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Macroeconomic crisis and conflict sustain Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in parts of northeast through September

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • February - September 2024
Macroeconomic crisis and conflict sustain Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in parts of northeast through September

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Events that May Change the Outlook
  • Area of Concern: Bama LGA, Borno State, Inaccessible Population – (NG09) Chad Basin: Masakwa flood-recession sorghum and wheat (Figure 11)
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Across the north, elevated levels of conflict associated with the insurgency, banditry, and farmer/herder conflict have disrupted livelihood activities, resulted in loss of assets, and driven population displacement in early 2024. Significant increases in kidnapping for ransom from December to February have incited high levels of fear and increased the risk of engaging in income-generating activities. By February, poor households have largely exhausted their below-average harvests, resulting in the early reliance on market purchases for food. However, the poor economic conditions have severely deteriorated household purchasing power. This, compounded by the impacts of heightened insecurity and below-average main season harvests, is limiting household access to food atypically early in the post-harvest period. In the north, from February to September, an increasing number of households will likely rely on negative coping strategies to meet their minimum food needs or face food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states. In the worst conflict-affected and inaccessible areas of the northeast, particularly in Bama, Marte, Guzamala, and Abadam LGAs in Borno, households are expected to have limited access to income and low mobility, poor market functionality and depleted coping capacity, sustaining Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September 2024.
    • The macroeconomic crisis continues to deepen in early 2024, severely deteriorating household purchasing power, financial access to food, and engagement in livelihood activities. Inflation hit a 28-year high of 31.8 percent in February, largely driven by food and fuel prices, continued national revenue generation deficits, and currency devaluation. By the end of February, the official exchange rate of the Nigerian Naira (NGN) to USD reached roughly 1,500 NGN/USD, relative to 907 NGN/USD in December 2023 – a 65 percent depreciation in two months. In January, the post-harvest period, staple food prices surpassed the prices recorded during the peak of the 2023 lean season in August and are well over 100 percent higher than last January in several key reference markets. In urban, the deteriorating economic conditions are severely impacting household purchasing power and financial access to food. In February, several reports of the looting of food trucks along major urban roadways and food warehouses in urban areas have increased, such as in Niger and Kaduna states, Abuja Federal Capital Territory. From February to September, an increasing number of households in urban areas are anticipated to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
    • According to the Nigeria Nutrition Sector, the acute malnutrition caseload in northeast Nigeria is atypically elevated and showing highly alarming trends for the post-harvest period. This is likely due to the compounding negative impacts of the below-average harvests and the economic crisis resulting in poor food consumption and the high levels of morbidity amid concurrent measles and diphtheria outbreaks across the north. In Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, in January and February 2024, admissions of children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are nearly 70 percent higher than they were in early 2023, and the highest on record in the last six years. The Nutrition Sector has reported a considerable increase in the proportion of children admitted to stabilization centers with SAM with complications in the last three months.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Conflict, including armed attacks, kidnapping incidents, and IED explosions, was generally higher in July to December 2023 than in the first half of 2023 or in July to December 2022 and continues at elevated levels in January and February 2024 (Figure 1). Banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling in the northwest and north central states, and insurgency attacks and kidnapping in the northeast, have significantly impacted engagement in most livelihoods, particularly access to farmland during the main season harvest, agricultural labor, fishing, or the collection of natural resources.  The conflict has also resulted in significant household and productive asset losses, displacement, widespread fear, and limited mobility in the worst-affected areas of the north.

    Figure 1

    Conflict events and fatalities in Nigeria from January 2022 to February 2024, by region
    This figure shows conflict events and fatalities in Nigeria from January 2022 to February 2024, by region

    Source: FEWS NET/ACLED

    The surging economic crisis since mid-2023 has been a key driver in the growing levels of insecurity in Nigeria. Beyond increased engagement in opportunistic petty theft and criminality, financially motivated armed actors – bandits in the northwest and insurgents in the northeast – are increasingly adopting kidnapping for ransom as an economically lucrative income source, especially in the last five months, as fuel and food prices increase the cost-of-living amid the continued depreciation of the Nigerian Naira (NGN). In fact, the number of kidnap victims reported per month has closely mirrored staple food price trends in Nigeria. As staple food prices decreased at the beginning of the main harvest in October and November, engagement in kidnapping for ransom saw a temporary decline, followed by an increase in food prices and an increase in the number of people kidnapped for ransom from December through February 2024 (Figure 2). This is likely a result of armed actors facing increasing pressure to meet their basic needs or operational costs and targeting civilians for income. As a result, poor households are facing increasingly limited mobility and high risk when engaging in alternative income-generating activities amid spikes in the cost of living. In late February 2024, an estimated 200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were kidnapped in Ngala LGA, Borno state, while out collecting firewood and bush materials. In the same period of February, 1,075 individuals were reportedly kidnapped in Nigeria, a new recorded high, with the majority of kidnappings reported in Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, and Kaduna states.

