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The food security Emergency deepens in areas of the Northeast as food access is further constrained

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • August 2021
The food security Emergency deepens in areas of the Northeast as food access is further constrained

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Conflict-related to insurgency in the Northeast is limiting engagement in agricultural activities and increased displacement, with many populations being displaced multiple times. This, coupled with the significantly above-average staple food prices, continues to constrain household purchasing power and food access. This is driving widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. The harvest is expected to moderately improve food security outcomes across much of the region. Although, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in hard-to-reach areas. The risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists where Famine could occur if populations are cut off from their typical food and income sources and humanitarian assistance for a prolonged period of time. 

    • In Bama, Damboa, and Gwoza LGAs, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are now likely ongoing and expected to continue until the harvest. This is primarily due to households being displaced from these areas multiple times and having limited ability to engage in their typical livelihood activities to earn income for food purchases. Moreover, in these areas, the high food prices are further restricting food access for many. Available evidence from those who recently left hard-to-reach areas suggests high levels of malnutrition. Consequently, most households in the area are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

    • Northwest and Central states have experienced an increase in the level of conflict, particularly armed banditry and kidnapping in addition to flooding. This is driving a new wave of displacement and disruption to household engagement in livelihood activities. According to IOM, over 20,000 were displaced between late July and mid-August in the Northwest and North-Central States. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist across most parts of the region. Some households worst affected by conflict and remain inaccessible are likely experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes.

    • The 2021 rainy season is ongoing with weeding and planting of legumes in the northern region and early harvest of maize, yams, groundnuts, and potatoes in areas of the southern and central states. The level of crop production is still expected to be below average nationally given the high cost of input such as improved seeds, herbicides, and fertilizers, in addition to insecurity. Households engaged in agriculture-based labor earn below-average wages due to increased competition from the oversupply of labor, constraining income. 


    In the Northeast, particularly in Borno State, conflict continues; however, a slight decline has been observed between June and August due to the ongoing lean season and reports of some members of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) surrendering to Nigerian troops. Despite the lower levels of conflict, conflict and attacks persist concentrated in Dikwa, Mobbar, Damboa, and Magumeri LGAs and along the Maiduguri to Damaturu road in Konduga and Kaga LGAs as well as Hong LGA in Adamawa state.  As the security situation in the Northeast remains volatile with recurring attacks by insurgents, there continue to be negative impacts on farming, trade, transhumance, other livelihood activities, and basic services.

    The Borno state government commenced in June the relocation of IDPs to their primary area of residence. Most IDPs have been resettled back to Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, and Mobbar LGAs. According to IOM, between August 6 and 8, over 5,500 individuals were relocated from Monguno LGA to other communities, including Doro and Kauwa in Kukawa LGA. Also, according to IOM, between July 26 and August 15, IOM reported over 12,000 persons moved across Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states out of these, over 9,500 arrivals to various destinations, mainly due to improved conflict and poor living conditions. These resettled and displaced populations likely face difficulties accessing most of their basic needs and engaging in their typical livelihoods.

    Insecurity in the northwest and central states persists, although it is more localized than in the Northeast. Most of the conflict is concentrated in Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, and Zamfara states. On August 14, in Plateau State, an attack in the state capital, Jos, led to the death of 23 commuters and several others wounded. The continued tension in the area led to the state government imposing a 24-hour curfew to the affected areas, limiting households' ability in some income-earning activities such as petty trading, agriculture labor, and other unskilled jobs to earn income. Similarly, market-dependent households also face food and non-food access challenges. Prior to this attack, an attack in areas of Bassa LGA by herders, according to IOM, resulted in the displacement of 15,000 people, and 1,250 shelters were burned. According to IOM, over 20,000 people were displaced in the Northwest and North-Central regions between late July and mid-August due to conflict and flooding. On August 21, about 60 people were abducted in Rimi village of Bakura LGA, Zamfara State.

    Livelihood activities such as agricultural labor, construction, firewood sales, and petty trading among households have been affected by conflict, limiting household income. Thus, constraining the level of cultivation during the ongoing cropping season. In northwestern and central states affected by conflict, grazing land within some areas remain inaccessible to herders. Similarly, market access has been substantially reduced, with Dansadau market in Zamfara state and Kasuwan Magani market in Kaduna state are the worst affected. Routes between Kaduna and Birnin Gwari and Minna to Funtua have minimal or no activity due to the conflict (Figure 1). Traders have also continued to evade affected areas due to fear of attacks, limiting trade flows and market supplies in some affected areas.

