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Poor macroeconomic conditions and high conflict drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in 2021

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • February - September 2021
Poor macroeconomic conditions and high conflict drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in 2021

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The high levels of conflict in Northeast Nigeria limit the ongoing dry season harvest and agricultural labor activities. This, coupled with the expectation of limited purchasing power, is expected to drive persistent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across much of the northeast. Households in hard-to-reach areas mainly have little to no food stocks and access food through wild foods. These households also face limited market access and are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4). A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists, and Famine could occur in a worst-case scenario if there is a dramatic uptick or shift in conflict that limits access to typical food and income sources and humanitarian assistance for a prolonged period of time. 

    • In northeastern areas where there is a concentration of IDP, humanitarian actors can generally access households and distribute assistance. Additionally, market and trade activities function somewhat better in these areas than adjacent inaccessible areas. As a result, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected through at least May. Moreover, in urban areas of the northeast, particularly Maiduguri and its surrounding areas, household purchasing power is expected to be somewhat better and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are anticipated through much of 2021.

    • Recent attacks in Marte and Dikwa LGAs of Borno State drove increased displacement and fatalities and significant declines in the engagement in livelihood activities among affected households. These attacks are of concern as some populations have been displaced multiple times in a short amount of time. Many conflict-affected households have relocated to neighboring areas, with others traveling to Maiduguri. Some of the most vulnerable populations, including many elderly, women, and children, likely remain in their areas of origin, with lower-than-normal access to typical food and income sources and humanitarian assistance.

    • Increasing levels of conflict relative to previous years are anticipated to disrupt typical livelihood activities in the Northwest, where most affected households are expected to remain reliant on markets for food. Income-earning opportunities such as petty trading, construction work, water vending, and agricultural labor will most likely remain below average, especially in areas where households are displaced. Food access is anticipated to remain low as staple food prices are expected to remain atypically high, driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the scenario period in the worst conflict-affected areas.

    • Despite marginal crude oil price increases, poor economic conditions continue in Nigeria as foreign reserves remain low, and the annual inflation rate remains high, the highest since April 2017. The dry season harvest is expected to improve market supply slightly. Driven by the poor macroeconomic conditions and below-average 2020/21 harvest, staple food prices are significantly above average and are expected to remain high through at least late 2021. However, the high demand and low supply, in conflict-affected areas coupled with the poor macroeconomy, is expected to drive prices even higher.


    Current Situation

    The poor macroeconomic conditions and high levels of conflict in northern Nigeria are the key drivers of acute food insecurity. This is compounded by widespread flooding in 2020 and below-average income, which drove low access to agricultural inputs, resulting in a below-average 2020/21 harvest. Furthermore, all these impacts on household acute food insecurity coupled with the longer-term indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are driving above-average assistance needs in Nigeria, though they remain similar to 2020.

    The Nigerian macroeconomy is heavily dependent on oil exports, which account for more than 70 percent of government revenue. While there has been some rebound in oil exports and oil prices in recent months following the large decline related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they still remain below-average, continuing to drive poor macroeconomic conditions. Moreover, economic activities are being affected by the low levels of cross-border trade, conflict, and the limited movement of goods from surplus to deficit-producing areas of the country. Nevertheless, in mid-February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the fourth quarter 2020 economic performance report indicating that the GDP grew marginally by 0.11 percent (year-on-year) in real terms, the first positive growth in the last three quarters. Though weak, the positive growth reflects the gradual return of economic activities following the easing of restricted movements and limited local and international commercial activities in the preceding quarters.

