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Restricted access to cash, anticipated election violence, and persisting conflict drive high food needs

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • February - September 2023
Restricted access to cash, anticipated election violence, and persisting conflict drive high food needs

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar For A Typical Year
  • Areas Of Concern
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes And Areas Receiving Significant Levels Of Humanitarian Assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Food security outcomes for millions of households are expected to deteriorate in the coming months, with an early anticipated start to the lean season, beginning as early as April in conflict-affected areas of northern Nigeria. Food assistance needs will peak in Nigeria during the height of the lean season from June to September. During this period, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread in areas worst affected by conflict in the northeast, northwest, and northcentral states as households rely on food purchases amid soaring food prices and lower-than-average income. In areas of the northeast, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in inaccessible LGAs, where households are expected to have limited food stocks and poor access to markets and humanitarian assistance.

    • In the northeast, conflict continues to be concentrated in Borno State, where there has been an increase in the use of civilians as informants, which has, in turn, driven increased restrictions on population movement and the kidnapping and killing of civilians. This has deteriorated households' ability to engage in their typical livelihood activities to earn income for food purchases. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to expand in the northeast through the main season harvest in October 2023. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in May or June in Abadam, Bama, Guzamala, and Marte LGAs, where high levels of acute malnutrition are expected.

    • In the northwest and northcentral states, insecurity and conflict have increased throughout 2022 and into 2023. Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Niger, Plateau, and Benue states remain the most affected, experiencing widespread displacement to urban areas. Households in the most conflict-affected areas have limited food stocks and rely on minimal income to purchase food. As food prices are already atypically high and anticipated to increase, and as households continue to face poor access to income, many are expected to compensate their food consumption with available wild foods. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through at least September in areas where displacement and conflict are the highest. Some households in rural areas will likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September as they have no access to markets, severely limited access to livelihoods, and restricted movement.

    • Macroeconomic conditions remain extremely poor in Nigeria due to the combination of new economic policies and complications with the Nigerian Naira (NGN) redesign, including currency shortages, low government revenue from below-average crude oil production, and decreasing foreign reserves. These trends contribute to above-average domestic food, fuel, and transportation costs. This, amidst high global commodity prices, has driven headline inflation to reach a record high since 2005 of 21.9 percent in February, heavily driven by food inflation, which hit 24.4 percent in February.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    The compounding impacts of poor macroeconomic conditions and persistent conflict have negatively impacted millions of households' livelihood activities across northern Nigeria.

    The main season harvest for 2022/2023 concluded in December with substantially below-average production nationally due to the combined impacts of widespread flooding and persisting conflict amid high agricultural input costs. While the riverine regions were the most negatively affected by the flooding, the northwest, northcentral, and northeastern states continue to be the hardest hit by the protracted conflict and most vulnerable to macroeconomic deterioration. According to a survey by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), in December 2022, flooding caused roughly 700 billion Nigerian Naira (NGN) in agriculture-related losses. Food availability is atypically low in February following the poor 2022 harvest, and household food stocks are anticipated to exhaust earlier than average by two to three months, particularly across northern Nigeria.  

    Conflict across the country persists at elevated levels relative to recent months, with banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling in the northwest and northcentral states, insurgency in the northeast, the ongoing secessionist movement in the southeast, and the escalation in political violence linked to the election, primarily across the south. Incidents of armed battles, attacks against civilians, and bombings increased in 21 out of 37 states (36 states + FCT) across Nigeria in 2022. An average of 277 monthly incidents were reported nationwide, representing an eight percent increase from 2021 and a 27 percent increase from 2020.

    The frequency and intensity of attacks in the northeast remained relatively stable in 2022. Over the last year, the ongoing government counter-insurgency campaigns and airstrikes have continued to thwart large-scale attacks on civilians by non-state armed groups akin to the attacks of 2020 and early 2021. According to ACLED, early 2023 conflict incidents in the northeast primarily consist of battles between armed actors; however, the increased strategic use of civilians as informants have led to heightened suspicion of all civilian activity and movement, resulting in the targeted abductions and killings of dozens of civilians, particularly while they are conducting livelihood activities. Early 2023 attacks and security incidents in Guzamala, Abadam, Marte, Dikwa, Bama, Damboa, Gwoza, Monguno, and Kukawa LGAs in Borno state have driven fatalities and displacement.

    The northwestern states have seen a proliferation of jihadist infiltration and activity and continued armed banditry and civilian targeting throughout 2022. In early February, conflict remained high and concentrated in Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Zamfara states. Meanwhile, the southeast continues to witness armed attacks and kidnappings amid a growing separatist movement. Attacks, abductions, and social unrest in the southeast in early 2023 are 34 percent higher than what was observed at the same time in 2022.

    Additionally, ACLED's Political Violence Report, released in late February, indicated that election violence in the lead-up to the 2023 election mirrored similar levels of violence ahead of the 2015 and 2019 elections. The run-up to the election was mired by violence between party supporters. However, the anticipated post-election violence has been less severe than expected, observed primarily in localized areas between party supporters.

    Figure 1

    Conflict in Nigeria, January 1 to February 28, 2023
    Map showing conflict in Nigeria, January 1 to February 28, 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: ACLED

    Figure 2

    Conflict by affected regions, January 2021 to February 2023
    Bar chart showing conflict by affected regions, January 2021 to February 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: ACLED

    The overall displaced population in Nigeria remains elevated across the country due to continued conflict and flooding in 2022. Though data is unavailable, people are displaced across the country due to conflict, flooding, segmented return movements, and the poor macroeconomic situation. FEWS NET estimates that over 3.5 million people are displaced across the country.1 Meanwhile, as of late 2022, there are approximately 86,000 refugees from Cameroon in Nigeria, primarily in Benue, Cross River, and Taraba states. Furthermore, households have returned to homesteads after flood waters receded in areas affected by flooding in 2022.

