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Food assistance needs remain elevated through harvest in northeast and northwest

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • October 2023 - May 2024
Food assistance needs remain elevated through harvest in northeast and northwest

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern
  • Area of Concern: Bama LGA, Borno State, Inaccessible Population – (NG09) Chad Basin: Masakwa flood-recession sorghum and wheat
  • Area of Concern: Isa LGA, Sokoto State – (NG01) Sokoto millet, cowpeas, groundnuts, and livestock
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • The main season harvest is underway across the country, seasonally improving food availability and access for millions of households starting in October. However, the compounding impacts of increased levels of civilian-targeted violence and kidnappings amid prolonged dry spells during the growing season in the north, moderate flooding in riverine areas, and the escalating macroeconomic crisis have negatively impacted crop production. Cereal production in the surplus-producing areas of the north is expected to be lower than last year and below average. This will likely limit the extent of seasonal improvements in food access, driving atypically high staple food prices, and sustaining high food assistance needs in the northeast and northwest. 
    • In the northeast, in-fighting between insurgent groups, high levels of kidnapping, and increased crime continue to displace households to garrison towns and restrict access to cropland during cultivation. While most households are benefiting from the increased availability of harvests, plot sizes are small and most households will remain partially purchase-reliant to meet their food needs through the harvest period. However, minimal income-generating opportunities and deteriorated purchasing power limit financial access to food, resulting in consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In inaccessible areas, particularly in Bama, Marte, Guzamala, and Abadam local government areas (LGAs), households will have limited mobility, poor access to functional markets, limited to no harvests, and depleted coping capacity and likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through May 2024. 
    • Despite high food assistance needs, humanitarian presence remains limited in the northwest and north-center. Banditry and kidnapping for ransom have escalated in frequency from June to September, disrupting livelihoods,  limiting mobility, and driving population displacement in the worst-affected areas. While households who cultivated will benefit from temporary improvements in access to food with the seasonal harvests from October to December, most poor households were unable to cultivate amid poor income-earning opportunities. Disruptions to market functionality and high market prices have been exacerbated by the decline in cross-border trade activities with the Niger Republic. Conflict-affected households are experiencing food consumption gaps and are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through May 2024. A subset of the most conflict-affected households that were unable to cultivate are dependent on wild foods, bartering, and begging to access food and likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
    • Economic conditions have deteriorated significantly in Nigeria. The value of the Nigerian Naira (NGN) is rapidly falling on the open market, hitting a record low of 1,200 NGN/USD at the parallel window in late October. Inflation reached 26.8 percent in September 2023 – the highest since 2005 – external reserves continue to drop, and domestic oil production remains well below the OPEC+ daily quota. The prices of imported and domestic goods remain atypically high due to high transportation costs associated with increased fuel prices following the removal of fuel subsidies. In September, in Maiduguri LGA, maize and millet prices were over 100 percent higher than they were in September 2022. As a result of these factors, households’ purchasing power has deteriorated, reducing access to food for millions of households who are purchase-reliant for food.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Conflict: In September and October, high levels of conflict and violent crime have continued, including insurgency and kidnappings in the northeast, banditry, kidnappings, and cattle rustling in the northwest and north-center, and violent attacks associated with the secessionist movement in the southeast. According to data from ACLED and security partners, kidnapping for ransom and crime have spiked in the last three months compared to earlier in 2023 and last year. With the combined impacts of the worsening economic conditions and the prolonged lean season, opportunistic criminals have increasingly turned to kidnapping in search of a financial payout. From June to September, reported abduction-related incidents increased by roughly 110 percent compared to January to April, with a considerable increase in the number of abductees, particularly in the northeast and northwest (Figure 1). Similarly, there were approximately 65 percent more reported abduction-related incidents from June to September 2023 than in the same period in 2022. This increase has heightened fear, restricted mobility, and decreased engagement in livelihood activities during a critical period of crop growth. At the start of the harvest in September and October, an increase in extortion of farmers seeking to harvest their crops has also been reported. 

    Figure 1

    Number of reported abductees, Jan-Apr versus Jun-Sept 2023
    Map showing number of reported abductees, Jan-Apr versus Jun-Sept 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    January to April 2023

    Source: FEWS NET / ACLED

    Map showing number of report abductees, June to September 2023.

    June to September 2023

    Source: FEWS NET / ACLED

    In the north-center, particularly Plateau and Niger states, persisting attacks between herders and farmers continue to cause loss of livelihoods, population displacement, and deaths. One of the most conflict-affected areas in the region in 2023 is Mangu LGA, Plateau state, which has faced persistent attacks on farming communities since April 2023. Findings from a FEWS NET rapid assessment in Plateau state in September revealed that IDPs from over 57 communities are seeking refuge in primary schools in Mangu, while others reside with friends and families in less conflict-affected communities. Due to the spike in conflict in Mangu LGA this year, many households have abandoned their homes and cultivated farmlands due to fear of attacks, significantly reducing crop production and income access in the area. Other heavily conflict-affected LGAs in Plateau state include Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi, and Bosso LGAs. 

    Roughly 2.4 million people in the northeast and nearly 1.2 million in the northwest and north-center remain displaced. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 7,425 new arrivals were reported in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states from August 28 to September 24. While some moved due to improved security in their area of origin, many migrated due to conflict, economic hardship, or fear of attacks. Government-facilitated returns from Maiduguri LGA to areas that remain conflict-affected have resulted in waves of re-displacement. According to Key Informants (KIs), due to the closure of nearly all camps in Maiduguri LGA and the ban on food assistance outside of camps, vulnerable households are relocating to LGAs with larger IDP camps that still receive assistance. This has resulted in overcrowded camps and over-stretched humanitarian assistance and services.

    Macroeconomy: The macroeconomic crisis escalated through September due to the compounding impacts of limited national revenue, spiking inflation, a devalued currency, and shrinking national reserves. Annual headline inflation reached 26.7 percent in September, with food inflation – the primary driver of annual inflation – hitting 30.6 percent, up from 29.3 percent in August. Fuel, transportation, and food prices have hit record-high levels, exacerbated by the devalued Nigerian Naira (NGN) and the removal of fuel subsidies. 

