Skip to main content

Boko Haram conflict continues to drive Emergency food insecurity in Lake Chad Region

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • August 2016
Boko Haram conflict continues to drive Emergency food insecurity in Lake Chad Region

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through January 2017
  • Key Messages
    • In northern and central Borno as well as south-eastern Yobe, households in newly liberated areas as well as in areas with active military operations face severely limited access to food. Levels of malnutrition are critical and populations face a substantially increased risk of mortality. These areas are classified as Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Outcomes are likely worse in conflict-affected areas that are inaccessible to humanitarians. Information from these areas is limited but suggests that Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible. In the absence of significant assistance delivery, these conditions are unlikely to improve in the scenario period.

    • Violence and fatalities in the Lake Chad region have declined since early 2016, improving access to trade routes, facilitating increased humanitarian access, and allowing some IDPs to return to their homesteads. However, despite these improvements an estimated 3.1 million people across the northeast still lack access to adequate food given limited livelihood opportunities, little to no harvests during the past three cropping seasons, and atypically high food prices. As a result, even outside of areas of active conflict, most households in Borno and Yobe states will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least September.

    • The depreciation of the Nigerian Naira continues to drive increasing food and fuel prices across the country, with the inflation rate increasing from 15.6 percent in May to 16.5 percent in June. The floating of the Naira in late June is not expected to slow the depreciation of the currency through the scenario period. These high prices are restricting purchasing power of many poor households across the country, particularly during the lean season when they are reliant on markets.

    • Widespread flooding has been reported by Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NIHAS) along the Benue and Niger rivers, the confluence at Lokoja, and at convergence areas into the Atlantic Ocean in the Niger Delta area. Peak rainfall occurs during July and August across the country with rains continuing through October. The incidence of flooding is expected to be above average this year and is expected to lead to population displacement, infrastructure damage, loss of crop land, and likely below average main season harvests in affected areas.

    Current Situation
    National Overview

    Most households in Southern and North Central zones have started harvesting early green maize, yams, and groundnut, signaling the end of the lean season in these areas at the normal time. Given broadly favorable rainfall throughout much of the country, crop development is expected to continue normally through the end of the rainy season in October across much of Nigeria.

    However, the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency’s (NIHSA) recent “Annual Flood Outlook – AFO” for 2016 forecasts that a larger areas than usual will be affected by floods. Flash floods in July have already affected more than 10,000 households in parts of Sokoto, Kebbi and Kano states. States likely to be affected by flooding include Niger, Benue, Sokoto, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, Delta, Ogun, Osun, Lagos, Rivers, Oyo, Kaduna, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. Peak flooding is usually from July to September and can be exacerbated by the release of dams in Cameroon and Nigeria. Dam release is not currently planned, but if dam levels get too high then authorities will be forced to release water. A press release from NIHSA on August 5th indicated increased flooding along the river floodplains of Benue and Niger rivers is allowing water levels to reach benchmark heights that could lead to major flooding this season.

    In the central and northwestern regions, communal, pastoralist/farmer conflict and cattle raiding continues to affect poor farming households and pastoralists. In most affected communities, there has been displacement and disruption in market functioning. Communal conflict is typical for this time of year, however violent incidents have increased in recent years. This is thought to be a result of population and land pressures which are driving pastoralists to new areas and migration routes. Conflict levels and fatalities in these regions are escalating this year compared to average and compared to 2015.

    Depreciation of the national currency, the Naira, continues with inflation increasing by about 5.8 percent between May and June 2016, limiting household purchasing power. Depreciation has been driven by declining global oil prices that has diminished national export revenue. This has been further exacerbated by militant activities in the Niger Delta which are destroying crude oil pump and pipeline installations, which is estimated to have reduced the amount of oil export of the country by about 40 percent in 2016. Prices of key staple foods on markets across the country continue to increase atypically (Figure 1) and remain well above average for the time of year.

    Areas of Concern in Northeast Nigeria

    Some areas of northeast Nigeria have seen high rates of return from IDPs, while others remain inaccessible as the military continues its campaign against Boko Haram (Figure 2). In the North-Central Maize, Sorghum, and Cotton Livelihoods Zone traversing northern Adamawa to southern Borno including Maiha, Hong, Mubi North, Mubi South, Michika, Madagali LGAs (Adamawa State) and Biu, Kwaya-Kusar, Askari-Uba, and Hawul LGAs (South Borno State), there are increasing levels of

    household returns. As the lean season continues and access to food remains limited, these LGAs in Borno, as well as Madagali in Adamawa are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Most of these LGA’s in Adamawa are currently in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity as they forgo essential non-food items to meet minimum food consumption. Madagali remains affected on-going security restrictions, which are limiting market functioning and humanitarian access, and stopping the population from being able to return to plant for the main harvest season.