    In the northeast, the most recent displacement data from IOM conducted from September to November 2022 found over 2,375,000 IDPs across northeastern states, a three percent decrease from July. Meanwhile, IOM reported returnee figures increased by six percent since June 2022 to 2.1 million individuals. The Borno State government continues to close IDP camps within the state and repatriate Nigerians living in the Minawao refugee camp in Cameroon. Many returned and resettled households remain displaced in major urban centers across the state. Between December 2022 and February 2023, shifts in insecurity, access to livelihoods, and living conditions have continued to drive displacement and return movements, resulting in constant fluctuations and likely a slight increase in IDP figures.

    According to IOM, displacement in the northwest and northcentral states has reached nearly 1.1 million across eight states2 as of late 2022. Of this population, 56 percent are reportedly children. Displacement in the northwest is primarily driven by armed banditry and kidnapping, which saw a sharp uptick in incidents in 2022. In the northcentral states, displacement is more attributable to communal clashes and farmer/farmer/herder conflict. Most new displacements in 2022 occurred in Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states, and displacement in the northwest and northcentral states continues to climb.          

    Macroeconomic conditions remain extremely poor in Nigeria due to the combination of new economic policies, complications with the redesign of the Nigerian Naira (NGN), low government revenue from below-average crude oil production, and decreasing foreign reserves. These trends contribute to above-average domestic food, fuel, and transportation costs. This, amidst high global commodity prices, has driven the monthly headline inflation to reach a record high since 2005 of 21.9 percent in February, heavily driven by food inflation, which hit 24.4 percent in February. Meanwhile, 2022 saw the highest annual inflation in Nigeria since 1996 (Figure 3).

    Figure 3

    Inflation Rates, January 2005 to January 2023
    Line chart showing inflation Rates, January 2005 to January 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: NBS

    The low availability of the recently redesigned NGN notes, coupled with the revised Cash Withdrawal Limit of 20,000 NGN/day for individuals by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which became effective in early January, has substantially impacted trade and business across the country,  limiting the flow of cash and income generation. Similarly, market supplies have also been disrupted, attributable to the low purchasing power of traders as some stakeholders decline to accept bank transfers and only accept cash payments, with limited cash availability. This has reduced commodity flow, supply, and demand in most markets across Nigeria. Although the redesigned NGN aims to manage inflation and drive economic growth, this has yet to occur, and as of late February, NGN notes and other foreign currencies remain scarce.

    Despite the government introducing the redesigned NGN notes, the NGN continues to depreciate on the official and parallel markets. In February, the NGN is exchanging at 456 NGN/USD on the official market and 755 NGN/USD on the parallel market. Since February 2022, the value of the NGN has decreased by about 10 percent on the official market and nearly 25 percent on the parallel market.

    The scarcity of NGN notes and the growing macroeconomic crisis have also led to an uptick in looting and attacks in many states across the country, including Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Rivers, Edo, and Akwa Ibom, as well as reported incidences of banks being set on fire. There are threats of nationwide protests as the NGN note scarcity persists.

    In addition, as reported by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the foreign reserves decreased to 37.1 billion USD in December 2022, the lowest recorded in 2022, reducing from 40.04 billion USD in January 2022. The losses continued in 2023, falling by another 427 million USD in one month to 36.8 billion USD by mid-February, a key contributing factor to the deterioration of the macroeconomic conditions in the country.

    According to figures released by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), after a record-low month of crude oil production in September 2022, production saw steady improvements between October and December 2022. The production increases have been sustained in 2023, rising to 1.67 million barrels per day as of mid-February. However, despite the recent improvements, crude oil production has still seen a steady year-on-year decline in Nigeria and continues to fall short of the current OPEC allocation. Since the foreign reserves have been depleted for a prolonged period and oil production still falls short of the OPEC quota, the recent increases in oil production have had limited positive impact on foreign reserves.

    According to the National Bureau of Statistics, formal trade in the fourth quarter of 2022 was approximately 11.72 trillion NGN, comprised of 6.4 trillion NGN in exports and 5.4 trillion NGN in imports. While total exports increased by roughly seven percent between the third and fourth quarters, imports fell by over 15 percent. When comparing trade in quarter four of 2022 to 2023, exports increased by over 10 percent, while imports declined by nearly 10 percent. These trends are likely due to increased oil production starting in 2022 relative to the previous year, the reduced access to FOREX for importers, and the depreciating value of the NGN restricting the level of imports.

    The under-production of crude oil, in conjunction with high global fuel prices, has continued to drive fuel scarcity domestically, elevating fuel prices, transportation costs, and the price of goods. This, coupled with low NGN note availability, is constraining traders' ability to procure sufficient commodities from aggregation/rural markets to the collation/urban markets.

    Despite lower-than-normal market supply, markets across most parts of the country function relatively typically, except in conflict-affected areas where the markets continue to operate at well below-normal levels (Figures 4 and 5). Market activities reportedly reduced in early February due to the low availability of the newly redesigned NGN notes following the CBN deadline on using old NGN notes. Alternatively, traders are turning to cross-border trade and conducting transactions using the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) Franc with border communities in parts of Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, leading to a slight decline in the CFA relative to the NGN in Kano, Kaura, and Maiduguri.