    Figure 2

    Number of people kidnapped and staple food price trends in reference markets, May 2023–January 2024
    This figure shows the number of people kidnapped and staple food price trends in reference markets, May 2023–January 2024

    Source: FEWS NET/ACLED

    Additionally, ransom payments, typically a combination of cash and commodities, including motorcycles, cattle, productive assets, or crops, are reportedly placing extremely high pressure on household incomes, limiting their capacity to purchase food or essential non-food items. This pressure extends to entire communities due to the high reliance on social safety networks to fundraise for the payments. Similarly, bandits and insurgents continue to impose high levies on both communities and individuals to access farmlands, often with severe consequences for lack of payment, including crops being burnt, entire communities razed, productive assets seized, food stores ransacked, or mass killings. According to key informants in Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states, in the worst affected areas entire communities have migrated to urban areas and deserted their farmlands. 

    The macroeconomic crisis continues to worsen in early 2024 due to persisting revenue generation deficits, increasing inflation, and continued currency devaluation. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the external reserves decreased to 33.353 billion USD in January 2024, down from 36.996 billion USD in January 2023 — nearly a 10 percent decline year-on-year — contributing to the growing macroeconomic crisis. 

    Annual headline inflation has continued to accelerate, reaching a 28-year high of 31.7 percent in February 2024, primarily driven by record-high food prices and transportation costs. Food inflation jumped to 35.4 percent in January. This compounds the impacts of substantial supply deficits of foreign exchange, resulting in the CBN devaluing the NGN for the second time in less than a year in January. In late February, the NGN exchange rate to the USD is 1,500 NGN/USD, up from 907 NGN/USD in December 2023 (Figure 3). The combined impacts of inflation and NGN devaluation on the economy is increasingly impacting households’ income and purchasing power, resulting in households having minimal to no disposable income and many unable to meet even their basic needs.

    Figure 3

    Annual headline inflation and Nigerian Naira (NGN) to USD exchange rate (formal and informal), December 2020 to February 2024
    This figure shows trends in inflation and exchange rates

    Source: Central Bank of Nigeria/FEWS NET

    The main season harvest concluded by mid-January with below-average food production. The impacts of below-average rainfall and moderate to severe dry spells were compounded by heightened levels of conflict and kidnapping, as well as atypically high input, fuel, and labor costs, and limited farming activities across most of the country, particularly in the surplus-producing areas of the north. According to WFP’s Essential Needs Assessment, collected in January and February 2024, while the vast majority of households in accessible areas reported having access to land and planting in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, the majority of households also reported that harvests would last for less than three months, meaning most harvests are exhausted by February. In Borno state, over 50 percent of households reported food stocks were below average, and over 50 percent of households in 15 of the 23 LGAs assessed reported harvests would last for less than three months. For more information on the 2023 main season harvest, please reference FEWS NET’s December Food Security Outlook Update.

    Dry season farming, which typically occurs from February to May to produce cash crops such as vegetables, watermelon, rice, maize, and sorghum, is ongoing across most parts of the north, particularly in Jigawa, Kano, and Kebbi states. However, activities are generally below average due to the persisting high level of conflict and high cost of inputs. The high cost of fuel, which is essential for water pumping and irrigation during dry season farming, has reportedly severely constrained engagement in dry season cultivation. Additionally, it is primarily middle and better-off households who engage in dry season farming, although their dampened purchasing power has led to below-average dry season agricultural labor demand. Poor households will minimally engage in dry season cultivation due to economic limitations. 

    Pasture availability across the country generally remains sufficient for livestock consumption; however, banditry and cattle rustling activities persist in the northern and central states, limiting access to pasture in some areas. Additionally, in the extreme northern areas, due to below-average cumulative rainfall coupled with prolonged dry spells and insecurity, the vegetation growth and development remain below average, constraining pasture availability in affected areas, particularly in the far northeast and northwest regions. However, overall, livestock body conditions are favorable.

    Livestock trade in Nigerian markets, particularly along the northern border states such as Sokoto, Katsina, and Yobe, continues to be below normal due to supply shortages associated with the reduced cross-border trade with the Niger Republic resulting from ECOWAS sanctions. Consequently, livestock prices remain atypically high in northern markets. In February 2024, in Geidam market, Yobe state, and Illelah market, Sokoto state, a male goat sells for 33,000 NGN and 29,000 NGN, respectively, 123 percent and 45 percent higher than last February, respectively. While the high livestock prices would typically benefit pastoralists, the cereal-to-livestock terms of trade (TOT) remain unfavorable due to the exceptionally high staple food prices. In Gujungu market, Jigawa state, in February 2023, a male goat sold for approximately 17,000 NGN, which fetched 91 kilograms (kg) of millet. In February 2024, the price of a male goat has increased by 176 percent (47,000 NGN) although it can purchase 3.3 percent less millet (88kg). This has severely limited the purchasing power of pastoralists. 

