter-terrorism efforts until May 2024, as the problems that have hampered the success of the G5 Sahel alliance are likely to diminish the ASS's effectiveness. Overall, however, militant activity is likely to reflect past seasonal trends, with attacks increasing until the peak of the 2023 rainy season, followed by a relative decrease due to increasing constraints in movements associated with flooding. 

    Violence in the Diffa region is expected to continue at current levels until May 2024, with attacks by Jamaatu Ahli is-Sunnah lid-Dawati wal-Jihad (JAS) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on a sporadic basis in the Diffa and Bosso departments. However, levels of violence are expected to remain well below those seen in 2019 and 2020. In the Maradi region, security incidents involving bandits are expected to continue at higher than seasonal levels. After an increase observed after the 2022 rainy season, incidents are expected to rise in the second half of 2023,  in line with seasonal trends and due to increased ISWAP attacks in the neighboring states of Sokoto and Kaduna, Nigeria.

    Humanitarian situation: Continued militant attacks in the regions of Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi are likely to lead to population displacements of the same intensity as in October 2023, but higher than in previous years, while attacks in neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria will result in continued refugee flows into Niger.

    Agropastoral production: Agricultural areas lost due to insecurity has prevented sowing operations or led to fields being abandoned in the Tillabéry and Diffa, Maradi, and Tahoua zones, and delays and losses in sowing due to low rainfall and dry spells, which will impact agricultural yields. Current harvests will be lower than last year and the five-year average. 

    Pastoral situation: The rainfall situation was poor in the pastoral zone until the end of June and the beginning of July. This situation, coupled with insecurity in the fall-back zones, led to animal deaths in some areas of the Tahoua and Diffa regions in June 2023. As a result of the late onset of the rains and the dry spells in the pastoral zone, forage production will be insufficient to cover the animals' needs throughout the period. Forage availability is just sufficient to cover animal feed requirements for the period October 2023 to January 2024, and the closure of the Benin and Nigeria borders would not allow animals to make the usual cross-border transhumance to access supplementary forage resources. This is likely to put additional pressure on pastoral resources in areas of high concentrations of flocks. Animal body conditions will deteriorate during the period of February to May 2024, resulting in a decline in milk production and the market value of livestock, and even higher animal losses comparable to those recorded last year.

    Prospects for market gardening and flood recession crops: Water availability will be guaranteed for dry season crop production of lettuce, tomato, watermelon, and rice due to groundwater and surface water recharge. Vegetable crops will benefit from water conditions to produce crops comparable to the five-year average. This dry-season agricultural campaign will bring income opportunities for poor households. 

    Outlook on institutional purchases: This year will be an exceptional year for purchases as part of the replenishment of stocks. Stocks depleted, so purchasing requirements will be greater, but the process of restocking will be hampered by ECOWAS sanctions, especially the closure of Nigeria's and Benin's borders with Niger. Purchases will be made but at a lower level than required, as local purchases will be low in view of the forecast drop in national agricultural production. Purchases on regional markets will only allow for reduced quantities due to the constraints linked to the ECOWAS measures, which will significantly hamper purchasing operations.

    Outlook for labor, migration, and remittances: Agricultural labor and migration activities will continue until December and even beyond, earning below-average incomes due to strong competition as the number of people engaged in these activities will increase following the presence of displaced persons. The other seasonal activity added to those in progress will be seasonal internal migration to urban centres of the country for the supply of labor for housekeeping, domestic work, and small-scale trade. The disruption to economies caused by the sanctions, which will have an impact on certain urban household budgets, could result in a drop in demand and prices for seasonal migrant labor. The sanctions imposed by the regional and international community will also have a negative impact on the flow of money transfers through banking networks from countries in the sub-region, notably Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire. These sanctions will also disrupt certain economic activities linked to tourism and handicrafts, which offer job opportunities for poor households as tourist numbers fall. 

