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The 2023 rainy season is underway, with average to above-average seasonal rainfall likely

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • March 2023
The 2023 rainy season is underway, with average to above-average seasonal rainfall likely

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In early 2023, the frequency and intensity of conflict in the northeast during the dry season have been relatively consistent with 2022 levels, although considerably lower than in 2020. In March, conflict occurred in Dikwa, Magumeri, Monguno, Konduga, Damboa, Bama, and Mafa local government areas (LGAs) of Borno state, disrupting livelihood and market activities. The continued influx of households and former insurgents from inaccessible areas to urban centers, high competition for limited income-generating opportunities, and atypically high staple prices amid the cash crisis continue to drive poor food access. Between late February and mid-March, the two main markets in Maiduguri, Monday and Gamboru, were destroyed by fire and have not yet been rebuilt, reducing access to food and non-food items in Maiduguri and limiting commodity supply to rural markets in Borno state. Consequently, many households in the northeast face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Meanwhile, households in hard-to-reach areas will continue to experience wide food consumption gaps and are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    • Engagement in livelihood activities remains well below pre-crisis levels in the northeast; however, as households continue to return and relocate to hard-to-reach areas, cultivation, trade, and fishing are reportedly marginally increasing. This is anticipated to slightly improve access to income and food for some households. However, ongoing insecurity remains a significant risk, and the continued kidnapping and killing of individuals engaging in livelihood activities are preventing widespread engagement. According to field observations and key informants, dry season cultivation reportedly increased this year compared to last year, primarily in hard-to-reach areas of Ngala, Dikwa, Kukawa, Konduga, Kala Balge, Mobbar, Damboa, and Kaga LGAs. The dry season harvest, primarily vegetables, sorghum, cowpeas, and rice, is expected to peak in April/May and will likely increase food availability for some households. Fishing has also reportedly increased in the northeast; however, in early March, over 30 fishermen were killed, and several others were abducted by insurgents in Ngala LGA, heightening fear in surrounding areas.

    • In northwest and north-central Nigeria, cattle rustling, armed banditry, kidnapping, and communal clashes continue to drive displacement, disrupt livelihoods, and limit market functionality. While the number of incidents decreased slightly in March compared to February, significant attacks occurred in Kaduna, Niger, Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, and Katsina states. Additionally, political violence was reported in localized areas during the governorship elections in mid-March. While dry season cultivation is underway across the northwest, engagement is minimal, and yields are projected to be below average due to poor access to farmland and large-scale displacement to urban centers. Staple food prices remain above average in the northwest and north-central states, limiting food access and exacerbating poor households’ purchasing power. Consequently, many households are expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Some households in remote areas were largely unable to cultivate in 2022 and have minimal access to alternate livelihood activities, poor food access, and limited community support. These households primarily rely on wild food consumption and will continue to experience wide consumption gaps through the lean season, driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    • Land preparation for main season cultivation is underway across most of the country, with disruptions in the northwest, north-central, and northeast due to ongoing conflict and movement restrictions. In southern bimodal areas of Nigeria, seasonal rains began in February/March, and land preparation for main season cultivation is underway. Planting started on time in April, creating some seasonal agricultural labor opportunities. In central states, spatially erratic rainfall has begun, and land clearing for main season cultivation is underway as typical. In the north, land clearing has begun in some areas; however, conflict and extortion limit engagement in these activities in conflict-affected areas. Seasonal rains typically begin around May in the north. A timely start of the season in May is expected, with average to above-average rainfall likely for the June to September period. Given the forecast for favorable rainfall across the Sahel and based on streamflow forecasts, localized flooding is expected to occur, particularly along the Niger and Benue rivers.

    • Macroeconomic conditions remain poor, despite improvements in crude oil production. In March, oil production reached roughly 1.7 million barrels per day, up from 1.3 million barrels the previous month, nearly reaching the OPEC quota of 1.8 million barrels per day. Headline inflation remains exceptionally high at 22.04 percent in March, up slightly from 21.91 percent in February. The key driver continues to be high food inflation, which reached 24.45 percent in March. High food prices are driven by the high cost of transportation, extortion, the ongoing cash crisis, high global food prices, and persisting conflict in primary surplus-producing areas. Millet prices are 75 percent above average in Kano and over 55 percent above average in Maiduguri.

    • The cash crisis continues to limit access to food and basic services and weaken market functionality nationwide. Nigerians are highly cash reliant. According to the World Bank, as of 2021, only roughly 45 percent of the population has access to a bank account. Furthermore, poor, rural, and conflict-affected households have limited access to digital currency, which limits their ability to mitigate the impacts of the cash crisis. While the timeline for the transition to the new Naira notes was postponed to December 2023, withdrawal limits at ATMs and banks continue to constrain cash access, limiting commodity flow and increasing prices. This is exacerbated by continued fuel shortages, sustained high market prices, and below-average wages, leading to continued low household purchasing power and poor food access.

    FEWS NET. NIGERIA Key Message Update, March 2023: Restricted access to cash, anticipated election violence, and persisting conflict drive high food needs, 2023. 

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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