    According to NBS, in January, annual inflation was 16.47 percent, the highest since April 2017, an increase from 15.75 percent in December 2020. The average monthly interbank NGN exchange rate has remained largely stable since August 2020, around 380 NGN/USD. The parallel market exchange rate, the bureau de change rate, while also somewhat stable in late 2020 and early 2021, has been well above that of the interbank rate since April 2020, exchanging currently above 470 NGN/ USD. Both rates are significantly below their previous five-year average. The annual inflation and bureau de change rates are nearly as high as during the last economic crisis in 2016/17, with the interbank exchange rate well above 2016/17 levels (Figure 1). Additionally, domestic petrol prices continue to show an upward trend, pushing up transportation costs. All these economic factors are putting pressure on staple food prices across the country, particularly in deficit-producing areas of the country.

    Domestic and international trade flows have somewhat improved to above last year's levels with the easing of border restrictions but still remain below-average. In late-December 2020, some land-borders re-opened for the trade of most goods following the closure of about a year and a half; however, some restrictions remain in place for rice, flour, and maize trade. As a result, while imports remain low, market access to some foods improved due to increased informal and formal trade. This also led to an increase of cross-border movement with Niger and Kano, and Sokoto States. Informal trade activities with Benin are also underway, increasing market food supply. According to IOM, between October and December 2020, there was about an eight percent increase in cross-border movements, mostly related to short-term movements for commercial purposes and households traveling for the festive season.  Moreover, trade from surplus to deficit producing areas also improved since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted; however, due to the poor macroeconomic context, the movement of goods is still lower than usual.

    According to the Ministry of Health, as of February 28, 155,657 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,907 associated deaths were reported with a case fatality rate of 1.2 percent. Community infection is likely still ongoing across the country. Measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 currently in place include social distancing and wearing face masks in public places, and limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 persons outside of workplaces. No large-scale measures are currently present limiting people movement. Vaccines have started to be distributed for free.

    In the Northwest, conflict in early 2021 is ongoing over larger areas and higher than in recent months. Additionally, banditry and kidnapping levels increase in early 2021 across Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina States. Similarly, farmer/herder conflict is also reported in Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, and Ebonyi states in the south, resulting in security and tribal conflict across the country. Both conflict and banditry have led to increased displacement, disruption to market function, and lower engagement in typical livelihood activities due to populations' concerns about insecurity. Due to fear, communities closer to the areas where kidnapping, attacks, and/or conflict took place, households are also relocating due to fear, further increasing the displaced population.

    According to IOM, Round 5 report, there is an increase in displacement by over 400,000 people in the Northwest. The Zamfara State Emergency Management Agency (ZEMA) reports that since July 2020, over 35,000 people are displaced in IDP camps, and over 180,000 people are displaced within communities. However, this figure has likely increased since this report. According to IOM, over 4,100 herdsmen arrived in Kachia LGA in Kaduna State from the southern states in mid to late February. A further 2,220 individuals were displaced in Kaduna and Zamfara States, with most of their livestock. On February 25, kidnappers invaded a government secondary school in Talata Mafara LGA of Zamfara State. While details are still emerging, over 300 students and staff were kidnapped and shortly returned to their residence. At the same time, these incidents and similar incidences do not directly impact household food and income access; the resulting fear and insecurity push households to relocate to new and less familiar areas. Many households then have to rebuild their livelihoods, which takes time.

    Conflict in the Northeast has also continued to expand with the highest conflict levels in Abadam, Kukawa, Marte, and Kala Balge LGAs in Borno State based on key informants. Attacks by insurgents are focused on government and humanitarian workers for insurgents to gain ground, access medicines, or access food. Based on information from key informants, attacks on civilians are lower in 2021 than in recent years. Moreover, some areas of Marte and Kukawa, which were previously inaccessible, are now accessible by civilian populations; however, attacks and conflict still occur in these areas. According to IOM, in early January, Boko Haram invaded Geidam town in Yobe State, displacing nearly 10,000 people and setting many houses ablaze. The military later dislodged the insurgents.