    Outlook on the functioning of markets and prices: 

    Flows: Internal flows will improve relatively due to harvests of local products, but supplies will be below normal and insufficient to meet demand due to border closures in Nigeria and Benin, which will persist at least through October to December 2023, and insecurity on certain trade routes in October to December 2023 and January to May 2024.

    Supply: the local component of supply will improve seasonally from October 2023 to December 2023, but will remain below average due to lower agricultural production, conflict, and insecurity: security measures limiting flows, road harassment linked to the increase in road checkpoints, and measures to close Benin's and Nigeria's borders with Niger. This supply will increase in January to May 2024 due to the availability of irrigated products, the likely re-opening of borders early next year, and the revival of cross-border flows, which will be added to the Burkina Faso and Mali corridors. The supply of manufactured and imported products on sub-regional markets will also remain both below average and last year's level, due to disruptions to international trade linked to the rise in hydrocarbon prices and measures taken by certain rice-producing countries to restrict exports. 

    Demand: Demand will increase earlier on the markets due to a potential drop in national agricultural production. The institutional component of this demand will be very significant and above average due to the total depletion of old stocks and the increased need for recovery in a context of political crisis and its effects on cross-border trade. 

    Food prices: Price levels decline compared to the previous months due to the current harvests but are nonetheless high. They will continue their atypical upward trend compared to the five-year average due to disruptions to local and cross-border supply channels linked to insecurity on the roads and border closures. 

    Livestock markets and prices: Livestock markets are operating at a lower-than-average level, especially due to the closure of the borders with Nigeria (the main destination for livestock exports), the sharp depreciation of the naira, and insecurity on the roads, which hampers the presence of exporting traders. This situation will persist into October to December 2023, keeping livestock prices significantly below the five-year average, especially for large ruminants, whose prices are highly dependent on export demand. The price situation could improve in January to May 2024 with the re-opening of borders, including those with Nigeria and Benin. 

    Outlook on food aid: Government food aid and WFP humanitarian assistance will be planned, but given the economic and financial sanctions, the closure of Nigeria and Benin's borders (which could last until the end of the first scenario period October 2023 to January 2024), the lack of financial support from multilateral partners, and the ban on human presence in areas of military operations, there will be a sharp drop in the volume of purchases to replenish institutional stocks from October 2023 to January 2024. Even if the borders were to re-open and the suspension of aid and financial support were to be lifted during the second period from February to May 2024, purchases will not be sufficient to replenish stocks to adequate levels, as this period coincides with the seasonal rise in food prices and the quantities of food products purchased will therefore be small in relation to assistance requirements. Food and financial stocks will be insufficient to implement support plans for populations that are food insecure. Thus, food aid will be reduced due to the lack of resources, but also due to the ban on the movement of people, including humanitarian actors, in areas of military operations to combat terrorism.

    Outlook on the nutritional situation: The health system operates with the technical and financial support of partners whose contributions make it possible to care for approximately 1,300,000 malnourished children overall, including 400,000 severely malnourished children. The suspension of NGO humanitarian interventions by the government in insecure areas and the significant increase in the price of basic foodstuffs since the coup d’état could lead to an increase in acute malnutrition levels. In addition, the ECOWAS sanctions, which also affect the supply of essential supplies such as medicines and vaccines, and the electricity supply on which care centers depend, as well as the cold chains for vaccines and other medical consumables, will further contribute to this deterioration in the nutritional situation of children. 


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Calendrier saisonnier NE

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In October 2023 to January 2024, there will be Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the zones of Tillabéry, Diffa, Maradi, and Tahoua, where the majority of poor households will have food deficits due to lack of food stocks, insufficient purchasing power for consumer products, and reduced access to food aid. Low proportions of categories of poor households, who, in addition to lacking their own resources and having very limited access to food aid, are victims of flooding, will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the regions of Tillabéry, Diffa, Tahoua, and Maradi. However, food insecurity will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in agricultural and agropastoral livelihood zones, due to dwindling cereal stocks and very high consumer product prices, which will lead to poor households being unable to meet essential non-food expenses in addition to their food needs. 

