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Elevated food security outcomes persist again in 2018 in the northeast during the harvest season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • October 2018 - May 2019
Elevated food security outcomes persist again in 2018 in the northeast during the harvest season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Most of Borno, southern Yobe and northern Adamawa continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Significant areas within these regions are difficult to access by humanitarian actors, and outcomes are likely similar to or worse than in adjoining accessible areas. Additionally, there is continued concern that in a worst-case scenario, populations in currently accessible areas, who are often centered in urban areas, could become cutoff due to a shift in conflict, leading to more extreme outcomes.

    • The government through NEMA declared national disasters in twelve states affected by the widespread flooding across the country. Almost 2 million people have been affected and over 350,000 are indicated to be in need of emergency assistance across the affected states. Worst affected areas are along the Benue and Niger floodplains.

    • The main harvest is underway across the country and harvests are generally expected to be average to above average in most areas. Exceptions are in areas affected by flooding, insurgency and communal conflicts where harvest will be below average. Rice, maize and cassava were the crops worst-affected by flooding in summer/fall 2018.Outside of the northeast, most households have typical access to food and income in most areas. Most of the country will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least May 2018. However, areas worst-affected by widespread flooding and farmer/pastoralist conflict see greater difficulty accessing basic needs will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes through May 2019.

    Current Situation

    Flooding: On September 17th, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) declared a National Disaster in Kogi, Niger, Delta, and Anambra States. Similarly, on October 9 a National Disaster was also declared in five more states: Adamawa, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Rivers and Taraba as atypically severe flooding continued across the country. The National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) flood situation report No.4 (October 9) indicated over 82,000 houses were destroyed and more than 156,000 hectares of cropped land were damaged. Areas along the major floodplains of the Benue and Niger rivers are the worst affected. According to the recent Annual Crop Assessment Survey led by the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), crops worst impacted include yams, cassava, rice and maize, as well as some proportion of sorghum. Over 500,000 persons have been estimated to be affected by flooding in Bayelsa state with several communities, schools, health facilities and houses submerged, and in Kebbi state, 31 people lost their lives due to the floods and over 118,600 others displaced in Kebbi state (NEMA/ State Emergency Management Agency). The preliminary report of the annual crop survey from NAERLS revealed an estimated 113,330 hectares, and 10,000 hectares of rice and sorghum farmlands, respectively were destroyed by flood in Kebbi state within the same period. About 90,000 hectares of maize and 100,000 hectares of yams both in Kogi state and 100,000 hectares of cassava in Rivers state were also affected. As of October 9, 103 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across 10 States have been impacted by severe flooding, with over 1.9 million people affected and over 560,000 people in need of assistance (Table 1). Several other states were also impacted by flooding between July and October 2018, though at reduced levels relative to the 12 worst affected states.

    Conflict and displacement: The Boko Haram conflict continues to impact lives and livelihoods in the northeast of Nigeria. The recent IOM-DTM conducted in late July to early August 2018 across the six northeast states (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe) indicated over 1.9 million people remain displaced. There is a slight increase of less than one percent in displacement figure relative to the previous assessment conducted in June 2018. Borno state, the epicenter of the BH conflict, hosts more than 1.4 million IDPs, while 183,570 IDPs are in Adamawa state and 137,588 others are in Yobe state.

    Similarly, FEWS NET field informants have indicated that cattle rustling activities in northwest states, pastoralist/farmer conflict in the central states and localized communal conflict across the country also continue and are leading to increased population displacement.

    Main season harvest: The main season harvest for cereals, tubers and legumes is underway across the country. Cereals harvests for crops such as maize, millet and rice are underway in central and northern areas. Sorghum harvests are expected in November/December. Tubers, such as yams and cassava, and maize harvests in the south is also ongoing. The main harvest activities have led to increased labor opportunities for most poor households across the country. The preliminary report of the recent APS (Agricultural Performance Survey) by NAERLS for the 2018 wet season indicates favorable harvests for most crops. For example, the major cereals including maize, millet, sorghum and rice production increased by 6 and 13 percent relative to last year and the 5-year average, respectively. Millet harvests increased by 5 and 17 percent relative to previous year and the 5-year average, while maize increased by 6 and 15 percent.