    The NGN has been in a rapid free fall relative to other foreign currencies since mid-June 2023, following an attempt to unify the multiple exchange rates in the country. However, as demand for foreign exchange exceeds supply, the parallel market rate further diverges from the official exchange rate. As of October 24, the NGN exchanged at approximately 1,200NGN per USD on the parallel market, 15 percent higher than the unofficial rate in the previous week and nearly 50 percent higher than at the official window, where the NGN exchanged at 815NGN per USD (Figure 2). According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) data, foreign reserves have limited liquidity and continue to fall, decreasing to 33.251 billion USD in September 2023, down from 38.253 billion USD in September 2022, limiting national purchasing power.

    Figure 2

    Annual headline inflation and NGN/USD exchange rate, 2020 to 2023
    Combined bar/line chart showing annual headline inflation and NGN/USD exchange rate, 2020 to 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET / Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics

    National oil production increased slightly in September to 1.35 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 1.27 million bpd in August. However, oil production remains extremely low and well below the OPEC+ daily quota. The combined impacts of the removal of the petrol subsidy, limited national oil production, increased global crude oil prices in August and September, and the constrained national purchasing power continue to drive high domestic petrol and diesel prices nationally. Through September, the high fuel prices continue to disproportionately impact inaccessible areas of the far north, with petrol prices reaching 1,025 to 1,067NGN/liter in Bama, Mobbar, and Monguno LGAs in Borno state. As prices remain atypically elevated, the petrol subsidy removal continues to severely impact the economy and livelihoods of poor households across the country.

    Seasonal progress and main season cultivation: Cumulative rainfall from June to September was largely near average in Nigeria, with deficits in areas of the northeast, north-center, and southeast. Delays in the onset of rainfall, as well as several moderate and severe extended dry spells, some ranging from 15 to 21 days, in both July and August – critical periods for cereal crop development – heavily impacted cultivation activities in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and parts of Adamawa states in the northeast, as well as several states in north-central and northwest Nigeria.

    Figure 3

    Extent of flooding (hectares), July-September 2022 and 2023
    Bar chart showing extent of flooding (hectares), July-September 2022 and 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: WFP (2022)/FAO (2023)/FEWS NET

    Localized and episodic heavy rainfall, compounded by the release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon in August, resulted in seasonal flooding in lowland and riverine areas – particularly in the south along the Benue and Niger rivers and in localized parts of the north. The flooding damaged crops and infrastructure and disrupted livelihoods in the worst-affected states in the southeast and Taraba and Gombe in the northeast, as reported by the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS). However, wet season flooding in 2023 has been significantly lower than the severe levels of 2022 flooding (Figure 3). According to the Data in Emergencies (DIEM) Impact Assessment by FAO, approximately 785,500 hectares (ha) of land had flooded, including an estimated 276,000 ha of cropped area in 18 states as of the end of September 2023. By comparison, in 2022, WFP estimated that flooding destroyed roughly 3.5 million ha of land and 750,000 ha of cropland across more than 30 states, including many of the surplus-producing LGAs in the north.

    The harvest began in October in most of the country, with maize, millet, yams, rice, groundnuts, and potatoes in northern areas and yams, cassava, and maize in southern areas. Sorghum harvests will begin in December, as usual. The prolonged dry spells resulted in delayed crop growth and crop wilting in the northeast and north-center. According to KIs in multiple affected states, most farmers who lost their cereal crops to the dry spells replanted short-maturing crops, such as legumes or roots and tubers, in August. As such, national grain production (maize, millet, and sorghum) is observed as being lower than last year and the average as of late October. Meanwhile, the production of legumes, roots, and tubers is reportedly slightly above last year and at near-average levels.  

    Additionally, according to findings from the 2023 Wet Season Agricultural Performance report by NAERLS, the number of hectares of cereals cultivated in 2023 was lower than in 2022 due to sustained high input prices, low purchasing power of farmers, and the withdrawal of government funding to farming associations, limiting seed and input distributions.

    By the end of October, crops from the new harvest started to reach both rural and urban markets, including staples such as maize, millet, yams, cassava, and potatoes. Groundnuts and cowpeas were also available in some rural markets. However, given the newly harvested crops still hold moisture and have not yet sufficiently dried, they remain less preferred relative to last year’s remaining dried grains stock.

    Markets and trade: The border closure between Nigeria and the Niger Republic—part of the ongoing Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)-led economic, financial, and trade sanctions following the July coup— continues to cause considerable disruptions to formal and informal cross-border trade between the two countries. According to the International Trade Center, cross-border trade activities between Niger and Nigeria amounted to about 226 million USD in 2022, with Nigeria importing 33.43 million USD worth of goods and exporting 192.91 million USD of goods to the Niger Republic. While cross-border imports from the Niger Republic account for only 0.72 percent of total imports into Nigeria, limiting implications at the national level. However, it is heavily impacting thousands of households in the north that are strongly integrated with trade in Niger as an income source, including farmers, pastoralists, and traders. 

    In Dawanau international grains market in Kano state, trade has reportedly decreased substantially since the border closure, particularly for varieties of cowpeas that are imported from the Niger Republic. However, the cowpea harvest underway in the north is currently temporarily mitigating this reduction in imported supply. In Dandume market in Katsina state and Dodoru market in Kebbi state, traders from the Niger Republic are reportedly no longer patronizing these markets, significantly reducing demand for millet, maize, and locally grown rice.

    Nigeria heavily relies on imported livestock from Niger. Most livestock traders are reportedly no longer able to cross the border with lorries of livestock using traditional routes. Many have reportedly turned to using informal and illegal crossing points. As such, livestock trade flows have reduced considerably. According to local key informants, livestock supply has dropped by an estimated 60 percent in the Illela international cattle market in Sokoto state, one the largest livestock markets in Nigeria, since the border closure. In the Maigatari and Maiadua cattle markets in Jigawa and Katsina states, respectively, market supply has also dropped below average. 

    According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), maritime trade remains the primary means of transport for imports and exports, accounting for 98.9 percent of all recorded trade in the second quarter. In the second quarter, total imports fell by 10.4 percent year-on-year since 2022, and total exports decreased by 5.2 percent. While the data is not yet available for the third quarter, with the devaluation of the NGN in June and the low national purchasing power, imports have likely decreased further, and exports have likely increased up through September. 