    The unfolding and volatile situation in Dikwa and Marte LGAs and adjacent areas remain of high concern as some populations remain in Dikwa, likely with little access to humanitarian assistance. In late February, insurgent attacks took place in parts of Dikwa, Marte, and Maiduguri. The attack on February 14 in Marte resulted in the displacement of over 3,300 people, many fleeing to Dikwa and some returning to their home of origin soon after the conflict subsided. Soon after, conflict in Dikwa resulted in the re-displacement of households who had been previously displaced in Marte and further displacement of new populations. Then on February 23, an attack in Maiduguri resulted in over 60 injuries and over 15 fatalities. While this attack disrupted market function, it was only for a short period of time. This is one of the first attacks in Maiduguri in recent months. While most of the displaced populations in these areas receive some sort of assistance from the communities in which they are displaced, households also search for some income-earning activities. These activities typically include unskilled labor work, firewood sales, indebtedness, and begging.

    The conflict in the northeast continues to disrupt market function and trade activities (Figure 2). While market function and trade activities have improved over the last year with increased function in areas around east-central areas of Borno State and areas of Yobe and Adamawa States, market function is limited in many areas. The recent conflict in areas of the region somewhat disrupted market activities; however, once conflict subsided, the market function returned to levels seen prior to that of conflict event. Where market function and trade activity is limited, market supply for most goods is limited.

    Prices for both staple and cash crops are significantly above the five-year average, and last year, some staple food prices are nearly as high as they were in 2016. While some staple prices decreased with the harvest in October, prices of other commodities remained somewhat stable or even increased (Figure 3). In Dawanau market, a primary grain market in West Africa, maize prices are 43 and 45 percent above last year and the five-year average, respectively, relative to December 2020. Staple prices such as maize, millet, and sorghum are relatively higher in conflict-affected areas, including Maiduguri, Mubi, Biu, Damaturu, Potiskum, among others, relative to less conflict-prone areas. This is mainly attributable to increased transaction costs, the constrained flow of goods, and higher demand for food in these areas.

    Dry season cultivation started earlier than usual as farmers were encouraged by the government to take advantage of flood and recession waters to compensate for the loss during the recent flooding. Dry season rice farmers are expected to cultivate about 7.5 million tons of paddy across the country, significantly decreasing losses associated with the harvest and driving an above-average rice harvest. The harvest in Niger, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kano is ongoing for crops planted in November. The ongoing dry season harvest is somewhat better than in 2020; however, it is still likely to be below-average. While the dry season harvest will decrease losses associated with flooding during the main cultivation season, households are not expected to recover all of the harvest losses associated with 2020 flooding.  

    Current engagement in agricultural activities and labor availability is below-average; however, somewhat better than 2020. At the same time, the government provided loans for farmers to purchase inputs for the ongoing dry season, increasing participation in the dry season. In the northern parts of the country, access to land is limiting engagement in agriculture due to conflict. Similarly, agricultural labor and related income-earning opportunities are below average in conflict-prone areas. In southern areas of the country, land preparation activities are ongoing for the start of the season.

    Income-earning opportunities remain constrained to most households in conflict-prone areas while relatively normal in other areas of the country. Households in conflict-affected areas engage in petty trading, labor work, firewood sale, and other menial jobs to earn income. For many of these activities, income earned is significantly limited. Similarly, community support from host communities to IDPs and remittances are below average as employment remains lower than usual in urban areas.

    Income earned from labor is below average across most of the country but even lower in conflict-affected areas, where better-off and middle households have limited ability to pay poor households. Most households are engaged in construction 

    work, land preparation, motorbike driving, and other unskilled labor to earn limited income due to the poor macroeconomic conditions.

    Many displaced populations in northwest and northeast areas have limited ability to engage in income-earning activities. This is especially true for newly displaced populations, who often find themselves in unfamiliar places and have difficulty finding labor and other income-earning opportunities. Displaced populations engage in income-earning activities such as petty trading, water hawking, dry season agricultural labor, construction labor work, and other menial jobs to earn below-average income and access some food.    

