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Poor harvests and insecurity limit food availability and access in Sahelian Chad

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  • Chad
  • May 25, 2016
Poor harvests and insecurity limit food availability and access in Sahelian Chad

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    Poor 2015/16 harvests across most of Sahelian Chad and continuing insecurity in the Lac Region have limited household food stocks, contributed to atypically high cereal prices, and reduced incomes. The lean season has begun earlier than normal and 1.2 million people are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Though outcomes in pastoral areas are likely to improve in July, most of the affected population (850,000 people) will continue to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs through the end of the agricultural lean season in September 2016. Urgent humanitarian assistance is required to protect livelihoods and mitigate food consumption gaps for displaced and poor resident households in Sahelian Chad.


    Poorly distributed 2015 rainfall across Sahelian Chad led to a significant drop in 2015/16 agriculture production in Kanem, Wadi Fira, and Batha Regions where harvests were more than 50 percent below five-year averages according to official estimates. In Barh el Gazel, Guera, and Sila Regions, 2015/16 harvests were 24 to 27 percent below average. These declines in production have limited market supplies of staple foods. Furthermore, poor rainfall and the subsequent decline in pasture and water availability have contributed to a deterioration in livestock body conditions.

    Regional Boko Haram conflict is another important driver of food insecurity, particularly in the Lac Region. According to OCHA, more than 100,000 IDPs, Chadian returnees from Nigeria, and Nigerian refugees are displaced in this region. The conflict has disrupted market access and cross-border trade, impacted regional livestock movements, reduced the area planted in off-season crops, and disrupted livelihood activities, such as fishing, all of which are limiting food access for many IDPs/returnees, refugees, and poor resident households. Local resident food security has been further affected by the hosting of displaced households and increased competition for labor opportunities. Finally, the conflict has also disrupted trade flows in and around Lake Chad, exacerbating the impacts of poor harvests on market supplies.

    Given the decline in crop production, poor households are even more market dependent than usual. However, the reduction in market supplies, due to both poor production and disrupted trade flows, has resulted in atypically high food and fuel prices across Sahelian Chad. March maize prices in monitored markets were approximately 20 percent higher than the five-year average and are expected to continue to increase seasonally through the end of the lean season in September. Meanwhile, livestock prices are lower than average. For example, the March 2016 price of an average male sheep in the Moussoro market (Barh El Gazel) was down 16 percent compared to the five-year average. The combination of increasing cereal prices and declining livestock prices has resulted in a substantial reduction in household purchasing power. In Biltine (Wadi Fira), a sheep that would typically trade for 102 kilograms of millet was only worth 44 kilograms of millet in March 2016, a 58 percent decline. The quantity of food that households can access from agricultural labor has also declined given reduced demand for labor and rising food prices.

    As the peak lean season approaches, poor households are atypically dependent on food purchases but also face reduced market access due to limited seasonal incomes and rising food prices. Approximately 1.2 million people are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), meaning they face significant difficulty accessing the quantity of food needed for survival. While the onset of seasonal rains will bring improvements to pastoral areas by July, approximately 850,000 people in agropastoral areas will remain in Crisis (IPC phase 3) through September 2016. Levels of acute malnutrition are persistently high in Sahelian Chad and the poor food access expected over the coming four months is expected to contribute to an atypical increase in these levels. Urgent and well-targeted humanitarian assistance is needed to mitigate the expected food consumption gaps, prevent increases in acute malnutrition, and protect livelihoods.

    Figures Figure 1. 2015/16 agricultural production compared to the 2010-2014 average; IDP settlements in the Lac Region

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. 2015/16 agricultural production compared to the 2010-2014 average; IDP settlements in the Lac Region

    Source: ONDR/DPAS (agricultural production); OCHA (displacement)

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