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Continued unrest in northeastern Nigeria drives Crisis level food insecurity

  • Alert
  • Nigeria
  • March 20, 2014
Continued unrest in northeastern Nigeria drives Crisis level food insecurity

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    The Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria, which began in 2009, continues to undermine food security conditions, particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in the northeast. Since the escalation of violence in 2012, poor households in northeastern Nigeria have experienced acute food insecurity related to this conflict. Two years later, with their resilience severely weakened, they are resorting to atypical coping strategies, including increased livestock sales and the sale of livelihood assets. FEWS NET expects that Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity will continue as poor households in Borno and Yobe states struggle to meet their basic food needs. Continued, close monitoring of the situation is required. To ensure that poor households are able to fill the current and expected food consumption gaps, discussions with the Government of Nigeria on emergency food assistance needs should continue.


    Situation

    In 2012, escalating violence from the conflict increasingly led to civilian displacements, particularly in urban areas. The conflict also began to significantly impact trade flows in and out of the region. In March 2013, the Government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency and expanded its military offensive with Boko Haram. The weekly death toll attributed to the conflict steeply increased in July 2013, as indicated in statistics monitored by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker. This escalation of violence is continuing, and in February alone more than 600 deaths were attributed to the Boko Haram conflict. With many families and individuals choosing to flee northeastern Nigeria, UNHCR reports that more than 57,000 people have moved into neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad. Although figures on internally displaced persons are difficult to ascertain, significant numbers of people continue to be displaced within Nigeria.

    As the conflict spread to rural areas, the 2013/14 agriculture season was severely impeded. As a result, household food stocks are significantly below average. Conflict is also limiting off-season livelihood activities, at a time when people would typically be participating in fishing and dry-season cultivation. Household incomes from seasonal labor are also dropping as labor demand decreases. This situation is expected to continue through the spring and summer as conflict constrains the normal, seasonal increase in labor demand for land preparation and cultivation activities.

    Markets are also negatively impacted. Supply is low because of the below-average local production and disruption in trade flows caused by check points, road blocks, and traders’ security concerns. With low market supply, staple food prices are 10 percent or higher than last year’s prices and upwards of 30 percent above their five-year average. For households with below-average seasonal incomes and increasing market dependence (as they exhaust their own stocks), atypically high prices sharply hinder their food access. While FEWS NET is not able to travel to the region, we continue to monitor the food security situation through regular communication with field enumerators and local and international partners.

    Although the main harvest in September 2013 contributed to easing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity conditions to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels, the relief was short-term. Poor households in Borno and Yobe states again began to suffer consumption gaps in early 2014 as they depleted their own stocks and were not able to offset their needs through market purchases. Between January and at least the end of the consumption year in September 2014, poor households in Borno and Yobe states will again face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity as they either suffer food consumption gaps or only meet their basic food needs through accelerated depletion of livelihood assets. A close monitoring of the food security situation should continue with partners. Discussions with the Government of Nigeria should intensify in an effort to mitigate the effects of conflict on families in the region.

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Evolution of nominal assembly prices for millet at Damasak market in Borno State

    Source: FEWS NET

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