Reference Date: 16-August-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Concerns over performance of 2016 cropping season in Far North Region due to civil insecurity
Prices of cereals at low levels except in northern regions
Food security situation sharply deteriorated in 2015 and 2016 due to massive refugee influx and internal displacements
Concerns over 2016 cropping season in Far North Region, strong livelihood support required
Harvesting of the main 2016 season maize crop started in July in the bi‑modal centre and south. Satellite‑based information and analysis indicate that crop growing conditions from March to the third dekad of May 2016 (see Map 1) have been generally favourable in the most regions, following well‑distributed rainfall. However, below average rainfall in July in southern parts (see Map 2) had a negative impact on long cycle crops. Rainfall amounts and distribution in the coming weeks will be crucial for long cycle crop development and performance.
By contrast, in the uni‑modal north, the outlook for sorghum and millet crops, expected to be harvested from October, is uncertain despite favourable weather conditions (see Map 3). In the Far North Region, agricultural operations continue to be severely affected by civil unrest which spread from neighbouring Nigeria in late 2014 and resulted in displacement of people, caused input shortages and depleted households’ productive assets that were already inadequate, due to recurrent climatic shocks which have eroded the resilience capacity of a large number of households. As a result, a reduced agricultural output for the second consecutive year is likely and a timely and effective support to the agricultural sector is required to mitigate the extent of the impact of the protracted and widespread insecurity on the agricultural sector.
FAO is appealing for USD 3.4 million to support vulnerable households affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and the households affected by natural disasters with improved seeds, tools and fertilizers.
Prices of cereals at low levels except in northern regions
As of June 2016, year‑on‑year food inflation was 2.1 percent, slightly higher than the general inflation, which stood at 1.6 percent. Food inflation was mostly driven by increasing prices of fruits and vegetables: the year‑on‑year inflation rate for fruits was 10.5 percent, while that of vegetables was 7 percent. The inflation rate for bread and cereals stood at about zero. Year‑on‑year, prices of maize declined by 9 percent; by contrast, prices of millet increased by 11 percent due to a low 2015 output compounded by market disruptions, caused by widespread insecurity in northern regions, where the cereal is predominantly grown. In these areas, reduced cross‑border trade flows towards neighbouring countries prevented millet prices to further increase.
Prices of maize (see Chart 1), the most consumed cereal, moderately increased in some markets following seasonal patterns between January and May 2016, subsequently levelling off or slightly declining in June in anticipation of the main season harvest. Prices in June were below or around their levels of a year earlier largely reflecting the adequate availabilities from the average 2015 cereal production.
Prices of wheat and rice (see Chart 2), mostly sourced from the international market and mainly consumed in the urban areas, were stable in the first semester of 2016 in Douala, the largest urban centre and the main entry port for imports. By contrast, in the capital, Yaoundé, prices of wheat and rice recorded some volatility. Overall, prices of wheat and rice in June in both urban centres were around their levels of the same month of the previous year.
Food security situation sharply deteriorated in 2015 and early 2016 due to refugee influx and internal displacements
Local resources in northern and eastern regions have been put under added strain by the arrival of large numbers of refugees from neighbouring Nigeria and Central African Republic (CAR).
As of June 2016, the number of refugees from CAR who sought refuge in North, East and Adamaoua regions after a surge in sectarian violence in December 2013, was estimated at about 158 000. Taking into account the refugees who had entered the country in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits, the total number of refugees from CAR residing in Cameroon is currently put at about 274 000.
Refugees from Nigeria, who entered the Far North Region following the serious deterioration of the security situation in Borno State in June 2013, were estimated at about 65 000 in early August 2016. So far 4 063 new arrivals were recorded in 2016. In addition, civil unrest spread from Nigeria into the region and caused the displacement of 157 000 Cameroonians, while 33 000 individuals are currently displaced following floods in recent years.
As a result of these multiple shocks and of natural hazards (in northern areas, food production in 2015 was also negatively affected by drought), the overall food security situation has sharply deteriorated in 2015 and 2016. The number of food insecure people was estimated in February 2016 at 2.4 million (see Chart 3), more than twice the level of June 2015. Around 203 000 people are in severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or 4). Child malnutrition is also concerning: an estimated 61 000 children under the age of five in Cameroon are expected to suffer from life threatening Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in 2016, as a result of the ongoing crisis. The area most affected by food insecurity is the Far North Region, according to an Emergency Food Security Assessment conducted in September last year, where 35 percent of the population is food insecure, of which 5 percent is severely food insecure. In this region, the area where the food security situation is most concerning is the northernmost Logone‑et‑Chari department, where about 58 percent of the total population has been affected by the crisis, and 19 percent has been displaced. Here, due to erratic weather conditions and widespread insecurity which severely constrained access to land, crop production in 2015 was 32.4 percent lower than the previous year, with an estimated uncovered cereal deficit of 75 844 tonnes. Local crop production was estimated to be sufficient for the coverage of just five months of consumption, with an ensuing early start of the lean season. As a result, according to a multi agency Multi Sector Rapid Evaluation conducted in the department in June 2016, one in three people suffers from food insecurity, for a total caseload of 220 000 individuals, and the food consumption score was poor or borderline for 38 percent of the households.