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Intense insurgent attacks in northeast Nigeria lead to increased displacement and food needs

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • February - September 2019
Intense insurgent attacks in northeast Nigeria lead to increased displacement and food needs

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Conflict in northeast Nigeria continues to threaten lives and livelihoods. Affected resident and displaced populations continue to face significant difficulty meeting their basic food needs, and worst-affected areas are likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Inaccessible areas are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as neighboring, accessible areas. More extreme levels of acute food insecurity are possible in a worst-case scenario where displaced populations become cutoff due to a shift in conflict and emergency assistance provision is halted.

    • Many households continue to be impacted by farmer/herder conflict in central and northern states, and affected populations remain displaced in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, and Adamawa states. The conflict keeps households from engaging in normal livelihood activities in affected areas. Larger populations have restricted access to market and income opportunities in Zamfara and Katsina states and will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September 2018.

    • In much of the rest of the country, households are consuming own food stocks in the postharvest period. Households are engaged normally in dry season activities, petty trading, and labor work to earn income. Staple food prices are generally exhibiting typical trends and will peak during the lean season period between July and September. Consequently, most households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between February and September 2019 across the country.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Dry season activities: Dry season cultivation started normally in December 2018 when waters receded in local ponds and rivers. In most areas, the area cultivated increased due to increased government support through inputs provided including fertilizer, irrigation equipment, and improved seeds. Farmers are engaged in increased cultivation of rice, maize, and vegetables. Fishing activities are also underway normally in most areas.

    Market supplies and household stocks: Market supplies for most staples are declining, following a normal trend in most areas. Traders are restocking their stores, and institutional purchases by government agencies, the food industry, and poultry farmers are underway in major markets as Dawanau market in Kano, the largest grain market in the West African sub-region. Similarly, cross border purchases are also underway, mainly in Niger Republic. In the same vein, most households are consuming their own food during the postharvest period, gradually depleting their stocks. Exceptions are households in the northeast affected by the insurgency and households impacted by the farmer/pastoralist conflict where households have limited stocks that will deplete faster than normal.

    Macro-economic situation: The year-on-year inflation rate declined slightly from 11.44 percent in December 2018 down to 11.37 percent in January 2019. The central bank of Nigeria continues to provide direct foreign exchange intervention into the foreign exchange market to stabilize the naira. Interbank foreign exchange market is currently at 306.85 naira/dollar in January while the Bureau de Change rate is at 360.94 naira/dollar. OPEC continues to cut down the production quota of crude oil aiming to increase price in February above $64/barrel.

    Labor and income sources: In most areas outside the northeast and areas affected by the farmer/pastoralist conflicts, households are engaged in normal livelihood activities such as dry season farming, fishing, petty trading, construction work and other menial jobs to earn income, normally.

    Staple food prices: Staple cereal prices including maize, millet, sorghum and rice are exhibiting normal trends across most markets, either remaining stable or declining. The impending general election across the country has also slowed down market activities and trader speculation. For example, the price of white maize in January decreased in Damaturu, Gombe, Gujungu, Saminaka and Mile-12 markets by 9.5, 5.4, 5.4, 6.0 and 8.7 percent, respectively, relative to the previous month. However, staple prices also tend to increase, though slightly, in some other markets. Prices are relatively lower or similar to previous year for most staples but remain higher than the 5-year average.

    Northeast Nigeria

    The recent IOM assessment report in October 2018 indicates there are over 1.8 million displaced persons across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Borno state remains the epicenter of the Boko Haram conflict and is hosting over 1.4 million IDPs. Heightened tensions in recent months have triggered further displacement, with close to 72,000 new arrivals registered between November 2018 and January 2019, mainly in Borno state. The recent insurgent attacks are mainly in northern and east central Borno state, Geidam, Gujba in Yobe state as well as Madagali in Adamawa state.