    During the ongoing agricultural season, more households are engaged in agricultural activities in Borno state relative to the last season; however, still lower than pre-conflict levels. This is attributable to slight reduction in conflict in localized areas during the planting period as IDPs returned to homesteads and increased access to inputs from humanitarians and the government. The Borno state government recruited agricultural rangers/vigilantes to provide additional security support to farmers in the state and also established farms for IDPs in crop cultivation. Similarly, FAO has supported over 65,000 beneficiaries across Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states to boost agricultural production in the northeast.

    Heavy rainfall across most parts of the country have been reported between July and August. This rainfall has decreased most early-season rainfall deficits but also resulted in the damage to houses/shelters, infrastructure, and farmlands in areas of Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Lagos, Ekiti, Kwara, Ondo, and Delta states. According to IOM, over 1,500 people have been displaced due to flooding between late July and mid-August. In areas of flooding, waterlogging and crop damage have been reported. In some southern areas, localized dry spells occurred in August, which is typical, with water available for crop and pastoral use. Crop growth and development are favorable for most planted crops; however, the area planted for the season is likely below average.

    Macroeconomic conditions remain fragile, despite the slight improvement in crude oil prices and a decrease in annual inflation for a third consecutive month to 17.38 percent in July. The NGN continues to depreciate against foreign currencies, with the parallel market exchange rates at 438 NGN/USD in May and 496 NGN/USD in June. A recent report from NBS indicates that the GDP grew by five percent year on year in the second quarter, the highest since 2014. This indicates likely some economic recovery after the economic decline associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has continued to drive atypically high staple food prices across the country, with conflict-affected regions experiencing the highest food prices.  

    As typical with the rainy season, the prevalence of water-borne diseases have increased. The number of cholera cases continue to rise, and as of August 17, there were nearly 38,000 cases compared to less than 2,000 cases reported over a similar period in 2020. This is mainly due to poor sanitation, inadequate supply of clean water, improper refuse disposal, and poor hygiene. Twenty-three states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have reported positive cholera cases with 1,178 total fatalities and 3.1 percent CFR. Overall, Bauchi, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, and Zamfara account for most of the reported cases. This increases health-related expenditure for many poor households and declines in already constrained household income.

    In June, about 2 million people received humanitarian food assistance across Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, of which 1.5 million beneficiaries are in Borno state. This figure is a slight increase from assistance levels in April and June as humanitarians scale-up assistance due to lean season planning.

    The famine monitoring system taskforce assessment for the inaccessible areas in June found the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) as measured by weight-for-height Z-Score within the Critical (GAM 15 to 29.9 percent) range among populations leaving in Magumeri, Kukawa, and Gwoza LGAs.  Similarly, in July, the famine monitoring system found Critical levels of acute malnutrition and large food consumption deficits in Gwoza, Magumeri, Kukawa, and Konduga LGAs. Considering the increase in attacks in these areas coupled with displacement in surrounding areas, atypical staple food prices, lower than average purchasing power, and limited market access, populations in inaccessible areas of Bama, Gwoza, Magumeri, and Kukawa LGAs and some neighboring areas are likely facing large food consumption gaps with high levels of malnutrition. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely ongoing in these LGAs. 


    The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the Nigeria Food Security Outlook for June 2021 to January 2022 remain unchanged.


    Households in the Northwest, worst-affected by kidnapping, banditry, and herder/farmer conflict, particularly in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina States, will remain displaced and are expected to have difficulty engaging in normal livelihood activities. These households have limited ability to engage in crop cultivation as they have limited access to inputs. Additionally, these populations are mainly dependent on limited community support and markets to access food. They also face limited income-earning opportunities during the lean season. Therefore, these households will continue to face food consumption gaps and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through January 2022.

    In the Northeast, households in areas worst-affected by conflict are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities, including farming. Market access is expected to continue to be limited. Despite the harvest period, populations are still likely to face food consumption gaps as they were unable to engage in the ongoing season. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across the Northeast, where households had limited ability to engage in the agricultural season. In hard-to-reach areas where the harvest is limited, households will face large food consumption gaps where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected through January 2022. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists, where in a worst-case scenario, Famine could occur if conflict significantly constrains household movement to access food and income and humanitarian access.


    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    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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