    Income-generating opportunities remain below average across the country and much lower in conflict-affected areas, including the northeast and northwest regions, in January and February. Dry season farming has provided limited opportunity for agricultural labor. Similarly, non-agricultural labor activities, including petty trade, construction, firewood collection and sales, and other unskilled labor, remain below normal due to the escalating attacks by bandits and insurgents, particularly on individuals engaged in livelihood activities in exposed areas, away from urban areas or garrison towns. The high supply of labor relative to demand and poor macroeconomic conditions continue to limit income generation. Additionally, labor migration, which is a commonly relied upon source of income by all wealth groups in Nigeria, has reportedly decreased for poor households, largely due to the high cost of fuel and domestic transportation to reach urban centers.  

    With the depreciation of the NGN and the increase in commodity prices, employers have increased daily wages to compensate and remain competitive. However, the increasing staple food prices are significantly outpacing the slightly higher wages. In Dawanau market, Kano state, the daily wage rate for casual labor, such as loading and off-loading, increased 50 percent from 1,500 NGN to 2,250 NGN year-on-year between last February and February 2024. However, with the considerable increase in cereal prices, the TOT for labor to millet has decreased by 30 percent from 6.0 kg of millet in February 2023 to 4.0 kg of millet in February 2024. Poor households are unable to meet basic food needs.

    Cross-border trade activities now operate below both last year's and five-year average levels, due to the combined impacts of the border closures between Nigeria and the Niger Republic associated with the ECOWAS sanctions and newly imposed restrictions by the Nigerian government on the export of grains to meet domestic needs. However, the informal cross-border trade demand remains high for locally produced staples, particularly from traders in neighboring countries seeking to take advantage of the favorable West African Franc (CFA) to NGN exchange rate. 

    Meanwhile, domestic trade activities remain similar to last year but below average levels due to the rising cost of petrol and diesel and associated higher transportation costs. Additionally, governors in many northern states have enacted restrictions on the transportation of crops across state borders – or in some areas, LGA borders – to promote the sale of crops within the state in which they were grown. While this is reportedly intended to stabilize food prices by quarantining food supply in the markets, food availability in markets is seldom the driving issue in high food prices in the north, where problems are rooted in financial access to food, which remain severely deteriorated in February. While enforcement is currently limited, these restrictions are likely limiting income potential for both farmers and traders as many are no longer able to prioritize selling their crops at the most lucrative markets. 

    Most markets across the north continue to operate optimally. However, in the most insecure or conflict-affected regions of the north, including in northern and eastern Borno, as well as parts of eastern Sokoto, western Kaduna, and eastern Niger states, market functionality is below normal (Figure 4, 5). While markets generally remain supplied, stocks are beginning to decrease following the conclusion of the main season harvest in December, contributing to the increasing staple food prices. Market and household food stock levels are below normal, although market supply currently remains sufficient to meet household demand. 

    Figure 4

    Market functioning and trade routes in Lake Chad basin, January 2024
    This map shows market functioning and trade routes in Lake Chad basin, January 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Market functioning and trade routes in northwest and northcentral Nigeria, January 2024
    This map shows market functioning and trade routes in northwest and northcentral Nigeria, January 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Retail prices of staple foods are spiking to unseasonably high levels in the post-harvest period. In most key reference markets,1 cereal prices are higher in January 2024 – the post-harvest period than they were in August 2023, the peak of last year’s lean season, and range from 164 to 208 percent above the five-year average. In January, prices of white maize were over 100 percent higher than in January 2023 in most FEWS NET-monitored markets, including Aba, Biu, Dawanau, Kaura Namoda, and Maiduguri (Figure 6). Similarly, millet prices were over 100 percent higher than last January in Maiduguri, Potiskum, Damaturu, and Biu markets in the northeast (Figure 7). Prices continue to rise due to the compounding impacts of the below-average harvest supply, high transportation costs for traders, and the record-low value of the NGN, exacerbated by high household and industrial demand domestically. The record-high staple prices are severely limiting purchasing power and food access for households in urban and rural areas.
     

    Figure 6

    Retail price of maize in key reference markets, January 2024, January 2023, and five-year average
    This figure shows retail maize prices in key reference markets, January 2024, January 2023, and five-year average

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    Retail price of millet in key reference markets, January 2024, January 2023, and five-year average
    This figure shows millet prices in key reference markets, January 2024, January 2023, and five-year average

    Source: FEWS NET

    As a result of the growing economic crisis amid the unseasonably low household food stocks and poor purchasing power, there have been increased reports of households engaging in severe coping strategies to access food and income. In Maiduguri and Jere LGAs in Borno state, some IDPs are reportedly mining anthills for grains collected by ants. Additionally, poor households in parts of the northeast are reportedly begging at grain mills for the loose milled grain beneath the milling machines. In both rural and urban areas, multiple incidents of looting food warehouses and trucks carrying food have been reported as of late February. In Niger and Kaduna states and Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT), traders have reported food trucks have been stopped and looted along major trade routes. In Abuja FCT, a mob looted an entire warehouse of maize stock in late February. In response, the government has publicized their intention to distribute 46,000 metric tons of food across the 36 states in the coming months; however, distributions have not yet taken place. While this will temporarily bolster food access for some households, the impacts of one-off distributions are unlikely to significantly improve the food security of poor households.