    Poor households in non-conflict pastoral zones will be in Minimal (IPC 1) food insecurity in October 2023 to January 2024, due to the availability and high prices of small ruminants in high demand for the end-of-year festivities. This will enable households to consume an acceptable level of food and make non-food expenditures without using any negative coping strategies. 

    In February to May 2024, own food resources will be insufficient for poor households and, following the increase in consumption demand and the reduction in flows, prices will be very high, but the income earned from market gardening sites will not be enough to meet food needs without engaging in negative adaptation strategies. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity, with more households than in the first period (October 2023 to January 2024) will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the areas of Tillabéry, Diffa, Maradi, and Tahoua, where poor households will suffer from food deficits and livelihood protection even while using negative coping strategies. In the rest of the agricultural and agropastoral livelihood zones, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In pastoral areas, a sharp decline in forage resources will lead to a halt in milk production, a significant drop in livestock prices, and a sharp reduction in the terms of trade and purchasing power of food products, and the majority will not be able to cover their food needs, even if they sell more animals than is typical. A minority of these households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as they will not have enough animals to increase sales, while local and external income-earning opportunities will be low. 

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    AreaEventsImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalExcessive increase in the price of transporting goods following a rise in the price of all petroleum productsThis will lead to an additional rise in the price of basic products and a further reduction in the purchasing power of poor households, the majority of which will have limited access to food throughout the scenario period. Poor households, which will be more numerous than expected, will receive less food aid, even though they are heavily dependent on it, and will therefore face a Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 
    Socio-political unrest in the countryStrikes and other demands and protests by civil society organizations are becoming more and more repetitive and could lead to prolonged strikes due to wage delays or the cessation of payments. The authorities will implement security measures that will hinder civil peace. These measures will have negative impacts on the supply and prices of foodstuffs. Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) will affect more areas and people in the country.
    Disruption to flows in countries in the West African sub-regionThe security situation is expected to deteriorate further, coupled with stricter measures limiting the export of food products by Nigeria and Benin. This will have a detrimental impact on market supplies, leading to inadequate availability to meet the escalating consumer demand. Prices will be higher than expected and purchasing power will decline, as will access to food for consumption. Poor households in all areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    Geographic spread of conflict and insecurityThere will be a tightening of security measures and an increase in population movements, a more significant fall in the flow of foodstuffs, and an excessive rise in consumer prices. Livelihood activities will be severely disrupted, and food aid will be severely reduced. More significant proportions of areas and households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

     


    Transhumant and Camel Nomad pastoral livelihood zone (NE 03) in the Tillia department of the Tahoua region (Figure 8)

    Figure 8

    Transhumant and camel nomad pastoral livelihood zone (NE03), Tillia department
    Zone de préoccupation Tillia

    Source: FEWS NET

    Livestock farming is the main economic activity for the people of the Tillia department. Species raised include cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, and horses. Livestock farming is extensive, carried out by the Fulani, Tuareg, and Arab communities.  Other sectors (production of milk, meat, hides, and skins) are less significant. Milk production is essentially self-consumed, and sales are virtually non-existent in this area.  Milk production follows the forage quality and quantity. Production of milk and dairy products is highest during the winter months. During the lean season, which lasts three months (April to June), the small quantities of milk produced, generally by cows and goats, are reserved for the most vulnerable people (children, pregnant women, and the elderly). The main constraints are drought, insufficient water points, and overgrazing around existing water points, aggravating the phenomenon of soil degradation. In addition, agriculture is very rare in the department due to the low rainfall. In rainfed conditions, millet, sorghum, and cowpea are produced only in the southern areas of the department. The off-season crops occur especially and occasionally in the valleys. Squash, melons, lettuce, and onion are the main crops sold and/or consumed by market gardeners. However, the reduction in rainfall and the delay in its arrival are the main causes of the agropastoral deficit in the area. The persistence of civil insecurity in the area considerably limits the free movement of people and goods and the normal course of socio-economic activities, as well as access to food aid for the area's needy populations.  Finally, trade and handicrafts are part of people's daily lives and help to improve household living conditions.