    Agricultural activities are underway in these communities and current levels of crop development indicate a better upcoming harvest than in previous years, though the cultivated area is below pre-conflict levels and restrictions remain on growing taller crops, such as millet and sorghum. Markets are also functioning to ensure access to food for market-dependent households (Figure 3), while very poor households affected by the insurgency are also receiving support from humanitarian agencies including IRC, OXFAM, Mercy Corps, SCI, UNICEF, and ICRC among others.

    Communities in central Borno in the Northeast Millet, Cowpea, and Sesame Livelihoods Zone, including Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC), Jere, Kaga, Damboa, Chibok, Magumeri, Gubio, Nganzai and Konduga LGAs, have also seen increased recovery with relatively good access and coverage from humanitarian actors providing food and non-food support to households. These areas, which are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity, are seeing households in many areas participating in main season cultivation. The state Ministry of Agriculture expects harvests in these LGAs to ranging between 50 to 75 percent of average levels, depending on location. Similarly, farmers in parts of Magumeri, Gubio and Nganzai are cultivating groundnut, cowpea, millet and sesame supported by a government seed input program worth 10 million Naira.

    In MMC/Jere LGAs there are 13 formal camps with a total population of over 109,000 IDPs. More than 1.3 million additional IDPs reside in host communities and informal settlement areas where they remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Markets in these areas are gradually improving and have been able to keep up with recovering demand. Though households in these communities have relatively increased access to food, they remain highly dependent on support from host communities and humanitarian actors who are shifting resources to newly accessible areas by partners and government agencies. One issue being noted by IDPs in formal camps in the areas is reduced access to food as the camp transitions from communal to dry ration feeding, which distributes set rations to households, as opposed to individual meals. This rationing reduces total food for large households. Similarly, some cash and voucher programs have been unable to adjust the amount of money distributed, despite continued depreciation of the Naira and subsequent increases in food prices.

    LGA’s further away from Maiduguri, along the borders of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger and in Central Borno and South-Eastern Yobe, have been largely inaccessible due to the ongoing Boko Haram conflict. Many of these areas remain inaccessible. Newly liberated communities in Borno state that lie along major roads have recently become accessible (Figure 2). Travel to these communities often requires military escort and remains high risk, while areas not along the main roads remain with limited accessibility, particularly for humanitarian actor. Many of the newly liberated communities are comprised of IDP camps which are under the military control; NEMA reports that the IDP population in official camps in these areas is around 300,000 people, some under movement restrictions due to security concerns. Access, particularly to Rann, Banki, Bama, and Ngala remains challenging and has been further complicated by impassable road conditions in the rainy season. Humanitarian actors have specifically been unable to reach Rann (Kala Balge LGA) with food support for the past two weeks due to flooded road conditions. Most markets in these areas remain disrupted or not functioning depending on locations and most household in these areas faced a significant challenges in meeting their food needs. Although information is limited, reports on food access, nutrition screening data, reports of continued military action, and limited humanitarian access indicate that these areas likely remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity.

    Nutrition data across the Northeast is indicating critical levels of malnutrition. MUAC screening data from MSF, UNICEF, ALIMA, and other partner rapid assessments show alarming levels of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) among screened populations. The worst cases are from recently liberated populations being moved to formal camps. Reported proxy GAM from non- representative screening data since April has exceeded 30 percent for populations in Dikwa (UNICEF, April 2016), Bama (MSF, June 2016), and Mongunu (ALIMA, June 2016) and 20 percent for populations in Banki (MSF, July 2016), Konduga (UNICEF, July 2016), Damboa (MSF, July 2016), and some IDP camp locations around Maiduguri (UNICEF). Some of these rapid assessments, particularly in Banki and Bama, have also suggested that mortality levels may be near or above the mortality threshold of 2/10,000/day used when classifying Famine. Representative data from Yobe State indicates a GAM prevalence exceeding 20 percent in Jakusko (MSF, May 2016) with preliminary MUAC results from a WFP Emergency Food Security Assessment in Gulani and Gujba LGAs suggesting SAM levels above 10 percent and GAM levels above 20 percent, although results are still being finalized. Preliminary and representative ACF SMART survey results from July in host communities in Kaga and Konduga LGAs indicate critical levels of acute malnutrition, while data from Mongunu LGA indicates levels of GAM approach 30 percent (Figure 4), the threshold used when classifying Famine.

