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Food security gradually improves despite widespread flooding

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Nigeria
  • September 2012
Food security gradually improves despite widespread flooding

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Due to a normal onset of the rains and good spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall during this year's growing season, prospects are good for an above-normal main harvest starting in October. 

    • There is extensive and more widespread than usual flooding across the country. This has led to population displacement, as well as damage to infrastructure and crops. In flooded areas, food assistance needs have increased and crop harvests are expected to be negatively impacted.

    • Civil insecurity persists in Borno and Yobe states, displacing additional populations in localized urban areas. This has led to high costs of trade and limited food flow in affected areas. As a result, poor households in these regions face increased food prices and reduced food access.​

    • More than 20 percent of the population in the northeast and northwest are currently unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures and are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). After the main harvest begins in October, food security will improve and all regions of the country will be classified as having Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). 

    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    Due to good rainfall levels, crops are developing well in most areas of the country and prospects are good for an above-normal main harvest in October. Most long-cycle crops are at advanced stages of growth while the harvest of short-cycle crops is peaking now across the country. Most markets monitored by FEWS NET have begun reacting to the early harvests and staple food prices have declined by about 37 percent relative to August. This decline in prices has improved household food access across the country. Food security will continue to improve after the main harvest in October and then most households will be food secure through December.  

    However, the national emergency management agency (NEMA) has indicated that the following states experienced extensive flooding between July and September: Adamawa, Kano, Plateau, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Gombe, Taraba, Benue, Kebbi, Niger and Borno states in the north, as well as Ebonyi, Oyo, Lagos, Cross River, Edo and Delta states in the south. Over 200 flood-related fatalities have been recorded. This flooding has also led to substantial population displacement, as well as damage to infrastructure and crops. In the upcoming weeks, water is expected to be released from the Kainji and Jebba dams in Nigeria and the Lagdo dam in Cameroon. When this occurs, the flooding situation is expected to worsen. The government has issued an alert through NEMA to the affected states recommending that flood-prone communities along the river catchments be relocated to prevent further damage. This extensive and abnormally widespread flooding is expected to have a negative impact on harvests in flood-affected areas.

    In the So​uth

    Food security in the south has improved significantly as the cassava, maize, and yam harvest peaks in mid-September. According to FEWS NET enumerators, the price of gari on Bodija market, in Oyo state, has declined by five percent in mid-September relative to July, but is still higher than September 2011 prices and the five-year average by 40 and 29 percent, respectively. Exceptions to the improving food security are poor households in the coastal states (Lagos, Delta, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom) who have been affected by flooding. These households are in shelters and are dependent on limited food assistance provided by the government and NGOs. They are also dependent on remittances, intense labor work and debts to access food but are expected to recover after the main harvest in October. Despite flooding issues, the south will be classified as having Minimal food insecurity through December (IPC Phase 1).

    North Central

    In the north central zone, prospects are good for an above-normal harvest this season. Long-cycle crops, such as sorghum and rice, are at the grain filling stage. As the potato, yam, and maize harvest peaks in mid-September, most poor households are able to recover from normal, lean season food shortages. Vulnerable households in this region are those affected by flooding along the Niger and Benue Rivers. In flood-impacted areas, substantial crop damage has reduced the potential of a good harvest, and population displacement has increased food assistance needs. The flooding is expected to worsen when the Kainji and Jebba hydroelectric dams overflow in late September or October, as predicted by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET). Most households in the north central region will face no acute food insecurity through December (IPC Phase 1).

    Northeast and Northwest (Extreme North)

    In the extreme north, sorghum, millet and cowpea crops are at advanced growth stages. The adoption of improved crop varieties has led to early harvests of millet, cowpea and rice this year. This has increased food supply and access and has alleviated lean season food shortages in mid-September. A good harvest is likely if the rains persist normally until mid-October, as forecasted by NIMET.

    A recent mission to the extreme north revealed that food security among the poor has improved in mid-September relative to previous months. Farm gate prices for millet, cowpea and rice are declining on most markets monitored by FEWS NET. For example on the Gusau market in Zamfara state, the current price of millet has declined by about 36 and 9 percent relative to August and last year at this time, respectively. The condition is further improved by a high demand for labor and favorable labor wages, which have increased by about 25 percent in mid-September relative to same time last year. However, the recovery process for poor households still recuperating from the below-average 2011 crop production, which caused poor households to become reliant on market food purchases earlier than normal, will be gradual. This is exacerbated by current limitations on fishing activities due to high water levels in ponds and rivers, and low livestock availability due to earlier distressed sales, which has led to reduced incomes and food access in mid-September.

    There is widespread flooding in Adamawa, Borno and Taraba states, mainly due to a sudden release of water from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon. In Adamawa state, seven local governments were flooded, over 46,000 people were displaced and 18 fatalities were recorded in early September. The affected populations are in shelters, dependent on government and NGOs for basic needs and will resort to indebtedness and intense labor work to access food through December.

    In the northeast, households currently classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are located in Borno, Yobe and Jigawa states within the following six livelihood zones: NG11 ‐ Hadejia Valley mixed economy; NG12 ‐ NE fishing dominant; NG13 ‐ NE rice and chili peppers; NG14 ‐ NE fishing, maize, and cowpeas; NG15 ‐ NE wheat and chili peppers; and NG17 ‐ NE Yobe lowland rice. Similar households in the northwest are located in Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states within the following four livelihood zones: NG01 ‐ NW fishing and rice; NG02 ‐ Rimasokoto irrigated rice, millet and vegetables; NG03 ‐ NW millet, cowpeas, and groundnuts; and NG04 ‐ NW millet and sesame. These households are affected by the combined impacts of limited food trade and access due to 2011 food production shortages and persisting conflict attributable to Boko Haram. In October when the main harvest begins, food supply and access will improve and most poor households will be able to meet their basic needs (IPC Phase 1) through December.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    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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