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Elevated acute food insecurity likely following flooding and civil insecurity

  • Alert
  • Nigeria
  • February 20, 2013
Elevated acute food insecurity likely following flooding and civil insecurity

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    Several months after unusually widespread flooding (July to October) caused substantial population displacement and crop damage; flood‐affected households have yet to fully recover their livelihoods. A recent joint assessment with FEWS NET, OCHA, WFP, CILSS, and NEMA to three areas (zones 1, 2, and 3 in Figure 1) revealed that flood damage was more severe than initially anticipated. Resulting declines in crop production and cash income, combined with high food prices and civil insecurity are likely to result in atypical levels of acute food insecurity through September. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes have already been observed in the worst‐affected areas and localized Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely. Food insecurity, as well as any requests for external emergency assistance, should be monitored.   


    November 2012 estimates of national crop production (including cereals and tubers) were about two percent higher than 2011 (a bumper year) and about six percent higher than the five‐year average. However, recent joint assessment findings indicate that flood‐related crop damage was more significant than initially estimated. Hardest hit areas include the floodplains along the Niger and Benue River and north‐ central Nigeria. Updated production estimates suggest that total cereal and tuber harvests were roughly six percent below‐ average. Maize, yams, and cassava were worst affected compared to average (‐1%,  ‐8%, and  ‐3% respectively). Rice was also significantly affected (‐10% compared to 2011), though total rice production was near average. Substantial flood‐ related losses to other livelihood activities, including livestock and fishing production, were also noted.  

    Civil insecurity relating to Boko Haram continues in northern areas with the most intense activity in Borno and Yobe states. While these states were less impacted by flooding, reports indicate that conflict‐related population displacements have lead to below‐average 2012/13 harvests. Security measures (e.g., curfews, bans on motorcycle taxis, and roadside security checkpoints) have also reduced population movements and have increased transportation costs. This, along with concerns by traders and residents about their safety at markets, has restricted food stocks, trade flows, and market functioning. Flood damage and civil insecurity are expected to cause both cereal and tuber prices to increase at an unseasonably high rate, beginning in March and continuing through the end of the lean season in September. At many markets, staple food prices are expected to reach or exceed last year's levels, restricting food access for poor, market‐dependant households. This is likely to be exacerbated by below‐average dry season agricultural production, which will limit labor opportunities, income and food stocks.

    In areas worst affected by conflict and flooding, below‐average food stocks and income levels have reduced food access and have caused poor households to resort to atypical coping strategies, including heavier reliance on wage labor, small ruminant sales, increased migration, and substitution to less preferred foods. Only through these strategies are poor households able to meet basic food and non‐food needs. These areas are currently classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As food stocks deplete and limits on income earning opportunities continue, households in some areas will begin facing food consumption gaps and/or accelerate their depletion of assets. Food security is therefore anticipated to decline to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in some areas during the upcoming lean season which peaks between July‐September in the North and May‐July in the south. Typically, the Nigerian government does not request external emergency assistance. However given eroding food insecurity outcomes, and the size of the affected population, discussions with the government should be initiated. Markets should also be carefully monitored for any abnormalities (e.g., atypical trade flows, rising food prices, below‐average market food stocks) during the coming months.

    Figures Figure 1. Areas of Nigeria affected by flooding (in red)

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

    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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