    The 90-day humanitarian response strategy by UNOCHA for the northeast indicates that locations in northern and central Borno state and parts of Yobe state fall within a corridor of heightened tensions, including Damasak, Gubio, Magumeri, Monguno, Kukawa, Kala Balge, and Ngala (Borno state), as well as Geidam, Gujba and Damaturu in Yobe state. A portion of the new displacements results from involuntary relocation, poor living conditions, and in some cases an improved security situation and the need to re-establish livelihoods especially in farming. The increased rate of new arrivals, heightened tensions, and a projected surge in new arrivals based on historical trends during the dry season, formed the basis for identifying hotspot areas in need of accelerated humanitarian assistance including Bama, Dikwa, Gubio, Gwoza, Jere, Kala Balge, Konduga, Kukawa, Magumeri, Maiduguri, Mobbar, Monguno, Ngala, and Nganzai, in Borno State; Damaturu in Yobe State; and Lamurde in Adamawa State. An estimated 280,000 incoming and projected new arrivals through April 2019 from the 16 identified hotspot LGAs are been targeted for humanitarian assistance. The impact of the persisting conflict coupled with the general election and anticipated post-election violence has likely deterred and led humanitarian actors to down scale their activities leading to a reduction in food assistance delivered across the three conflict affected states in January 2019 relative to December 2018. In January 2019 about 1.42 million people benefitted with food assisted as against 2.17 million people in December 2018, within the same area.

    Northwest and central states of Nigeria impacted by the farmer/herder, banditry and communal conflict

    The farmer/herder conflict is escalating in north-central states: Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, and Niger. A similar situation is also observed in the northwestern states including Katsina, Zamfara, and part of Sokoto as well as in Adamawa state in the northeast of Nigeria. In the northwestern areas, however the predominant incidence is armed banditry dominated by cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom.

    In northwest Nigeria, Zamfara state is the worst affected with 12 local government areas (LGAs) affected and substantial population displaced. Tsafe, Anka, Birnin Magaji and Zurmi LGAs are the worst affected in Zamafara state with over 30 percent (Figure 1) of the communities in the respective LGAs affected, according to Zamfara state Emergency Management Agency – ZEMA/FEWS NET. These are closely followed by Bungudu, Shinkafi, and Maradun LGAs where over 20 percent of the respective communities are affected. Others include Talata Mafara, Bukkuyum, Maru, Kaura Namoda, and the state capital – Gusau where less than 20 percent of the various communities are impacted by the attacks. Over 30,000 IDPs are registered across 6 LGAs as reported by the ZEMA (Figure 1), though several others are staying with relations and others are in neighboring states. FEWS NET field informants indicated that over 28 percent of the population in affected local governments have been affected by the conflict in Zamfara state.

    The affected population are mainly dependent on limited own production, community support and limited government assistance. Humanitarian actors active in the area have relocated due to security concerns. There are IDP camps located in Gusau, Anka, Birnin Magaji, Maradun and Shinkafi. Other camps are in Tsafe, and Maru. However, DFID sponsored social protection program – the Child Development Grant Program (CDGP) implemented by Save the children (SCI) targeting pregnant women since 2014 is underway in Anka and Tsafe LGAs only, providing cash transfer value of NGN 4,000 monthly and nutrition sensitization to more than 20,000 beneficiaries.

    Similarly, in Katsina state, 10 out of 34 LGAs have been affected by the conflict with populations and sometimes entire communities displaced. These LGAs include: Bakori, Batsari, Danmusa, Dandume, Faskari. Others are Funtua, Jibia, Kankara, Sabuwa and Safana LGAs. IDPs are now at LGA headquarters, while others are at the state capital, resorting to begging and others are engaged in limited menial jobs to earn income. Over 150,000 individuals have been displaced across Katsina state. The most affected LGAs include Kankara, Batsari and Faskari, bordering the Dajin Rugu forest, a famous hideout for bandits.

    Recent attacks in Kajuru local government area, Kaduna state, on February 15 have resulted in the death of several people and several others wounded and displaced to neighboring communities. Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Kajuru and other local governments in southern part of Kaduna state are the most affected by the banditry as well as inter-tribal conflict resulting in displacement of several people. Consequently, crop production, pastoralism, market activities and other livelihood activities are substantially impacted by the conflict. In Kaduna state, the Kamuku Forest also serves as the main hideout of bandits across the affected states in the northwest region. The bandits also engage in communal attacks, cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom.

