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Elevated levels of food insecurity in northeast Nigeria due to the effects of conflict

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • May 2013
Elevated levels of food insecurity in northeast Nigeria due to the effects of conflict

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Due to intensifying civil insecurity, a state of emergency has been declared for northeastern Nigeria. This had lead to additional fatalities, population displacements, and disruptions to market, trade, and income generating activities. Household food stocks in the affected areas also depleted earlier than normal this year due to below-average 2012/13 crop production. As a result, poor households in Borno and Yobe states will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity until September. 

    • In areas affected by last season's floods, households became market dependant earlier than normal and are having difficulties accessing food due to above-normal staple food prices. In flood-affected areas, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. 

    • In the rest of the country, prices for major staple foods are above both last year's levels and the five-year average. However relatively normal income levels, as well as early green harvests, will enable households to access food normally. Households in these areas will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through the entire outlook period.


    Current Situation
    • Civil insecurity: Civil insecurity relating to Boko Haram is continuing in northeastern Nigeria. According to the Council on Foreign Relations' Nigeria Security Tracker, 296 violence-related deaths were reported in Borno and Yobe states during the month of April. On May 14, 2013, a state of emergency was declared for Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which brought an increased number of troops, airstrikes, roadblocks, and curfews to these states. As a result, population movements, trade flows, and marketing activities have been restricted. In addition, there have been reports of additional population displacements. While the exact number of people displaced internally due to recent events is unknown, UNHCR has reported the recent arrival of at least 2,400 Nigerian refugees in Niger.
    • Progression of the agricultural season: The rains have been progressing northward normally, with rainfall estimates showing small deficits, up to 25 percent, in most areas. In extreme northern Nigeria, the rains are expected to start normally in June. In the South, these rains have enabled households to continue planting cassava and maize. Meanwhile in the North, households are currently procuring inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, before the start of planting activities in June. The price of fertilizer currently ranges from NGN4,000 to 6,500/50 kg bag, which is similar to last year's levels but approximately 50 to 53 percent above the five-year average.
    • Cereal prices: Many poor households have been increasing their cereal sales in order to generate cash income to purchase agricultural inputs for the upcoming season. As a result, cereal supplies on local markets have improved compared to last month, contributing to a stabilization of millet, maize, and sorghum prices on most markets in April compared to March 2013. However, prices generally remain above both last year's levels and the five-year average. For example, maize prices on Dawanau market in Kano state - the largest cereal market in West Africa - were 6 percent above last year's levels and 28 percent above the five-year average in April.
    • Tuber Prices: Prices have been above average this year on markets in southern Nigeria, where tubers are consumed as a staple food year-round. For example at the Bodija market in Ibadan, the price of white gari (processed cassava) in April increased 68 percent compared to last year's levels. Similarly in Lagos, yam prices are up 17 percent compared to last year. These price increases can be at least partially contributed to below-average 2012 tuber production in Nigeria (down 5 percent compared to the five-year average) caused by last year's floods. 

    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 April to September 2013. However the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In the April 2013 Outlook, it was assumed that civil insecurity relating to Boko Haram would remain at status quo levels compared to March 2013. However given the recent state of emergency declared in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, the level of civil insecurity in northern Nigeria is now expected to remain elevated compared to the first quarter of the year. In addition, due to the escalating conflict in border areas, FEWS NET is assuming that the borders with Niger, Chad, and Cameroun will close sometime during the outlook period.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Most households who experienced normal crop production levels during the last growing season will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes through September. These households will use normal livelihood strategies to meet essential food and nonfood needs during the remainder of the consumption year and will not need to adopt any atypical coping strategies. Exceptions are households who have been affected by conflict and/or last year's floods and who have suffered, as a result, disruptions to their food and/or income sources. These households have become market dependent two to three months earlier than normal and will have difficulties accessing food on the market at above-average prices. In flood affected areas, households will be able to use atypical coping strategies, such as distressed sales of small ruminants and firewood, intense labor work, and/or indebtedness, to meet essential food and nonfood needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In conflict-affected areas of Borno and Yobe states, the civil insecurity that has been ongoing for over a year has reduced households' ability to cope. At least twenty percent of the population in these two states will resort to an accelerated rate of livestock, farmland, and farm tool sales to marginally meet food needs, and will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity between April and September.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    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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