    Figure 4

    Market functioning and trade route access in the northwest region, February 2023
    Map showing market functioning and trade route access in the northwest region, February 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Market functioning and trade route access in the northeast region, February 2023
    Map showing market functioning and trade route access in the northeast region, February 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Staple food prices remain atypically high in February and considerably above the five-year average (Figures 6 and 7). Prices are high in Maiduguri and Kaura Namoda due to high transaction costs attributed to security checkpoints and disruption to the movement of goods. Key informants indicate that in some localized areas, traders are providing discounts to consumers who pay in cash due to the scarcity of the NGN, resulting in the stabilization and decrease of prices in some areas in January and February in a few markets. Additionally, the scarcity of NGN bills has driven down market demand as households lack cash. Most traders are not amenable to transactions by phone or POS money transfers and have no bank account to compensate.

    Figure 6

    Maize grain prices across four key markets
    Bar chart showing maize grain prices across four key markets. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    Millet prices in four key markets
    Bar chart showing millet prices in four key markets. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    There is sufficient pasture and water for livestock across most of the country (Figure 8). Banditry and cattle rustling activities persist in the northern and central states, limiting access to pasture and typical migration routes. Anti-open grazing policies in some states continue to restrict access to pasture. Despite the decreased access, particularly in conflict-affected areas, livestock body conditions are generally favorable. However, livestock herd sizes are below average, particularly in northern and central Nigeria, consequent of cattle rustling and the ongoing farmer/herder conflict. Livestock movement from the northern to southern regions started in February/March, as usual. However, it is at below-average levels due to the farmer/herder conflict and the policies restricting open grazing in some states.

    Livestock markets are functional across most parts of the country. However, market supply generally remains lower than in 2022. Due to the restricted livestock movement from the northern areas to southern markets and with southern traders disinclined to travel north due to the conflict and low purchasing power, southern markets have low supply and high demand. This has led to high livestock prices in the south compared to the north as normal. Meanwhile, in some markets in the northeast, market supply is higher than last year as cross-border trade activities gradually resume and with less movement to southern markets. Livestock supplies are notably higher in Monguno, Gamboru, Maiduguri, and Wulgo markets in Borno State than last year. Despite the increased supply in the northeast, demand remains relatively low and lower than the previous year. The low demand in the northeast is attributable to traders' fear of the persisting conflict and limited physical cash to procure livestock from the rural markets.

    Dry season farming is ongoing across most northern states, with households taking advantage of the receding floodwater to compensate for main season production losses. However, due to conflict and high input costs, dry-season cultivation remains limited in the highest-producing dry season cultivation areas. There has been limited dry season farming support from stakeholders, including IFAD's agricultural support to nine states, Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Enugu, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Kogi, and Nasarawa. In the northeast, with the continued resettlement and returns efforts, dry season cultivation has been slow to improve significantly as access to farmland marginally increases. Agricultural activities remain well below the pre-conflict period.

    Both seasonal and longer-term rural-to-urban migration remains prevalent, particularly across the northern conflict-affected areas, driven by eroded livelihoods and poor living conditions, with individuals arriving daily to garrison towns from inaccessible areas in search of income-generating opportunities. Consequently, the competition from the high labor supply and poor macroeconomic conditions continue to drive low and below-average wages.

    Agricultural labor and wages are also below average across the country and much lower in conflict-affected areas such as the northeast and northwest regions. While dry season farming provides some opportunities for agricultural labor, lower than normal engagement in these activities drives low wages as many people are competing for few opportunities. Additionally, the depreciation of the NGN and the restricted access to new NGN notes limit the capacity of middle and wealthy households from hiring agriculture labor.  

    Similarly, access to and income from non-agricultural labor activities, including construction, firewood sales, and other unskilled labor, remains below average. Access to areas to fetch firewood is restricted due to insecurity, and early curfew times in many garrison towns restrict livelihood movements far outside of town, specifically in the northeast. A higher-than-normal number of people are trying to access labor, reducing labor access. This is lowering wages and limiting labor opportunities for poor households. Poor households in the northwest and northeast engage in unskilled labor, construction, and petty trading to earn below-average wages. Others have migrated to urban areas to engage in available menial jobs to earn some income and send remittances to relatives at home.

    Labor wages in Maiduguri are currently 500 NGN/day, over 25 percent lower than in February 2022, driven by the limited access to cash and lower payment power by middle and better-off households. Additionally, laborers receive their payments after two days. In Dawanau, labor wages are about 12 percent lower than last year. This is constraining household purchasing power to access food in markets. Consequently, an increased number of poor households have turned to begging in some areas of the northeast and northwest to earn income and access food.

    In December 2022, humanitarian actors provided food assistance to roughly 1.7 million beneficiaries across Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, relative to the nearly two million who received humanitarian food assistance in September 2022. Current humanitarian assistance covers approximately 70 percent of a beneficiary's total kilocalorie needs, and most beneficiaries receiving food aid are those residing in IDP camps across Borno state. The decline in assistance is primarily due to decreases in humanitarian funding. Due to funding constraints, the food security sector is commencing sensitization campaigns to alert beneficiaries of the upcoming reduction of the food assistance transfer value by 25 percent for all beneficiaries in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) and Jere LGA.

