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Despite the main harvest, food assistance needs remain high across northern conflict-affected areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • October 2020 - May 2021
Despite the main harvest, food assistance needs remain high across northern conflict-affected areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The Boko Haram conflict in the northeast has increased in recent months, increasing the displaced population. Despite the start of the harvest, many poor and displaced households have access to own foods and are market reliant. High staple food prices and limited access to income are resulting in many households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Poor households in difficult to access areas by humanitarian actors are mainly dependent on wild foods with where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are present in areas of Borno State. Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible in the event there is a dramatic uptick or shift in conflict that isolates households from typical food and income sources and humanitarian assistance for a prolonged period of time. 

    • Households worst-affected by conflict in the northwest are mainly reliant on own harvest and markets for food. However, the harvest is limited in these areas as conflict disrupted agricultural activities, and flooding led to further crop losses. Income-earning opportunities are below average due to lower demand and increased labor competition in areas where households are displaced. Starting in December, dry season cultivation will occur but is likely to remain constrained by continued conflict. Overall, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely throughout the projection period.

    • The main harvest is underway across the country, increasing household access to own foods and market supply, somewhat stabilizing market prices. In areas where poor households were able to cultivate and earn income at normal levels, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present. In flood-affected areas, where households lost crops and are having some difficulty earning normal incomes, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are ongoing and expected to persist into 2021. Some worst-affected households in these areas are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as they face large-scale crop losses or remain displaced away from their typical income and food sources. Many households are expected to recover during the February to May period, as households participate in dry season cultivation and begin to consume sufficient own foods.

    • Macroeconomic conditions continue to deteriorate due to the low international oil prices and demand, driving declines in foreign reserves. The value of the naira remains lower on both the official and parallel markets, although more significantly so on the parallel market. This, coupled with high domestic fuel prices, is driving high transportation costs and putting upward pressure on market prices. The harvest is helping to stabilize prices; however, prices remain significantly above average across much of the country. Staple food prices are expected to increase in the first half of 2021 as market demand increases and supply declines.


    Current Situation

    The indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to significant impacts on Nigeria's macroeconomy and many poor households' ability to engage in income-earning activities, particularly among urban households. Moreover, due to the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict, there has been decreased engagement in agricultural activities, notably in surplus production areas in the northeast, northwest, and north-central states where high levels of conflict continue. Widespread flooding while crops were in the maturing stage led to significant crop losses. As such, a below-average main season harvest is expected. This, on top of continued high levels of displacement and disruption to livelihood activities due to conflict in northern parts of the country, is driving high assistance needs even as the main harvest is starting.

    According to the Ministry of Health, as of October 31, 62,964 COVID-19 cases were confirmed with 1,146 associated deaths. The case fatality rate was reported at 1.8 percent. According to WHO, community infection is likely ongoing across the country. The government implemented restriction measures at the start of the pandemic to restrict the virus's spread. Despite the increasing number of infections, restriction measures have slowly eased as the pandemic evolved. The remaining restrictions include a nationwide curfew between 12 and 4 am, somewhat limiting people movement. Additionally, social distancing and wearing of masks in public places are in place. Similarly, public gatherings are restricted to no more than 50 persons outside the workplace.   

    The macroeconomic conditions remain fragile due to the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving a significant decrease in exports and government earnings. According to the World Bank, the government relies on crude oil exports for over 80 percent of its total revenue. Crude oil prices remain low at around 40 USD/barrel with relatively low oil production levels due to the OPEC+ export quota at 1.41 million barrels. This is resulting in low levels of oil exports. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), total exports in the second quarter of 2020, fell to 6.3 billion USD from 13.8 billion USD in quarter one of 2020, mostly prior to the COVID-19 pandemic declaration. Based on CBN information, from the first to second quarter of 2020, revenue from oil declined by over 50 percent from $11.2 billion to $5.2 billion. The poultry industry reportedly lost about 1.5 trillion NGN due to the COVID 19 pandemic between March and September 2020. In mid-September, CBN reported external reserves remain just above 35.7 billion USD, though this is a slight improvement from early 2020. Some stability in foreign reserves is associated with the IMF providing a loan to the government in July.  

    Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 6.10 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared with expansions of 1.87 and 2.12 percent in the preceding quarter of 2020 and quarter two of 2019, respectively. This ended a three-year trend of low but positive GDP growth since the 2016/17 recession.

    Domestic fuel prices are no longer set by the Petroleum Price Regulatory Agency (PPRA), and market forces now drive market petrol prices. The PPRA market controls stabilized fuel prices into July, though, as those control measures were removed, fuel prices sharply increased. This trend continued through September when prices stabilized around 161.0 NGN/liter. October petrol prices remain around 161.0 NGN/liter, nearly 11.0 percent above the same time last year.

    The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported annual inflation in September at 13.7 percent, nearly half a percent higher than in August at 13.2 percent. The month-on-month inflation increased to 1.5 percent in September, only a slight increase from 1.3 percent in August. Due to the foreign currency shortage, the government devalued the official Naira (NGN) exchange rate three times in the past eight months; however, some stability in the NGN's official market value has been observed in recent months. This is attributable to the CBN's direct intervention to sell FOREX to the Bureau de Change (BDC) to increase market supplies. The official NGN exchange rate is 380 NGN/USD, which is about six percent higher than the rate set in June 2020. Meanwhile, in late October, the parallel market rate was 459 NGN/USD (Figure 1). A drop of foreign reserves to below 35 billion USD could signal another devaluation of the NGN.

    Rainfall performance for the 2020 agricultural season began normally across much of the country. In northern and central areas, cumulative seasonal rainfall was average to above average (Figure 2). In the southern areas, while rainfall deficits are as high as 70 percent of normal, these rainfall deficits are not of concern due to the high cumulative millimeter rainfall totals. Atypical dry spells were reported, particularly in the southwest, southeast, and central states between July and August as well as in some localized areas. This led to the replanting of maize and millet in some areas.

    For normally planted maize, millet, and rice crops, the main harvest is underway, increasing market supplies and household stocks. However, flooding late in the rainy season impacted the green harvest and the start of the main harvest, particularly for rice and maize. Moreover, the millet, maize, sorghum, and some of the rice harvest has been disrupted due to the persistent conflict in northern areas. The tuber, such as yams and cassava, harvest is also underway. The harvest in central and southwestern areas is disrupted due to farmer/herder conflict, kidnapping, and armed banditry. Some long-cycle crops are likely to be harvested slightly late, including sorghum and late-planted millet.

    Heavy rainfall in Nigeria and bordering countries have led to near-record levels of flooding. Flooding was well above-normal; however, it was lower than that seen in 2012, one of the worst flood years in over 40 years. Heavy and unprecedented rainfall in the northern areas led to extremely high levels - Red Alert level (water levels higher than nine meters) - of the Niger River (Figure 3). Flooding coupled with the release of water at the Goronyo and Bakalori dams in Sokoto and Zamfara States led to widespread flooding in Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, and Niger States. Moreover, as waterways from these areas drain into the Benue-Niger confluence, flooding was also observed in riverine areas in central and southern states. Similarly, downstream in Niger state, releases of water were reported from Shiroro, and Kainji dams have to open the spillways due to excess water and avoid the collapse of dams. In Jigawa State, the Hadejia river also discharged a substantial volume of water, compounded by water releases from Tiga and Chalawa dams leading to some flooding along riverine areas.

    Flooding destroyed crops, loss of livestock, displacement, and destruction of infrastructure. Most notably, according to the Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency (EMA), flooding destroyed about 450,000 hectares of rice farmland of the over 500,000 hectares of crops destroyed. Moreover, according to officials, maize, millet, sorghum, and rice crops worth billions of NGN were destroyed by flooding across Jigawa State. According to government estimates, about 57,000 people were displaced or affected by flooding in Niger state, and over 50,000 households were displaced in Jigawa state. Similarly, a substantial population remains displaced, and farmlands and infrastructure were damaged across 24 states in Nigeria; however, information is limited on the full extent of the damage as assessments are still ongoing. Overall, over 100 fatalities were reported due to flooding.   