    Dry season activities: Dry season activities have declined in areas affected by insurgency, communal conflict and farmer/pastoralist conflict and armed banditry. In northwest Nigeria where dry season cultivation is prominent, the area cultivated has declined substantially due to the attacks in the area. According to estimate by FEWS NET field informants in Zamfara state the dry season area under cultivation has declined by about 50 percent across the 12 affected LGAs where vegetables, rice and wheat are cultivated. Similarly, in Katsina state the dry season cultivation declined by about 60 percent across 8 LGAs and about 80 percent in Jibia LGA, though the level of cultivation is within normal level in Mai’adua LGA. Also, in Giwa LGA, Kaduna state, the dry season activities have declined by about 50 percent relative to average. Thus, below average dry season activities in the northeast and northwest of Nigeria affected by the insurgency and banditry, respectively will substantially reduce the harvest during April/May across the country.

    Market supplies and household stock: Traders are evading such areas, limiting income opportunities. For example, in Gusau town, Zamfara state capital, Mada market remains non-functional and is occupied by IDPs. Most markets in affected areas in Zamafara state according to FEWS NET field informants are only functioning at 25 to 50 percent level, compared to normal. Similarly, Magami and Wanke markets were functioning at 25 percent level relative to normal. The conflict has directly affected food flow and other services in the area, with an attendant negative flow of food items to Jibia and Mai’adua markets in Katsina state and the Giwa market in Kaduna state. Due to restricted market access and substantial low patronage in staples, food prices have also substantially declined in some markets, particularly in Birnin Gwari (Kaduna state) – a major production area where over 20 villages have been displaced and population relocated to major urban settlements including Pandogari, and Kontagora in neighboring Niger state. Similarly, households have to sale own staples to available customers to earn income to purchase non-food items and other essential needs. Traders from Dandume, Kuyello, Funtua and Kaduna are no longer patronizing the market. Production has substantially declined in Birnin Gwari as farmers from neighboring states such as Katsina, Zamfara, Kano and Sokoto are evading and abandoning their farms in the area.