    The scarcity of fuel and NGN, coupled with limited household purchasing power, has led to restricted income and food access in some parts of the country, especially for market-dependent households. However, some flood-affected households have returned to their homesteads and are engaging in normal livelihood activities. Many households are thus using their income to purchase food to meet basic needs. Consequently, households in deficit production areas, including in the southeast and south south of Nigeria, are largely facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1).  However, dry season cultivation remains below average due to the high cost of fertilizer and petrol. Additionally, the limited access to cash has driven a low demand for agriculture labor as better-off households face declining purchasing power, reducing dry season cultivation and anticipated yields. While fishing has been favorable and market supply is above average, demand and prices are below average due to the low purchasing power of households. Consequently, some areas are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The Borno state government continues to close IDP camps in Maiduguri and surrounding LGAs, and many refugees in Cameroon have been repatriated back to Nigeria, increasing local food assistance needs. Despite declines in assistance delivery, IDPs in urban areas continue to receive assistance, mitigating widespread food consumption deficits. As a result, most households living with IDP camps and receiving assistance are currently facing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. In less conflict-affected areas of the northeast, households who engaged in limited crop cultivation during the 2022/2023 growing season are currently engaging in dry season production  and are able to meet their basic food needs by consuming their own food stocks with limited market purchases are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    Figure 9

    Current food security outcomes in the Northeast, February 2023
    Map showing current food security outcomes in the Northeast, February 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    In conflict-affected and hard-to-reach LGAs in the northeast, households have limited access to cultivation, high competition for off-farm labor opportunities in garrison towns, and consequently, below-average wages. Households try to close their food consumption deficits by consuming limited own-produced food and market purchases; however, protracted conflict and the macroeconomic crisis have left households with limited assets and below-average purchasing power. Repeated shocks have resulted in the early exhaustion of food stocks. Consequently, households heavily rely on markets for food and are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Meanwhile, in inaccessible areas of the northeast, market disruptions are ongoing, and many households have minimal access to cultivation or other income-generating activities. Consequently, some households are relying on livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis and Emergency. As such, households are facing wide food consumption gaps as they have exhausted most of their food stocks and are mainly dependent on wild foods and limited own food production, with some dependent on begging to access food. Although this population comprises less than 20 percent of the total population, some households face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    Banditry, kidnapping, and farmer/herder conflict persists in the Northwest and Northcentral states, driving continued displacement and limited ability to engage in typical livelihood activities. Households have minimal food stocks remaining due to poor 2022/2023 harvests and limited access to dry season cultivation. Many households are market dependent and have difficulty accessing income, driving lower-than-average purchasing power. These households are facing food consumption gaps and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In worst conflict-affected areas, some poor households face extreme difficulty accessing food due to limited market functionality and minimal ability to engage in agricultural activities. As a result, some of these households are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4).


    Seasonal calendar for a typical year
    Seasonal calendar for a typical year for Nigeria.

    Source: FEWS NET

    National Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for February to September 2023 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Conflict in the northeast is likely to remain at current levels through late 2023. Attacks are anticipated to stay at seasonally high levels during the dry season, followed by a relative decline from June through September due to access constraints associated with the rainy season.
    • In southern Nigeria, conflict and herder/farmer-related violence will remain relatively similar to 2022. Annual livestock movement, which begins in March, is likely to see herders violating open-grazing laws in southern states.
    • Despite ongoing military operations, banditry and kidnapping in the northwest and central states will likely continue at elevated levels, with Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, and Plateau states remaining the most affected states. Conflict will also likely expand to areas not affected in the last year. Farmer/herder conflict in the region will increase during the rainy season due to livestock migration and continue to escalate due to limited accessible livestock routes. Conflict will peak during the main season harvest starting in September/October.
    • Election-related violence is anticipated in February and March, though it will likely remain localized with some protests and violence with the announcement of a winner. In the event that no candidate secures a plurality of votes and 25 percent of votes in at least 24 states, a runoff election will be held in March, which will lead to a significant increase in political disruptions.
    • Displacement is expected to increase nationally as conflict persists, particularly in northern Nigeria. Conflict related to herder/farmer conflict towards the onset of the growing season will lead to further displacement in affected areas.
    • Macroeconomic conditions are expected to remain poor, with minor improvements likely in 2023 due to moderate increases in oil production and anticipated progress with the government's monetary policy. The rise in oil production is expected to improve government foreign reserves due to improvements in security around pipelines and antitheft actions taken by the government. The government’s new monetary policy is expected to slow the depreciation of the NGN.
    • Despite the expectations for improvements in foreign reserves and the value of the NGN, annual inflation is still expected to remain high during the outlook period.
    • Tight global demand for fuel, food, and fertilizer and the likely continued disruption to global supply chains is anticipated to drive continued lower-than-normal formal and informal imports and exports via land and sea. Rice imports will continue to be limited due to the ongoing ban on formal rice imports. Trade disruptions are anticipated to persist in conflict-affected areas and thus will remain below average. However, parts of the northeast will likely experience a slight improvement in trade flow, particularly exports, with neighboring Chad and Cameroon. Above-average cross-border demand is anticipated as the NGN depreciates relative to the CFA, allowing more purchases by traders from neighboring countries.  
    • The flow of goods within the country is expected to be normal; however, trade flows within and to conflict-affected areas are expected to result in disrupted and below-average movement of goods.
    • The supply of imported goods, such as fuel, food, and fertilizer, is expected to remain lower than normal due to the depreciation of the naira, limited national supply, and decreased foreign reserves. Marginal improvements in national supply could be expected due to the reopening of the Portharcourt Refinery in the first quarter of 2023 and the Dangote Refinery in June 2023, slightly reducing Nigeria’s heavy reliance on imports.
    • Transportation costs will generally remain above average due to the high cost of diesel and petrol. Fuel supply will likely increase slightly due to increases in domestic refining, and prices will likely remain higher than average.
    • The dry season harvest in the north is likely to begin on time in April and be lower than last year and the five-year average due to ongoing conflict-related disruptions. In the rest of the country, the dry season harvest is likely to be average.
    • Rainfall is expected to start on time in the south in February/early March, with average to above-average rainfall occurring from March to May. Rainfall in northern Nigeria is expected to begin on time in May. Average to above-average rainfall is expected from June to September across Nigeria. 
    • Nationally, main season farming, including land preparation and area planted, is expected to be lower than normal, driven by below-average purchasing power, limiting access to inputs, and persistent conflict. Areas worst-affected by conflict, especially in the northwest and northcentral states, will likely have significantly below-average to minimal engagement in farming activities. In the northeast, farming activities are likely to be slightly higher than last year due to improvements in mobility and increasing return and resettlement to rural areas. Cultivation will remain lower than pre-conflict levels.
    • The main season harvest will start normally in late September with early maturing maize, millet, and yams, with crop development dependent on rainfall temporal and spatial distribution. The volatility of the conflict may disrupt crop growth in some areas prone to frequent displacement, restricting households from tending to cultivated fields.
    • Market supply of domestic goods will most likely remain below average and particularly low in conflict-affected areas due to the low food production and limited freedom of movement by traders and people. Market supply will be seasonally lowest during the lean season, from July to September, when most household food stocks are depleted, and market demand is highest, especially in northern conflict-affected areas.
    • Household, trader, and institutional demand for food will most likely remain above average due to below-average food stocks and early anticipated dry season harvest exhaustion.
    • Staple food prices will likely remain well above normal and increase throughout the projection period until the next harvest in October (Figure 10). Food prices in conflict-affected areas are expected to remain higher than in the rest of the country while following seasonal trends. The restricted access to the NGN bills will limit market food purchases driving below-average demand.

