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West Africa Key Message Update: Ongoing insecurity, the increase in IDPs, and COVID-19 is increasing the need for humanitarian assistance, May 2020

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Ongoing insecurity, the increase in IDPs, and COVID-19 is increasing the need for humanitarian assistance

Key Messages

  • Seasonal forecasts produced by NOAA for the 2020/21 season indicate above-average cumulative rainfall in most of the Sahel and below average in many parts of the Gulf of Guinea. The forecasts issued by the regional centres (CILSS and ACMAD) suggest an early start to the season and a late end to the season in the Sahel, except in the west where they may be normal. Early and late season dry sequences will be short with some exceptions. These good season prospects could may be disrupted by the disrupted access to inputs by the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains, but also by the risk of locust invasion in the Sahelian strip from the Horn of Africa and/or the Middle East, starting in June.

  • In the Liptako Gourma region, the persistence and increase in terrorist attacks and threats continue to increase the number of IDPs from 700,000 in November 2019 to over 1,060,000 in March 2020. The majority of these people remain deprived of their livelihoods and continue to depend on humanitarian assistance. Many will be unable to produce again this year due to lack of access to their land. Access to remote plots will also be limited for some households still residing in these insecure areas. The limited access to certain areas such as northern Burkina Faso, western Niger and parts of northeastern Nigeria by humanitarians is disrupting assistance to these populations.

  • Despite the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, the market supply of food remained stable at above-average levels with large carryover stocks, except in deficit and conflict areas. Food prices remained stable or showed moderate changes compared to the previous month. However, slight monthly price increases in urban areas were observed due to the numerous COVID-19-related movement restriction measures taken by the governments and the demand for Ramadan.

  • In view of their negative impact on the economy and particularly on vulnerable sections of the population, the reopening of markets and the gradual deconfinement of the markets that is currently under way are allowing a resumption of commercial activities, albeit at lower than normal levels. Many poor urban and peri-urban households dependent on daily work and petty trade continue to experience slight declines in income as many hotel, restaurant, transport and industrial sectors are still struggling to maintain pre-COVID-19 levels of employment opportunities. In addition, these restrictions, as well as insecurity, limit access to grazing areas and water points by pastoral households coupled with an increase in the price of feed. Markets remain disrupted in the Great Lake Chad basin, Tibesti region and Liptako-Gourma region and could show the highest price levels.

  • The majority of areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2020 and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for some. However, the persistence of insecurity and armed conflict in the region will continue to worsen household food security conditions. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will remain until September in the Tillabéry region in Niger, the North-Central and Sahel regions and the provinces of Loroum, Komondjari and Gnagna in Burkina Faso, the Western Sahel and Liptako Gourma in Mali, eastern CAR and the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. Households in north-eastern Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram conflict continue to depend on humanitarian assistance for access to food and remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) particularly in Borno State and secondarily Yobe State. In adjacent areas that remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors, the food situation would be similar or worse.