Niger flag

Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

Generally good food security conditions for the post-harvest period

October 2017

October 2017 - January 2018

February - May 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Crop production estimates for rainfed and irrigated crops by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics point to average to good food availability and income-earning opportunities for farming households in 2017-2018 in all parts of the country with the exception of a few areas. The majority of these households are able to meet their food and nonfood needs and, thus, will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least May of 2018.

  • There are acceptable levels of pasture production in the pastoral zone, though with reports of production deficits in certain areas. The lower demand for exports with the devaluation of the naira and the continued security crisis will erode the market value of livestock and household purchasing power. Poor households will sell more animals than usual to bolster their food consumption but will be unable to meet essential nonfood expenses without food assistance and, thus, will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity as of March of 2018.

  • The ongoing harvests have improved the availability of crops on most markets. Procurements for the rebuilding of institutional food stocks and trader inventories are driving demand, which will help keep prices high through March of 2018.

  • The persistent civil security problems in the Diffa region are disrupting the livelihoods of local populations and impeding access by humanitarian actors to certain receiving areas for DPs. Displaced households and poor local populations in these inaccessible areas will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity through at least May of 2018. The majority of these households will be unable to meet their food needs and will be highly dependent on humanitarian assistance. 

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current situation

The good agro-climatic conditions for the 2017/2018 growing season bode well for average to above-average crop yields and average food availability and farm incomes. Food availability will be further bolstered by yields of market garden crops between December 2017 and May 2018, which will also help improve incomes. There has been relatively regular rainfall activity throughout the 2017/2018 growing season. According to monitoring data supplied by the Multidisciplinary Working Group, most farming areas had an acceptable cumulative crop water requirement satisfaction index for the period between the start-of-season and September 30, 2017 (between 60 and 100 percent). Satellite (RFE) data for the period from April 1st through September 30th show a similar trend. The preliminary assessment by the Agricultural Statistics Bureau shows average to good levels of national crop production, including 4,500,000 to 5,000,000 metric tons of millet and sorghum. The extended dry spells, strong winds, and flooding reported in localized areas in the month of August had no major effects on crops or production forecasts.

The good rainfall activity allowing for the successful replenishment of groundwater reservoirs will ensure the availability of water for the ongoing growing season for irrigated crops. Estimates by Agricultural Ministry experts put the cereal equivalent of market garden crops at over 300,000 metric tons.  

There were also generally good agro-climatic conditions in the pastoral zone, but the reported dry spells in August led to the wilting of pasture plants and localized shortfalls in biomass production. Pastures consisting of a mix of grasses and woody plants with average biomass cover are in good shape and account for most of the current food supply of livestock. The average levels of major surface (marshes and seasonal lakes and ponds) and underground water sources (wells and boreholes) are enabling pastoralists to provide water to their animals easily. This has helped livestock stay in good physical condition and retain their market value. The availability and accessibility of pasture are maintaining normal herd movements. However, the reported water deficit in the month of August created pockets of drought, severely limiting biomass production, particularly in the Diffa and Tahoua regions.

There are normal income-earning opportunities and Income levels from most sources, except for migration income and proceeds from the sale of animals and cash crops in Nigeria. The security and macroeconomic problems in Nigeria have limited income-earning opportunities from migrant workers and export sales. However, local conditions are providing poor households with near-average income-earning opportunities from farm labor. According to talks by FEWS NET staffers with pastoralists in September 2017, they are earning between 300 and 400 francs per liter from the sale of milk and between 250 francs initially and 500 francs by the end of the rainy season per small ruminant for the tending of livestock herds. The average rate of pay for farm labor is between 1,500 and 2,000 francs per day of work.