    Markets continue to operate optimally in most parts of the country. With the main harvest underway, markets remain interconnected, market supply has seasonally increased, and domestic commodity flow is generally sustained from surplus-producing areas in the north to the deficit-producing areas of the south. However, in several conflict-affected areas in the north, particularly around Lake Chad and in the far northwest, markets continue to face frequent closures due to insecurity. Key supply routes are disrupted, and markets often operate for only a minimal number of hours per day (Figure 4 and 5). In many inaccessible areas of the northeast, formal markets are non-functional, and instead, insurgent groups operate small street markets.

    Figure 4

    Market functioning and trade routes in Lake Chad basin, September 2023
    Map showing market functioning and trade routes in Lake Chad basin, September 2023.

    Source: WFP (2022)/FAO (2023)/FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Market functioning and trade routes in northwest and north-central Nigeria, September 2023
    Map showing market functioning and trade routes in northwest and north-central Nigeria, September 2023. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Staple prices are extremely high, though slowly starting to seasonally decline with the start of the harvest. Across all FEWS NET-monitored markets, prices are higher than last year and the five-year average (Figures 6 and 7). In Maiduguri market, maize and millet prices have more than doubled (105 to 112 percent higher) in September compared to the same period last year and are roughly 180 percent higher than the five-year average prices. In Dawanau market, the largest grain market in West Africa, the prices of millet and maize were 43 and 59 percent higher than last September, respectively, and 100 to 125 percent higher than the five-year average. The high prices are primarily driven by high transportation costs, the devaluation of the NGN, and the slightly delayed and below-average harvest in areas of north. Additionally, the lower national purchasing power, compounded by the ban on rice imports, has limited food imports into the country, resulting in a higher reliance on the domestic food supply. These deteriorating economic conditions are leading to constrained access to food for market-dependent households. 

    Income-generating activities: Despite the ongoing main season harvest, demand for agricultural labor is below average due to the reduced crop production and low purchasing power of the middle and better-off households to hire labor. However, key informants have reported that on-farm wages have increased relative to last year, in line with the increased food prices. In conflict- and flood-affected areas, access to agricultural labor opportunities remains minimal and lower than the five-year average. Many conflict-affected households are relying on casual labor such as construction, driving motorcycle taxis, firewood collection and charcoal, and water vending to earn income. Others are engaged in petty trade, domestic work, and craft sales to access limited income. Overall, income from these sources is reportedly similar to last year and lower than average, ranging from 500 to 1,500 NGN, as compared to 1,500-2,000 NGN last year and typically. While wages used to be supplemented with in-kind payment of food or prepared food during working hours, KIs reported this is no longer commonplace due to the high food prices and poor economic conditions. 

    Figure 6

    Retail price of Maize across key reference markets, September
    Bar chart showing retail price of Maize across key reference markets, September. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7

    Retail price of Millet across key reference markets, September
    Bar chart showing retail price of Millet across key reference markets, September. Described under heading Current Situation.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Households with harvests are reportedly benefitting from favorable crop sales as prices remain atypically high. Meanwhile, pastoralists and agropastoralists are selling less livestock to purchase food due to unfavorable terms of trade. Households with minimal access to harvests or income-generating activities often rely on wild foods and on credit, borrowing, or begging to get money for food, particularly across conflict-affected areas in the north. Others resort to domestic labor or extended working hours to earn limited income to purchase food.

    Domestic remittances from labor migration are also limited, given the compounding impacts of low purchasing power, high transportation costs, and increasing competition for urban labor. Additionally, those engaging in urban labor are typically responsible for paying kidnapping ransom fees, limiting the income to access food. 

    Pasture availability and livestock trade: Pasture and water availability generally remains sufficient across the country, with localized negative anomalies in vegetation in Borno state due to the extended dry spells in the main rainfall season. Overall, livestock body conditions remain favorable. However, persisting herder/farmer conflict, cattle rustling in some northern and central states, and anti-open grazing policies in southern and central states have limited access to pasture, decreasing stocking rates in the worst-affected areas. Livestock herd sizes remain below average due to heightened conflict, limited livestock imports from Niger Republic, and high livestock prices. 

    With the high dependence on domestic livestock due to the reduction in livestock imports from the Niger Republic, livestock prices are atypically high. In Aba market, the cost of an average male goat has increased to 78,000 NGN in August 2023 from 64,000 NGN in August last year, a roughly 22 percent increase. Similarly, in Gombe market, the price of an average ram increased 18 percent year-on-year, selling for 59,000 NGN last August and around 70,000 NGN in August 2023. Livestock markets remain functional in most of the country, although physical access and supply remain slightly restricted. Meanwhile, some livestock markets in Zamfara state remain closed, which has disrupted the supply to markets in the southern states. However, given the very limited household purchasing power due to the ongoing economic crisis, demand for livestock has reportedly declined.

    Nevertheless, the increase in livestock prices has been outpaced by the spike in food prices, resulting in a significant deterioration in the terms of trade for livestock (sheep and goats) to staples (millet, gari, and maize), particularly in surplus-producing areas (Figure 8). In Gujungu market, Jigawa state, the sale of one average ram could purchase 277 kilograms (kg) of maize in August last year; however, the same quality ram could purchase only 132 kg of maize in August this year. Similar trends are observed in Maiduguri, Potiskum, Gombe, and Mubi markets in the north and Lagos and Bodija markets in the south.

    Figure 8

    Percent change in terms of trade (tot): Sheep/Goat to Cereals, June-August 2023 relative to 2022
    Map showing percent change in terms of trade (tot): Sheep/Goat to Cereals, June-August 2023 relative to 2022

    Source: FEWS NET

    Nutrition and Health: The acute malnutrition caseload in northeast Nigeria remained elevated through the end of the lean season. In Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in the northeast, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) admissions in outpatient and inpatient facilities continued to climb through September and were roughly 30 percent higher than admissions at the same time last year (Figure 9). This was likely driven by the compounding impacts of the particularly severe and prolonged 2023 lean season, decreased access to food due to the spiking food prices, seasonal increases in prevalence of acute water diarrhea and malaria, as well as the measles and diphtheria outbreaks.

