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Amid high food assistance needs, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely in the northeast during lean season

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • May 2023
Amid high food assistance needs, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely in the northeast during lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Fighting between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and military forces escalated in frequency in northeast Nigeria in the first quarter of 2023, followed by a slight decline in incidents in May. As the government’s counter-insurgency operations continue, NSAGs are seeking revenge on civilian populations, driving spikes in displacement in Bama, Gwoza, Damboa, and Monguno LGAs, where insurgents still have strongholds. In some areas, the counter-insurgency efforts are allowing for more free movement and the liberation of captive civilians who are migrating to garrison towns. In April and May, Bama and Gwoza towns saw the highest influxes of new arrivals from inaccessible areas yet in 2023. Poor households in inaccessible areas have no access to remaining food stocks, and are mainly reliant on firewood sales and limited on-farm labor opportunities to earn income for food purchases. These households have heavily depleted coping capacity and are expected to face widening food consumption gaps. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in Bama, Marte, Guzamala, and Abadam LGAs. An increasing number of people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as households become more reliant on markets for food amid high food prices. Most IDPs in camps remain heavily reliant on humanitarian assistance and are likely facing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes.

    • Northeast Nigeria is seeing a critically and atypically high malnutrition caseload. According to the nutrition sector, admissions into Stabilization Centres (SC) in Borno state in April are the highest they have been for the previous six years during the same period, with SAM in-patient admissions more than doubling from March to April. SAM in-patient admissions are 150 percent higher than in April 2022 and are already approaching the peak lean season admissions rates from August and September 2022. This is likely primarily driven by the increased displacement from inaccessible areas to garrison towns due to sustained military operations and increased mobility, in conjunction with the atypically early exhaustion of food, high prevalence of measles, and limited access to functional health services. According to the nutrition sector, many SCs in the northeast are currently well over capacity and have limited funding to handle the high caseloads. Malnutrition rates are expected to increase as the lean season and rainy season advance due to reduced food access alongside increases in infectious diseases like measles, malaria, and cholera.

    • Between March and May, banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping in the northwest and northcentral states rose in frequency and fatality, as well as expanding into new areas. In April, the majority of recorded conflict-related deaths reported in Nigeria occurred in the northcentral and northwestern states, with a large portion of the northcentral fatalities occurring in Benue and Nasarawa states. Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Plateau, and Sokoto states also continue to be heavily affected by insecurity, driving localized displacement and the disruption of livelihood activities. Despite the start of seasonal land preparation and planting in April and May, on-farm labor opportunities remain scarce due to insecurity, resulting in many relying on petty trading, firewood sales, crafts, and unskilled labor to earn some income. Most households exhausted their food stocks in April/May and rely mainly on market purchases to access some food; however, purchasing power is low due to the atypically high market prices. An increasing number of households face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as households are not able to purchase sufficient food to meet their basic food needs. Some households have resorted to begging and are facing wide food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    • Rainfall performance at the start of the 2023 rainy season has been mixed. Rainfall in bimodal southern areas began on time in March and has been marked by steady rainfall with decreasing deficits. In northcentral Nigeria, rainfall also started on time, although early-season precipitation deficits were observed in May. In the north, rainfall is forecasted to begin normally in June. Land preparation and/or planting is ongoing, although at below-average levels due to the ongoing conflict in high-producing areas and the limited financial access to agriculture inputs. Transhumance is also underway across the country, though remains disrupted in the main migration corridor due to the high levels of farmer/herder conflict. Herders continue to redirect their herds to less conflict-affected areas with available pasture in southern bimodal and central states.

    • Macroeconomic conditions remain poor, marked by the continued high inflation, devaluation of the Nigerian Naira (NGN) on the parallel market, high fuel prices, and the remaining impacts of the cash crisis. The market value of the NGN has remained low but relatively stable since January 2023 on the official market while depreciating on the parallel market. On the parallel market, the NGN is exchanging over 65 percent higher than the official rate due to the sustained high demand for USD. Staple food prices remain higher than last year and the five-year average in most markets. In April in Kaura Namoda market, Zamfara state, millet prices were roughly 15 percent higher than last April and 60 percent higher than the five-year average price, primarily driven by short supply and high demand.

    • Crude oil output slipped considerably in April 2023 to 998,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from 1.3 million bpd in March. However, the Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Lagos opened on May 22nd, and with a refining capacity of 650,000 bpd, it is anticipated to reduce fuel imports starting July 2023. Following the inauguration of President Tinubu at the end of May, the government announced its intention to remove the fuel subsidy by late June, driving panic buying and long lines at petrol stations, as well as spikes in fuel prices in major urban centers, some approaching 300 percent higher than the former regulated price of 185 NGN/liter. The removal of fuel subsidies is also likely to negatively impact the economy and drive further increases in food prices across the country due to heightened transportation costs.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Nigeria Key Message Update May 2023: Amid high food assistance needs, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely in the northeast during lean season, 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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