    Humanitarian food assistance, primarily distributed in IDP camps in northeast Nigeria, has continued to seasonally decline since the peak of the lean season in August 2023. In July and August, over 2.5 million beneficiaries received food assistance across the three northeast states. However, in September/October, when the main season harvest started and food availability increased, food assistance declined to about 1.6 million beneficiaries, sharply decreasing to 1.2 million persons in December. According to Food Security Sector food distribution data, in January, monthly rations for IDPs was roughly 40 to 60 percent of individuals’ minimum daily kilocalorie needs. In most IDP camps, beneficiaries received cash transfers of roughly 4,000 to 5,000 NGN per person per month and in January the survival minimum expenditure basket (SMEB) ranged from 8,000 to 10,500 NGN in Borno state. However, as staple food prices increase, the value of the cash transfers continues to diminish. Additionally, distribution data indicates the number of beneficiaries reached in Maiduguri and Jere LGAs decreased by over 60 percent from November to January, where most of the IDP camps have been closed. Similarly, reported beneficiary figures decreased by 62 percent in Konduga LGA and 13 percent in Monguno LGA. This decrease in assistance is limiting access to food for many poor households who have limited alternative sources of income or food. 

    The prevalence of acute malnutrition in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) states in northeast Nigeria remained unseasonably elevated through the harvest and post-harvest periods. In January and February 2024, admissions of children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in outpatient therapeutic feeding programs (OTP) and stabilization centers (SC) was nearly 70 percent higher than the same period of 2023, based on data from the Nutrition Sector (Figure 8). In 2023 and early 2024, the BAY states have consistently seen the highest SAM admissions caseloads compared to the past six years. This was reportedly attributable to the compounding impacts of the below-average harvests and decreased financial access to food due to the spiking food prices, and amid the simultaneous measles and diphtheria outbreaks. The Nutrition Sector indicated recent increases in admissions of children with SAM with complications, associated with high levels of morbidity due to the ongoing outbreaks. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), measles cases spiked in Maiduguri at the end of 2023. From October to December 2023, measles cases were three times higher than the same period of 2022. The diphtheria outbreak also continues to spread across the north, primarily in Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Bauchi, and Borno states. According to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), as of late December 2023, the case fatality rate was extremely high at 4.5 percent, with 13,387 confirmed cases (22,293 suspected cases) and nearly 600 deaths since the outbreak started in December 2022.

    Figure 8

    Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admissions trends to OTP and SCs in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa state, January – December 2017–2023
    This figure shows severe acute malnutrition rates

    Source: Nutrition Sector

    Current food security outcomes 

    In February, most areas of the south, which have ample access to income-generating opportunities and remaining food stocks from the 2023 harvest, are likely facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, in parts of the south and in several urban areas, as households grow increasingly dependent on market purchases to access food, and as competition for labor increases in February in urban areas, a growing number of households are likely to begin facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 

    Current acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February 2024
    Current acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Across the north, the impact of poor macroeconomic conditions, including the elevated cost of petrol, transportation, and unseasonably high staple food prices, has substantially reduced household purchasing power, leading to atypically low financial access to food. The below-average main season crop production has caused many farming families to deplete their food stocks and resort to market purchases atypically early across the country. Persisting conflict continues to prevent normal access to livelihoods and has tremendously reduced the coping capacity of many households. In the northeast, northwest, and north-center, with minimal access to humanitarian food assistance to help households meet their basic needs, an increased number of households are facing food consumption gaps or are relying on negative coping strategies such as selling land, household goods, or productive assets; moving entire households to urban areas; or begging to meet their basic needs. As such, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely ongoing in the worst conflict-affected areas of the northwest and northeast. Widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely, particularly across the north-center, as the high cost of living and poor access to income limit access to essential food and non-food needs, and households start resorting to coping mechanisms to meet their basic needs.  

    In hard-to-reach areas of the northeast and northwest, households have largely exhausted their harvests and are heavily reliant on small markets for food. These households continue to face limited access to cultivation activities and high competition for non-agricultural labor opportunities. Households are trying to reduce 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, as staple food prices continue to outpace wage increases. 

    Meanwhile, in Bama, Abadam, Marte, and Guzamala LGAs, severe market disruptions and minimal access to cultivation or other income-generating activities is ongoing. Poor and very poor households are relying heavily on negative livelihood coping strategies such as selling productive assets and begging to access food. Most households’ food stocks are already exhausted, and they are mainly dependent on wild foods and small market purchases. Additionally, households are likely employing food-based coping strategies such as prioritizing children eating first, eating less preferred food, and going days without eating. Households are facing wide food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. A subset of the worst-affected households likely are facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

    IDP populations in settlements in the northeast likely face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes and remain highly dependent on humanitarian food assistance, which is preventing worse outcomes in most of Borno state. In the northwest, IDP populations largely remain in informal settlements and are not receiving humanitarian food assistance. These households are unable to engage in the formal labor market, are highly reliant on begging, prostitution, and bartering to earn income, and are facing large food consumption gaps. While IDPS comprise less than 20 percent of the population, these households are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    This figure shows the seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source:

