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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity continues in the northeast due to conflict

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • August 2013
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity continues in the northeast due to conflict

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Boko Haram-related conflict is continuing in the northeast, causing population displacements within the region. However, food assistance to these displaced households has been limited by security concerns. Due to above-average food prices and a reduced capacity to cope, poor households in the northeast will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity through September. 

    • Poor households who suffered losses to their productive assets and/or crops during the 2012 floods are also having difficulties accessing food due to atypically high prices, an early depletion of food stocks, and below-average cropping incomes earlier in the year. Until the start of the main harvest in September/October, households in flood-affected areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

    • Due to below-average rainfall, the main 2013 harvest (September to November) is expected to be average to below-average. However even in areas with below-average harvests, most households will be able to meet their food needs through their own crop production and will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between October and December. 

    Current Situation
    • Civil insecurity: Boko Haram-related conflict, as well as a declared state of emergency, continues in northeastern Nigeria, particularly in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states. While the exact population displaced by the conflict is unknown, OCHA is reporting that a recent inter-agency assessment estimated that 5,432 people were displaced into neighboring states and an additional 6,200 entered Niger. The government of Cameroon has also estimated that approximately 8,100 people from northern Nigeria have sought refuge in Cameroon. The inter-agency assessment reported by OCHA also found that most IDPs were residing with local host families, rather than in camps. Food assistance to the IDPs and their host families has been limited due to security issues, although the Government of Nigeria officially released 600 trucks of assorted grains, as well as NGN500 million naira, for distribution to conflict-affected households in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states.
    • Progression of the agricultural season:
      • South: During the month of August, southern Nigeria normally experiences a short dry spell. This year, the duration of this dry spell has been prolonged with below-average rainfall levels, although the impact on first season crops is expected to be minimal with ongoing, early green harvests of yams and maize. However, poor households who were affected by the 2012 floods experienced difficulties generating enough money to purchase agricultural inputs. As a result, these households planted less land this year and are expected to have below-average harvests.
      • Northeast: Rainfall levels and distribution have been average, and informants in the region are reporting that the crops are progressing normally. Cowpeas are currently at the seed formation stage while millet, the major staple food in the area, is at the flowering stage.
      • North-central: Erratic and below-average rainfall in parts of Niger, Kaduna, and Kwara states since the month of May delayed sowing activities, as well as more recently crop development. However, early green harvests of maize, vegetables, millet, yams, potatoes, and groundnuts are underway as usual, improving food availability, diversity, and access during the peak of the lean season.
      • Extreme northwest: Rainfall in this zone has also been erratic and below average, particularly in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, and Katsina states. This has negatively affected crops, particularly millet, with informants reporting that crops have begun to wilt. In addition, average to above-average rains in mid-August caused normal levels of flooding in flood-prone areas. Harvests of early maturing millet and cowpeas are underway in localized areas.

    Cereal/tuber prices: Market food stocks of maize, sorghum, millet, cassava, and yams are at below-average levels, due to the effects of the 2012 floods, causing atypically high food prices. However, reduced cross-border demand, caused by abnormally weak price differentials between markets in Nigeria and Niger, and early green harvests in southern Nigeria have begun to ease pressure on markets. Consequently, July prices stabilized or declined at most markets compared to June 2013 levels (Table 1). The only exception is the northeast where the effects of conflict and the state of emergency (ex. military checkpoints, traders’ reluctance to visit markets due to security concerns, and border closures with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon) have continued to disrupt market and trade activities. This has also prevented early green harvests from neighboring states to reach markets in the zone. As a result, July millet prices at Damasak market in Borno state increased 5 percent compared to June and were 22 percent above last year’s levels. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of July to December 2013. However, the following assumption has been updated:

    • In the Outlook, it was assumed that rainfall levels, as well as the main harvest, would be normal. However, given the prolonged and below-average rainfall levels, FEWS NET is now assuming that crops will not recover, even if rainfall levels improve. Consequently, production levels in northcentral and northwestern Nigeria will be below average. 

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Households who were affected by conflict and/or flooding have yet to recover their normal livelihoods and are having difficulties accessing food at above-average prices. Flood-affected households are currently resorting to abnormal sales of small ruminants and firewood and intense labor work to meet their basic needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the main harvests in October. Meanwhile in Borno and Yobe states, conflict has been ongoing for several years and has reduced the ability of poor households to cope. As a result, households will rely on atypical sales of productive assets, such as livestock, farmland, and farm tools, to marginally meet food needs and will in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September.

    Starting with the main harvests in September/October, household and market food stocks will improve and food prices will begin to decline. During this period, there will likely be pockets of food insecure households within Borno and Yobe states, due to the ongoing effects of conflict on crop production and income sources, but these food insecure households will make up less than 20 percent of the total population in these areas. Therefore, the majority of households in all areas of the country will be able to access food without major difficulties and will be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and December.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Prices for staple commodities at key markets in Nigeria, per kilogram

    Figure 2

    Prices for staple commodities at key markets in Nigeria, per kilogram

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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