    Due to the lower-than-normal access to income and continued very high staple food prices, purchasing power remains below-normal for many households across the country. Household purchasing power is even lower in conflict-affected areas, where staple prices are higher and incomes are lower. This is driving limited market food access. Furthermore, as households are spending a higher percentage of their income to purchase food, this limits access to agricultural inputs for the upcoming season and non-food items.

    Fishing activities in conflict-affected areas are below average as water bodies remain inaccessible, and in some cases, fishing materials are destroyed or stolen by bandits or insurgents.

    Livestock production, productivity, and herd sizes are below average due to livestock theft in northwestern areas and the continued small herd sizes in the northeast, and somewhat less than favorable body conditions. The level of livestock migration to southern grazing areas is restricted due to the increasing level of herder/farmer conflict in southern areas with high competition for pastoral resources. Despite the lower-than-normal livestock body conditions, livestock prices are above-average, mostly due to poor macroeconomic activities. However, the high livestock prices are still reducing access to meat and milk in most areas for poor households.

    In December, humanitarian actors provided food assistance to 2 million people in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States, of which 1.8 million beneficiaries are in Borno State. Humanitarian actors remain targets of attacks by the insurgents, constraining distribution to some high-risk areas, where needs are often most acute. Recent attacks in Dikwa, Marte, and localized parts of a couple other LGAs in Borno State led to the disruption of humanitarian assistance delivery.  

    In early February, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) started monthly distributions to about 38,000 households in IDP camps and among host communities in Borno State and 7,400 households in Bakassi camp. Other camps are receiving similar assistance in Maiduguri town, though exact figures on assistance delivered were not available at the time of this analysis. Each household receives 12.5kg of rice, beans, and maize and condiments such as vegetable oil, seasoning, salt, tomato paste, and others. The government scale-up of assistance comes after a recent needs assessment in December 2020 in Borno, and Adamawa states that found about 40 percent of displaced households in some locations were not receiving needed food assistance.

    Nigerian officials and their Cameroonian counterparts have agreed to repatriate about 48,000 Nigerian refugees, mostly from Borno State, on February 27 and March 7. The refugees who would return voluntarily would be resettled in Borno State (Bama and Banki mainly). Most of the refugees are in Minawao refugee camp, located in Mokolo in the Far North of Cameroon.

    Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria continue to arrive, though at relatively lower levels since late last year. As of January 2021, there are 63,235 refugees in Nigeria across Cross River, Taraba, Benue, and Akwa Ibom States. According to IOM, over 50 percent of the refugees reside in host communities, while about 40 percent are in camps. Most of the refugees are receiving assistance, only able to meet basic food needs.

    Households in non-conflict-affected areas are currently consuming own produce, though food stock level remains lower than average. However, households in conflict-prone areas are mainly dependent on the market for food as they harvested significantly below-average crops and have exhausted their stocks. As a result, many areas are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    While conditions in the northeast remain poor, there has been an improvement in recent years with households returning to their areas of origin, especially in some northern and central areas of Borno State, improving food and income access. Households who are in displacement camps are mainly dependent on humanitarian assistance and in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). Those in garrison towns have limited assistance and mainly depend on their own limited harvest and market purchases, with below-average purchasing power, and are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Some areas of central Borno State are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes due to the proximity and access to Maiduguri, where households are better able to access income to purchase food. In contrast, southern areas of Borno State are less impacted by conflict with households engaging in near-normal levels of income-earning activities and with most areas facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    Households in the northeast worst-affected by the Boko Haram conflict continue to engage in limited livelihood activities and are mainly dependent on humanitarian food assistance, and have limited income-earning opportunities. In areas of Yobe State facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), where some areas are inaccessible, access to normal livelihood activities is lower than usual. In inaccessible areas, some households face large-consumption gaps. While in adjacent accessible areas, households have somewhat better access to markets and income and facing moderate consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Households, mainly in parts of Borno state who remain in areas that are inaccessible to humanitarian actors and consume wild foods, with little to no food stocks, are facing large food consumption gaps and are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In inaccessible areas, based on remote sensing analyses, agricultural production is likely limited. While households have some access to food from own production, those stocks are likely depleted, and households are reliant on wild foods. Additionally, some households also own and sell livestock, with others engaging in fishing, both of which, due to limited market access and high prices, drive lower access to income. Most households in these areas rely on bartering for food access, but this remains significantly below average. Consequently, wide food consumption gaps and high levels of malnutrition are likely ongoing.