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • The country's poor macroeconomic conditions are expected to continue deteriorating through the outlook period – despite the World Bank projections of 3.3 percent growth in GDP in 2024 – due to continued low revenue generation and poor revenue utilization. The demand for foreign currency will likely remain high, driving devaluation of the NGN through at least September 2024. Annual headline inflation is expected to continue trending upward through September 2024, primarily driven by the depreciation of NGN and the high cost of food, fuel, and transportation.
    • The price of petrol is expected to remain stable at elevated levels. The commencement of production by Dangote refinery is unlikely to impact domestic fuel prices during the projection period since the global price of petrol remains high, further exacerbated by the devaluation of the NGN.
    • Conflict associated with the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria is likely to persist through September 2024 at levels similar to those in 2023, with incidents expected to decrease following the onset of the rains in June 2024.
    • Violence associated with banditry and kidnapping, particularly in the northwest and north-central, is expected to slightly increase in 2024, driven in part by deteriorating economic conditions. Kidnapping will also increase with the start of agricultural activities in April/May. 
    • Farmer/herder conflict in the north-central and northwest is expected to increase starting with the rainy season in June as available routes for livestock movement become limited, in-line with normal seasonal trends. Farmer/herder conflict will approach its annual peak at the start of the main harvest in September. 
    • Rains are forecasted to start normally in March in southern areas and May/June in the north. Early rainfall performance between March and May will likely be slightly below average in the south. In the north, precipitation from June to September is anticipated to be average. 
    • The harvest from the 2024 dry season farming activities is expected to be below average due to lower than normal engagement and constrained purchasing power of the middle and better-off households to purchase fuel, inputs, and labor.
    • Main season (2024) farming activities are anticipated to start on time, with land preparation in February/March in the south and April/May in the north. Due to low household purchasing power for inputs/hiring labor and the sustained high levels of conflict, main season farming – including land preparation and area planted – is likely to be below last year and average in the surplus-producing north.
    • The main season harvest will commence normally in late September with early maturing maize, millet, and yams.

    • Agricultural labor associated with main season farming is anticipated to follow seasonal trends, with demand increasing starting in March in the south and May in the north for land preparation. However, labor supply will outpace the below-average demand due to reduced purchasing power of farmers and reduced area planted. Agricultural labor wages are expected to be above average. 
    • Retail prices of locally produced staple foods are expected to increase through the projection period and peak in the lean season (July and August), remaining well above the five-year average across all monitored markets (Figure 9, 10). Prices are expected to decline slightly with the start of the main season harvest in late September, following seasonal trends. Domestic demand is anticipated to remain elevated through the projection period.

    Figure 9

    Price projections for millet in Maiduguri, Borno state
    This figure shows price projections for millet in Maiduguri, Borno state

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 10

    Price projections for millet in Kaura Namoda
    This figure shows price projections for millet in Kaura Namoda

