Food insecurity persist in some areas despite the excess of the agropastoral production
According to the experts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the agricultural and pastoral campaign 2019 in Niger seems to progress under the best auspices. The large coverage of rainfalls not only facilitated the growing of crop in most of the monitored areas, but also increased the grass cover available for livestock. Forecasts on harvest prospects indicate that if rainfalls will continue between the 15th and the 30rd of September, the positive production balance could oscillate between the 33% and the 66%.
Already in 2017 and 2018 Niger had registered cereal surpluses which have relatively improved the food situation of households. The availability of cereals on the market facilitated in fact a significant decrease of market prices for millet, sorghum, cowpea, compared to the past decade, and a relative stabilization of the prices for maize and rice. By only comparing the situation with the one reported in 2018 at this same period, it is possible to register significant decreases in the prices of most consumed cereals: -25% for millet, -20% for sorghum, -36% for cowpeas and -13% for maize.
However, despite the positive performances of the agropastoral production, food insecurity remains a risk for the poorest households who have exhausted their resources during the"lean season", a period from May to August when villages experiences from little to absolutely zero harvest. Although this year’s lean season do not seem to have had significantly impacted cereal prices on the market, many households live in a very poor context and lack the necessary financial means to buy their food. Added to this are the many households living in the regions of Diffa and Tillabéri, whose regular access to food resources is challenged by a permanent security crisis disrupting cross-border supply flows, limiting transactions and challenging movements of people and commercial goods. A significant food defici and the deterioration of livelihoods conditions for both displaced and host communities are the direct consequences of these factors.
The results published in March 2019 by the Harmonized Framework for the analysis and identification of areas and populations at risk of food and nutritional insecurity estimated that 1.2 million people are threatened by food insecurity, with the highest peak reached during the lean season, and with the most affected areas located in the regions of Diffa, Tillabéri and Tahoua, and particularly in the departments along the borders with Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso. According to the estimations of the 2019’s Humanitarian Response Plan, about 190,000 people are expected to need food assistance only along the the Mali / Burkina Faso border area, and 289,000 people in the region of Diffa.
The government's response plan targeted 1,170,589 people (170,267 household) suffering of food security from phase 3 to 5 with free distribution of cash and food during the three months of the lean season (June-July 2019). These are households that cannot afford the food they need and whose level of food security oscillates between “crisis” and “famine”.
The pastoral situation is not immune to persistence of the food security crisis. The expansion of the herbaceous coverage throughout the country hides pockets of drought in several areas of Diffa, Tahoua, Zinder and Maradi regions. To support pastoralists, FAO has already delivered 3,400 tons of livestock feed between February and March 2019 while 5,000 tons have been distributed by the CCA. Additional 10,000 tons of livestock feed are now being distributed by the GIZ, while global needs are estimated at 15 000 tons for the entire country.