    Most households affected by banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling in the Northwest and northcentral states remain displaced and continue to depend on markets for food during the post-harvest period. They are unable to engage in usual livelihoods activities and have constrained income opportunities. These households have limited assistance and face food consumption gaps (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, particularly in parts of Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states. Some of these households have limited own foods and are unable to meet non-food needs, and are Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Households outside conflict-prone areas are consuming own food and earning regular income and are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1).


    The most likely scenario for February to September 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Given the current state of COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccinations, the pandemic is expected to continue through at least the end of September. The government is expected to enforce measures including social distancing and wearing of face masks, with minimal restrictions limiting people movement.
    • Macroeconomic conditions will most likely remain poor as export earnings, and foreign reserves are expected to remain low in the short-term; however, some improvement is anticipated in mid to late 2021 as crude oil prices and oil exports slightly increase. The World Bank is anticipating a national economic growth of about 1.1 percent in 2021, while the government anticipates an ambitious growth rate of about 3 percent for the same period. Although annual inflation is anticipated to increase slowly, it will most likely remain high in the double digits. Moreover, the NGN is expected to remain below the five-year average on both the official and parallel markets.
    • Prices of locally produced staple foods are expected to remain well above average across the country, driven by the poor macroeconomic conditions, lower than normal supply, and high demand. Prices will be even higher in areas affected by conflict, including in Maiduguri, where prices will most likely remain 50 to 80 percent higher than average (Figure 6). Institutional purchases, traders' restocking, cross-border demand primarily from Niger, and household demand will most likely remain elevated. Government stocks are at the lowest level across the country, and the government will likely start to replenish these stocks, significantly increasing market demand.
    • Based on model forecasts, rainfall is expected to start normally in February/March in the southern areas and May/June in the northern areas of the country.
    • Rainfall between April and June in bimodal areas is expected to be above average and between June to August in the northern part of the country (Figure 7). NIMET anticipates below-average rainfall in Sokoto, Kano, Kebbi, and Zamfara states in the Northwest.  
    • Flooding will likely be above average in affected areas across the country. This will be exacerbated by water releases from dams and the rainfall flow from neighboring countries upstream.
    • National area planted will most likely be below average for the 2021 main season, driven by lower-than-average purchasing power and conflict restricting access to agricultural inputs. In northern areas, conflict and restrictions on growing tall crops are expected to drive area planted to be significantly below average and lower than last year. The government support will likely provide some access to inputs; however, it is not expected to offset household access to inputs fully.
    • The main harvest will likely begin normally in September with the early maturing millet, maize, and yams.
    • Various government programs are expected to provide agricultural inputs to dry season farmers facilitating engagement in the second phase of the dry season. Flood-affected households and riverine areas, and floodplains are expected to engage more than average in dry season cultivation to recover part of their losses. This is expected to drive an above-average 2021 dry season harvest; however, in areas affected by conflict, the harvest is now anticipated to be significantly below-average.
    • Formal and informal cross-border trade activities are expected to slowly improve as international land borders have opened at four major border crossings for most goods; however, due to continued poor macroeconomic conditions in Nigeria, including the depreciating value of the NGN and conflict, trade flows are expected to remain below-average. The continued restrictions on commodities such as rice are expected to continue to limit the movement of goods.
    • Livestock movements during the projection period will likely be below average as the conflict and cattle rustling activities persist. Moreover, pastoralists remaining in southern areas will likely have limited access to large grazing areas in central and southern parts of the country due to escalating farmer/pastoralist conflict in these areas, with some southern states restricting access to some areas. Most pastoralists in northern areas will remain in these areas, leading to high competition for accessible pasture resources. Pastoral movement from neighboring countries will likely start earlier than usual, and herd movement into the country will likely be above average as land borders are re-opened.