    Source: FEWS NET

    • Formal cross-border trade, both import and export, is expected to be average to above average throughout the outlook period due to the depreciation of the NGN relative to CFA, though slightly constrained by the persisting insecurity along some northern corridors. However, informal cross-border trade activities are expected to be above last year’s and average levels through September. Currency depreciation will likely decrease the trade of livestock. 
    • The domestic flow of goods, including staple foods from surplus-producing areas in the north to deficit-producing areas in the south, is expected to remain below average due to impacts of persisting conflict exacerbated by high fuel and transportation costs. Trade disruptions are expected to continue in conflict-affected areas, while goods will likely move more freely in less-affected areas. Market supply is expected to decline progressively through the lean season until September, when the early main season harvest stock will become available. However, transportation costs will remain atypically high due to increased fuel costs. 
    • Livestock movement from northern to southern/central pastures will likely start in February, as is typical. However, migration will likely be below average due to the persisting farmer/herder conflict, cattle rustling, and increased kidnapping. In the central and southern areas, pastoralists who migrate will have relatively limited access to pasture due to the volatile security environment, open grazing bans, and prosecution for kidnapping. Livestock that migrated will return from southern and central states to homesteads in the north in June. Pastoral movement from neighboring countries will be below normal, and herds will be below average in the country due to the persisting conflict. 
    • In the north, pastoral resources will likely remain available at average levels, though with restricted access through May 2024, the end of the dry season. However, the anticipated below-average livestock migration to southern and central areas may deplete northern pastures atypically early amid elevated competition for resources. Livestock body conditions will remain favorable through September, particularly for livestock that relocate towards the central and southern states. 
    • Livestock prices will likely be higher than last year and above average through September due to conflict, bans on open grazing, border closure with the Niger Republic, and depreciation of the NGN limiting livestock production and inflows. In Tabaski, July livestock prices are expected to peak due to increased demand and favorable livestock body conditions improved by wet season pasture availability.
    • Poor households will continue relying heavily on non-agricultural labor, including casual labor, petty trading, firewood/charcoal sales, and self-employment. Income from these sources is likely to remain slightly above average, though will not increase at pace with the increase in staple food prices.
    • Labor migration from rural conflict-affected areas to less conflict-affected areas – both rural and urban – is expected to be similar to last year and above average as households continue exploring options to increase food and cash income, further increasing labor supply.
    • International remittances will likely be higher than last year and the average through September 2024 due to depreciation of the NGN. Meanwhile, domestic remittances will likely be near or below last year’s and the average due to the poor domestic economic conditions. 
    • Despite funding constraints, humanitarian food assistance will likely be provided to vulnerable populations in the northeast through September, primarily in IDP camps. However, the Borno state government is expected to close IDP camps during the scenario period amid efforts to resettle all displaced populations. The government is expected to continue providing minor support to vulnerable households in communities across the northwest, where assistance will likely remain at levels similar to last year.
    • The last IPC AMN nutrition analysis conducted in August 2023 highlighted that 17 of the 62 LGAs analyzed in the Northeast and 47 of the 71 LGAs analyzed in the Northwest are likely to be in Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) and above from January to April 2024. According to historical nutrition data, better nutrition outcomes are generally anticipated at the national level during the harvest and post-harvest periods, with enhanced food access and the expected gradual reduction of waterborne disease prevalence and malaria in the dry period. From March 2024, acute malnutrition is expected to progressively deteriorate to the typical Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) level by April or May in parts of the northeast and northwest, ahead of the peak lean period, due to reduced food access as households deplete food stocks, sustain low purchasing power, and disease prevalence begins to increase in the wet season. Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) and Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) acute malnutrition levels will likely be sustained from June to September 2024, particularly in northern areas affected by conflict. Areas less affected by conflict are expected to maintain Acceptable (IPC AMN Phase 1) and Alert (IPC AMN Phase 2) levels of acute malnutrition through the projection period.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February to May 2024
    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February to May 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, June to September 2024
    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, June to September 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    In inaccessible areas of the northeast, such as Abadam, Bama, Guzamala, and Marte LGAs in Borno state, with exhausted harvests, households will likely be increasingly turning to casual labor to access income to purchase food. However, the high levels of insecurity are preventing many households from engaging in income-generating activities, particularly due to the high risk of kidnapping. The rising staple prices and the deteriorated purchasing power of most households will constrain access food. With an anticipated early onset of the lean season in April in some areas, households will grow increasingly reliant on wild foods, and continue resorting to coping strategies such as bartering, begging, and entire households migrating to urban areas to mitigate their large food consumption gaps. These households are likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September.

    Households in garrison towns of the northeast will largely have exhausted their harvests and experience low purchasing power due to increasing staple food prices while having high reliance on markets for food. With increasingly high competition for income earning opportunities as more households move to urban areas, access to income will be constrained, limiting financial access to food from March to May. The impacts of the early start of the lean season in April will likely be partially mitigated by increased access to agricultural labor income in June, although the income will be insufficient to meet their minimum food and nonfood needs with peaking staple prices. Households will likely resort to selling household and productive assets and reducing expenditure on health and education services. An increasing number of households will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and moderate food consumption gaps through the lean season. 

    IDPs that remain in camps within the garrison towns will continue to rely on humanitarian food assistance to meet their basic food needs. IDPs in most settlements will likely face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) through May. However, considering anticipated increases in population displacement with the growing conflict and poor living conditions in the northeast, and the scale-down of humanitarian food aid and continued camp closures, many IDPs will no longer have access to food assistance from June to September 2024. These IDPs will likely experience food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September 2024. 

    In the northwest and north-center states, the farmer/herder conflict, kidnapping, and banditry will continue to increase, partially due to the growing economic crisis, resulting in increasing risk associated with engaging in income generating activities of poor households, such as resource gathering, agricultural labor, and labor migration. Poor purchasing power with the increasing prices and restricted access to labor will constrain financial access to food for poor households. Following an early start of the lean season in April, the growing impacts of the poor 2023 harvests, conflict, and economic crisis will result in the widespread deterioration of food security outcomes from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), an increasing number of households relying on negative coping strategies to access food and facing food consumption gaps, particularly in Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states. This will likely peak in August, followed by slight reprieve with the onset of the early green harvest in September. 

    Displaced households in urban areas of the northwest will likely remain highly vulnerable, have no access to farmland, largely unable to return to their homesteads, and have limited income-earning opportunities resulting in limited access to food. Most urban IDPs will continue resorting to negative livelihood coping strategies associated with Emergency (IPC Phase 4), including begging and prostitution. However, the worst-off households will likely also rely on food-based coping strategies, including skipping meals or going days without eating. As prices increase and own-produced food availability decreases, an increasing number of displaced households will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September. However, the IDP population are less than the 20 percent threshold for area-level classification.


    Events that May Change the Outlook
    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalECOWAS lifting sanctions on the Niger Republic and borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic reopen
    • Increased cross border trade, livestock and labor migration. 
    • Livestock prices would likely decrease with the increased supply of cross-border livestock trade.
    • Traders in border states will likely increase income generation and consequently increase access to food, supporting improvement in food security outcomes from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for some households.
     