    Current food security conditions:

    The deteriorating security situation in northern Mali continues to cause forced population movements to several localities. Added to this are the internal displacements caused by sporadic attacks by non-state armed groups in the department. Since January 2023, over 8,000 people (compared with 12,000 in 2022) have fled their localities in the department and taken refuge in Abalak and Tchintabaraden.

    Food availability:

    The 2023 agricultural season saw an early start to planting compared with last year, but comparable to normal. However, a long period of interrupted rainfall has compromised planting, and abortions were observed in the department from the second dekad of June to the third dekad of July. The 2023 pastoral campaign had a late start in August, compared with July last year. In addition, the rains were poorly spatio-temporally distributed. This suggests that agropastoral production will be below last year's level and the department's five-year average. Civilian insecurity in the area also limits herders' transhumance. The areas of greatest animal concentration remain the south of Tchintabaraden department, around the Tabalak pond and certain communes of Abalak. Added to this is the 90-95 percent reduction in the flow of agropastoral products from Nigeria and Mali, due to persistent civil insecurity on the main roads. As a result, product availability remains very decreased in local markets. According to the traders we met during our rapid assessment, the continuing war in Ukraine is also still causing a 30-50 percent drop in incoming flows of consumer goods (wheat flour, milk, oil, pasta, and sugar) from the Maghreb. 

    Staple food prices:

    According to the System of Information on Agricultural Markets (SIMA), in August 2023, the average price of millet shows increases of 7 and 28 percent, respectively,compared to July 2023 and the five-year average, and shows a slight decrease of 1 percent compared to the same period last year, due to the significant reduction in its supply on the markets following persisting civil insecurity on the roads and closure of the borders of the main source countries (Benin and Nigeria). This situation limits access to food products for households, particularly poor and displaced households.

    Income sources:

    The security situation remains very volatile. Local agricultural labor opportunities also remain very limited, with a 40-60 percent drop compared to normal. This situation significantly reduces the income level of poor and displaced households in the area. These households derive their income mainly from harvesting work, the sale of straw/wood, caretaking, small-scale trade, and the sale of foraging products. According to key informants, income from these activities has fallen by 30 to 50 percent compared with the average, due to the continuing influx of internally displaced persons practising the same activities in the area, as well as the country's unfavorable economic conditions. Also, according to data from the rapid survey, remittances from exodants have also fallen by 40 percent due to the difficult economic situation both locally and in host countries in the sub-region and the Maghreb. 

    The terms of trade for billy goat/millet remain unfavorable for farmers due to the decline in animal prices owing to the fall in Nigerian demand following the continued deterioration of the naira and the closure of the Nigerian border. Thus, the price of a goat over one year old only allows a breeder to acquire 73 kg in August 2023 compared to 88 kg in the same period last year and 100 kg on average, limiting food accessibility for households, particularly poor and displaced persons in the area.

    Livestock trade:

    The livestock trade continues to be severely affected in the department by the 90-95 percent reduction in market attendance by the main players, notably Nigerian and Malian, as a result of the continued depreciation of the naira, persistent civil insecurity on the main roads, and the closure of the Nigerian border. As a result, the current average price for a billy goat over one year old is down 11, 17, and 7 percent, respectively, compared to the July 2023, August 2022, and five-year averages (Figure 9). 