    Figure 10

    Maize price projection for Kano Dawanau Market
    Combined bar/line chart showing maize price projection for Kano Dawanau Market. Described under heading National Assumptions.

    Source: FEWS NET

    • Pasture and water will likely remain available as usual for most of the dry season in the northern areas; however, they are anticipated to decrease with below-normal availability in northern areas affected by conflict. This is due to the high concentration of livestock in these areas due to limited livestock movement.
    • Livestock movement from northern to southern regions of the country during the dry season will be below average due to the persisting conflict, such as kidnapping, cattle rustling, and communal clashes. Pastoralists will explore other alternatives, including movement to neighboring countries like Cameroon. Pastoralists are anticipated to face limited land access in the central and southern areas as the farmer/herder conflict escalates. Similarly, most southern states will enforce the law against open grazing, limiting livestock movement. Livestock will return to homesteads from southern and central states at below-average levels due to the persisting cattle rustling and restricted movement starting in June when most areas are cropped. Livestock body conditions are generally expected to remain normal.
    • Livestock prices are expected to remain atypically high through September, particularly in the south, following lower-than-normal supply due to restricted movement of livestock to markets and insecurity. Due to increased demand in southern areas, livestock prices are expected to spike in June during Tabaski, then return to similar levels observed in early 2023. Furthermore, the depreciated value of the NGN is likely to reduce livestock inflows from neighboring countries, particularly Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, decreasing livestock availability.
    • Agricultural labor demand for both the dry and main seasons is expected to be below average, particularly in conflict-affected areas, while labor supply is likely to remain above average as an increasing number of households rely on agricultural labor for income. This is expected to drive lower-than-normal daily wages and income from agricultural labor. Income from agricultural labor is expected to be even lower in conflict-affected areas of the north.  
    • Income from casual labor, petty trading, firewood sales, and self-employment is expected to remain below average due to high supply and low demand, driving low purchasing power among most households.
    • Labor migration from conflict-affected areas to urban areas is expected to be similar to last year, and above average as households continue to explore options to access income and food. This is expected to drive increases in urban demand and lower-than-average income for those who have migrated and those living in urban areas.
    • Remittances at the international level are expected to be slightly higher than in 2022, though they will remain below average. However, domestic remittances will likely be below both last year and the average due to the rising food prices and the depreciation of the NGN. 
    • Access to income for most households across the country is below last year and average following the poor macroeconomic conditions. Limited access to cash will constrain income-earning opportunities for poor households. Livelihood activities are expected to remain interrupted in conflict-affected areas of the country.
    • Humanitarian actors and the government will likely continue to assist vulnerable populations in accessible areas in northern Nigeria, predominately in the northeast. Due to insecurity, closure of camps, and restrictions on humanitarian aid delivery, assistance will likely continue to decrease in the northeast, and populations in inaccessible areas will continue to have minimal to no access to assistance. There is limited humanitarian assistance in the conflict-affected northwest and northcentral states, which is anticipated to continue through the scenario period. In general, humanitarian activities are likely to be below last year and the average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In the northeast, households are expected to continue facing difficulty accessing food and income despite the slight overall improvements in households’ ability to engage in livelihood activities. Due to the protracted nature of conflict, livelihoods have been eroded for multiple years. For households able to engage in dry season cultivation, harvests are expected to mitigate food consumption deficits for a very short period, likely exhausting within one month. Poor households are expected to continue to engage in petty trading, menial jobs, and firewood sales to earn limited income and food. Although, due to the high cost of food, household purchasing power will remain atypically low. Others will resort to begging to earn some income or wild food consumption to mitigate some food deficits. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across most areas, especially as the early lean season approaches and households' ability to access their own-produced food dwindles. Most IDPs are expected to remain in camps through the scenario period and receive food assistance with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!)  and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes likely in most IDP camps through May. Returnee households are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities in most areas, are dependent on limited income opportunities, including petty trade, construction labor, and unskilled jobs to access food, and are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Labor opportunities will likely increase towards the growing season starting in June, though competition will remain high, and income will remain low. Thus, the returnee households will continue to face food consumption gaps during the lean season through September and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Figure 11