    In September, according to Humanitarian Situation Monitoring (HSM) data on new arrivals from inaccessible areas, proxy (GAM) prevalence in inaccessible areas of Gwoza LGA was 37.7 percent, with a 22.2 percent SAM prevalence, indicative of Extremely Critical (IPC AMN Phase 5) outcomes. In the northwest, SMART survey data collected in June 2023 indicated the GAM weight for height (WHZ) prevalence was characteristic of Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) in most of Katsina and Sokoto states and reached Critical (IPC Phase 4) levels in parts of central and southern Sokoto. However, acute malnutrition outcomes have likely improved slightly in October with the onset of the harvest and the seasonal decrease in water- and vector-borne diseases. 

    Figure 9

    Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Admissions, in- and out-patient, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states
    Line chart showing Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Admissions, in- and out-patient, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states.

    Source: Northeast Nigeria Nutrition Sector

    A diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria began in December 2022, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC). As of October 20, 9,478 cases had been confirmed, with roughly 15,000 suspected cases, in 137 LGAs across 20 of the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory. As of early October, the outbreak has a severely high case fatality rate (CFR) of 5.3 percent, and over 70 percent of the cases are children under 14 years old. The worst affected states are across the north, including Kano, the epicenter of the outbreak, as well as Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Jigawa states (Figure 10). UNICEF has deployed over nine million doses of diphtheria vaccines; however, immunization levels remain low, and demand far outweighs supply. Suspected cases nearly quadrupled between July and October through the peak lean season amid food consumption gaps and a seasonally high prevalence of acute malnutrition, likely contributing to increased morbidity in the worst-affected areas.

    Humanitarian assistance: In August 2023, humanitarian actors provided food assistance to roughly 2.6 million people, particularly IDPs living in camps across Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states in northeast Nigeria, an increase of about four percent compared to July. The month-on-month increase in food aid is likely due to scale-up efforts during the peak of the lean season. Humanitarian food assistance covers approximately 70 percent of an individual's total kilocalorie needs per month via in-kind and cash-based transfers. Humanitarian food assistance between January and August 2023 has been consistently higher than in 2022 (Figure 11).  

    Figure 10

    Diptheria outbreak by state, September 12, 2023
    Map showing diptheria outbreak by state, September 12, 2023.

    Source: UNICEF

    Figure 11

    Humanitarian food assistance distribution trends, January to August 2022 and 2023
    Bar chart showing humanitarian food assistance distribution trends, January to August 2022 and 2023.

    Source: WFP/FEWS NET

    Sequel to the removal of the fuel subsidy and to mitigate the impacts of the high food, fuel, and commodity prices, the federal and state governments have also provided an increase in palliative support in all 36 states to vulnerable households. In August, the federal government has distributed five billion NGN and five trucks of grains to each of the 36 states for disbursement. In Kano state, 193,000 10kg bags of rice and maize were distributed, and in Bauchi state, 89,000 bags of rice and 10,000 NGN were distributed to households that the state government identified as vulnerable. Meanwhile, in Borno state, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) distributed 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizer to approximately 40,000 households in Jere and Maiduguri Metropolitan Center (MMC), reportedly reaching approximately 120,000 households between July and September 2023.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In October, with the main harvest ongoing, most households across the country have seen seasonal improvements in food availability and access and are consuming their own-produced food and facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, due to the unseasonably high market prices and the high cost of fuel amid limited labor opportunities, many of the urban poor have atypically low purchasing power. These households are only minimally able to meet their basic food needs and unable to meet their essential non-food needs, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    In the northeast, the compounding impacts of the insurgency, heightened insecurity, deteriorating economic conditions, and seasonal climatic shocks continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity. Households in conflict-affected areas of the northeast, particularly in Borno state, cultivated only minimal plots. With harvests often looted or taxed, households are likely unable to meet their food needs through own-produced food, resulting in households remaining partially purchase-reliant for food during the harvest period. However, the atypically high market prices and minimal income-generating opportunities are limiting purchasing power and constraining financial access to food. Consequently, households are relying on less preferred food, skipping meals, or prioritizing their children to eat first, as well as using negative coping strategies. Households are facing food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. A subset of very poor households in accessible areas of the northeast have severely depleted coping capacity and are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Meanwhile, displaced households residing in IDP camps in the northeast continue to rely mainly on humanitarian food assistance, which is preventing more severe outcomes. These households are using coping strategies associated with Stressed to meet their basic food needs and are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).

    In Abadam, Bama, Guzamala, and Marte LGAs in Borno state, which remain largely inaccessible, households were only minimally able to engage in main season crop cultivation. Households who did cultivate likely have slightly improved access to food; however, it will not meet their food needs. Due to severe insecurity and the high risk of migrating to urban areas, households have limited access to income generation, and market functionality is poor. Households largely remain reliant on bartering, wild food consumption, and small market purchases. However, dry spells during the wet season wilted many of the wild foods, reducing normal seasonal availability. Consequently, households have very limited financial access to food and are facing wide food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Acute malnutrition also remains elevated. In September, the prevalence of proxy GAM amongst new arrivals from inaccessible areas in the northeast was 17.4 percent, with a 7.5 percent proxy SAM, associated with Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4). 

    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, October 2023
    AFI Map showing northeast classifications for October, with widespread Crisis and Stressed, with isolated LGAs in Emergency

    Source: FEWS NET

    In the northwest and north-center, the onset of the harvest season has seasonally improved food availability and access. However, banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling prevented many households from engaging in their normal crop production, resulting in limited harvests in conflict-affect areas. Consequently, households are atypically purchase-reliant for food amid high market prices. Considering the limited income-earning opportunities in the area and low purchasing power, these households are relying on livelihood coping strategies, such as selling productive assets to access food and eating less preferred food and reduced meal portions. Households are facing moderate food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Very poor households in inaccessible areas that are worst affected by conflict have severely limited mobility, are largely unable to harvest their crops, and have limited market access. As such, they are mainly reliant on wild food consumption, bartering, and begging. These worst-affected households are relying on negative coping strategies and facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4), although they make up less than 20 percent of the LGA population.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for a typical year for Nigeria.

