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Elevated food assistance needs persist in the Northeast as substantial populations remain displaced

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • December 2019
Elevated food assistance needs persist in the Northeast as substantial populations remain displaced

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through May 2020
  • Key Messages
    • Households in northeastern Nigeria that are most affected by conflict, mainly in Borno and parts of Adamawa and Yobe States will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through May 2020. Populations in hard to reach and inaccessible areas are likely facing similar or worse outcomes, and there remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in these areas. Displaced households that are living in camps and which are largely dependent on humanitarian assistance are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Households in the northeast that are less affected by the conflict are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • In the northwest and central states of Nigeria, over 540,000 people remain displaced due to the escalating conflicts and instability. A little of 60 percent of the displaced population is in Benue, Plateau, and Katsina States, while the remaining 40 percent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in Zamfara and Sokoto States. IDPs are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities, causing most households to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, although it is likely that some households are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • The main harvest of staple cereals including maize, millet, sorghum, and rice, as well as the harvests of tubers and legumes, has concluded in most areas of the country. Most households are consuming food from their own production, are earning typical incomes for this period of the year, and staple food prices remain favorable for market dependent households. Off-season agricultural activities are underway as usual. As a result, most households across the country are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    Current Situation


    The main harvest of major staple cereals, including maize, millet, and rice, and tubers such as yams, concluded normally throughout the country, while the sorghum harvest – a long cycle crop, is currently underway. Market supplies and household food stocks are gradually increasing following the harvest, while market demand continues to decline. These factors, coupled with the reduced cross border demand from Niger, Chad and other neighboring countries, have resulted in staple prices remaining lower than the previous year and the average. The exception is the price of rice, which continues to increase above the average for this time of year, in part as a result of the ongoing Nigerian border closures that have limited rice imports into the country since August 2019. Rice demand also increases around the Christmas and New Year holidays, which normally leads to price increases.

    Northeastern States

    The security situation in northeast Nigeria remains volatile with recurring attacks by insurgents that continue to negatively impact livelihood activities and limit basic services. Recent attacks in late November to early December were reported in Chibok, Askira Uba, Damboa and Kaga LGAs in Borno State, close to the Sambisa forest, leading to localized population displacement and restricted livelihoods activities in localized affected areas. Similar effects were felt following recent insurgent attacks in early December in Tarmuwa LGA of Yobe State. 

    Humanitarian food assistance to the northeast remains restricted. In October about 1.2 million beneficiaries were reached across Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States - one percent higher than the previous month. However, the IDP population remains elevated with the total IDP population the highest it has been since October 2018. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provides 8.4 kg of staple food per person per month, while a household of 6 members is provided with 50.4 kg per month. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic bottlenecks, some IDPs living in camps receive their distribution irregularly, which leads to food consumption gaps. As an example, on December 9th, Teachers Village camp that houses over 22,250 IDPs within the Greater Maiduguri area indicated that they received their last food distributions on November 20th and September 12th, with no distribution in October 2019, limiting food access in highly accessible areas.

    FEWS NET field informants continue to report that rice cultivation slightly increased this year in some LGAs in Borno State, though insurgents stole most of the crops produced in Dikwa LGA leaving little for the households that had been able to plant. The road leading to Marte through Monguno and Dikwa is gradually becoming accessible and IDPs are planning to return to their homes. Most markets remain either nonfunctional or are intermittently closed by the military due to security concerns, such is the case in Buni Yadi and, Babangida markets in Yobe State. Markets in Bama, Gwoza, Banki, Pulka, Damboa, Sabon Gari, Gamboru in Borno State are operating below average. In particular, the functioning of key markets of Mafa, Monguno, Magumeri, Gajiganna, and Konduga, in Borno State, are often restricted by the military due to security concerns. This results in restricted food flows that lead to elevated food prices and limited food access for market dependent households.

    The August 2019 SMART survey conducted by INTERSOS in accessible areas of Bama and Magumeri LGAs of Borno State revealed a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) of 9.9 percent in Bama and 10.3 percent in Magumeri. A recent assessment conducted between September and November 2019 by FEWS NET in accessible areas of Mafa and Magumeri LGAs of Borno State indicated a GAM by Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) rate of 5.76 percent in Mafa and 8.82 percent in Magumeri. The report also revealed that over 63 percent of the households in Magumeri LGA are reliant on humanitarian food assistance (HFA) for their food needs, while over 52 percent of households in Mafa LGA are dependent on markets to meet their food needs. About 36 percent of the population in Mafa LGA and 20 percent of the population in Magumeri LGA are relying on their own production for most of their food. An additional SMART survey conducted in four LGAs of Borna State by FHI 360 between September and October 2019 also revealed GAM by WHZ rates of 8.7 percent in Bama (Banki), 9.0 percent in Damboa, 10.4 percent in Dikwa, and 14.3 percent in Ngala. However, substantial populations remain in difficult to access areas of most LGAs in Borno State, and parts of Adamawa and Yobe States.

    Northwestern and Central States

    Insecurity in the northwest and central states persists (Table 1). The recent International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (IOM-DTM) round 2 conducted in August and September 2019 revealed over 540,000 IDPs remain displaced in these states and over 41,000 refugees are currently living in the Maradi region of Niger republic. Benue State is host to about 30 percent of the total IDPs, while Plateau, Katsina and Zamfara States are hosting 18, 13 and 12 percent, respectively. Over 80 percent of the IDPs are staying in host communities while the remaining 20 percent are living in camps and camp-like structures.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the October 2019 – May 2020 Food Security Outlook remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook Through May 2020

    The main harvest is been concluded in most of the country leading to most agricultural households primarily consuming their own production. Poor households are engaged in normal livelihood activities and are generally earning average incomes. Pastoral resources are available normally for this time of year, livestock body conditions are improving, and livestock prices are increasing as the Christmas holiday grows closer, all of which are favorable for pastoralists. As a result, most households in areas less-affected by conflict across the country will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through May 2020. However, households affected by resource-based conflict, kidnapping, flooding, and banditry, and those who remain displaced in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Niger, and Adamawa states in the northeast, northwest, and central states, who are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Households in Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states that have been the worst-affected by armed banditry and kidnapping will also be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through May 2020.

    Households who remain displaced by the insurgency in the northeast will continue to face limited income opportunities, disrupted livelihoods, and inhibited food access. Food access is further inhibited by limited access to humanitarian assistance and atypical market functioning. Most households in official IDP camps will continue to depend primarily on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs and are expected to continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes through May 2020. Similarly, areas less affected by the conflict, particularly in Yobe State, will continue to consume food from their own production from the recent main harvest and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions. Many of the communities outside of IDP settlements, and outside of the main urban centers in the northeast, will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as they receive little to no humanitarian assistance and are facing food consumption gaps. Households in worse conflict affected areas, where there are the highest restrictions on agricultural production, access to markets, and humanitarian assistance, are expected to face larger food consumption gaps and as a result these households will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2020. Areas where populations are affected by significant losses of livelihoods activities and who remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as neighboring, accessible areas. There remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in these areas.

    Figures Table showing Displaced populations and causes of displacement in northwest and central states. Greatest displacement in Benu

    Figure 1

    Table 1.

    Source: IOM-DTM

    Title: Nigeria seasonal calendar
Description: In the north, land preparation is from February to May. Planting is from May u

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    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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