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Revenue and Risk in the Lake Chad Basin

Posted by Clotilde Lappartient Protection coordinator (HSP), Oxfam, Corrie Sissons Humanitarian Support Personnel (HSP), Oxfam

6th Feb 2017

Peul women, in N’Goui Koura settlement , Diffa, eastern Niger.

Clotilde Lappartient and Corrie Sissons explain their recent work on local livelihoods and protection in the Lake Chad Basin and why integrated programs are necessary.

Some of the best and most innovative work that Oxfam's Global Humanitarian Team (GHT) are doing right now is collaboration between different technical teams to design and implement emergency programmes that see crises in a more holistic way. One of the most effective ways of doing integrated programming in emergencies is basing our programmes on an understanding of the dynamics of markets.

The Lake Chad Basin response in West Africa is no exception; Oxfam's Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods (EFSVL) Team joined forces with the Protection Team to undertake a modified market analysis to inform the emergency response. The team in Niger were keen to understand the dynamics of income markets and how people were at new or increased risk as a result of the ongoing conflict. To find out more they used an integrated protection analysis approach.  

In the Diffa region, in the easternmost corner of Niger, bordering Nigeria and Chad, the ongoing Boko Haram conflict and military operations to counter them has led to an estimated 250,000 people becoming displaced, living in vast spontaneous settlements and some small camps. Opportunities to earn money are few and far between and conflict -affected households have been engaging in increasingly risky coping strategies to get money. Despite this the extent of the damage to livelihoods in this part of the Lake Chad Basin was relatively unknown. 

Oxfam's assessments revealed devastating drops in income

Focusing on two critical market systems (market systems which play an important role in the local economy and community) of smoked fish and dried red pepper, Oxfam conducted an in-depth analysis of how the conflict had impacted the ability of these markets to provide income to households in the Diffa region. The lack of livelihood opportunities was reported by the displaced populations as a major issue affecting them which led to the protection team wanting to understand how the disruption had impacted the safety and protection of the population. The Team then worked to modify the already established Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA)  methodology to include elements of Protection risk analysis which could identify the risks faced by people still engaging in livelihood activities how new strategies to gain revenue may be putting men, women, girls and boys at new or increased risk.

Existing markets

The markets for smoked fish and dried red pepper were chosen as, historically, they had engaged all different levels of society in income generation and had also played a significant role in the local, regional and national economy. Prior to the onset of the Boko Haram crisis they were worth an estimated 47.5 million USD combined. However, the Government of Niger declared a state of emergency on 11 February 2016 for the entire Diffa region in what it stated was a response to counter Boko Haram. This, and its subsequent reinstatement in October later that year, led to an increase in military presence, arrests and detention of men as well as restrictions on movement and trade within the region and with neighbouring countries, all of which continues today.  Many market centres to the east of Diffa have been closed and limitations imposed on certain livelihood activities and their necessary tools and inputs - in particular for fishing on the shores of Lake Chad and cultivating crops and vegetables in productive zones irrigated by the Koumadougou River, close to the Nigeria border.

Assessment results

Oxfam's assessments not only revealed devastating drops in income across both markets but significant protection risks for those who used to rely on both smoked fish and dried red pepper as their main source of income. Across households interviewed, average income had fallen by a staggering 91% since the onset of the crisis. Almost all fishing households have stopped this activity completely and pepper producers reported upwards of 50% reduction in sales. The livelihood disruption has exposed the population to further protection risks should they attempt to continue working in these markets (all the interviewees still engaging in these markets reported increasing risks), and this has pushed people towards adopting new, riskier coping mechanisms to survive exposing them and their family to further risks.  

Households resorting to new, more dangerous, means of survival which in turn exacerbates the humanitarian situation and pushes people to rely on humanitarian aid: the same people who were already poor, vulnerable, and experiencing high levels of food insecurity.

Combining a market analysis for livelihoods, with elements of protection risk analysis has not only facilitated an integrated approach to our programming in the Lake Chad Basin but has also provided us with an important evidence base, to share with the Government of Niger, UN, donors and other humanitarian actors in the region. This can encourage humanitarian actors to act now and look at the longer-term impacts of the Boko Haram crisis and operations to counter them. 

We hope that our approach will help to foster integrated livelihood and protection programs and work towards; reducing damage to livelihoods, the prolonged exposure of people to protection risk and the harm done to local economies, systems and communities. 

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Photo: Peul women, in N'Goui Koura settlement , Diffa, eastern Niger. Credit: Corrie Sissons

Blog post written by Clotilde Lappartient

Protection coordinator (HSP), Oxfam

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Clotilde Lappartient

Blog post written by Corrie Sissons

Humanitarian Support Personnel (HSP), Oxfam

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