    Beyond these communities, there are areas where information is not available, including estimates of the size of populations that remain. The Multinational Joint Taskforce is continuing to carry out clearance operations along the Niger and Cameroonian borders as well as around the Sambisa forest, leading to restricted access for humanitarian actors as well as information. NEMA has reported that substantial populations in Abadam and Mobbar LGAs in Borno State have migrated to Diffa region in the Niger Republic and are resettled in 5 camps. It is likely the populations who remain in these areas are small, but still facing larger food consumption gaps as well severe levels of acute malnutrition.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation is generally in line with the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario in the June 2016 to January 2017 Food Security Outlook. However, the following assumptions has been updated:

    • Newly Accessible and Inaccessible Areas: New information and data from previously inaccessible areas and populations indicate that food insecurity is much more severe than previously known. While the availability of data in many areas remains severely limited, triangulation of available evidence suggests that the food security situation in highly inaccessible areas is at-least as poor as in worst-affected newly accessible areas and it is assumed that populations in these areas are facing large gaps in their basic food needs. Food insecurity outcomes mapped in this report showing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) have been updated to reflect the most up to date data, while hashed areas in the Northeast outcome map indicate areas with limited information, but assumed outcomes.
    • Food Prices: Staple food prices in Nigeria are expected to remain elevated through January 2017, exceeding last year’s levels and the five-year average due to the effects of reduced national revenue, rising inflation and weakening currency (Naira) at FOREX markets. These macro-economic conditions will limit food price declines usually seen during harvest.
    • Floods: The area of probable flooding for 2016 is wider than the previous three years. An August flood alert by NIHSA has indicated that flooding may be similar to previous benchmark flooding years. Water levels along major floodplains on both rivers Niger and Benue are already exceeding benchmark points at Jiddere Bode and Wurobokki in Kebbi and Adamawa states, respectively. Widespread flooding could lead to increased population displacement, impact crop and livestock production, and damage infrastructure as well as livelihood assets.
    • Main 2016 harvest: The expected main season harvest will likely be impacted by flooding and harvest will likely be below-average in most flood-affected areas. Harvests across the country, which were initially projected to be above-average, will likely be average depending on the magnitude of the floods.

    Projected Outlook through January 2017

    Households in most parts of Nigeria outside of the northeast will engage in normal livelihood activities during the lean season and access early green harvest of maize, yams and legumes until the main harvest beginning in October. These households will remain largely in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through January 2017. However, as prices continue to increase due to the depreciation of the naira, many households, particularly poor wealth groups, will face reduced purchasing power on markets with small populations likely in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity during the outlook period.

    Most households in northern Adamawa, Yobe and south and central Borno affected by the conflict and who are unable to plant this year will remain atypically dependent on markets with above-average prices to access food, while their incomes remain restricted. These households will only be able to meet basic food needs and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least January 2017. Most households in northern, central, and eastern Borno, and eastern Yobe, the areas worst affected by the conflict, will continue engage in crisis coping strategies, including depleting household and productive assets, in efforts to meet their basic food needs. These households will still face Crisis (IPC phase 3) acute food insecurity through January 2017 as they continue to experience significant difficulty meeting their basic food needs even in the post-harvest period. LGAs in northern and eastern Borno that continue to experience significantly restricted physical access will remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through at least January 2017 as availability of, and access to, food is severely limited by the ongoing conflict. Households in these areas face large gaps in their ability to meet basic food needs, and are likely to experience higher levels of acute malnutrition and mortality. Famine risk remains high among these populations given their lack of access to livelihoods, markets and humanitarian assistance.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes in the Northeast, August to September 2016

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes in the Northeast, August to September 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Staple food prices and value of Naira (NGN)

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: Staple food prices and value of Naira (NGN)

    Figure 2. IDP concentrations, areas with limited access, and newly accessible roads in NE Nigeria

    Figure 4

    Figure 2


    Figure 3. Northeast Nigeria market and trade route activity – week of July11, 2016

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4. Survey/Screening Results, Preliminary* and Published Since Early July

    Figure 6

    Figure 4


    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top