    Source: FEWS NET


    The most likely scenario for October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Conflict: Kidnappings, civilian-targeted attacks, banditry, and looting of food stocks are likely to increase with the onset of the dry season and as farmers carry out harvesting activities from October to January. These incidents will remain elevated through the end of the projection period in May 2024 at higher levels than previously observed due to the worsening economic conditions. 
    • Macroeconomic condition: Nigeria’s macroeconomic conditions are expected to deteriorate through the outlook period. Revenue generation will likely remain a critical challenge with continued underperformance in the oil sector due to crude oil theft and declining investments in oil and gas exploration by both local and international oil companies. Inflation is expected to continue rising, primarily driven by high fuel and food prices. Additionally, the value of the Nigerian Naira (NGN) is expected to continue to decrease through the end of 2023 and remain at record lows through May 2024. Demand for foreign exchange will continue to exceed supply, driving an increased divergence between the parallel and official market rates.  
    • Main season harvest prospects: Main season crop production, which concludes in January with the long-maturing crops, is anticipated to be slightly higher than last year but below the five-year average. In areas that received below-average rainfall, including extended dry spells, as well as areas worst affected by conflict, particularly localized areas of the northeast, northwest, and north-center, harvests are expected to be below last year and the average, particularly for cereals. Legume cultivation is expected to be higher than average. 
    • Dry season activities: Dry season farming is expected to commence as usual in December as floodwater recedes in the floodplains across the north. Dry season production is expected to be similar to last year but below average due to conflict, and the high cost of inputs. While the government is likely to distribute some agricultural inputs in severely flood-affected areas, the area planted and production prospects will remain below average, particularly in conflict-affected areas. 
    • Cross-border trade: The deterioration of the macroeconomic situation—including the depreciation of the NGN relative to the CFA— and the closure of the border with the Niger Republic are expected to result in lower levels of cross-border trade relative to last year and the five-year average through at least May 2024. This will most likely affect the trade of livestock, maize, millet, sorghum, cowpeas, and groundnuts in border markets in the northwestern states of Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara.
    • Domestic trade: The flow of goods from surplus- to deficit-producing areas, including staple foods, is expected to remain below average due to persisting conflict in the key production areas, as well as high transportation costs—inclusive of extortion and high petrol costs—through the outlook period. 
    • Market supply: Market supply is expected to be slightly below last year and the average across the country and much lower in conflict-affected areas throughout the scenario period. This is likely due to below-average production and the decrease in cross-border imports from Niger, particularly in northern states for millet and cowpeas.
    • Staple food prices: The prices of staple foods are expected to decline only slightly through January due to the increased market supply associated with the main season harvest though prices will remain above average and the last year’s levels across the country (Figure 12 and 13). However, the localized below-average main season harvests in the northeast and northcenter are likely to result in the early exhaustion of food stocks as early as late January or early February 2024. This is anticipated to drive a surge in market demand and high staple prices in the post-harvest period. Additionally, institutional purchases by the government and processing companies are likely to increase due to minimal remaining stocks by January. In general, staple food prices are expected to remain significantly above average and last year across the country and highest in conflict-affected areas. 
    • Livestock prices: Demand for livestock is expected to seasonally peak during the holidays in December/January and Eid al-Fitr in April 2023, as usual. However, supply will be significantly below average due to insecurity, open grazing bans, and decreased cross-border livestock imports from Niger. Consequently, livestock prices are expected to be above average during the peak demand periods. 

    Figure 12

    Maiduguri, Nigeria Millet (Pearl) Prices and Projections, NGN/Kg
    Maiduguri, Nigeria Millet (Pearl) Prices and Projections, NGN/Kg

    Source: Estimates based on data from FEWS NET, Nigeria

    Figure 13

    Kaura Namoda, Nigeria Millet (Pearl) Prices and Projections, NGN/Kg
    Combined line/bar chart showing Kaura Namoda, Nigeria Millet (Pearl) Prices and Projections, NGN/Kg.

    Source: Estimates based on data from FEWS NET, Nigeria

    • Pastoral resources and water availability: Pasture and water for livestock will likely be available through December 2023/January 2024 and will deplete earlier than usual due to the prolonged dry spell in the northeast and north-center areas, resulting in the normal deterioration of livestock body conditions and a decrease in livestock prices. 
    • Livestock migration: The frequency and scale of transhumance from northern to southern regions, which typically begins in February, is expected to be below average due to ongoing conflict and the ban on open grazing in some south and north-central states including Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, Benue, and Edo among others. Meanwhile, livestock movement northward to the Niger Republic will be considerably lower than last year and average due to the border closure. In contrast, livestock migration to Cameroon is anticipated to be above average.
    • Agricultural labor supply and wage: Agricultural labor demand during the main season harvest will likely remain below average across the country amid above-average labor supply, particularly in conflict-affected areas of the north. Additionally, the limited purchasing power of middle and better-off households to hire labor will result in reduced on-farm labor opportunities. Households near the riverbanks will likely engage in dry season farming labor activities between January and May 2024 to generate income, although labor demand and earnings will likely remain below average. 
    • Non-agricultural labor: Poor households will continue relying heavily on casual labor, petty trading, firewood and charcoal sales, and self-employment. However, purchasing power from earned income is likely to remain below average through the end of May 2024 due to poor macroeconomic conditions, limiting expenditure.
    • Labor migration: Labor migration from rural and conflict-affected areas to less conflict-affected or urban areas is expected to be above average and similar to last year as households continue exploring alternative options to increase access to food and income, resulting in a saturated labor supply.
    • Remittances: International remittances will likely be higher than last year but remain below average through May 2024 as socio-familial networks seek to support their families facing economic hardship in Nigeria. Meanwhile, domestic remittances will likely remain similar to or below last year and average levels due to the limited access to income and high cost of living. Additionally, as the NGN continues to weaken, the value of the remittances will be limited. 
    • Humanitarian Assistance: Humanitarian actors will continue to provide food assistance to vulnerable populations in IDP camps in the northeast during the scenario period. However, assistance will remain seasonally low during the harvest and post-harvest, and funding is not guaranteed past December. Additionally, households receiving cash-based assistance will likely have lower than normal purchasing power with the assistance throughout the outlook period due to the high prices of staple food commodities. Limited humanitarian support will likely reach the worst-affected households in the northwest. 
    • Nutrition situation: Levels of acute malnutrition are expected to remain elevated through the outlook period but will likely decrease seasonally during the harvest period of October to January due to improved food access and seasonal reduction in disease prevalence. However, starting in February 2024, the acute malnutrition caseload is expected to progressively increase as harvests begin to exhaust, particularly in conflict-affected areas of the northeast and northwest. This is due to increasing food consumption gaps as the lean season approaches and the regular rise in disease prevalence –particularly water and vector-borne diseases –during the wet season.

