Nigeria Food Security Alert: January 7, 2015


Boko Haram violence limits farming and market activity in northeast Nigeria

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity persists in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the continuing Boko Haram conflict. IDPs and households that remain in conflict-affected areas continue to face difficulty meeting their food and nonfood needs. In the absence of well-targeted humanitarian assistance as many as three million people will be unable to meet basic food needs by July 2015.

Boko Haram-related violence increased significantly beginning in spring 2014, just before main season farming activities began, and remained elevated through the end of 2014. Data available from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker show that the number of deaths attributed to the Boko Haram conflict in 2014 account for half of all deaths registered since the beginning of the conflict in 2009. Much of the violence is occurring in southern parts of Yobe and Borno and northern Adamawa (Figure 1). Attacks in neighboring states in Nigeria and other parts of the country, though, are also still common.

FEWS NET assessments in late 2014 to Gombe, Yobe, and Adamawa and interviews with key informants indicate that vast areas of southern Yobe and Borno and northern Adamawa were under-cultivated and/or not harvested during the May to December main farming season as a result of attacks and conflict-related fears. Off-season farming and fishing activities in the first half of 2015 are also expected to be lower. As a result, households are left with significantly below-average food stocks. Incomes from agriculture wage labor for both the main and off-season will be down due to decreased labor participation. With insurgents attacking livestock holdings and conflict disrupting markets, incomes from livestock sales are also down.

In interviews with FEWS NET, traders from the northeast indicate that most markets in conflict areas are closed or operating at reduced levels (Figure 1) following attacks on markets, low supplies of locally produced commodities, and limited physical access to markets by traders from outside the region. Markets monitored by FEWS NET in the northeast that are operating continue to report high prices for staple foods. For example, retail millet and sorghum prices in December for Maiduguri were about 30 percent higher than in neighboring Kano. Decreased market activities and high staple food prices, combined with limited physical access because of the conflict, make market purchase difficult for households that would typically offset low production with increased market purchase.

Conflict-affected households will stretch their stocks and incomes by limiting non-food expenditures but will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) though at least September 2015. Many people have fled the conflict, and the government of Nigeria has registered more than 800,000 IDPs in urban areas of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa and neighboring states in Nigeria living with host families or in informal camps – partner agencies estimates suggest many more have not yet been registered. In addition, more than 150,000 people have been displaced to neighboring Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. Most refugees and IDPs continue to need assistance in meeting their essential food and non-food needs.

Immediate, well-targeted assistance is needed for conflict-affected households in the northeast as well as IDPs in urban centers and neighboring areas. In the absence of humanitarian support, it is expected that up to three million people will face food consumption gaps in Nigeria by July 2015