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A Famine likely occurred in Bama LGA and may be ongoing in inaccessible areas of Borno State

  • Special Report
  • Nigeria
  • December 13, 2016
A Famine likely occurred in Bama LGA and may be ongoing in inaccessible areas of Borno State

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface
  • Analytical Approach and Review

  • Preface

    This report summarizes an IPC-compatible analysis of Local Government Areas (LGAs) and select IDP concentrations in Borno State, Nigeria. The conclusions of this report have been endorsed by the IPC’s Emergency Review Committee. This analysis follows a July 2016 multi-agency alert, which warned of Famine, and builds off of the October 2016 Cadre Harmonisé analysis, which concluded that additional, more detailed analysis of Borno was needed given the elevated risk of Famine.

    Key Messages
    • A Famine likely occurred in Bama and Banki towns during 2016, and in surrounding rural areas where conditions are likely to have been similar, or worse. Although this conclusion cannot be fully verified, a preponderance of the available evidence, including a representative mortality survey, suggests that Famine (IPC Phase 5) occurred in Bama LGA during 2016, when the vast majority of the LGA’s remaining population was concentrated in Bama Town and Banki Town. Analysis indicates that at least 2,000 Famine-related deaths may have occurred in Bama LGA between January and September, many of them young children. Famine may have also occurred in other parts of Borno State that were inaccessible during 2016, but not enough data is available to make this determination.

    • While assistance has improved conditions in accessible areas of Borno State, a Famine may be ongoing in inaccessible areas where conditions could be similar to those observed in Bama LGA earlier this year. Significant assistance in Bama Town (since July) and in Banki Town (since August/September) has contributed to a reduction in mortality and the prevalence of acute malnutrition, though these improvements are tenuous and depend on the continued delivery of assistance. Food assistance may also be preventing Famine in other IDP concentrations. However, given that large areas of Borno State remain inaccessible to all civilian actors, including humanitarian partners, and given the severity of food insecurity observed in those adjacent areas that humanitarians can reach, it is possible that Famine (IPC Phase 5) is ongoing in inaccessible parts of Borno State. However, without additional information, this cannot be confirmed or disproven.

    • The risk of Famine in inaccessible areas of Borno State will remain high over the coming year. Given current levels of food insecurity, significantly below-average crop production, disrupted livelihoods, and very high staple food prices, millions of people are likely to remain severely food insecure over the October 2016-September 2017 consumption year. Food security outcomes are likely to be especially severe in inaccessible areas where livelihoods are disrupted and populations are cut-off from markets, health care, and assistance. In these areas, levels of malnutrition and mortality are likely to remain elevated given the combination of this food insecurity, a high probability of disease outbreaks, and inadequate humanitarian response.

    • Assistance is likely to continue preventing Famine in many IDP concentrations, but sustained humanitarian access is critical. In a worst-case scenario, where conflict cuts off areas that are currently accessible and dependent on assistance, the likelihood of Famine in these areas would be high.

    • The current response is insufficient to meet the very large emergency assistance needs in Borno State. Regardless of whether a Famine is occurring, the severity of current food insecurity is extreme and the size of the food insecure population is very large. Large areas of the state are classified as Emergency (IPC Phase 4), meaning that at least one in five households faces large food consumption gaps, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is very high, and excess mortality is likely, especially among young children. The October 2016 Cadre Harmonisé estimates that 4.7 million people are in need of emergency food assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states of northeast Nigeria, 3 million of them in Borno State alone. While large-scale emergency operations are ongoing in the northeast, only about 1 million people have received food assistance in 2016. Displaced people and those trapped in inaccessible areas face the worst food security outcomes.

      How is Famine classified? According to the IPC, a Famine (IPC Phase 5) has occurred when the following three criteria are met: 1. At least 20 percent of households in the area of concern (e.g. admin unit, camp) are classified in Catastrophe, meaning that households have an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies; 2. The prevalence of acute malnutrition is very high, above 30 percent if measured using weight-for-height or above 17 percent if measured using Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC); and, 3. Excess mortality has occurred, as evidenced by a Crude Death Rate (CDR) greater than 2/10,000/day.