    Preliminary results from the 2020 Wet Season Agricultural Performance Survey (APS) conducted in late August indicate national cereal production is expected to be slightly below last year; however, near the five-year average. This assessment did not include all the impacts of flooding across 24 flood-affected-states, including in surplus-production areas. Flooding has likely resulted in a significant decrease in production estimates. Due to the impacts of flooding as well as conflict, FEWS NET, anticipates a below-average harvest. In conflict-affected areas, higher than normal levels of conflict have impacted the agricultural season, especially as much of these areas are typically surplus producing. While the harvest is becoming available, it is very limited in some areas.  

    Most pastoralists are currently at their homesteads where pastoral and water resources are easily accessible; however, some pastoralists had been forced to relocate to access pasture in less conflict-affected areas. Currently, border closures are having limited impact on livestock movement. As a result, most livestock are in favorable condition. Livestock prices are well above normal due to economic market pressures. Moreover, livestock herd sizes are relatively smaller than typical across the northern part of the country due to the cattle rustling and conflict, limiting household access to livestock products such as milk.

    Early harvested millet, maize, rice, and tubers such as yams and cassava are readily available in the markets. Similarly, the cowpea and groundnut harvest are underway in some areas, increasing market stocks. As a result of the harvest, some staple food prices have declined or remained stable in October; however, prices remain well above last year and the five-year average (Figures 4 and 5). The high food prices are largely due to the increasing transportation costs and increasing market pressures due to the economic conditions. Generally, most staple food prices are higher in conflict-affected areas in the northeast relative to neighboring markets. For commodities transported long distances, millet from the north to the south, prices have significantly increased with transportation costs. As of September, a 100 kg bag of millet was 10 percent higher in Maiduguri and Damaturu markets than in Kano. This is mainly attributable to higher transaction costs and elevated household demand. In some urban markets, protests and conflict are disrupting market activity and the flow of goods. For households that are market dependent, this is restricting food access.

    Most poor households are engaged in income-earning opportunities, though many earn below-average income from agricultural labor, petty trading, construction work, and other menial jobs. This is especially true in northern areas and among poor households in urban areas. Casual labor opportunities have declined due to the increase in prices of construction materials, such as cement. The depreciation of the NGN and land border closure is further constraining the purchasing power for poor households. Households affected by conflict, flooding, and other hazards are among the worst-affected. They are earning substantially below-average income, as many of these households are displaced and have difficulty finding income-earning opportunities where they are displaced. Moreover, flood-affected households returning to their homestead are trying to rebuild their homestead and normal livelihoods.

    According to CBN, in the second quarter of 2020, there was a significant decline in formal remittances from abroad. This is the lowest quantity of remittances seen since at least 2008 (Figure 6). The reduction is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing employment opportunities abroad. Data is not available on informal remittances or domestic remittances; however, these have likely decreased due to declines in access to income from casual labor in urban areas and abroad.

    In mid-October, demonstrations and protests took place across the country, lasting over two weeks in some States. Lagos, Edo, Abuja, Rivers, Adamawa, Taraba, and Plateau States were worst-affected where the protesters destroyed some infrastructure. Several warehouses with food and non-food items were also looted across affected states by the protesters. Some fatalities and burning of police stations and vehicles have been reported. In areas with protests and curfews, markets and shops are closed, restricted access to markets, and limiting income-earning activities, especially for daily laborers. Urban households during the protest had some difficulty engaging in their normal livelihood activities such as petty trading, construction work, transportation, and other unskilled labor work, constraining income. This resulted in a short-term decline in income.

    Conflict in northern and central Nigeria continues with a slight uptick in recent months. In northeastern areas, conflict continues at higher than normal levels, resulting in an increase in displaced populations, particularly in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States. Borno State remains the epicenter of the conflict. Conflict in the Northeast typically increases during the dry period; however, this year, many attacks were seen during the rainy season compared to prior years (Figure 7). In northwestern areas, the conflict level in mid-2020 was well above the last two years, with Katsina State, the center of this conflict (Figure 8). Zamfara State was previously the center of conflict, though recently, conflict shifted as the Zamfara government negotiated with bandits and had a strong military offensive. In north-central states where herder/farmer and communal conflict continues resulted in the displacement of over 500,000 farmers in Benue State, who are now mostly located in IDP camps.