    • Pastoral resources will most likely remain available during the dry season in the northern areas; however, they are expected to deplete slightly earlier than normal in northern areas as herd sizes remain slightly above average. Livestock body conditions will most likely remain favorable for most pastoralists across the country, especially those who relocate towards the central and southern states.
    • Livestock prices will likely continue to decline, though only slightly as the land border re-opening intensify and livestock flow increased gradually from Niger, Chad, and Cameroon throughout the scenario period. Livestock prices will peak during the Tabaski period in July, when livestock conditions remain favorable due to pastoral resources availability.
    • The anticipated above-average dry season harvest in areas less affected by conflict will atypically increase labor demand through the April/May harvest period. This, combined with land preparation, planting, weeding, and fertilizer application for the main season cultivation, will likely sustain higher than average labor demand. However, wages will likely remain below average due to increased labor supply and competition due to persisting conflict in the northern areas.
    • Income from petty trading, construction work, and other unskilled labor work is expected to be below average in rural and urban areas due to competition and below-average labor demand in relation to reduced purchasing power.
    • Remittances will most likely slightly increase and be higher than in 2020; however, they remain below average due to the continued indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Conflict in the Northeast will most likely persist and increase during the dry season through the onset of the rainy season in June/July. This is mainly due to ease of movement by all parties to the conflict along the seasonal corridors in the northern areas. The insurgents will intensify attacks on communities to access food towards the lean season when market stocks are at the lowest level. During the peak rainfall season between July and September, the level of attacks will be constrained. This is attributed to limited and impassible roads in the area. Borno state will remain the epicenter of the Boko Haram conflict in the northeast, and the group will continue to extend their reach towards the Northwest of Nigeria. Consequently, the peak population displacement will likely occur through June/July 2021.
    • Banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and farmer/pastoral conflict will continue to escalate in the Northwest and north-central states during the scenario period. This is further exacerbated by the continued payment of ransoms to kidnappers, including government members, and increased access to smuggled weapons. Katsina and Kaduna states will likely be the epicenter of banditry and kidnapping in the Northwest.
    • Humanitarian actors will continue to provide assistance to conflict-affected areas in northern Nigeria. However, assistance will remain limited as conflict escalates across the northern areas.
    • The prevalence of malnutrition will remain elevated, particularly in conflict-affected areas, and will peak during the lean season across the country due to poor food access. Additionally, poor access to basic social services for people affected by conflict and the start of the rainy season, which is highly conducive to diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and cholera, are likely to negatively impact the already worrying nutritional situation. The GAM rate is expected to be within the "serious" range (GAM between 10 to 15 percent) and higher in localized worst conflict-affected areas in the north.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    During the post-harvest period for both the primary and dry seasons, most poor households are likely to consume own production across much of the country. Most households are expected to continue engaging in income-earning opportunities, such as dry season cultivation, land clearing activities, and petty trading; however, earning slightly lower than average income. Other households are likely to engage in casual labor, construction work to earn income for food purchases and rely on food stocks during the early green harvest in May/June. Coupled with typical livelihood strategies such as cash crop sales, livestock sales, coupled with agricultural labor income during the main growing season, most poor households are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through September 2021.

    Many households across the country affected by flooding between July and September 2020 are expected to remain displaced. These populations are expected to have some difficulty accessing typical income sources, coupled with the atypically high food prices; households are expected to focus most of their income to purchase food. As a result, these displaced households will likely only meet basic food needs and are anticipated to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September 2021.