    Figure 9

    Goat price trends in January-August 2023 compared with 2022 and the five-year average
    Evolution du prix du bouc

    Source: SIMB

    Livestock conditions and productivity:

    According to the people interviewed during the rapid assessment, productivity conditions in terms of fodder availability, water for watering, and the body condition of animals remain precarious for all species, particularly cattle, due to the combined effect of the late onset of the rainy season and the persistence of civil insecurity in the department and neighboring Mali. As a result, 10-15 percent of animals are lost to theft, looting, and distress destocking.

    Food aid: 

    The region currently has 72,022 internally displaced persons, 20,621 refugees, and 16,431 asylum seekers from Mali. More than 80 percent of internally displaced persons have settled in Tillia and Tassara. However, food aid for these needy populations has been suspended since August 2023 due to the start of military operations in the area.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to changes in the national context:

    • The persistence of civil insecurity will lead to a reduction in income from small-scale trade, the sale of straw/wood, and handicrafts. As a result, the income generated will be below the five-year average.

    • The lack of forage production and persistent civil insecurity will reduce access to pastoral resources in several localities in the area, particularly in Nord. This will lead to an early depletion and lean season in the area.

    • Low levels of local production, combined with disruptions to trade flows linked to persistent civil insecurity and the closure of the borders with Benin and Nigeria, will lead to low supplies to the area's markets and prices that are well above average.

    • The persistence of civil insecurity, with its consequences of attacks, theft and looting of property, and strategic destocking, will reduce the size of herds and disrupt traditional transhumance. This will lead to an atypical concentration in the more secure agricultural and agropastoral zones, conflicts between herders and farmers, and an earlier than usual depletion of available forage between January and February.

    • The forage deficit will lead to an early deterioration in the body conditions of livestock, a decline in demand, and in animal prices and terms of trade in the area.

    • Seasonal migration will be below average due to persistent civil insecurity in the area, despite the lifting of restrictive measures in the countries of the sub-region and the Maghreb.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Agricultural production will be below average due to the reduction in the area sown to crops as a result of the abandonment of land following the persistence of civil insecurity. Food prices remain very high while animal prices are down relative to the five-year average. This prevents poor households from obtaining sufficient of food. In addition, the persistence of civil insecurity makes it difficult to supply local markets while humanitarian operations are suspended. As a result, access to and coverage of food aid

    is diminishing, and poor and displaced households will continue to face food shortages. Analysis of data from the rapid food security assessment still shows a food consumption deficit for poor and displaced households, illustrating that they manage to meet their essential food needs marginally, but only by resorting to high animal sales. The results are Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes for poor households and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for small proportions of poor displaced households, who will use coping strategies as reducing the number of meals taken per day. 


    Millet and Sorghum-dominated agricultural livelihood zone (NE 05) in the Guidan Roumdji department of the Maradi region (Figure 10)

    Figure 10

    Millet and sorghum-dominated agricultural livelihood zone, NE05 Guidan Roumdji
    Zone préoccupation Guidam Roumdji

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Conflicts and insecurity:

    The area borders the federated states of northwest Nigeria, which for years has been a hotbed of inter-community tension between herders and farmers, and civil insecurity due to attacks by terrorist groups including ISWAP. Its proximity to this part of Nigeria, where armed conflict persists, exposes the area to a security situation marked by incursions by unidentified armed individuals. According to the OCHA report, in the second quarter of 2023, 52 incursions by armed individuals and 49 casualties were recorded, compared with 32 incursions and 35 casualties in the same period of 2022. Among the victims of these incursions are households whose members have been kidnapped by armed terrorist groups and whose release is conditional on the payment of ransoms, which have a negative impact on household living conditions. 

    Population movement: 

    Incursions and attacks by armed terrorist groups force households in affected areas to migrate to villages deemed safer. Population movements recorded in the second quarter of 2023 are estimated at over 1,500 people, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons in the department to 16,307, compared with 15,128 in 2022.

