FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
In 2009/10, Niger suffered a serious food crisis, similar to the one five years earlier, which not only led to a dramatic slump in agricultural and pastoral production, but also a loss of assets, livestock and other forms of saving and a high level of household indebtedness. This has had a serious impact on the people’s nutritional and health status, especially among children aged under five. The general malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition rates have reached very high levels in both the rural and the urban populations. In June 2010, 17 percent of the children in the country were suffering from global acute malnutrition (GAM). This figure was 36 percent higher than in the year before.
It was against this background that the Government of Niger, FAO, WFP, CILSS and FEWS Net conducted a thorough assessment of crop, pasture and food security situation this year to have a good understanding of the situation and of the current prospects, and to design, prepare and implement income- and production-generating activities that will enable the people to access the food produced this year during the course of 2010/11. The fallout from the 2009/10 crisis, and in particular the livestock losses and household debt levels are such that even with a satisfactory 2010 season there is no doubt that many households in Niger will be facing food insecurity within three to at most six months.
The joint Mission visited the country from 18 October to 6 November, 2010. During the first week, the FAO, WFP, CILSS-AGRHYMET and FEWS Net experts and representatives, working in conjunction with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock adopted the mission’s work programme and held working meetings with the national agencies monitoring the agricultural season, and food security. A meeting was held with the Multidisciplinary Working Group attended by representatives of the Crop Protection Directorate (DPV), the Food Crop Directorate (DCV), the National Meteorological Agency, the Early Warning System (EWS), the National Food Crisis Management and Prevention Agency (DNPGCA), the livestock market information Systems (SIM Bétail) and the agricultural markets information Systems (SIM), and the Agricultural Statistics Directorate. The mission enjoyed the support of all the central and regional Directorates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and of the other services and ministries whose assistance had been requested.
The Mission was divided into three groups, and was able to visit six of the country’s seven regions – Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabéry, Zinder and Diffa – between 27 October and 3 November. The only region the mission was unable to visit was Agadez. The assessment methodology included data collection at the level of region, department, village and household. The Mission held meetings with various technical services, regional and subregional food crisis prevention and management committees and conducted numerous focus group-type interviews to gauge the impact of the 2009/10 food crisis on the croplands in 2010 and on the production available for human consumption taking account of the contracted indebtedness, household level food prospects, and so on. One of the goals was also to understand the crisis management and survival strategies implemented.
The team carried out field visits to observe the state of the crops and the rangelands and to interview the farmers and herdsman on production conditions, expected yields and their adaptation strategies. They also visited markets in order to see the movements of prices of the main foodstuffs, particularly cereals, and livestock. Lastly, the mission visited several recuperation and nutrition centres, and interviewed their officials, and organized several focus group-type discussions with small groups of women who had brought their children to the centres, mainly suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The purpose of these visits was to gain a better understanding of the current level of malnutrition, the admissions trend, the prevalence of malnutrition in recent months, and its main causes.
The Mission presented its preliminary findings to WFP, FAO and the “Comité restreint de concertation Etat – donateurs ” (CRC), made up of officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and the leading donors, on 5 November.
The main results of the Mission indicate that the 2010/11 agricultural and pastoral season has produced a record crop as far as cereals are concerned. Despite the floods affecting several regions in July and August, rainfall had been adequate on the whole, enabling the cereals cycle in most of the departments to proceed normally. Food and non-food assistance provided by the government and the partners has also been effective and helped to cushion the impact of the food crisis on seed availability. Apart from a few isolated cases, the range lands recovered well as a result of the good phenological development of the fodder crops, and the water points have been replenished. However, many bush fires have been reported. For example, about 28 000 hectares of range lands were destroyed in the Maradi region during the last two weeks of October.
Based on the provisional production figures, the Mission forecasts a domestic surplus of more than 1 million tonnes in the 2010/11 marketing year. Part of this surplus will be used to replenish stocks, which were depleted after the 2009 slump in production. Another part could also be exported to the cereals-deficit regions in neighbouring Benin. Forecast commercial imports of wheat and rice, for which the country has a structural deficit, will cover the estimated needs.
However, the 2009-2010 crisis - considered by interviewed farmers and herders to be as serious as the 1973 and 1984 crises - has had very adverse, longer-term impact on household assets and savings, on levels of indebtedness, and on the health and nutritional status of the population. This has been caused by very high livestock mortalities and limited food production, which induced a major negative income effect on already impoverished households, and will constitute a very heavy burden in terms of debt reimbursement in 2010-2011
Despite the 2010/11 agricultural season being generally good at the national level, several segments of the population will still need food and nonfood assistance to restore their resilience capacity and to enable them to have better access to food. This assistance must be provided as soon as possible in order to prevent the negative impacts that could further weaken their means of subsistence after their own food stocks are exhausted. All these measures should stress the factors that help to improve the marketing of agricultural products and give the people improved access to the available food.
This report has been prepared by Jean Senahoun, Cheikh Ibrahima Ndiaye, Abdoul Malick Haido and Oua Saidou (FAO) and Lawan Tahirou, Koffi Akakpo and Bouabacar Idrissa Kountche (WFP), under the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and other sources. Abdallah Samba and Issaka Lona (CILSS/Agrhymet) and Yacouba Hama Abdou (FEWSNet) also contributed to this report. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.
Senior Economist, EST/GIEWS
Trade and Markets Division, FAO
Fax: : 0039-06-5705-4495
WFP Regional Director
for West Africa
Fax: : 00221-33-842-35-62
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