The continued low exchange rate for the naira and civil security problems on major arteries are hampering trade between Niger and Nigeria. The devaluation of the naira and lower earnings from oil sales are limiting government revenues, foreign exchange reserves, and the liquidity of the Nigerian economy. The combined effects of the civil security problems disrupting trade channels and these unfavorable macroeconomic conditions are reducing the volume of cereal trade from Nigeria to Niger and slowing the flow of livestock trade from Niger to Nigeria. The black-market exchange rate of 640 nairas for 1,000 CFA francs in Jibia at the end of September 2017 is significantly under the five-year average by more than 40 percent. 

Demand is being driven by institutional procurements. Last year’s high prices precluding the building of trader inventories back up to optimal levels have created large stock-building needs. There is also a need for 150,000 metric tons of food supplies for the replenishment of national security stocks, including 100,000 metric tons for the strategic food security reserve to be purchased by the government between October and December, of which 60,000 metric tons will be purchased directly from farmers and 90,000 metric tons will be competitively bid in line with the national assistance plan for at-risk populations.

Prices are still above-average. With the high prices on source markets in Nigeria, current border controls, and the low levels of cereal stocks in Niger, cereal prices were especially high at harvest time. Sorghum and millet prices on markets in Maradi, millet prices in Abalak and Agadez, and maize prices in Gaya were still up sharply from August 2016 and well above the five-year average by more than 30 percent due to low market inventories, with these markets not yet receiving their full complement of fresh crops. As far as livestock are concerned, prices for male goats in Tanout (Zinder), Tamaské (Tahoua), and Tchadoua (Maradi), male sheep in Soubdou (Zinder), and bulls in Tamaské (Tahoua) are more than 40 percent below the five-year average with the low demand for exports to Nigeria.

Deliveries of food assistance are helping to promote food availability and food access for poor local households and DPs. According to the UNOCHA, scheduled humanitarian programs for September through December 2017 will extend beyond the end of the lean season, including cash-for-work programs by the CCA (Niger’s Food Crisis Unit), the WFP, and the CFS (Niger’s Safety Net Unit) in the amount of 3,800,000,000 francs and unconditional cash transfer programs by the Safety Net Unit (Cellule Filets Sociaux) and WFP for another 4,200,000,000 francs. The government is also currently offering 10,155 metric tons of cereals for sale at subsidized prices. These operations are improving food availability for recipient households, facilitating their food access, and protecting them from potential hikes in food prices on local markets.

The security situation remains tense, with escalating problems spilling over into the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions from the Diffa region. Based on the unstable security situation and the need to provide military and law enforcement personnel with the physical and legal means with which to combat the terrorist threat, the government of Niger declared a three-month-long state of emergency in the Diffa, Tahoua (Tassara and Tillia), and Tillabéry (Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilaré, Abala, and Banibangou) regions on September 18, 2017. This could mean a pick-up in military interventions, triggering population movements in these regions.

Good food security conditions are bolstering the nutritional situation, keeping trends in malnutrition rates in line with seasonal norms. The good performance of the rainy season should mean good food availability from a variety of food crops, with off-season crops facilitating household food access and dietary diversity. This is helping to keep global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates across the country at normal levels of between 10 and 15 percent for the harvest season (October through December) and post-harvest period (January through May).

Food security outcomes. Good food and pasture availability and average levels of income from typical activities such as farm labor and the tending of livestock are keeping food insecurity in practically all livelihood zones at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels for the month of October. However, poor local populations and DPs in areas of the Diffa region cut off from humanitarian assistance are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity with the disruption of their livelihoods by the civil conflict.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for October 2017 through May 2018 is based on the following assumptions:

  • There will be average to above-average levels of cereal and cash crop production. However, crop losses from reported water deficits will create localized shortfalls in crop production.
  • There will be good water availability for irrigated crops grown between December and May, with the prospect of a good harvest and large availability of market garden crops.
  • There are average employment prospects with the job opportunities afforded by farming activities for flood recession crops, producing average to high levels of income. Other typical activities such as the sale of straw, wood, and artisanal products will provide additional income-earning opportunities, enabling poor households to improve their purchasing power and meet their needs.
  • Security situation. With the continuing civil conflicts in northern Mali and northeastern Nigeria, the government of Niger will extend the state of emergency in the Diffa, Tillabéry (Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilaré, Abala, and Banibangou), and Tahoua (Tassara and Tillia) regions, which will limit the access of local populations to their livelihoods. The expected military interventions in these areas threatened by terrorism could trigger new internal population movements.
  • Pastures, physical condition of livestock, and seasonal herd movements. The availability of pasture and water will help keep livestock in good physical condition between October and March, with seasonal herd movements by transhumant livestock starting up by December. However, by April, localized pasture deficits will cause animals to lose weight and reduce their market value, sharply weakening household purchase power and triggering larger than usual sales of livestock, shrinking the animal herds of poor households. 
  • Projected institutional procurements. The virtually total depletion of their existing stocks will necessitate larger than average procurements by farmer organizations, government agencies, and other institutions between October and January to build up new inventories.
  • Out-migration and short-term seasonal labor migration: As usual, labor migration to urban areas or neighboring countries will start up in November, producing average cash remittances through the month of May. However, there will be a sharp drop in migrant remittances from Libya and Nigeria due to the lack of opportunities as a result of the security problems limiting access to these receiving countries.
  • Economic situation in Nigeria. The continued low value of the naira against the CFA franc will disrupt exports of livestock and crops to Nigeria between now and May 2018. Cereal prices on most markets will stay above seasonal five-year averages for both parts of the outlook period (October through December 2017 and January through May 2018) with the unfavorable conditions in Nigeria slowing the flow of trade.
  • Cereal supplies, demand, and trade. There should be an improvement in market supplies in both rural and urban areas with the widespread October harvests, particularly in the case of cash crops, which are the first crops shipped to market. Markets in remote and structurally deficit areas will be supplied with crops through domestic trade. Cross-border trade with countries such as Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Mali between January and May 2018 will provide local markets in Niger with a regular flow of supplies and strengthen food availability. With the economic situation in Nigeria, there will be a smaller than average volume of cross-border trade with that country. There will be typical levels of aggregate demand driven by consumer demand from pastoral households through the month of December. As of January 2018, there should be a larger than average demand from traders looking to respond to calls for bids and to rebuild their virtually depleted inventories and from institutions seeking to rebuild their food security stocks. There is also a seasonal demand from poor households and households in structurally deficit areas turning to local markets for their food supplies.
  • Livestock prices. The devaluation of the naira against the CFA franc will affect livestock exports to Nigeria (their main destination) and keep prices below average for both parts of the outlook period (October through December 2017 and January through May 2018), reducing the purchasing power of pastoral households.
  • Humanitarian operations. Humanitarian programs mounted by partner organizations and government safety net programs will start up in March and extend through at least the end of May to strengthen food availability and help facilitate cereal access for households in structurally deficit areas or at-risk villages for acute food insecurity.
  • Nutritional situation. The generally satisfactory food security situation in the country’s various livelihood zones and ongoing screening and treatment programs for new cases of malnutrition will keep global acute malnutrition rates in line with seasonal averages throughout the entire outlook period.

Most likely food security outcomes

In general, there will be an improvement in the food security situation across the country, with average to high levels of crop production from harvests extending through the month of December and average income-earning opportunities from seasonal activities such as wage labor, petty trade, temporary employment, and other strategies. Harvests of off-season crops between January and April will bolster food availability and improve dietary diversity. Most households will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least May of 2018.

Poor pastoral households and pepper farmers in the Diffa region contending with an across-the-board reduction in their income with the lower demand for exports to Nigeria will be unable to fully meet their food and nonfood needs. They will be forced to sell larger numbers of animals to purchase the same amount of cereals or to resort to atypical coping strategies such as borrowing and the gathering of wood and straw. Accordingly, some of these households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions between March and May 2018 and those in locations also affected by the conflict in the Lake Chad area (Diffa and Nguigmi) could be facing a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation. 

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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