    Projected food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February to May 2023
    Map showing projected food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February to May 2023. Described under heading Most Likely Food Security Outcomes.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 12

    Projected food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, June to September 2023
    Map showing projected food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, June to September 2023. Described under heading Most Likely Food Security Outcomes.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Households that remain in inaccessible areas in the northeast mainly rely on limited own food production, wild food collection, begging, and bartering. This includes recently liberated populations arriving to garrison towns who are facing wide food consumption gaps and elevated malnutrition levels. Consequently, these households will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity through May. Starting in June, these households will likely have increased wild food access due to the rainy season; however, this will not offset food consumption gaps, and households will continue to face wide food deficits, driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the worst conflict-affected areas in the northwest and northcentral states. Many displaced populations and poor households have been unable to engage in dry season cultivation and are likely to have little to no remaining yields in the projection period. As such, households will likely rely on market purchases despite limited income-earning opportunities and low wages amid low market supply and atypically high staple food prices. Wild foods are also expected to be an additional food source for some households, but this will remain limited during the dry season. The availability of wild foods is expected to improve as the rainy season begins; however, it will not be sufficient to mitigate household food consumption gaps. Additionally, the start of the rainy season in May will be accompanied by a slight increase in agricultural labor income in localized areas. In August and September, some households will likely start to consume early maturing crops, such as early millet, groundnuts, and cowpeas, increasing food access. Meanwhile, some households in rural areas in the northwest were unable to cultivate in the 2022/2023 main season, unable to cultivate during the 2023 dry season, and likely will have limited to no access to cultivation during the 2023/2024 main season. Consequently, these households will have no own produced food stocks and will face a considerably early onset to the lean season. Many of these households have also been unable to relocate to safer areas, such as urban centers, and consequently are expected to continue having minimal access to income or markets. These households are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of acute food insecurity.

    Many households living along major river floodplains and displaced by flooding in 2022 are expected to have limited access to the dry season harvest and will remain market reliant through at least May. These households are expected to spend most of their income on meeting their food needs and are anticipated to have difficulty meeting their non-food needs due to atypically high food prices. Households across these areas are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Some households in southern Nigeria that were flood-affected likely had minimal harvests in 2022/2023; however, they are expected to have moderate food stocks from 2023 dry season cultivation that will be supplemented by some market purchases to meet their food and non-food needs. This is expected to drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across these areas through May. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to expand to most flood-affected areas and the south due to the increasing food prices and continued lower-than-normal income from labor opportunities due to conflict, displacement, and as households rebuild their livelihoods from the 2022 flooding. Households will likely engage in agricultural labor during the growing season, and others will engage in petty trading and unskilled labor to earn income and access food; however, most income will be spent on food purchases.

    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    National

    Late onset of the rainy season

    Substantial increase in staple prices constraining food access for many households.

    Overall, below average main season harvest and increased food assistance needs.

    Increased population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across the country.

    Above-average flooding across the country

    Huge population displacement across the country.

    Increased population in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Northwest

    Increased humanitarian assistance in the area

    More population will likely be in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) during the lean season.

    Northeast

    Escalation of the conflict in the northeast

    Increased population displacement and continued market disruptions.

    Constrained humanitarian and food access, leading to an increase in population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the area.


    Areas of Concern

    Bama LGA

    Current Situation

    Attacks and kidnappings by insurgents remain prevalent in Bama LGA and surrounding areas. According to UNOCHA, between October 2022 and January 2023, about 36 people were abducted in the LGA. Substantial parts of Bama LGA are considered unsafe, with only four out of the fourteen wards currently accessible to humanitarian actors. Despite the ongoing attacks, conflict incidents have been declining compared to the five-year average, partially attributable to the heightened counter-insurgency operations conducted by the military in surrounding areas. While there has been an increase in military engagement and a relative decrease in conflict, free movement and engaging in income-generating activities remain high risk for civilians in the area.

    Figure 13

    Area of concern reference map for Bama LGA
    Map showing area of concern reference map for Bama LGA.

    Source: FEWS NET

    The IOM DTM Round 43 assessment conducted in November 2022 indicates that 133,365 IDPs reside in Bama LGA, 25 percent of who arrived in 2022. On average, Bama LGA receives more new arrivals on a weekly basis than any other LGA in Borno state. Consequently, the number of IDPs residing in Bama have likely continued to increase since November. According to DTM-ETT weekly reports, in January and February 2023, nearly 3,600 new IDP arrivals were recorded. Over 80 percent of IDPs are women or children, and most are arriving from inaccessible areas in Bama LGA or neighboring Konduga and Gwoza LGAs. IDPs and returnees are also arriving from Maiduguri following the closure of IDP camps and Minawao refugee camp in Cameroon. Some of the households are returning to their homesteads; however, many are residing in IDPs camps or the host community in Bama. According to IOM, a mix of push and pull factors are driving new arrivals, including poor living conditions in areas of departure, camp closures, attacks in surrounding areas, organized resettlement, and improvements in the security situation in Bama. The increasing IDP population has put stress on existing resources in Bama, heightening food assistance needs.

    Dry season cultivation is underway primarily in riverine areas, such as Bama town, Soye village, Kaleri, and Jauduri Bocos. However, cultivated land is primarily owned by host community households, and less than 10 percent of IDPs engage in dry season cultivation, given that it is cost intensive. With the high threat of insecurity, low purchasing power, and limited resources, IDPs have very limited capacity to engage in seasonal cultivation.