    High levels of conflict continue to drive high levels of displacement across the north. According to IOM-DTM Round 33 assessment in August, conducted in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe States found that over 2.1 million people are internally displaced. This represents an increase from Round 32 conducted in June of nearly 30,500 people. Borno State hosts the highest number of IDPs, with over 1.5 million IDPs located in the State with slightly over half living in camps. The rest of the IDPs in Borno State reside among the local population, either settling to engage in agriculture for food or activities to earn income. Generally, these activities are limited. In the northwest, recent data on the total level of displacement is not widely available, though available information indicates over 175,000 people are displaced since May 2020 in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina States. According to IOM, in the last week of October, recent attacks in the northwest caused people to flee towards neighboring areas, affecting about 4,000 people.

    IOM-ETT survey nutrition screening data from October 26 to November 1 recorded the movement of slightly over 1,000 people in the northeast due to voluntary relocation, improved security, and poor living conditions. Nutrition screening used mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) and Oedema to classify children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM). The screening covered Bama, Gwoza, Mobbar, and Ngala LGAs in Borno state. Of the 38 children screened, 16 are from inaccessible areas while 22 are from accessible areas. Per MUAC, only three children were classified with SAM, while three children were diagnosed with MAM, and the rest were classified with no acute malnutrition. While conditions remain poor in the northeast, these outcomes and information based historical trends show a slightly better situation observed than in 2015/16.

    The Preliminary results from a rapid assessment in late September on the impacts of flooding resulted in the government dispatching teams to deliver urgently needed assistance to 12 states most ravaged by the seasonal rains. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) distributed relief materials to flood-affected households in some communities of Suru Local government Area of Kebbi state. In late October, the Federal government announced a grants program targeting small and medium enterprises to facilitate economic growth among 9,000 households across 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. Additionally, this program will allow free registration to 250,000 new businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission would commence, cushioning the effect of the pandemic.

    Humanitarian actors have provided assistance to about 3.5 million beneficiaries in August 2020 across Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States. About 1.5 million persons benefitted with food assistance, while about 1.9 million others received livelihood assistance across the three northeast states. An estimated 2.4 million of these beneficiaries are in Borno state, of which  1.3 million people are receiving food assistance, the epicenter of the Boko Haram conflict. Humanitarian actors sustained the provision of assistance in the Northeast for September and October, which is expected to reach about 70 percent of a beneficiary's kilocalorie needs. Humanitarian actors remain targets of attacks by the insurgents, constraining distribution to some high-risk areas, where needs are often most acute. The government is also contemplating food drops in some critical areas where there are access constraints.

    Most poor and conflict-affected households in northwest and northcentral states either in camps or in host communities continue to rely partially on markets for food even during the harvest period. Most of these household livelihoods have been disrupted, with these households having difficultly engaging in crop cultivation as they remain displaced. Some of the households who are able to cultivate have been further impacted by flooding and partly lost their harvest. As a result, these households face food consumption gaps and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In areas less affected by the conflict but impacted by flooding are able to somewhat engage in income-earning opportunities, though at below-average levels. As a result, these households can only meet basic food needs and face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Generally, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are more widespread than previously expected due to higher levels of flooding than expected, leading to increased displacement and crop losses.

    In urban areas across the country, the informal sector is gradually resuming activities as the impacts of COVID-19 related movement restrictions and impacts have been relaxed. However, access to income remains below-average for some of the most vulnerable, even as restriction measures eased. Some households started re-engaging in their normal income-earning activities. Consequently, most urban poor households are easily accessing food, and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present. Although, Lagos is in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the macroeconomic challenges and the recent protests with the associated large levels of vandalism, disrupting market access.

    Based on data collected by partners among households who recently left inaccessible areas of Northeast Nigeria, significant proportions of the surveyed population have a Food Consumption Score indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. Among the same population, a few households had a Household Hunger Score (HHS) indicating severe hunger, which is indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with a large number of households reporting moderate hunger, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). This indicates that households living in inaccessible areas likely have poor dietary diversity though they are mainly experiencing moderate hunger, with some experiencing severe hunger. This data did indicate that many households were engaging in livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis or Emergency outcomes.