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    In the inaccessible areas in the northeast, particularly in Abadam, Bama, Guzamala, and Marte LGAs in Borno State, households that cultivated will likely exhaust their food stocks by December 2023. The limited harvests will not meet their minimum food needs. Households will have poor market access and low purchasing power households, and thus will continue to depend on wild food consumption, bartering, and begging to supplement their food intake, sustaining wide food consumption gaps and continuing to drive Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through January 2024. Between February and May, the anticipated high levels of civilian-targeted attacks and kidnappings will further restrict access to livelihoods. Households have severely depleted resilience and minimal assets and will continue to rely on negative coping strategies to access food, facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2024. A small subset of households will likely have exhausted their coping mechanisms. 

    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, October 2023 to January 2024 2023
    AFI Map showing northeast classifications, with widespread Crisis and Stressed, with isolated LGAs in Emergency

    Source: FEWS NET

    Projected acute food security outcomes in Northeast Nigeria, February to May 2024
    AFI map showing widespread Crisis through May in the northeast, with sustained and isolated Emergency in some areas.

    Source: FEWS NET

    In conflict-affected areas of the northeast, heightened insecurity during the dry season combined with increasing economic hardship will continue to drive households from inaccessible areas into garrison towns. This will increase competition for limited labor opportunities and heighten food assistance needs in urban areas amid the seasonal decrease in humanitarian food assistance during the harvest period. Main season harvests will likely exhaust for poor and very poor households in January or February, driving increased purchase-dependence for food. However, high staple prices will severely restrict financial access to food for poor households. Poor households will likely resort to increased labor hours, bartering and begging, selling limited farm tools and fishing gear, or the sale of farmlands in localized areas. And reducing meal size and number of meals per day, and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2024. 

    Most IDPs in camps in urban areas in the northeast will continue to depend on humanitarian assistance as their primary source of food through January 2024, and face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. IDP households will supplement this by relying on market purchases and earn limited income through unskilled labor, resource collection and sales, craft sales, and petty trading. However, due to uncertainties around the continued funding support for these IDPs in camps, food assistance will likely not be available from February through May 2024. Thus, IDPs will face increased food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from February through May 2024. Displaced households in host communities have limited access to humanitarian food assistance and will mainly rely on minimal own-produced food stocks supplemented by some market purchases through January. Households will be able to meet only their minimum food consumption needs and face Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As the consumption year progresses, households will deplete their minimal food stocks earlier than normal due to the impact of the dry spells and become entirely purchase-dependent for food. However, with limited access to income and atypically high staple prices, they will face moderate food consumption deficits and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes between February and May 2024.

    In the north-center and northwest, areas less affected by the conflict will likely be able to consume their own-produced food and engage in normal livelihood activities through the projection period. As main season harvests deplete, households will be engaging in dry season cultivation or flood recession cropping, which will produce harvests in April May. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected through May 2024, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes likely in areas affected by dry spells or flooding through the scenario period. In areas affected by banditry, kidnapping, and herder/farmer conflict, the increased levels of conflict expected through the dry season will further drive population displacement and constrain access to livelihood activities and market supply in affected areas. Households will likely have to pay high levies to access cropland through the harvest period until January and food stocks will likely be targeted for destruction by bandits, negatively impacting food access and availability. The worst conflict-affected areas will be unable to meet their basic food needs with own-produced food and they will face high market prices, limiting access to food. Households will resort to selling household and productive assets, reducing meal sizes and frequency, and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2024. IDPs in informal settlements across the northwest have no access to humanitarian assistance and informal settlements often do not have safe access to potable water, nutrition support, or health services. IDPs have extremely limited access to formalized livelihoods and loss of livelihood assets and rely heavily on begging, bartering, prostitution and are reportedly skipping days without eating. While they do not make up 20 percent of the population, these households likely have large food consumption gaps and are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

    Events That Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NortheastEscalation of the conflict across the northeast
    • Increased population displacement.
    • Restricted level of dry season cultivation and fishing in the area.
    • Limited livelihood activities and market disruptions.
    • Increase in the share of the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes.
    Northwest and north-centerIncreased presence of humanitarian actors and increased assistance in the area 
    • Increased access to food aid.
    • Reduced share of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the area.
    Northern NigeriaECOWAS-led sanctions removed and border with the Niger Republic re-opens
    • Resumed formal and informal cross-border trade activities in the northeast and northwest. 
    • Increased supply of livestock to the markets and decreased livestock prices. 
    • Increased supply of legumes, such as cowpeas and groundnuts, and decreased prices.
    • Improved income-generating opportunities in border-communities
    • Likely to reduce the number households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in border communities. 

    Areas of Concern

    There are multiple areas of concern in Nigeria due to widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In an effort to provide regional representation for the areas of highest concern, FEWS NET conducted assessments in one LGA in the northeast, Bama LGA, and one in the northwest, Isa LGA, due to high outstanding concern in these areas related to the impacts of high levels of conflict and displacement, severe food security outcomes, and relative comparability to other areas facing similar contributing factors and shocks.

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

    Current Situation

    Amid ongoing in-fighting between insurgent groups and continued counterinsurgency efforts by the military, attacks on civilians and abductions have continued at a high frequency in recent months throughout Bama LGA. According to ACLED data, although overall conflict incidents declined by about 29 percent in Bama LGA from June to September 2023, attacks on civilians increased by 17 percent in 2023 compared to last year, disrupting livelihood activities and market activity and driving displacement. According to ZOA, 2,266 people were displaced from June to mid-September to garrison towns in Bama LGA, primarily from inaccessible areas. However, many people remain trapped in Bama’s inaccessible areas, facing extremely harsh living conditions and severely limited access to food and basic services, with the most affected being female-headed households, the elderly, and children. 

