A. Situation analysis
Description of the crisis The Sahel region is facing another food insecurity crisis that is currently considered to be the fifth largest scale of food insecurity crisis since the year 2005. Within the last 15 years, the food crisis cycle has occurred in the year 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and now 2017. Local populations are currently at a very fragile state and remain vulnerable to issues attributed to food insecurity. While considering that the same population have previously been exposed to subsequent drought and lack of rainfall, this subjects them to further crisis on aspects of accessing food and water. In addition to this, the overall political and insecurity situation throughout those countries heavily impacts the access to local markets and minimizes the capacity of local populations to become resilient and adapt to reinforce their coping mechanism. In addition, Civil insecurity, banditry and inter-communal conflicts, coupled with the disruption of livelihoods and the depletion of food stocks during the lean season, are among the factors that drastically limit the availability and access to food in the most affected areas. This situation is exacerbated by alarming displacement of people, involving nearly 4.9 million of internally displaced people and refugees. In addition, an increase in food prices by 10 percent compared to the average and a drastic drop in the prices of the animals are noted, which is likely to worsen during the lean season. Coastal countries and Nigeria are expected to experience high food price increase that, coupled with local currency depreciation, will drastically reduce the purchasing power of households.
In Niger, the current Food security situation is in worrying trend. According to the UNOCHA humanitarian bulletin of May–June 2017, published on 30 June 2017, the second technical meeting of the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Management of Food Crises has carried out an assessment of areas that are moderately to extremely vulnerable to food insecurity bringing them to 193 areas compared to 180 in December 2016 assessment report. This indicated an increase of 13 new zones. According to the report, the vulnerable population in need of food assistance during the lean season (June to September) has been re-assessed to 1,800,000 people including 370,000 people affected by the increase in the prices of cereals.
The Diffa region remain the most affected due to large population displacement following the security and humanitarian crisis. This region is hosting at least 408,000 food insecure people. But most of the humanitarian intervention in the country is targeting the region because of its vulnerability. At the pastoral level, the livestock food situation remains difficult, and even worrying particularly in the pastoral bands of the regions of Agadez, Zinder, Maradi and Tahoua.
According to the Map below, almost 11 districts of Niger are in the crisis phase. This includes the districts of: Bosso, Diffa, Goudoumaria, Mainé-Soroa, N’Gourti, Loga, Ouallam, Bani-Bangou, Mayahi, Guidan-Roumji, and Tanout. Meanwhile most parts of the country are under pressure phase.
Regarding the Map above, the district of Loga targeted by the NRCS is classified among the most affected and in crisis phase. While the targeted area has the highest number of food insecure population that are not considered in the interventions of other partners (WFP, ICRC and the government). The humanitarian needs related to food and nutrition remain high in the region of Dosso and particularly in the district of Loga where coverage remains very low. According to the national President of the NRCS Society, the National Society intervention in the Loga district area will have more impact compared to most popular areas where most of the other humanitarian organization are concentrated. Malnutrition is also a major public health problem and a challenge for development in Niger. Since the 2005 emergency, the prevalence of Acute Global Malnutrition in Niger has fluctuated but remains above the alert threshold of 10 percent and close to the WHO emergency threshold of 15 percent. Due to recurrent food crises in Niger, the number of children and pregnant or nursing mothers in need of humanitarian assistance may increase, according to the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). The causes of malnutrition are complex, multi-sectoral and interconnected: inadequate quantity and quality of food, difficult access to basic health services and drinking water, environmental sanitation, and so on. All this is compounded by certain cultural practices (early weaning, lack of dietary diversity, etc.). Often present at the same time, these factors create a vicious circle leading to under-nutrition. According to the Niger Nutrition Working Group projection, nearly 1.5 million people will require nutritional assistance during the year 2017. More than three-quarter of them (1,390,967 people) live outside of Diffa.
Among these people, nutritionists estimate that they can take care of 309,174 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) including 46,376 cases with medical complications, 475,000 children aged 6 to 23 months (boys and girls) suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and 163,000 pregnant women.
Further, the UNOCHA Humanitarian bulletin of May-June 2017 revealed that, as of 2 July 2017, a total of 134,043 children under five years of age were admitted to nutritional centres (CREN) for severe cases (SAM), including 15,938 cases with medical complication. This figure represents more than 54 percent (54.2 percent) of the target number set at the beginning of the year when the peak period of malnutrition has just begun. It should be noted that Dosso and Niamey regions have already reached their SAM targets.
At the same date, at least 141,874 children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) were admitted, representing 22.3 percent of the UNOCHA 2017 target. According to the national nutrition survey based on SMART methodology in 2016, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate was set at 10.3 percent and that of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rate at 1.9 percent at the national level. Futher information here.
Taking into consideration the result of this survey, which should have resulted in a decrease in admissions at the end of 2016 and throughout 2017, the Nutrition Working Group estimated that the number of severe acute malnourished children in 2017 should be reduced by one third compared to 2016. However, in view of the current situation, this improvement remains relatively low. For nutrition specialists, the 2017 targets for certain regions were clearly under estimated. This is particularly the case of the regions of Dosso and Niamey. Following this observation, a revision of the targets for SAM and MAM in 2017 took place. Further, based on the trends of previous years (2015 and 2016), targets for all regions were revised upwards (21 percent) except for Dosso and Niamey regions where targets were increased by 100 percent.
In Niger, access to safe drinking water and sanitation remains relatively low. According to WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, estimates on the use of water, sanitation and Hygiene in 2015, at the national level, 46 percent of the population of Niger have access to basic water service, 42 percent have access to unimproved water point and two percent consumes surface water. In rural areas (where more than 82 percent of the national population lives), the rate of access to basic water point is 36 percent, that is, less than one in two Nigeriens living in this environment has access to drinking water.
As for access to sanitation in Niger, in the rural areas only five percent benefit from safely managed latrines, against nine percent in urban areas. Seventy-one percent of the Niger population uses open defecation. It should however be noted that sanitation in Niger is much more an individual issue. Collective systems for the disposal of wastewater, rainwater and solid waste are non-existent in rural areas. The State and its partners have invested more in the implementation of waste management systems (gutters, latrines, rubbish dumps, landfill) in the urban areas, but they are insufficient and very poorly exploited. Efforts have been made in urban areas in the domain of sanitation but much remains to be done. The problem is much bigger in rural areas where only a few actions have been undertaken.
In addition to the food and nutritional crisis that is affecting the country, the negative effects of recurrent floods on communities and livelihoods are to be expected during this season. The precipitation of June and July 2017 caused severe flooding in several localities in the country, causing tens of thousands of disaster victims and significant losses of human and animal life. According to the Niger Civil Protection Services, the estimated number of people affected by flood as of 26 July 2017 is 49,939 people including 26 deaths. A great mobilization of inputs and resources is needed, including in sectors such as Health, WASH and Nutrition, Food Security and Education. The period is also favourable to malaria peak period, malnutrition and the outbreak of epidemics, mainly cholera. Damage properties are estimated at 4,028 houses collapsed, 4,076 head of cattle washed away by water. All together these incidents affected 5,704 households in eight regions of the country.
With regard to the above map, the Dosso region is the most affected floods area in the country with at least 17,608 people affected. This has also contributed in the food security crises in the region.
According to the seasonal forecast, rainfall this year will be higher than normal in several localities of Niger and the country will register significant rainfall. The most exposed localities are located in the following regions: Niamey, Tillabery and Tahoua. Thus, to avoid any eventuality, the government and its partners had to re-assess the multi-hazard contingency plan which initially provided for 106,000 people at risk of flooding in 2017 in Niger to bring it to 157,000 people.