    Food availability:

    Agricultural production and markets are the main sources of food availability in this area. This year's agricultural season began well. However, insecurity in the northwestern states of Nigeria is having repercussions in the Maradi region, mainly in the Guidan Roumdji and Madarounfa departments, and has disrupted the start and progress of the agricultural campaign in several farming villages, including some 40 without seedlings, i.e., 11 percent of the villages in the department. Overall, the area is experiencing a reduction in agricultural production of at least 20 percent. This decline could reach 60 to 80 percent in the parts most affected by insecurity. Millet and sorghum harvests are underway, improving food availability in households whose food access is currently ensured by their own agricultural production. Internal flows are returning to their near-normal function and ensuring supplies reach the markets. However, supplies are still low compared to normal as cross-border flows have decreased not only due to insecurity on trade routes but also due to the official closure of the Nigerian border following the ECOWAS sanctions on trade transactions. The declines in market supplies and demand are mainly observed for imported rice, whose flows are not only disrupted by the closure of the borders with Benin, but also by the restrictive measures taken by India. 

    Income sources:

    The sale of agricultural labor and seasonal migration are the main sources of income for the poor, followed by self-employment and the sale of cash crop harvests (cowpeas, groundnuts) and poultry. Income from the sale of cash crops and poultry is below average, due to lower demand from export traders, as is income from the sale of agricultural labor due to the higher than average local supply resulting from the abandonment of crop fields and the arrival of internally displaced persons. Poor households also earn income from the sale of wood and straw, with prices comparable to the five-year average due to low supply following decreased availability.

    Food markets and prices:

    As a result of the reduced availability of foodstuffs on the markets following the disruption of regional and international flows, the prices of all consumer products are on the rise. The current price of millet, the most widely consumed cereal, is 18 percent higher than the five-year average (Figure 11). 

    Figure 11

    Price of millet on the Guidan Roumdji market
    Evolution du prix du mil

    Source: SIMA

    Food aid situation:

    Food aid consists of free food distributions of 100 kg of cereals, 10 kg of cowpeas, and 5 kg of salt per month, or free cash distributions of 40,000 CFA francs per month. This aid has benefited only a small proportion (less than 10 percent) of poor households, according to Action Contre la Faim (ACF), the lead partner in implementing the response. However, since August 2023, food aid operations have ceased due to a decision by the military authorities to prohibit human presence in insecure areas, as there are ongoing military operations to combat terrorism. 

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to changes in the national context:

    • Bandit security incidents are expected to continue at levels above the seasonal average. After an increase observed after the 2022 rainy season, incidents are expected to rise in the second half of 2023 in line with seasonal trends and due to increased ISWAP attacks in the neighboring states of Sokoto and Kaduna, Nigeria.
    • Given the insecurity and the reductions in farmed area that it will generate, the demand for agricultural labor will consequently decrease and lead to a decline in wages and agricultural income for poor households. 
    • The expected harvests will be below average due to the reduction in harvested areas and therefore internal flows will decrease.
    • Food aid in the form of free distribution of food, cash, and non-food items by the government of Niger and its partners will not be implemented during the scenario period.           

     

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From October 2023 to January 2024, poor households will not harvest enough cereals and their own stocks will run out earlier than usual (in November). The purchases they make in the markets will not be enough to cover their food needs because of their low incomes and above-average purchase prices. Also, free food distributions will not take place and poor households will have food consumption limited to 1 to 2 meals per day, even with the use of negative coping strategies, and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    From February to May 2024, the stocks of poor households will be completely depleted, and markets will be the source of food. With insecurity, the areas sown for off-season farming will be reduced and will require less labor than usual. As a result, incomes will be lower than the amounts obtained seasonally, leading to a drop in purchasing power. When combined with rising food prices this will lead to a reduction in the quantities purchased. As a result, poor households will have food gaps that will not be filled, and they will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with some cases of poor households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Niger Food Security Outlook October 2023 - May 2024: Insecurity and declining agricultural production lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity in conflict-affected areas, 2023.

    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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