    Pastoral conditions: Good 2018 rainfall has led to increased levels of water and pasture availability across the country leading to improved livestock body conditions. Pastoralists also have increased access to livestock products including meat and milk as well as income from livestock sales. Livestock-to-cereal terms of trade is favorable to the pastoralists as staple prices declines during the harvest.

    However, pastoralist movements are partly restricted by the persisting communal conflict in the central states, cattle rustling activities in the northwest and insurgency in the northeast, limiting herd movements and access to some important rangelands in the affected areas. In central parts of the country, herds are also occasionally grazing in farmlands, therefore destroying parts of the crops. According to the recent APS survey led by NAERLS, the conflict between herders and farmers is reported across 25 states and mainly in the central states including Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Kaduna, impacting crop production and pastoral livelihoods.

    Labor and income: The main harvest beginning in October has led to increased agricultural wage labor opportunities and increased levels of income for poor households. The anticipated favorable main harvest for cereals, tubers and legumes in most areas increased labor demand, though labor wages remain average due to increased labor supply. In conflict-affected areas in the northeast, access to income-earning opportunities remains below average.

    Market supplies and household food stocks: Market supplies are gradually increasing as main harvest are reaching rural markets and some urban markets. Similarly, with the favorable main harvest traders are releasing their old stocks, increasing market supplies. Household stocks are increasing at the beginning of the main harvest period across the country. Thus, market demand is gradually declining leading to weekly staple price declines, particularly in rural markets.

    Macro-economic situation: The Naira has remained steady against the US Dollar in recent months according to the inter-bank rates released by the Nigerian Central Bank (CBN). The parallel Bureau de Change rate has also remained stable, since June 2018. The CBN has continued to supply USD 210 million into the foreign exchange market to ensure stability and reduce pressure on the Naira against other foreign currencies. Nigeria and China, through the Central bank and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) agreed on a currency swap of USD 2.5 billion. The swap reduces reliance on foreign currencies, such as the US dollar, for trade and will facilitate trade activities, leading to increased trade volume and income opportunities between Nigeria and China.

    Nigeria has maintained a positive trade balance since Q3 2016. The positive trade balance continued to grow in Q2 2018 to NGN2,356.60 billion, representing eight percent growth in the trade balance since Q1 2018 and more than 350 percent growth since Q2 2017. Between Q4 2017 and Q2 2018, the value of exports increased by 14 percent and imports remained almost constant. Crude oil exports grew by 15 percent from Q4 2017 to Q2 2018 (National Bureau of Statistics).

    Cholera outbreak: Between January and September 10th, 2018, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) recorded 27,927 suspected cholera cases with 517 deaths (CFR 1.85%) across 19 States (Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Yobe, Sokoto and Zamfara). Borno state declared an outbreak of cholera cases on September 5, 2018 and as at October 14, 2018 there are 4,802 cholera cases with 71 associated deaths (CFR – 1.47%). Similarly, Yobe state declared cholera disaster on September 19, 2018 and as at October 14, 2018 have reported 1,538 cases with 61 associated deaths (CFR 3.97%) across 5 LGAs.


