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Poor dry season harvest prospects to sustain food access constraints through September

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • March 2024
Poor dry season harvest prospects to sustain food access constraints through September

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In northeast Nigeria, conflict related to the insurgency continued at elevated levels during the dry season in March. In reprisal for ongoing counter-insurgency efforts, insurgent groups continue resorting to civilian targeting, including the kidnapping of displaced populations, arson in internally displaced people (IDP) camps, looting of food, and destruction of electricity infrastructure. However, between February and March, the military reportedly rescued over 1,200 hostages. Many affected communities are unable to access major floodplains for dry-season cultivation, and trade and food flow are disrupted, constraining household access to food. Additionally, with Ramadan ongoing and amid atypical heat across the north, main season land preparation and associated labor opportunities have yet to commence. These factors, coupled with the unseasonably elevated staple food prices, high reliance on market purchases for food, and limited access to livelihood activities are likely resulting in food consumption gaps. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to increase across the northeast through September 2024. In hard-to-reach areas, particularly in Bama, Marte, Guzamala, and Abadam LGAs, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected through September 2024.
    • In the northwest and northcentral states, banditry, kidnapping, and inter-communal conflict are disrupting ongoing dry season cultivation, including harvesting vegetables (tomatoes, pepper, onion, cabbage). In early March, bandits attacked a primary school in Chikun LGA in Kaduna State, abducting 138 people, mainly students, although nearly all were rescued on March 24. In neighboring Kajuru LGA, Kaduna State, over 160 people were kidnapped between March 12 and 17, with bandits looting food from households and shops. At least 15 schoolchildren were reportedly abducted in Sokoto state in early March. Similar incidences have occurred in Benue, Niger, Plateau, and Zamfara states. This has heightened fear, constrained seasonal access to food and income sources, and driven displacement to urban areas. Additionally, the anticipated influx of labor migrants from the Niger Republic will heighten competition for income-generating opportunities. Households have limited food stocks and will likely face food consumption gaps and area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through September 2024. Some displaced households in urban areas rely on limited community support and begging to access food and will likely continue facing large food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.
    • Macroeconomic conditions remained poor in March due to low national revenue, the deteriorating value of the Nigerian Naira (NGN), and increasing headline inflation. Millions of households are facing extremely low household purchasing power and are unable to meet their basic needs. Crude oil production saw minor improvements in early 2024 from roughly 1.43 million barrels per day (bpd) in January to 1.48 million bpd in February, although this has had a limited impact on domestic fuel prices. To mitigate currency depreciation and increase foreign currency supply in late February, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased interest rates by four percent. However, the value of the NGN continues to fall, at 1,512 NGN/USD at the parallel market and 1,406 NGN/USD at the official window in late March. Although, the CBN has reported a significant spike in international remittances from an estimated 300 million USD in January to approximately 1.3 billion USD in February. Annual headline inflation hit 31.7 percent in February, up from 29.9 percent the previous month, largely attributable to rising food inflation, driven by the impacts of high fuel and transportation costs. The depreciation of the NGN and inflation are anticipated to continue to constrain access to food ahead of the lean season. 
    • In February, staple food prices reached record highs in FEWS NET-monitored markets in Nigeria. Market supplies continue to decline as food stocks exhaust following the below-average 2023 harvest amid high demand as more households become purchase-reliant for food. In Dawanau market, Kano State, maize prices increased by about 15 percent from January to February, while millet increased by about 24 percent month-on-month. Similarly, millet prices increased by 10 percent in the Kaura market, Zamfara State, between January and February. With limited income-earning opportunities, households are increasingly unable to meet their essential food needs.
    • In mid-March 2024, the land borders with the Niger Republic reopened, following the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions in late February. This is expected to gradually result in increased formal and informal cross-border trade activity between Nigeria and the Niger Republic including the flow of livestock into Nigeria. Border communities with high trade activity, particularly in the northwest, are seeing increased commodity flows. Additionally, improved income-generating opportunities and increased labor migration are expected to increase. The Nigeria-Niger border covers 1,600 kilometers and has been closed since July 30, 2023.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Nigeria Key Message Update March 2024: Poor dry season harvest prospects to sustain food access constraints through September, 2024.

    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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