With 809 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 9, the country has 96 active cases as of May 18, indicating a slowdown in the spread of the disease. This relative stabilization in the evolution of new cases has led the government to relax restrictive measures such as the opening of markets, bars and restaurants, the lifting of quarantine in cities and the opening of inter-city transport. Land borders remain closed except for the transport of goods.
In urban centers, the availability of widely consumed food products remains satisfactory as stocks of imported rice and oil can cover more than 3 months' needs and those of sugar are sufficient for at least 8 months. As a result of government controls, prices are generally stable compared to last year and the five-year average. However, the economic situation remains weak and the job and income losses recorded in the previous months continue to negatively affect the purchasing power of poor households. The opening of cereal sales outlets at subsidized prices and the food distributions under way for the benefit of 112,880 people in the two major cities are contributing to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for the urban poor.
In addition to COVID-19, insecurity remains a concern, with continued attacks by terrorist groups, especially in the Sahel, North, North-Central and East regions. The month of April recorded 55 incidents and 301 fatalities, respectively similar levels and a 50 percent increase over the monthly average over the past 12 months. On the eve of the coming agricultural season, more than 848,000 people are internally displaced and localities in the border provinces with Mali in the north and Niger in the east are of limited access. In these areas, more than 80 percent of health centers in the Sahel region, more than 30 percent in the Centre-North and about 20 percent in the Eastern region are closed or minimally functioning.
In rural areas of the Sahel region in particular, the temporary closure of the main markets has negatively affected the sale of animals, which is the main source of household income. Despite the recovery, these markets remain unfrequented by non-local buyers. As a result, prices for small ruminants have fallen by about 16 percent in Djibo, Soum province, and Dori, Séno province. Compared to the five-year average, the drop in prices is 29 percent in Dori and 20 percent in Djibo. The Djibo market remains particularly difficult to access due to the occupation of access roads by terrorist groups. The supply of animals has fallen by one-third and stocks of millet, a staple food, are low.
Host households and IDPs in Soum province are reliant on food assistance from WFP and the Red Cross, which covered 30 and 24 percent of the population in March and April respectively. In the other provinces with a strong IDP presence (Loroum, Bam, Sanmatenga and Namentenga), assistance in April reached at least 20 percent of the population. As a result of the assistance, poor and IDP households in these provinces and those in Soum are acutely food insecure (IPC Phase 2!). On the other hand, assistance remains low in the provinces of Oudalan, Séno, Yagha (in the Sahel region), and in Gnagna and Komondjaori (in the Eastern region) where poor IDPs and host households are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3).