    Poor households outside the northeast impacted by communal conflict, armed banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping in central and northwest States are likely to remain displaced and face difficulty accessing normal livelihood activities. From 

    February to September, as the lean season peaks in June to September, more households are expected to face difficulty meeting their food and non-food needs. Conflict-affected households will remain displaced, unable to engage in crop cultivation, and earning below-average income. Households that remain displaced due to both conflict and flooding with little or no harvest in 2020 are expected to remain primarily dependent on the market with atypically elevated staple food prices. This will most likely result in these populations having difficulty meeting their food needs and will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Some of those who have been displaced for a prolonged period with little to no access to income-earning activities in difficult-to-access areas are expected to be primarily reliant on wild foods and limited food purchases to access food. These households are expected to face large food consumption gaps or engage in livelihood coping strategies that include asset liquidation and face high levels of acute malnutrition. As a result, some households are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in these areas. Households who were able to cultivate but have limited access to income to purchase food are expected to meet their food needs only and are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until the main harvest in October 2021.

    Most conflict-affected households in relatively accessible areas in parts of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states who remain displaced and are within major urban areas with limited access to humanitarian assistance, are likely to have continued restricted purchasing power. As a result, they will most likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while those in camps with better access to humanitarian assistance are expected to experience Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) through at least May 2021. Those in camps across the northeast who are currently dependent on assistance are unlikely to have continued access to such assistance during the lean season with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected in areas where there is a concentration of IDPs from June to September.

    In areas less affected by conflict across the three northeastern states, many households are able to engage in normal livelihood activities; however, at below-average levels. Where markets are functioning, and households are less affected by the conflict, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist through September. In other areas, where income opportunities are expected to be limited while staple food prices peak from June to September, many households will be unable to meet their food needs and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Between June and September, food access is expected to deteriorate. This is expected to result in a higher proportion of the population and more areas having difficulty meeting their basic food needs and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they will earn little income through agricultural labor.

    Households affected by the insurgency, particularly those in inaccessible areas, mainly in parts of Borno State who had limited or no main season harvests and restricted access to markets, livelihood activities, and assistance, are facing large food consumption gaps with elevated levels of acute malnutrition. These households will likely resort to wild food consumption, limited trade by barter, and some will resort to begging to access some food. As a result, this is expected to lead to persistent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. As conflict is anticipated to increase during the dry season and remain at higher levels, it is expected a higher number than average of households are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the February to September period. A risk of Famine persists and would occur in a worst-case scenario where households are cut off from humanitarian assistance and typical food and income sources for a prolonged period of time.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Substantial improvement of the security situation in the northern areas

    • Increased crop production leading to increased food access.                                 
    • High level of trade activities and income across the country leading to increased food access.

    Prolonged dry spell and pest infestation increase farmer/herder conflict

    • Below-average crop production and reduced food access. Limited pastoral resources and intense competition and earlier than usual depletion of pastoral resources and loss of income, milk, and meat.

    Widespread flooding

    • Below average main harvest, constraining food and income access.


    Deterioration of Boko Haram conflict in the northeast.

    • Increased population displacement, limiting food and income access.
    • Increased assistance needs, increasing competition for assistance, and constraining income and food access.
    • Population cutoff and have limited or no assistance.


    Intense level of conflict in the Northwest and northcentral states

    • Increased population displacement internally and as refugees, leading to difficult access to farmlands, markets, and other livelihoods activities.
    • Increased assistance needs and increased competition for assistance, constrained food access, and elevated malnutrition rate.



    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. 


    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, February 2021

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: OANDA, NGN Rates, and National Bureau of Statistics

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 6

    Figure 4

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    Figure 5

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 8

    Figure 6

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 9

    Figure 7

    Source: NOAA

    Figure 10

    Figure 8

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 11

    Figure 9

    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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