Market analysis and humanitarian action in Niger

Summary of published research1

Women and children, in the village of Barmou, gather and wait to receive WFP distributed food

In April 2005, a typical household in Niger depended on market purchases for 90% of its food. The large majority of Sahelian households are not self-sufficient in staple foods. This market dependence increases in years of poor agricultural production. Food security analysis in the Sahel has for some time focused on the assessment of agricultural production. A recent article in Humanitarian Exchange argues that it is now time to devote more resources to analysing how markets contribute to the distribution and pricing of food and that market analysis is important for food security assessment. There are three main reasons for this. First, markets have the capacity to ameliorate the negative impacts of shocks. Second, market analysis contributes to food security monitoring and third, market analysis informs the debate over cash versus food assistance.

The hike in food prices in Niger followed steep price rises in Nigeria, caused by lower agricultural production and buoyant demand. This stemmed from high consumer purchasing power and demand from the poultry and food processing sectors. Higher prices in Nigeria caused a drastic drop in exports to Niger. Meanwhile cereal flows reversed with Niger now supplying Nigeria. This trade-driven supply squeeze was compounded by lower domestic crop production because of locust attacks and some dry spells.

During 2004-5, SIMA (the national system for agricultural market information in Niger) and FEWS NET2 reported relatively high price levels, although this alert was not well received by humanitarian actors and donors. The reasons advanced to explain the price increases were neither complete nor convincing. This was mainly because of a lack of shared knowledge of cereal markets and trade and the absence of reliable statistics on imports and agricultural production in Nigeria. In addition, humanitarian actors did not understand just how dependent households in Niger were on food market purchases, how households were linked to markets and how these relations had evolved. Lastly, there was no agreed alert threshold for price increases amongst humanitarian actors.

The widespread publicity given to food prices and markets during the Niger crisis encouraged greater analysis of cross-border trade and markets. FEWS NET, SIMA and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) began conducting missions to markets in northern Nigeria that helped provide an explanation of the 2005 price hike. The following lessons were learnt.

At the end of 2005, FEWS NET and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched a study to identify knowledge gaps regarding links between markets and food security in West Africa. The study also formulated recommendations to reinforce market analysis of food security assessments. These included establishing a regional monitoring system for cross-border flows, strengthening capacities to conduct market analysis, and developing tools to analyse the links between households and markets.

In the context of making CILSS the regional centre of excellence for market analysis in West Africa, two high-priority challenges have been identified. First, CILSS and its sister organisation, the 'Reseau des Systèmes d'Information sur les Marchés en Afrique de l'Ouest (RESIMO), must be supported to establish a strong regional market monitoring system and to become a technical assistance provider to national market information systems.

The second challenge concerns the interaction between households and markets. Characterising these relationships would assist in identifying when price changes could jeopardise food access. Pilot testing of qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse these interactions has been conducted in Mauritania, but further work is necessary. As the influence of markets on household food security varies for each livelihood group, a livelihood approach is essential. In addition, due to intra- and inter-annual variations, longitudinal data is necessary to enable a meaningful characterisation of households' interaction with markets. FEWS NET and WFP are ready to support CILSS in tackling this priority challenge - an initial stock-taking of experiences in other regions of the world, which might be adapted to the West African context, has been initiated by FEWS NET, in collaboration with its partners.

Show footnotes

1Beekhuis. G and Laouali. I (2007). Cross-border trade and food markets in Niger: why market analysis is important for humanitarian action. Humanitarian Exchange, No 38, pp 25-27, 2007

2Famine Early Warning System. See http://www.fews.net/

More like this

FEX: Food security assessment of high altitude villages of Badakhshan, Afghanistan

By Salim Sumar, Laila Naz Taj and Iqbal Kermali Dr Salim Sumar heads Focus Humanitarian Assistance Europe Foundation, which is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development...

FEX: Access to markets and services (Special Supplement 3)

6.1 Introduction In emergencies, access to markets may be lost for a number of reasons. Since most people live in a cash economy, restoring and maintaining adequate access to...

