Assessment of Chronic Food Insecurity in Niger, March 2019


In May 2018, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and the Integrated Phase Classification Global Support Unit (IPC GSU) convened stakeholders from a variety of Nigerien ministries, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and United Nations (UN) agencies to prepare a chronic food insecurity analysis using IPC tools. The objective of this exercise was to both understand the dynamics of chronic food insecurity in Niger and to inform future chronic analysis within the larger region. Using a range of data on the quantity and quality of food consumption, levels of malnutrition, and a variety of contributing factors, participants classified the severity of chronic food insecurity for 24 zones comprising 13 dominant livelihood zones in Niger. The analysis teams estimated the size of chronically food insecure populations, and highlighted the key limiting and underlying factors. Figure 1 presents the final conclusions of this analysis.

Summary of Classification Conclusions

The IPC-Chronic Classification consists of four levels of chronic food insecurity (CFI) severity, specifically: Minimal CFI (Level 1), Mild CFI (Level 2), Moderate CFI (Level 3), and Severe CFI (Level 4). Analysis considers three food security domains: food consumption (quality), food consumption (quantity), and chronic malnutrition. Based on an analysis of these domains, with data disaggregated for 24 classification zones of Niger (determined by the intersection of Regions and Livelihood Zones), the entire country was classified as Moderate CFI (Level 3), except zone 14 (Southeastern Maradi) and zone 23 (Central Zinder) that were classified as Severe CFI (Level 4). Overall, 32 percent of Niger’s 19.3 million people were classified as Moderate (Level 3) or Severe (Level 4) CFI. The estimated prevalence of Moderate and Severe CFI was highest in Agadez, Diffa, Maradi, Tillaberi, and Zinder regions (Zones 3, 6, 11, 20, 22, 23 and 24) where it ranged between 40 and 50 percent, compared to 30 to 35 percent in other parts of the country. Collectively, Zinder had the highest prevalence of moderate and severe CFI nationally. The prevalence of moderate and severe CFI was lowest in Southeastern Diffa and Central Maradi, though even here a quarter of the population has moderate and severe CFI. Nationally, one third of Nigerien households face moderate and severe chronic food insecurity, experience seasonal food deficits for two to four months per year, and have poor dietary diversity.

Millet, sorghum, and vegetables are widely grown and households in the dryer, northern parts of the country depend on transhumant livestock as primary livelihoods. Many households are also heavily dependent on petty commerce, and the poorest are engaged in more precarious livelihoods such as casual labor, sale of firewood, and forage for animals and work as artisans. Throughout the country, many men migrate during the dry season to work as laborers in southern Niger or other parts of West Africa. As to be expected, access to safe water sources and improved sanitation is problematic for many given the dry, Sahelian conditions. Many also report that the water table is being depleted and pasture is becoming increasingly scarce, requiring transhumant herders to move longer distances with their livestock and camels. Many households are likely to have moderately stunted children and very limited resilience to shocks, such as recurrent drought and desertification due to both climate change and overexploitation of natural resources, such as the Lake Chad Basin in eastern Niger and desert areas of Agadez, Diffa, Tahoua, and Zinder.