    Figure 14

    Bama LGA, Borno State
    Map of the Bama LGA, Borno State area of concern.

    Source: FEWS NET

    In inaccessible areas of Bama, main season crop production in late September and October has been lower than last year and below the five-year average, primarily due to limited access to farmland and inputs, prolonged dry spells, bans on tall crops, and increased displacement driven by the increased levels of conflict. Then, localized dry spells in July and early August led to crop loss, delayed harvests, and decreased crop production. Only about 38 percent of households in inaccessible areas were able to cultivate land during the rainy season planting period, according to the August 2023 HSM data, with most very poor households cultivating less than one hectare. With their already limited household food stocks further depleted by frequent looting by insurgents, most poor households in inaccessible areas face widening food consumption gaps and continue relying heavily on foraging for wild foods such as edible leaves, fruits, and roots. 

    Given the limited crop production, market purchases remain the primary source of food for most households. However, insurgent activity has constrained supply routes, including cross-border trade with Cameroon, and only Bama and Banki town markets remain moderately functional. In inaccessible areas within Bama LGA, formal markets are completely nonfunctional, although 65 percent of households from inaccessible areas in Bama said they have access to temporary small informal street markets that operate for only a few hours in the morning, such as Njimiya, Bula Daloye, Garke, and Bulamusaye. These markets are mainly under the control of non-state armed groups. Typical staples, such as maize, sorghum, and rice, are available in limited quantities and irregularly. While these staples are available with the ongoing main season harvest in Bama town, prices remain unseasonably high, limiting financial access for poor, market-reliant households. In September, a mudu (about 2.5 kg) of maize ranges between 1,300 to 1,500 NGN, compared to 700 to 800 NGN per mudu in 2022. In inaccessible areas, staple prices are even higher than in Bama town, ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 NGN per mudu during the same period.

    In October, opportunities for income generation remain minimal in inaccessible areas, particularly for poor households. While some households engage in seasonal agricultural labor opportunities such as weeding and harvesting in exchange for income or grain, these opportunities are particularly limited in inaccessible areas. Off-farm labor, such as firewood sales, wild foods, or other natural resources, provides some minor access to income and food for poor households. However, they remain high risk given the distance required to travel into the bush. 

    Despite the extremely high need for assistance, most parts of Bama LGA remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors due to insecurity. While several humanitarian organizations operate within Bama and Banki towns, including Mercy Corps International, INTERSOS, WFP, ZOA, IRC, DRC, FHI 360, and UNICEF, poor and very poor households in remote areas who have limited mobility to urban centers. In addition, there are no available and functioning health facilities within these areas, even as households face critical health challenges due to poor hygiene associated with open defecation, unprotected sources of water, and elevated disease prevalence through the rainy season. 

    Due to the sustained conflict and restricted mobility, households continue to face high levels of acute food insecurity. With minimal harvests, households have unseasonably low availability and access to food, and households’ earning potential remains insufficient to meet their minimum essential food and non-food needs through market purchases. However, blow-average market supply due to the insecurity and high transportation costs has resulted in poor food availability and access.  As a result, according to the August 2023 Humanitarian Situation Monitoring report, roughly 50 percent of households in inaccessible areas of Bama LGA resorted to using Emergency livelihood coping strategies such as begging, borrowing food or money, selling household assets, and theft in order to access food. However, households continue to face food consumption gaps and use food-based coping strategies such as relying on less preferred foods, reducing the quantity of food consumed by adults, and reducing the number of meals eaten per day. Additionally, the most vulnerable households reportedly skip days without eating, solely rely on leaves, or consume hot water to mimic fullness. As such, households in the inaccessible area of Bama remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in October. Due to the wide food consumption gaps exacerbated by the spread of disease, proxy GAM prevalence of new arrivals from inaccessible areas of Bama was 19.8 percent in September, indicative of Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) outcomes.


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

    • Crop production in Bama LGA is expected to be lower than last year and the average, and very poor households are anticipated to exhaust their food stocks within the first three months. 
    • Conflict levels within the inaccessible areas in Bama LGA will likely further elevate with the onset of the harvest and dry season and will remain elevated through the scenario period. Poor living conditions and intense military operations to clear the remnants of non-state armed groups will continue to displace households from inaccessible areas to garrison towns such as Bama and Banki. 
    • Markets within the inaccessible areas, such as Gulumba, Rijiya, Kuntebogomari, Darajamal, Jere, Walasa, and Kumshe in Bama LGA, will remain closed throughout the outlook period from October 2023 to May 2024. Households in inaccessible areas will largely continue to rely on informal markets such as Bula Daloye, Njimiya, Ngurno and Bulamusari, which have limited supply and high market prices. 
    • Persisting conflict will continue to worsen health-seeking behavior and constrain the delivery of essential health and nutrition services such as vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and immunizations, which is likely to heighten morbidity risk. The trend of high levels of acute malnutrition is expected to persist despite the ongoing harvest throughout the scenario period from October 2023 to May 2024.

     Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Very poor households living in inaccessible areas in Bama LGA are expected to continue facing internal displacement within the area due to conflict. At the same time, these households will be unable to access humanitarian assistance or functional health facilities and have limited access to income-generating opportunities or functional markets. With their limited food stocks from the main season harvest threatened by looting and continued infighting among armed groups, very poor households will experience increasing difficulties meeting their basic food needs and will heavily rely on wild food gathering, bartering, and begging. Food stocks are expected to exhaust by December, and households will likely increase their reliance on coping strategies, such as reducing the number of meals per day, skipping meals by adults, spending a day without eating, and consuming less preferred foods. These households will have large food consumption gaps and depleted coping capacity, resulting in an increase in the number of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through the end of May 2024. 