    Field data collected by FEWS NET from neighboring accessible areas of the northeast, in which key informants speak to conditions in inaccessible areas, also suggests some improvement in food consumption relative to 2016. Key informants indicated that while the harvest is ongoing, it is limited, with household food access likely dependent on income access and market food prices. There have also been indications of increased land access for cultivation compared to 2016. In areas where reduced agricultural land is reported, this tends to be linked to a reduced population as many people have fled inaccessible areas. Similarly, constrained access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and likely income has also led to reduced area cultivated and harvested.

    Areas of the Northeast less affected by conflict and who can engage in some level of crop cultivation are only able to meet their basic food needs and are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Households who lost their livelihoods and are dependent on limited or no humanitarian assistance are likely facing food consumption gaps and are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Poor households, mainly in remote areas, outside the garrison towns, have limited to no market access and are dependent on own-produced foods and atypical wild foods, which are limited. Some of the households who engage in cultivation are unable to harvest due to insecurity and/or looting by the insurgents. Moreover, these households have limited or no access to humanitarian assistance. As a result, these households are experiencing elevated food-related malnutrition and wide food consumption gaps with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes present. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) continues in inaccessible areas of the northeast in the event there is a sharp uptick in conflict restricting household access to food and income for an extended period of time, though it is unlikely that a Famine is ongoing.