    NortheastExtreme escalation in conflict in the northeast
    • Increased population displacement, causing further disruptions to livelihood activities, market functionality, supply routes, and restrictions to accessing farmlands. Engagement in fishing will likely also decrease. 
    • Increases in the proportion of populations facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with some of the worst-affected LGAs likely reaching area-level Emergency (IPC Phase 4) by the lean season, if the heightened fighting were to continue through the scenario period.
     
    Northwest and northcentralIncreased presence of humanitarian actors and increased humanitarian food assistance in the area 
    • Increased access to humanitarian food assistance would likely improve household access to food and household income.
    • This would likely reduce the proportion of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the areas receiving sizable assistance.
     

    Area of Concern: Bama LGA, Borno State, Inaccessible Population – (NG09) Chad Basin: Masakwa flood-recession sorghum and wheat (Figure 11)

    Figure 11

    Area of concern reference map: Bama LGA, Borno State
    This map shows the area of concern: Bama LGA, Borno State

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Conflict levels remain high in Bama LGA, driving continued displacement of households to the garrison towns of Bama and Banki, and disruptions to market functionality and livelihood activities. Households in inaccessible wards including Goniri, Darajamal, Dipchari, Kotombe, Gulumba, and Amchaka continue to face regular attacks due to the active conflict between Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'adati wal-Jihad (JAS) and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), combined with continuous joint military operations. Of Bama LGA’s 14 wards, 10 remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors in February. According to IOM’s Emergency Tracking Tool data, from mid-December to early January 2024, about 15,000 individuals arrived from inaccessible areas to the IOM reception center in Bama. Key informants indicated households are increasingly leaving inaccessible areas given the persistent insecurity and lack of access to food or basic services. 

    Main season harvests and engagement in ongoing dry season cultivation are below both last year’s and average levels. Most poor households cultivated less than 0.5 hectares of land, and own-produced food stocks from the main season harvests have lasted for two months or less. According to key informants, the below-average production is due to the persisting conflict including targeted attacks on farmers during the main season harvest, looting of mature crops by insurgents, and the displacement or relocation of entire households due to the armed attacks or fear of attacks and kidnapping. This was compounded by the dry spells and below-average rainfall, as well as the atypically low financial access to inputs due to the economic crisis.

    Main season harvests and engagement in ongoing dry season cultivation are below both last year’s and average levels. Most poor households cultivated less than 0.5 hectares of land, and own-produced food stocks from the main season harvests have lasted for two months or less. According to key informants, the below-average production is due to the persisting conflict including targeted attacks on farmers during the main season harvest, looting of mature crops by insurgents, and the displacement or relocation of entire households due to the armed attacks or fear of attacks and kidnapping. This was compounded by the dry spells and below-average rainfall, as well as the atypically low financial access to inputs due to the economic crisis. 

    While off-season farming – residual moisture farming – of sorghum is reportedly ongoing in Chingori, Bulakuliye, Bulajeye, and Jebra wards, engagement has been low due to the atypically dry soil moisture levels and the persisting conflict and fear of attacks. Meanwhile, irrigation farming, which typically occurs around the riverine areas of Soye, Kajeri, Bulakuliye, and Mai Mallamri wards, remains largely unavailable, given insurgents control access, cultivation, and fishing in these areas. The December 2023 Humanitarian Situation Monitoring (HSM) data indicates that about 70 percent of new arrivals from inaccessible areas of Bama are unable to engage in dry-season farming.

    Consequently, many households remain reliant on market purchases for food; however, the December 2023 HSM data indicates that roughly 50 percent of households in inaccessible areas do not have access to a market and prices are high. Most major markets in inaccessible areas are non-functional, leaving only temporary, informal, and small-scale street trade controlled by insurgents an option, particularly in Timbuktu, Njimiya, Bula Daloye, and Garke. Insurgent activity has continued to constrain supply routes and cross-border trade with neighboring communities in Cameroon remains disrupted. Market supply is consistently low. While basic staples such as maize, sorghum, rice and millet are typically available, traders face extremely high risk in transporting food to inaccessible areas; if they are caught by the military, they are charged as JAS-collaborators. 

    Income-generating activities remain minimal, further limiting households’ purchasing power. Agricultural labor is largely seasonally unavailable in February, so most households are relying on petty trade by barter, wild hunting and harvesting of honey (solely male activities), and collection and sale of natural resources. While firewood collection was formerly a viable income source, in January, key informants indicated this is no longer considered an option given the low market demand and oversupply. Additionally, it is a high-risk activity due to the distance required to travel into the bush and households are generally unable to transport firewood to accessible markets by foot in Bama or Banki, where markets are less saturated with firewood. Household mobility in and out of inaccessible areas is heavily restricted, and very high risk, resulting in very limited access to labor migration to Bama, Banki, or Maiduguri.