FEX: Global food price crisis: lessons and ideas for relief planners and managers

Summary of published research1 Food prices have increased by an average of 52% between 2007 and 2008. ALNAP2 has recently published a paper which aims to assist those agencies...

FEX: The RAIN programme

By Miriam Christensen and Todd Flower Miriam Christensen was the Documentation and Information Officer with the RAIN programme. She specialises in communications and knowledge...

FEX: Chronic vulnerability in Niger

Summary of published research1 Niger has suffered from chronic malnutrition, rooted in structural vulnerabilities, for several decades. According to a recent article in...

FEX: Has financial speculation in food commodity markets increased food prices?

By Noemi Pace, Andrew Seal, Anthony Costello Noemi Pace is research fellow at University College London, Centre for International Health and Development. She was previously a...

FEX: Grounding Food Security Monitoring in an Understanding of the Local Economy: Understanding differences – and making a difference

This article was written by Philippa Coutts of The Food Economy Group, using an illustration from Darfur and work of Yousif Abubaker, Abdel Rahmin Nor Hussein and Mohamed Salih...

FEX: 2011 famine in South Somalia: the role of the early warning information System

By Abukar Yusuf Nur – Nutrition Analyst, Ahono Busili – Nutrition Team Manager, Elijah Odundo – Nutrition Data Analyst, Joseph Waweru – Nutrition Analyst, Louise Masese –...

FEX: Livelihoods analysis and identifying appropriate interventions (Special Supplement 3)

3.1 Livelihoods assessment and analysis in emergencies The livelihoods framework provides a tool for analysing people's livelihoods and the impact of specific threats or shocks...

FEX: Issue 35 Editorial

In this issue of Field Exchange, there are two themes which previous editorials have not addressed - sustainability of interventions and how markets can create, as well as be...

FEX: Call for strategic US approach to the global food crisis

Summary of report1 US Government vessel offloading in the port of Djibouti 42,000 MT of donated food aid in Ethiopia in 2002. The food will reach Ethiopia after a three day...

FEX: Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA) tool

By Lili Mohiddin and Mike Albu Lili Mohiddin has been an Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor with OXFAM GB since September 2005, based in the UK. Mike Albu is an...

FEX: A Time to Rethink the Global Food Regime

Summary of published paper1 By Tom Marchione, George Mason University Until his recent death, Tom Marchione was an adjunct professor in the George Mason University Department...

FEX: Achieving resilience in different livelihood contexts

Summary of report1 Location: Africa and Asia What we know already: Building resilience is widely referred to in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation...

FEX: Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods Project in Amhara and Oromia regions

By Shekar Anand, Oxfam Shekar is Programme Director for Oxfam GB in Ethiopia. Past experience includes working with OXFAM, CARE, CIDA, and Government in Aceh, India, Zimbabawe...

FEX: Market Analysis and Emergency Needs Assessment

Summary of background technical paper1 Rice bowls in rural market An issues paper on market analysis and emergency needs assessment was prepared as a background document for...

FEX: Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods Project in Amhara and Oromia regions

By Sarah Coll-Black and Matt Hobson Sarah Coll-Black is a Social Protection Specialist working with the World Bank in Ethiopia and Kenya. She has been involved with Ethiopia's...

FEX: Food insecurity and mental health among community health volunteers in Ethiopia

By Sarah Coll-Black and Matt Hobson Sarah Coll-Black is a Social Protection Specialist working with the World Bank in Ethiopia and Kenya. She has been involved with Ethiopia's...

FEX: The Psychology of Food Riots: Why do price hikes lead to unrest?

Summary of research1 A vendor in Yemen, another country where there have been food riots A recent article published online about the psychology of food riots makes for...

FEX: Introduction (Special Supplement 3)

Glossary AAH Action Against Hunger ACF Action Contre la Faim ACF-E ACF-Spain ALDEF Arid Lands Development Focus AREN Association pour la Revitalisation de l'Elevage...

Close

Reference this page

Market analysis and humanitarian action in Niger. Field Exchange 32, January 2008. p7. www.ennonline.net/fex/32/market