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High food assistance needs in north amid macroeconomic crisis and below-average harvest

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • September 2023
High food assistance needs in north amid macroeconomic crisis and below-average harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The compounding impacts of conflict, prolonged dry spells, and macroeconomic crisis have negatively impacted main season harvest prospects in the northeast. While seasonal demand for on-farm labor is marginally increasing income access for poor households, wages remain low, and there is high competition for few labor opportunities. Households remain largely purchase-reliant for food but are facing atypically high staple food prices, limiting financial access to food. Additionally, in August and September, the heightened frequency and fatality of attacks and abductions— partially driven by the worsening economic conditions— have limited access to farmland during the harvest period. In Abadam, Bama, Guzamala, and Marte local government areas (LGAs), households are primarily dependent on wild foods and begging to access food. Wide food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist in these areas. Displaced households living in camps in urban areas continue to receive humanitarian food assistance and are able to meet basic food needs, though unable to meet essential non-food needs, and are Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).
    • In the northwest and northcentral, mass kidnappings and abductions for ransom have spiked in August and September. Bandit groups and gangs are increasingly relying on these measures to generate income amid the escalating macroeconomic crisis. Reported incidents and abductees have more than doubled from June to August. Growing financial pressure has also driven an increase in civilian-targeted violence and indiscriminate looting/robbery. Primarily occurring in Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, and Zamfara states, this has heavily impeded physical and financial access to markets, basic services, and farmland at the start of the main season harvest, limiting access to income and food. In northcentral Nigeria, farmer/herder clashes continue at high levels as the harvest season commences, particularly in Benue, Plateau, and Kaduna states. In September, the high levels of conflict in Zamfara state led to the mandated closure of several livestock markets in five LGAs, restricting income generation and access to livestock and livestock products in remote areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in several parts of northcentral and northwest Nigeria. 
    • In September, the macroeconomic crisis reached new heights. Record high inflation, low currency value, unseasonably low access to income, restricted cross-border trade with Niger Republic, and sustained high fuel and food prices are crippling household purchasing power. In August, annual headline inflation climbed to 25.8 percent, up from 24.08 percent in July. This is compounded by the declining value of the Nigerian Naira (NGN), which reached 985 NGN/USD on the unofficial market in Abuja in late September— the lowest exchange value on record. In August, the height of the lean season, maize prices were 64 to 116 percent higher than last August in Dawanau, Bodija, Kaura, and Maiduguri markets and well over the five-year average in all monitored markets. This has severely limited financial access to food for purchase-dependent households. National revenue generation also remains strained due to poor crude oil production. Further, a recent audit of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that over 40 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves are already tied to debt payments, significantly reducing national purchasing power. 
    • The onset of the green harvest in mid-August has helped alleviate food consumption gaps observed through the lean season across most of Nigeria. The early harvest of yams and maize in southern states and of early maturing crops, such as maize, millet, rice, groundnuts, potatoes, and yams in northern states, began in late August and has continued through September. Overall, the 2023 main season national crop production is expected to be below the five-year average but slightly improved compared to last year’s production. Flooding this year has been much more localized and less severe than last year, resulting in considerably less crop damage and displacement. However, crop production in the north is still expected to be poor due to the impacts of long dry spells during crop maturation, conflict and kidnapping in many surplus-producing states, and the lack of financial access to inputs, likely resulting in limited household-level crop production. This is anticipated to result in unseasonably high market prices through the harvest and post-harvest periods. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Nigeria Key Messages September 2023: High food assistance needs in north amid macroeconomic crisis and below-average harvest, 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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