    According to key informants, most poor and very poor households in inaccessible areas of Bama have extremely limited access to own-produced food, poor income generation, and extremely low purchasing power. Households are reportedly employing livelihood coping strategies, including heavy reliance on wild foods such as kanaski, sorrel, njara, and nguratai, and begging; although with the decreasing number of people in inaccessible areas, begging is a limited option. The few households able to engage in limited farming activities have depleted their stock and have resorted to food-based coping strategies such as allowing only children to eat, eating only once a day, consuming less preferred food, or eating only on alternate days. Additionally, some households – particularly very poor households – that have exhausted their available coping strategies, are risking their lives to escape through the bush at night to migrate to garrison towns such as Bama and Banki. Households in inaccessible areas of Bama are facing large food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with a small subset of worst-off households likely facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). 

    In December 2023, new arrivals from inaccessible areas faced extremely critical (IPC AMN 5) levels of acute malnutrition, similar to the same time last year. This is attributed to the large food consumption gaps, compounded by limited access to functional health facilities, poor access to potable drinking water, and engagement in poor hygiene practices. The persisting conflicts and insecurity have worsened health-seeking behavior and constrained the delivery of essential health and nutrition services, likely resulting in elevated levels of morbidity in inaccessible areas. 

    Assumptions

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

    • Dry season income generating opportunities, such as petty trading, casual labor, and wild food gathering will remain limited and below average in inaccessible areas through the end of the dry season in May 2024. Dry season harvesting of sorghum in April/May is expected to provide limited income from labor opportunities or crop sales given engagement in cultivation is below average. Land preparation for 2024 main season cultivation will begin in late April through early June, which is expected to provide some income, though it will be minimal given the limited mobility and fear of attacks.
    • Wild foods will be exhausted atypically early in the inaccessible areas due to the prolonged dry spells in the affected areas, and also increased demand/competition for the wild foods as staple prices continue to increase. Similarly, the early depletion of the household stocks and intense competition will lead to early depletion of wild foods in the inaccessible areas.
    • Conflict levels, including in-fighting between insurgent groups as well as military counter-insurgency efforts, within the inaccessible areas in Bama LGA will likely remain elevated and slightly higher than last year as the dry period progresses through May 2024. This is anticipated to drive continued displacement to Bama and Banki towns and negatively impact engagement in livelihoods and access to basic amenities such as health services, potable water, and humanitarian assistance. Additionally, looting of harvests and kidnapping, are anticipated to increase during the dry season from February to May 2024. 
    • Most markets will likely remain closed throughout the outlook period. Households will largely rely on informal markets in inaccessible areas controlled by the NSAGs.
    • The trend of high levels of acute malnutrition is expected to persist throughout the scenario period – from February to September 2024 – despite the recently concluded harvest. Historically, HSM results have indicated limited seasonal variation in acute malnutrition outcomes.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From March to May, poor households living in inaccessible areas will have completely exhausted their main season harvests and continue to have limited access to income-generating opportunities. Limited anticipated dry season harvests or the typical associated income will limit household access to food. Typical income sources, including main season labor in inaccessible areas starting in April, casual labor, natural resource collection and sales, will be only minimally available. However, this, compounded by the high staple food and fuel prices due to the national economic crisis and insurgent up-charges, will deteriorate purchasing power in the lead-up to the lean season. The lean season will likely start early and be prolonged. With limited access to food in markets due to atypically high staple food prices, limited to no remaining productive assets to sell, and no access to humanitarian assistance, poor households will rely heavily on wild food gathering, bartering, and begging to access income for food. However, this will be unable to meet households’ minimum food needs, and households will continue to face large food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through May. 

    In June, with the start of main season planting and weeding, high prevalence of attacks on farmers and laborers will likely be increase fear and drive more households to displace out of inaccessible areas. Households will have minimal to no own-produced food stocks following the dry season harvest and will be highly dependent on market purchases to access food and wild food consumption. While the availability of some wild foods will likely increase during the wet season to supporting slight minimal food consumption, the risk to collect them will increase due to the distance required to collect them. Household purchasing power will continue to decrease as staple food prices peak in August during the height of the lean season, driving increasing adoption of food-based coping strategies, such as prioritizing children eating first, going a day without eating, and consuming less preferred foods, through September 2024. Households will continue to rely on Emergency (IPC Phase 4) coping strategies such as begging, wild food foraging, and distress migration out of inaccessible areas to garrison towns to access basic food needs. An increasing number of households will likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September 2024, with a slight increase in the number of households facing complete livelihoods collapse and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) during the peak of the lean season in July and August. 

    Events that could change the scenario

    • Improvement in the security situation will lead to fewer attacks on civilians and farmers, increase access to farmlands, and improve market functionality. With the decrease in conflict, increase in supply routes for traders locally and between the border communities and the Cameroon Republic will support increases in food availability. Households will increasingly return voluntarily from urban areas to rural Bama. This will likely support some improvement of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) households to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • If the 2024 growing season faces prolonged drought and/or a widespread emergence of endemic crop pests and diseases, there will be large crop losses, even more limited food availability, and an increase in staple prices. These will further increase the food consumption gaps and increase the number of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

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

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Nigeria Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Macroeconomic crisis and conflict sustain Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in parts of northeast through September, 2024.

    1

    Dawanau, Kano state; Kaura Namoda, Katsina state; Maiduguri, Borno state; Bodija in Ibadan, Oyo state.

    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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