    The most likely scenario for October 2020 to May 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 is encouraging states to increase testing, and cases are likely to continue to be reported throughout the scenario period. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue throughout the scenario period. The government will enforce protective measures including social distancing, wearing a face mask, and curfew, particularly in urban areas, to curb the disease's spread. At the same time, restrictions limiting people movement are expected to be limited.
    • Crude oil demand, exports, and prices will continue to increase, though only slightly in the international market, as demand continues to remain low.  Crude oil production and export will also remain lower than typical though stable based on the recent OPEC+ cap to avoid market glut and rock bottom prices. As a result, the government's access to foreign currency is expected to remain low throughout the projection period. According to the World Bank, the Nigerian economy is expected to face a recession, the worst since the 1980s in the scenario period.
    • The CBN will struggle to keep the reserves at the lowest safe levels of not less than 35 billion USD until government external revenue sources improve. The CBN will likely remove the dual exchange NGN rate and allow market forces to determine the NGN's actual value; however, this will likely lead to the NGN's continued depreciation through at least the end of the scenario period.  
    • Based on forecasts by NOAA, rainfall is expected to end normally in October and December in the northern areas and southern parts of the country, respectively. Rainfall will most likely normally start between February and March in bimodal areas and be average through May 2021. Rainfall is expected to start normally in May in the unimodal areas of the central states and June in the extreme northern areas. 
    • The national main harvest starting in October with long cycle crops such as sorghum being harvested in December is expected to be below average for main cereal staples, including millet, sorghum, maize, and rice and cash crops. The harvest is likely to be average in southern areas, while below-average production is anticipated in conflict-affected areas of the north.
    • Dry season cultivation along the major floodplains is expected to start normally in December as floodwaters recede. The government will likely provide above-normal levels of improved seeds and fertilizer to flood, and conflict-affected households, and the loan payment moratorium by the CBN to flood-affected households are expected to lead to above-average engagement in off-season cropping. As a result, dry season or recession cultivation and harvest are anticipated to be above-average, particularly for rice, maize, and vegetables.
    • Formal and informal cross-border trade activities are anticipated to remain below average due to the continued closure of international land borders, indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding, and the NGN depreciation. Wheat and other relevant imports coming by sea are expected to continue, though at below normal levels due to depreciation of the currency.
    • Generally, market activity is likely to remain slightly below-normal due to the continued impacts of COVID-19. In northern conflict-affected areas, market disruption is likely, and market function is expected to remain restricted, and in the most severe cases, no market activity is expected.
    • The flow of goods, including staple foods, manufactured goods, and other commodities across the country, is expected to gradually resume as more population is expected to start re-engaging in their normal livelihood activities. Markets remain integrated across the country. With the main harvest and slight increase in domestic movement, the flow of food and livestock is expected to increase towards deficit producing areas. Manufactured goods will most likely flow from ports towards the hinterland in northern areas.  
    • Prices of locally produced staple foods are expected to seasonally decline or remain stable with the harvest through late 2020; however, they are expected to remain well above average across the country (Figure 9). Imported rice prices are expected to continue slightly increasing until April/May when the dry season rice harvest begins, and stability in rice prices is expected; however, prices are expected to remain significantly above average. Prices of staple foods in conflict-affected areas of the country are expected to be higher than in most areas of the country. 
    • The main harvest is expected to lead to increased levels of food stocks for many households and markets throughout the scenario period; however, households affected by conflict and flooding are expected to have limited stocks. In December and January, sales of cash crops and other staples are expected to increase as households prepare for the end of year holidays, further increasing market supply.
    • Favorable pasture conditions and water availability are expected throughout the scenario period, leading to average livestock body conditions. Livestock flows will continue as usual as the market remain integrated, particularly from the northern to the southern markets starting in February as pasture decreases in the north. However, pasture is expected to be difficult to access in conflict-affected areas, and livestock are expected to migrate to southern areas, staying for longer than normal. Moreover, in less conflict-affected northern areas, pasture is expected to be exhausted earlier than normal though livestock are expected to remain in fair to normal condition. Still, some deterioration in 2021 is expected.
    • Livestock products, including milk and meat, will be readily available for herding households; however, access to livestock products, including milk and meat, is expected to be constrained for cropping households as purchasing power remains restricted. Livestock products are expected to be even more constrained in conflict-affected areas where herd sizes are below normal and limited in some cases.
    • Prices of livestock will most likely remain high through the end of 2020 as the livestock body condition remain favorable. During the early part of 2021, livestock body condition will deteriorate, and prices will likely decline slightly. 
    • In the rural areas, agricultural labor for most poor households will engage in crop harvest through December, earning below-average wages. During April/May, rural households are expected to engage in dry season harvest; however, due to higher than normal labor supply, income is expected to be below average. Moreover, labor demand will continue to be limited in conflict-affected areas and wages will remain below average as labor competition persist.
    • While slowly improving, income from international and urban remittances is expected to remain below normal as the NGN continues to depreciate and economic activity globally remains generally low.
    • Labor availability and wages, as well as self-employment activities and petty trade for urban poor, are expected to remain below normal throughout the outlook period though gradually increasing. Craft sales and self-employment opportunities will continue to improve gradually; however, income from this source is expected to remain below average. 
    • Rural to urban migration will likely be elevated during the dry season to earn little income. Rural poor households impacted by conflict and flooding will migrate to urban areas to earn some income. Similarly, migratory labor from neighboring countries such as Niger, Chad, and Cameroon will be below average due to the land border closure, reducing labor competition slightly.
    • The Nigerian military and the multinational joint task force will sustain intense operations in the Lake Chad region, northwest, and in the central parts of the country to reduce the incursion of the Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents as well as bandits and kidnappers. The military will be more visible during the dry season due to increased accessibility and ease of machinery and equipment movement. In the Lake Chad Basin area of Nigeria, conflict is expected to increase from already high levels.
    • Refugees are likely to continue to return from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger to the Northeast of Nigeria; however, this is dependent on the military's ability to hold taken ground. Internal displacement is expected to continue at high levels, with large numbers of displaced populations moving to urban areas. 
    • Government, humanitarian actors, corporate organizations, and communities, and wealthy individuals are expected to continue to provide support to vulnerable populations targeted primarily displaced populations in the northeast, northwest, and central parts of Nigeria and vulnerable populations across the country. However, government support will be constrained by dwindling revenue. Assistance to IDP camps in the northeast is expected to reach about 3.0 million people through January 2021 monthly; however, monthly plans are not available beyond this time for IDP camps.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    As the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns are eased, improving engagement, informal and formal activities among most urban poor households have increased income-earning opportunities as staple prices continue to decline during the harvest. Therefore, most of these households earn near-normal income and access food normally and are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, very poor households with below-average purchasing power due to continued low income and high food prices are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    In December/January, households will most likely continue consuming own foods and sell crops to meet expenditures for the end-of-year festivities, further increasing market supplies. As a result, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected across the country. Although flood-affected households across the country who are displaced or lost, a significant portion of their crops have lower than normal access to their own foods and increased market reliance. Many households are expected to start replanting to engage in recession agriculture, leading to increased access to income; however, due to crop losses and sales, income is expected to remain lower than normal. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected across some flood-affected parts of the country through the early part of next year. As the dry season harvest becomes available, household access to own foods is expected to improve, and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to emerge in March/April with the harvest.