    Although access to dry season agriculture labor has slightly increased slightly since 2022 due to improvements in free movement, allowing more IDPs to travel to Fulka village in Gwoza LGA to engage in sorghum cultivation for wage labor. These IDPs are also cultivating spinach, sorrel, tomatoes, and onion. Agricultural labor wages are about 800 NGN/day, which is lower than average due to high labor competition. IDPs who migrate to Konduga LGA to engage in the dry season harvest can earn between 1000 to 1200 NGN/day.

    Alternatively, some IDPs rely on cap knitting, firewood sale, and wild food gathering to earn limited income. A normal bundle of firewood sells for 500 NGN, while charcoal sells for 100 NGN. An individual can typically only collect one bundle of firewood per day. Thus, the daily income is insufficient to meet households' basic food needs. Additionally, due to the fluid security situation in Bama LGA, the military has imposed a 3:00 pm curfew in Bama town, restricting both livelihood activities and population movement. Farming, as well as firewood, charcoal, and wild food collection, are negatively affected due to the limited distance households can travel from the garrison town.

    Conflict has negatively impacted all markets within the LGA, including cross-border trade with Cameroon. Bama and Banki markets are the only moderately functional markets remaining. Supply primarily comes from Maiduguri, and while traders travel between Bama and Maiduguri without military escort, trade flow remains below average due to insecurity and the curfew, resulting in low supply to the Bama markets. This is compounded by the impacts of a fire in late February in the major staple market in Maiduguri, Monday market, further reducing staple food supply to surrounding markets. However, market demand for staples remains elevated, given that 2022/23 production was exhausted early. While price data is not available for Bama market, prices from the Maiduguri source market are well above last year and the five-year average (Figure 14). Cross-border trade with Cameroon remains below average as the risk of insecurity in Bama is unattractive to external traders.

    Figure 14

    Maiduguri Nigeria Millet Price Projection
    Combined bar/line chart showing Maiduguri Nigeria Millet Price Projection. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    IDPs and returnee households are heavily reliant on humanitarian food assistance to meet basic food needs. INTERSOS/WFP provides humanitarian food assistance to nearly 38 percent (50,118 beneficiaries) of the IDP population, predominately those within camps, in Bama, covering 70 percent of beneficiaries’ kilocalorie needs. In January, beneficiaries received double rations to cover January and February 2023 to avoid anticipated disruptions following the February elections. With the influx of new arrivals, many vulnerable households have not received assistance resulting in households sharing rations with new arrivals or unregistered family members. Consequently, rations are stretching their rations, with some households reporting that rations last for half the time they are intended to cover.

    Salient Humanitarian Organization (SHO) has also been providing wet feeding to new arrivals, including IDPs, returnees, and refugees, for their first five days in IDP camps. About 50-100 individuals arrive daily and are entered into feeding program, and individuals receive three meals per day.

    For those who cultivated during the 2022/2023 main season, food from their own production has been exhausted, and with the limited IDP access to dry season cultivation, poor income-generating opportunities, and high market prices, households are struggling to access food from their own production or in the market. Consequently, IDPs and returnees are heavily dependent on humanitarian food assistance to mitigate food deficits. With stretched humanitarian funding, households have become increasingly reliant on consumption-based coping strategies, such as reducing the number of meals consumed per day, consuming less preferred food, and prioritizing children to eat first.

    As the conflict persists in Bama, livelihood activities remain disrupted for IDPs and returnees, and many households are reliant on day labor. Consequently, the high competition for limited livelihood opportunities is decreasing daily wages. Markets supplies are low, and staple prices are well above average, driving low purchasing power and restricted food access for most households. This is further compounded by the limited 2022/2023 harvest and continuous flow of new arrivals, overstretching resources and services and resulting in most households currently relying on coping strategies indicative of Crisis. Most IDP and returnee households are primarily reliant on limited humanitarian food assistance to mitigate food deficits, and consequently, facing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) levels of acute food insecurity. Meanwhile, host community members have relatively better access to land for cultivation, with slight improvements in the security situation and freedom of movement, and are engaging in dry season cultivation and likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern: 

    • Land preparation for the wet season cultivation will start as expected between April and May 2023. However, IDPs and returnees within and outside of camps will have limited access to land for cultivation. IDP households will likely be able to cultivate one hectare of land or less.
    • Humanitarian assistance is expected to continue in Bama LGA from February through May, though it will remain limited and unlikely to reach many returnees and IDPs due to funding constraints. Given the influx of unregistered new arrivals and returnees, it is anticipated that sharing of assistance will result in HFA only covering two weeks rather than four weeks for households receiving assistance.
    • Along the Banki axis, it is expected that the gradual resumption of cross-border trade with Cameroon and increased population movement without military escorts in Bama will slightly increase the flow of livestock and food items. This is anticipated to lead to a minor decrease in prices of staples and livestock compared to the last year, 2022; however, prices will remain above average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    IDPs and returnees living in camps and host communities will continue to have limited income-generating opportunities and poor access to farmland for dry and wet season cultivation. This, coupled with the limited access to humanitarian assistance and the continued influx of new arrivals into Bama, especially during the lean season, is expected to drive atypically early and high reliance on market purchases to mitigate gaps in harvests. The ongoing atypically high staple prices will continue to deteriorate IDP household purchasing power. Consequently, households will turn to Crisis coping strategies to mitigate consumption gaps. IDPs will experience increasing difficulty meeting their basic food needs and consequently experience an early onset lean season. Households will likely primarily rely on humanitarian assistance to mitigate some of the largest food consumption deficits and likely to experience Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes through May 2023. While the households negatively impacted by flooding during the 2022 wet season cultivation have limited food stocks, they will likely grow increasingly reliant on wild food gathering and begging to access food through the lean season. Increased populations of IDPs, refugees, and returnees in Bama will lead to growing labor competition, further limiting income-earning opportunities and constraining food access during the peak of the lean season through September, when staple prices are at the highest. These households will face large food consumption gaps with a heavy reliance on emergency coping strategies through the end of the lean season, resulting in high levels of acute malnutrition and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food security outcomes from June through September 2023. 