    The most likely scenario for October 2018 to May 2019 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Seasonal progress: The Nigeria Meteorological Agency and other international weather forecasting agencies are forecasting a normal cessation of rainfall. The end of season is between October 2018 and January 2019 across the country, starting in October in the northern areas and later in the southern areas. The main harvest is starting normally in October for most crops and sorghum a long cycle crop will be harvested during December/January normally.
    • Main and off-season production: Given the average to above-average rainfall during the current growing season across the country, the main harvest is expected to be average to above average for both staple and cash crops production in most areas. Exceptions are the areas affected by the persisting conflict, flooding and cattle rustling activities. Off-season activities will start normally in December as the water recedes in local ponds and rivers. More populations in flood-affected areas will engage in dry season cultivation for rice, maize and vegetables to recover the crop loss from the widespread flooding across the country in summer/fall 2018. Off-season harvest during April/May 2019 will likely be average to above average.
    • Pastoral conditions: Livestock movement towards the central states and transiting to the southern zones will begin normally during February/March period when pasture is exhausted in the northern areas. Pasture availability will be slightly above average due to the abundance rainfall in most areas sustaining livestock grazing leading to improved livestock body conditions. However, during the southward transhumance as well as the northward return, conflict between farmers and herders are likely to increase, as several ongoing agricultural activities will be on the path of herds. 
    • Naira exchange rate: Government through the Central Bank will continue to consider measures to maintain the stability of the Naira throughout the outlook period. Considering the upcoming general election, the government is expected to continue to sustain the momentum to improve crude oil export and trade through at least May 2019. Similarly, Nigeria will likely remain exempt from oil output restriction by OPEC, sustaining the high crude oil export to international markets.
    • Food prices: Staple food prices for cereals, including maize, millet and sorghum, will continue to decline as the main harvest intensifies through January 2019, market demand decreases, and trader stocks increase. While prices will remain above average, they are likely to be below levels observed last year throughout much of the country. However, prices of rice, sorghum and gari will likely remain elevated in localized areas worst affected by flooding, though prices will slightly decline during the dry season harvest in April/May 2019 particularly for rice. Staple food prices will remain higher in the northeast of Nigeria relative to other neighboring areas due to the persisting BH conflict.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
    • Non-agricultural labor/wages: Unskilled labor opportunities such as construction work, bricklaying, loading and off-loading will be normally available for the poor and very poor households across the country. Exceptions are areas affected by conflict and flooding where labor supply will be above average, and wages will be below average.
    • Cross-border trade: Cross border trade with neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon as well as Benin will be slightly below average due to restricted rice imports through the land border by Nigerian government. Similarly, the low purchasing power of Nigerian traders, unfavorable Naira to CFA Franc exchange rate and persisting Boko Haram conflict will limit somewhat the volume of cross border trade for livestock, staples foods and non-food items with neighboring countries.
    • Conflict in the northeast: For the purpose of this scenario, it is assumed Boko Haram related conflict in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States will continue at levels similar to what has been seen in recent months. The high caseload of displaced populations and returning households is expected to continue, with most returning households going to secondary locations such as local government headquarters or other larger cities.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Main harvests across the country is underway, providing increased food access and income earning opportunities for most households. Most households are gradually replenishing their food stocks and market dependence is typically declining as the harvest peaks. Thus, food prices are declining on a weekly basis due to increasing market supplies in both surplus production areas in the north and deficit production areas in the southern areas. As such, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected for most areas of the country between October 2018 and May 2019.

    However, many households affected by flooding across the country, herder/farmer conflict in the northwest and central states and who remain displaced and unable to engage in normal livelihood activities are minimally able to access food and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January 2019, including in the states of Zamafara, Katsina, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba, Bayelsa and Rivers. Most flood affected populations are along the major floodplains of the Benue and Niger rivers. During February to May these households will engage in dry season activities to either earn income and/or food access with the harvest in April/May 2018. Others will engage in income earning opportunities such as petty trading, crafts and sales of livestock to meet their needs. Thus, these households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through May 2019. However, areas worst-affected by the herder/farmer conflict could still face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May 2019.

    Households in the northeast affected by the insurgency are yet to restore their livelihoods. Main harvests remain substantially below average as conflict again impacted the cropping season and poor households in many instances are dependent mainly on humanitarian assistance to meet basic food needs, particularly among displaced populations. Markets remain disrupted and income earning opportunities are constrained. Much of the northeast is likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until at least May 2019. Worst-affected areas will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2019.

    Information on areas inaccessible to humanitarian actors in the northeast remains very limited, but indications from field reports and monitoring suggests that those who are leaving inaccessible areas often come to accessible cities in poor physical condition. Inaccessible areas are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as neighboring, accessible areas of the northeast. In a worst-case scenario, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is also possible should currently accessible areas of the northeast become cutoff by conflict, a situation similar to what occurred in Bama in 2016.

    Figures In the north, land preparation is from February to May. Planting is from May until mid-June. Weeding is from mid-June until S

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Gari prices are following the seasonal trend, slightly below average.

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Millet prices are following thge seasonal trend, slightly above average.

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most of Borno state is in phase 3 and 4, while most of Yobe and Adamawa are in phase 2.

    Figure 4

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most of Borno state is in phase 3 and 4, while most of Yobe and Adamawa are in phase 2.

    Figure 5

    Source: FEWS NET

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

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