    The worst conflict-affected households in the northwest, including areas of Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina States, are unable to engage in typical livelihood activities and have no or limited harvest as they are displaced during the agricultural season. These households are expected to remain displaced and mainly dependent on atypical livelihood activities and markets for food with below-average purchasing power. Consequently, worst-affected households in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina states will likely continue to face food consumption gaps even in the post-harvest period. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in areas of these states through May 2021.

    In areas of Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Niger, Benue, and Nasarawa States that have been impacted by flood and, to some extent, conflict, household ability to engage in income-earning activities is slightly better. Although many households are expected to remain market dependent and meet their food needs, they will most likely have some difficulty meeting their non-food needs, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through early 2021. Between February and May 2021, households affected by floods will most likely start consuming their own foods from dry season cultivation. These households will easily recover and be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    The Boko Haram conflict is expected to continue significantly disrupting normal livelihood activities for most households in the northeast. Income-earning opportunities remain restricted as a substantial proportion population remains displaced. Most displaced households remain highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs, particularly IDPs in garrison towns and those residing in camps. These populations are expected to continue facing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes through at least January 2021. As these households are mainly dependent on assistance to access food and incomes are limited, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through May 2021.

    Though conflict persists in northeast Nigeria, the dynamics of conflict and the scale of impact have shifted slightly relative to 2016. Ongoing conflict is expected to continue disrupting normal engagement in livelihood activities, though there has been some adaptation by households. This is expected to allow households to engage in some level of livelihood activity though at levels well below what was observed prior to the conflict. Relative to 2016, market function and trade routes are expected to continue to be relatively higher, though disruption in market activities is still likely to occur across the northeast, especially in inaccessible areas. The increase in market activity is expected to lead to some increased self-employment opportunities and access to agricultural production areas; however, this is expected to continue to be limited. Similarly, some households in inaccessible areas have also adapted to some wild food consumption, increasing access to food, which is likely to continue.

    Communities outside of the IDP settlements in Bama and Gwoza and within the Sambisa axis area, who remain outside urban centers in the northeast, will continue to receive limited or no humanitarian assistance and are dependent on their own limited harvest and market purchase for food. These households are expected to continue earning below-average incomes due to restricted movement as conflict persists, and these households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Similarly, households worst-affected by the conflict who are unable to engage in normal livelihood activities, facing constraints in accessing markets, and remaining inaccessible to humanitarian actors will most likely have significant difficulty accessing food. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in some inaccessible areas of the northeast. Areas where populations are affected by significant losses of livelihood activities and who remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors are likely facing similar or worse food security outcomes as adjacent, accessible areas. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in the northeast in the event there is a dramatic shift or uptick in conflict that would significantly reduce household movement to access food and income sources and humanitarian access for a prolonged period of time.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

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



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Relapse of the COVID-19 cases across the country

    • Impose another round of lockdown across the country, including rural communities.
    • Substantially below-average dry season harvest across the country, leading to elevated food prices.

    Open land borders with neighbors

    • Increased trade flow and income levels.
    • Increased staple demand and staple prices.


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


    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, October 2020

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA)

    Figure 6

    Figure 4

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    Figure 5

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 8

    Figure 6

    Source: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

    Figure 9

    Figure 7

    Source: ACLED

    Figure 10

    Figure 8

    Source: ACLED

    Figure 11

    Figure 9

    Source: FEWS NET

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

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