    Analytical Approach and Review

    This report summarizes an IPC-compatible analysis of Local Government Areas (LGAs) and select Internally Displaced Person (IDP) concentrations in Borno State, Nigeria. This analysis follows a July 2016 multi-agency alert which warned of Famine and builds off of the October 2016 Cadre Harmonisé analysis (Annex Figure 1) which concluded that “Since the CH analysis … does not give enough information about the reality in the LGAs, it was identified that further analysis is needed for Borno State where two senatorial zones had been found in Emergency (Phase 4), to determine whether or not there is actually Famine (CH Phase 5) occurring in some areas of the state.”

    In response to this need for additional analysis, and in light of newly available information, FEWS NET conducted an IPC-compatible analysis for Borno. The process began by compiling all available information on food consumption, livelihoods, nutritional status, and mortality, as well as information on contributing factors, including FEWS NET analysis of crop production, market functioning, accessibility, and humanitarian assistance in the northeast. Given the lack of up-to-date LGA-level population statistics, FEWS NET also conducted an analysis of available displacement information to estimate the current population of LGAs in Borno. FEWS NET staff used this collection of information to classify LGAs and camps in Borno using IPC-compatible analysis protocols.

    IPC Review: This report has undergone an IPC Real Time Quality Review (RTQR). Undertaken by staff from the IPC Global Support Unit, Action Against Hunger, and the UN World Food Programme, the review aimed to assess both the plausibility of the analysis and the degree to which IPC protocols were followed. This review concluded that the evidence presented converged towards the report’s conclusions. However, the RTQR noted that the analysis was constrained by the limited availability and quality of food security data. For example, in Bama LGA, though rapid field assessments, reports from local authorities, and multiple mass screenings all suggested very high levels of acute malnutrition, no representative nutrition surveys have been conducted in this area during 2016. Based on these two conclusions, the RTQR recommended that the analysis be forwarded on to the IPC’s Emergency Review Committee (ERC) for a final determination. 

    The IPC’s ERC is a four-member group comprised of emergency food security and nutrition analysis experts. The purpose of the ERC is to provide final vetting of IPC or IPC-compatible analyses that propose that Famine has occurred, may occur in the future, or is only being prevented by the provision of humanitarian assistance. Following its review, key conclusions of the ERC include the following:

    1. There is enough evidence to classify an Elevated Likelihood that a Famine occurred in Bama and Banki towns, and is likely to have occurred in specific enclaves in the inaccessible areas of Borno State where similar conditions persisted if caveats identified by the ERC are respected.

    2. There is enough evidence to state that there is an Elevated Likelihood that a Famine is on-going in inaccessible areas of Borno State if caveats identified by the ERC are respected.

    3. There is enough evidence to state that there is an Elevated Risk that a Famine will continue in inaccessible areas of Borno State if caveats identified by the ERC are respected.

    Annex Figure 21 provides more detail on the caveats/qualifications identified by the ERC. In particular the ERC emphasized that these conclusions rest on a reasonable, but unverified assumption that significant populations remain in inaccessible areas and face conditions (e.g., access to food, income, and humanitarian assistance) similar to those found in other areas that were once inaccessible (e.g., Bama LGA).


    Click here to download the full report

    Figures Current food security outcomes by LGA and large IDP concentrations, November 2016

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes by LGA and large IDP concentrations, November 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Occasionally, FEWS NET will publish a Special Report that serves to provide an in-depth analysis of food security issues of particular concern that are not covered in FEWS NET’s regular monthly reporting. These reports may focus on a specific factor driving food security outcomes anywhere in the world during a specified period of time. For example, in 2019, FEWS NET produced a Special Report on widespread flooding in East Africa and its associated impacts on regional food security.

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