    The most likely scenario for February to September 2019 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Macro-economic situation: The naira will likely continue to depreciate relative to other foreign currencies through May/June 2019 when the elected government is constituted. However, the continued direct intervention of the central bank of Nigeria into the foreign exchange market and the continued implementation of the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement (BCSA) with China will moderate the exchange rate of the naira and will remain more stable during the remaining part of the year. Inflation rate year-on-year will also continue to increase normally, mainly driven by increased food demand and staple prices through the lean season period. Nigeria is expected to cut its crude oil production by 3.04 per cent to 1.685 million barrels per day for the first half of 2019, as part of efforts by the OPEC to reduce oversupply in the international market. The economy is projected to grow by 2 percent according to the IMF, 2.2 percent according to the World Bank, and 2.28 percent according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
    • Weather: The recent presentation of the seasonal rainfall prediction by the Nigeria meteorological agency on January 24, 2019 revealed that the onset of the rainy season will likely be delayed in most parts of the country. The earliest onset is expected in the southern part of Nigeria around early March and the late onset will be around late June in the northern Sahelian areas. Rainfall cessation is expected to be earlier than normal in the northern most areas, normal cessation in the central states and longer than normal in some parts of the southern states. Cessation is likely to occur in late September in the northern areas and mid-October in the central states and December in the southern areas. Rainfall amount is expected to be normal to below normal across the country. Rainfall amounts will range between 300 to 700mm in the northern areas and about 1100 to 2700mm in the central and southern areas.
    • Dry season harvest: The Anchor Borrowers’ scheme of the federal government is deliberately targeting dry season farmers, particularly rice farmers with various inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and water pumping machine in addition to funds to hire labor for paddy harvesting and processing. Flood affected households along the major river floodplains will engage more in dry season cultivation to recover part of their losses. Thus, cultivated area and dry season harvest will likely be average to above average in most areas. Exceptions are areas affected by insurgency and farmer/pastoralist conflict.
    • Main season cultivation: With the expected favorable rainfall across most parts of the country, farmers are expected to engage in normal level of cultivation. Inputs such as fertilizer, improved seeds and funding through the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme through the Central Bank of Nigeria will lead to increased level of cultivation. Major challenges to increased production level will include high labor cost, crop pest and diseases, flooding, limited access to land. Others are access to tractor services, insurgency, communal conflict and farmer/pastoralist clashes in affected areas. Despite these challenges, cultivated area during the growing season will likely be average to above average in most of the country.
    • Staple stocks at household level during lean season: Food stocks will deplete normally during the consumption year. Most households will consume own production through June normally and will resort to market during the lean season period between July and September. Households will engage in agricultural labor work during the lean season to purchase food. Other poor agropastoral households in localized areas across the country will sale livestock and/or resort to indebtedness to access food. Dry season harvest during April/May will slightly increase household food stocks and access.
    • Markets food availability: Market stocks will continue to decrease for most staples during the post-harvest periods. Traders and institutional purchases to restock warehouses will deplete market stocks during February/March period. During April/May the dry season harvest of rice and maize will slightly increase market supplies. Cereal demand during the Ramadan period in May/June will further deplete market supplies, particularly for millet and maize by households and poultry farmers, respectively. However, with the slight delay in the onset of the rainy season in June/July, traders and farmers will release their remaining stocks, slightly increasing market supplies. Between July and September market supplies will at their lowest level and prices will peak due to high level of demand. Staple prices will remain elevated until the main harvest beginning in October. Prices will remain higher than average but lower than last year’s levels across the country.
    • Income sources: Most poor households will engage in normal income earning activities including dry season labor work, dry season harvest and fishing activities to earn income through May/June period. Similarly, others will engage in land preparation activities, petty trading, construction work and other unskilled jobs during the dry season. Between May and July planting activities will begin in most areas providing income opportunities for some of the households. Dry season harvest of rice, maize and vegetables during April to May will also support income earning opportunities for some households. Pastoralist and agropastoral households will sale own livestock to earn income during the peak lean season period.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Most households across the country are consuming own stocks during the current postharvest period. Households are engaged normally in dry season cultivation, fishing, petty trading, and other labor work to earn income. Political campaigns across the country also provided additional income for some households. Pastoral resources are available for the pastoralists and livestock body conditions are favorable. With the anticipated normal onset of the rainy season in most areas staple prices will remain within normal range. Households will also engage in agricultural labor work including land preparation, planting, weeding and pesticides applications to earn income. Thus, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected for most areas of the country between February and September 2019.

    However, many households affected by farmer/pastoralist conflict in the northwest and central parts of Nigeria and who remain displaced in Plateau, Benue, Zamfara, Taraba, Kaduna, Adamawa and Katsina states are facing limited food access in localized affected areas. In Zamfara, Katsina states these households are only able to meet their basic food needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September 2019. Similarly, in parts of Taraba, Sokoto, Plateau and Adamawa states affected households are able to adequately meet basic food and non-food needs between February and May. However, due to restricted level of cultivation and income opportunities during the lean season period these households will only be able to minimally meet their basic food needs and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during June to September.

    In Boko Haram conflict-affected areas of the northeast, livelihoods for most households remain heavily disrupted. Agricultural and other income-earning opportunities remain restricted due to the direct impacts of the conflict and by the high levels of displacement. This is exacerbated by atypical market functioning and high staple prices. In many cases, households remain highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs, particularly the IDPs in Greater Maiduguri area where they are mainly accessible to humanitarian actors and are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Much of the host communities in the northeast are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2019, as they do not receive substantial humanitarian assistance and are using strategies that may deplete their livelihoods, such as sale of farm tools, fishing nets and farmlands. Worst-affected areas, where there are highest restrictions on agriculture, other livelihoods activities, access to markets, and assistance provision, are expected to face larger food consumption gaps and they will continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September 2019. Areas where populations are affected by complete loss of livelihoods activities and who remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as neighboring, accessible areas. Extreme levels of acute food insecurity are possible in a worst-case scenario where displaced populations become cutoff due to a shift in conflict and emergency assistance provision is halted.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Current food security outcomes, February 2019

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, February 2019

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

     Figure 1: Population affected by the farmer/pastoralist conflict in Zamfara state

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/ZEMA

    Figure 2. Market functioning in northeast Nigeria

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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