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Improved access needed to effectively deliver assistance in northeast Nigeria

  • Alert
  • Nigeria
  • August 8, 2014
Improved access needed to effectively deliver assistance in northeast Nigeria

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    A food security crisis persists in northeast Nigeria as the ongoing Boko Haram conflict continues to displace populations and disrupt markets, livelihoods and nutrition services. An estimated three quarters of people living in areas worst affected by conflict have fled their homes due to violence since 2013. In Borno, Yobe and northern Adamawa States, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity will persist through December, despite the main harvest beginning in October. Approximately one million people in areas worst affected by conflict will continue to face food consumption gaps. Access to households affected and/or displaced by conflict needs to improve in order to ensure that food and nonfood assistance reaches food insecure households.


    As the conflict has shifted to more rural areas since 2013, displacement has increased. Only an estimated one quarter of the pre-conflict population remain in the worst affected areas in Borno, southern Yobe and northern Adamawa (Figure 1). A July 2014 assessment by FEWS NET to neighboring areas of Nigeria and Niger found that those who did not flee conflict-affected areas tend to be those without the means to leave, the elderly, and village defense groups. Current food stocks are limited as conflict last year led to significantly below-average harvests. Markets outside major urban areas, which have been more susceptible to attack, are functioning irregularly and at very low levels, if at all. This, along with significantly below-average household incomes, is severely limiting food availability and access through market purchases.

    Prospects for the upcoming harvest are also poor as households are planting just one-quarter of the area they typically would to avoid working far from home or for long periods due to fears of attack. Out of concern that insurgents might use tall-growth crops as cover, staple cereals, which would account for the majority of household consumption needs in a normal year, are not being cultivated. Though people are planting cash crops (sesame, cowpeas and groundnuts), limited market activity during the post-harvest period in October is expected to be an impediment to cash crop marketing.

    In parts of northern Borno and Yobe and southern Adamawa, which are relatively less affected by conflict, cereal planting activities are underway, although cumulative rainfall totals to date have been particularly poor. While seasonal forecasts call for average rains for the remainder of the season, continuing shortfalls would have a significant negative impact on yields. Markets in these areas, particularly urban markets (Maiduguri, Potiskum, Damaturu, Mubi and Yola), are still operating, though at only about half of their normal levels.

    FEWS NET expects that over the coming six months about one million people will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the areas worst affected by conflict, while two million people in other parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As this is the second year the region is facing food consumption gaps and the closure of several health facilities has limited access to essential health and nutrition services, it is possible that the prevalence of acute malnutrition could increase over the coming months. In addition, should current conflict continue, important dry-season farming activities, which begin in December and typically contribute significantly to food access, will be interrupted. This could result in a further deterioration in food security during 2015.

    The Government of Nigeria and other organizations are making resources available for humanitarian intervention, though access by these organizations to the region is limited by the conflict. Access for well-targeted humanitarian assistance to households, particularly those in southern Borno and Yobe and northern Adamawa, needs to improve in order to reduce food consumption gaps.

    Figures Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    FEWS NET will publish an Alert to highlight a current or anticipated shock expected to drive a sharp deterioration in food security, such that a humanitarian food assistance response is imminently needed.

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