    Area of Concern: Isa LGA, Sokoto State – (NG01) Sokoto millet, cowpeas, groundnuts, and livestock

    Isa LGA remains one of the worst conflict-affected LGAs in Sokoto state. Following a series of attacks by bandits on Isa town in August and September that caused the displacement of populations, kidnappings, and fatalities, a curfew was imposed on the area to curb insecurity. While security has been reinforced in Isa town and surrounding areas with the increased presence of government forces, movement within Isa remains restricted due to the fear of attack. Movement along the direct route between Sokoto and Isa town is currently extremely high risk, with the only safe route requiring a long detour. Since the lifting of the fuel subsidy, transportation costs have increased from 2,000 NGN to 3,500 NGN to reach Isa town from Sokoto town. According to KIs, due to the sustained insecurity and the presence of bandits and militia groups, several settlements remain deserted, such as Dan Adama, Katanga, Baici, Kukurus, and Shadawa.

    Figure 15

    Isa LGA, Sokoto state
    Map showing the Isa LGA, Sokoto state area of concern.

    Source: FEWS NET

    The millet harvest, the major staple produced in Isa LGA, was delayed due to dry spells, but by mid-October, harvesting was underway in areas where households were able to cultivate. According to local KIs, the millet harvest will be lower than last year and lower than average. It is estimated that only roughly 30 percent of the population was able to cultivate land, compared to roughly 40 to 60 percent of the population last year. Crop production estimates by the Sokoto Agriculture Development Project (ADP) indicate that millet production has likely declined by an estimated 65 percent relative to last year and over 85 percent relative to the five-year average. The ADP data revealed similar trends for other staples – maize, sorghum, rice – relative to last year and the average. The total size of the area cultivated across Sokoto state ranged from 7 to 21 percent lower than last year for major staples, cowpeas, and groundnuts and 64 to 73 percent lower than the five-year average. 

    Agricultural labor demand is generally lower than last year and the average. However, labor wages have increased to 2,000 NGN per day, compared to the five-year average of 700 NGN per day and last year’s rate of 1,500 NGN. The increase is attributable to inflation and the high cost of transportation, staple foods, and services. However, laborers are generally not provided food or a meal during the day, as they had been in the past. In remote areas, women often rely more on wild food consumption, begging, and domestic work in bandits’ households to earn some minor income and food scraps.

    Young men have migrated to urban areas outside the LGA and are engaged in petty trading, construction work, and water vending to earn income. These migrants send remittances to their relatives at homesteads to purchase food and sometimes to pay ransom. Most households have also resorted to consuming cheaper staples, especially gari, which is not a traditional food in the area but is increasingly becoming more popular due to limited access to preferred foods.

    Isa town has the only functional market in the area, although it is functioning at below-average levels. Markets in the smaller communities remain disrupted, functioning at below-average levels or not at all. In some communities, bartering is used to access food and other commodities. Food commodities such as millet, sorghum, maize, and rice as well as nonfood items are available, but supplies are below average and supplied from other markets. Old millet, which is dried and preferred, is currently sold for 1,200 NGN, while newly harvested undried millet is sold for 800 to 900 NGN per local measurement unit (tiya) in the Isa market. Last year, the same amount was sold for 600 NGN, while the five-year average was about 200 NGN per measure.

    According to informants, the IDP population has increased in Isa town relative to the previous year. This is attributable to the escalating conflict and increased population displacement. The displaced population now outnumber the host community members in Isa town, given the high levels of insecurity in rural areas. Many reside in makeshift shelters or within the host communities and have limited to no access to humanitarian assistance and services despite the very high need. 

    Isa LGA remains largely inaccessible due to the high levels of civilian-targeted violence and kidnapping. With the increasing economic crisis, an uptick in violence and crime in search of financial gain has been observed, which has limited households’ access to farmlands during the cultivation season. Many households are unable to cultivate, resulting in poor seasonal improvement in food availability. With the limited number of alternative livelihoods or income sources amid spiking market prices, households have severely restricted access to food. As such, many households are trying to sell their household and productive assets as well as their farmland in order to gain income; however, with limited demand or purchasing power in the community, this has provided limited support. Households have reduced household food consumption per day and are prioritizing children to eat first. As such, households are facing food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with a subset of the population, primarily vulnerable women and IDPs, facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4).


    In addition to the national assumptions above, the most likely scenario for the October 2023 to May 2024 period for this area is based on the following assumptions:

    • Harvests of some crops, such as late millet, cowpea, and groundnut, will be delayed until November instead of the typical October. Crop production is expected to be lower than last year and the average due to a persisting high level of insecurity and disruption of agricultural activities. Food stocks will likely last for three to four months for households who are able to harvest, with the poorest households’ harvests depleting before February 2024. Some farming families will likely be unable to harvest their crops as insecurity escalates. 
    • Conflict level will remain elevated, driving continued population displacement to informal settlements, primarily in urban areas, through the projection period. Localized return by some households to areas where the conflict calms will continue, though at a minimal level.

    • The area will likely remain cut off from humanitarian assistance, as well as health and nutrition services, throughout the outlook period due to limited humanitarian actors in the area and limited government response. Community support will remain the main source of assistance to poor and conflict-affected households but remain scarce. The below-average harvest and high market prices will further reduce the level of community-based assistance provided to poor households.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Poor households affected by banditry, kidnappings, and cattle rustling continue to face severe difficulty accessing livelihoods and many remain displaced in nearby urban areas. These households have limited income-earning opportunities and low purchasing power Most of the displaced households have little to no harvest from main season crop production and thus saw minimal seasonal improvement in food availability. As such, these households are primarily dependent on market purchases amid atypically high staple prices. Many of the poor and very poor households are expected to be reliant on wild foods and are engaged in begging to access little income. Due to the limited access to own-produced food and poor financial access to food in markets, households are expected to face food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through January 2024. During the post-harvest period of February through May, households will increasingly rely on markets for food, as most households are unable to engage in dry season cultivation and will continue to have limited mobility for labor migration and limited income-earning opportunities in Isa due to persisting conflict. Households will face increasing difficulty in accessing food, widening food consumption gaps, and sustaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2024. While still remaining smaller than 20 percent of the population, a subset of the very poor households, primarily female-headed households, have seen large asset depletion, sold their productive assets, are heavily reliant on prostitution to access income for food, and still facing large food consumption gaps. These households are in 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 October 2023 - May 2024: Food assistance needs remain elevated through harvest in northeast and northwest, 2023.

    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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