    Isa LGA, Sokoto state

    Current Situation

    Conflict in most parts of Sokoto state has continued into February, driving continued displacement and substantially impacting the 2022 main season harvest and 2023 dry season cultivation. Isa LGA remains a hotspot for banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping, both in Sokoto state and the northwest in general. In early January 2023, Partner Liaison Security Operations (PLSO) indicated that the consistently high levels of kidnapping for ransom were most prevalent in the northern part of Sokoto state, such as Isa LGA, as well as in LGAs bordering Zamfara State and the Niger Republic. Consequently, many communities have either been deserted or remain difficult to access in the LGA. Most IDPs are in Isa town, while some have relocated to Sokoto town. Other IDPs have moved to nearby LGAs or Niger Republic.

    Figure 15

    Area of concern reference map for Isa LGA
     Area of concern reference map for Bama LGA

    Source: FEWS NET

    As an increasing number of people are displaced from conflict-affected rural areas to urban centers like Isa Town, there is a growing labor supply and increasing competition for work in urban areas. IDPs primarily rely on begging, firewood sale, petty trade, and unskilled labor to access limited food and income. However, demand for labor remains substantially below average, driving labor wages down. In February, wages for day labor range between 500 to 800 NGN/day, while an individual can receive 1,000 to 1,500 NGN/day for construction or agricultural activities. Dry season cultivation, which is underway, is significantly below average due to the ongoing conflict, displacement, and lack of access to farmland, with some areas unable to engage in dry season cultivation in Isa LGA at all. Consequently, some new arrivals in Sokoto town indicated they traveled to neighboring villages to engage in agricultural labor during the harvest and were paid in-kind with food. Other households engaged in wild food gathering to access limited food.

    Most households have lost their livestock to bandits in the LGA, resulting in households' resources becoming increasingly depleted as they have limited or no savings. This is compounded by the poor 2022 main season harvest, which has resulted in most households having limited remaining food stocks, which is anticipated to drive an early onset of the lean season starting earlier by about two to three months.   

    Isa town, the LGA headquarters, has the only functioning market within the LGA, and the market is functioning at below-average levels. Markets in other locations either remain non-functional or serve as a location for local bartering for the households that remain behind. Petty traders in rural areas cannot access banking facilities. The poor market functionality is exacerbated by the ongoing NGN note scarcity and national inflation. This has reduced household purchasing power and decreased access to food in the area. Staple prices remain atypically high, above last year and the average, constraining food access.

    Households are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities due to persisting conflict. They have restricted access to farmlands; a substantial population has been displaced by the bandits, others have been kidnapped for ransom. Few are able to cultivate during the recent main season and have significantly below-average stocks. Dry season cultivation also remains below average, constraining income and food sources for most households. Most households rely on market purchases, community support, and wild food collection to access limited food in Isa LGA. Others rely on begging and day labor to access limited income and food. Thus, these households are facing food consumption gaps and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions above, the most likely scenario for the February to September 2023 period for this area is based on the following assumptions:

    • Humanitarian assistance will likely remain minimal in the LGA throughout the outlook period because of the limited humanitarian presence in the area. Community support will remain the primary source of assistance to poor and conflict-affected households. The state government will continue to solicit humanitarian support from the federal government, corporate organizations, wealthy individuals, and donor agencies. Humanitarian assistance from the host community will remain restricted, especially if more households are displaced during the scenario period.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Poor households affected by conflict related to banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling will likely continue to face difficulty. Households are anticipated to continue having limited income-earning opportunities and low purchasing power as labor wages are expected to continue declining through the scenario period. Most conflict-affected households will remain displaced in urban areas, where they are unlikely to engage in main season cultivation in 2023. Due to the premature exhaustion of the yields for many households, individuals in Isa LGA are likely to experience the early onset of the lean season, anticipated to start in April or May. This will drive households to become increasingly dependent on market purchases for food; however, the atypically high staple food prices and low purchasing power will limit food access. Consequently, poor households are expected to grow reliant on wild foods, supplemented by limited food purchases and borrowing money to access food. Many will also turn to begging to access minimal income. Most of these households are expected to experience moderate to severe food consumption gaps and high levels of acute malnutrition and will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2023.

    During the height of the lean season, more households will resort to market purchases once all households have exhausted their stocks, leading to well above-average food prices. Many working-age individuals will likely travel to seek agricultural labor in surrounding areas to earn some income, while others will continue engaging in petty trading and wild food collection to access money and income. During the rainy season, household availability and access to wild foods will slightly increase. An increasing proportion of households will likely resort to Crisis coping strategies to mitigate food consumption gaps. Thus, poor households will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity through September. Meanwhile, households that remain in rural areas are largely cut off due to the persisting conflict, experiencing restricted mobility, and will continue to have limited access to markets and food. Consequently, they are anticipated to engage in minimal cultivation during the growing season with a high reliance on wild food consumption. Though less than  20 percent of the population, many poor and very poor households will likely face wide food consumption gaps between June to September and face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food security outcomes.


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    FEWS NET. Nigeria Food Security Outlook February to May 2023: Restricted access to cash, anticipated election violence, and persisting conflict drive high food needs, 2023. 

    1

    There are an estimated 2.4 million IDPs in the Northeast and 1.1 million IDPs in the Northcentral and Northwest. In the most flood-affected areas, many households also remain displaced.

    2

    Benue, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara

    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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