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Food security conditions starting to improve in certain areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • August 2012
Food security conditions starting to improve in certain areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • The above-average rainfall levels across most of the country have improved water and pasture availability and benefited crops, and a good harvest is expected at this point in the season. However, areas at high risk of flooding and locust infestation require continued monitoring.

    • The stabilization and downward trend in grain prices, as well as government and humanitarian assistance programs, have improved household food access in the Sahelian zone compared to the first half of the year.

    • Poor households in the Sahelian zone are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels through September (Figure I). Food security levels among households in the Sudanian zone have improved from Stressed levels during the first half of the year to None/Minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) due to early harvests and availability of wild vegetables.  

    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    Current food security situation

    Households have begun to recover from the large crop losses that they suffered during the poor 2011/2012 growing season. Households are now starting to meet a good part of their food needs thanks to the harvests of short-cycle crops (sweet potatoes, groundnuts, cassava, and corn) and the large availability of milk and wild vegetables.

    Food insecurity levels in the Sahelian zone are currently in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) where they are expected to remain through September. As of October, the food insecurity levels will then come down to Phase 1 due to the upcoming harvest (Figure 2). Households in the Sudanian zone, who were at Stressed levels during the first half of the year, are currently at No/Minimal levels due to the harvest of early crops and the large availability of wild vegetables.

    These improvements could be jeopardized by the effects of flooding in certain flood-prone areas such as Sila and parts of Mandoul, Moyen Chari, and Tandjilé, and the threat of a locust infestation.

    Current market conditions and trading

    Markets are well-stocked from the harvest of certain short-cycle crops, government-subsidized grain marketing activities by the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency), and stock clearance sales by certain speculating farming households and traders. Prices stabilized between July and August and are trending downwards. The average price of grain is around 290 XAF/kg, three percent lower than in July. This unusual small dip in grain prices at the height of the lean season in August and government-subsidized grain sales have also helped strengthen household food access.

    Prices for small animals on the Abéché and Mao markets fell by 22 percent and 23 percent, respectively, between July and August due to the presence of transhumant herds and the increasingly small numbers of exporters frequenting area markets. In contrast, August prices for small animals in Magalmé were up from July (40 percent for sheep and 20 percent for goats).

    Progress of the 2012/2013 growing season

    Rainfall and flooding

    The rainy season pattern is similar to that of 2006. Cumulative rainfall totals as of the first dekad of August were higher than at the same time last year and above the five-year average. However, there are reports of pockets of small rainfall deficits in the Bahr El Gazal and Hadjer Lamis areas. As of the beginning of August, the establishment of new vegetative cover across the country was nearly complete, though a look at NDVI anomalies showed a moderate deficit (compared with the 2001-2010 average) in the far southeastern reaches of the country. Parts of the Barkôh and Maro areas in southern Chad are beginning to flood. The flooding in Bahr Azoum killed four people and 173 heads of livestock and destroyed 67 homes in late July. Certain fields in the Koukou area are under water. Areas such as Tandjilé, Moyen Chari, Logone Occidental, and Mayo Kebbi are also at risk for potential flooding.

    Progress of farming activities

    The progress of crop growth and development for the 2012/2013 growing season bodes well for a good harvest. There are larger areas under cultivation this year compared with last year due to tractors made available to farming communities by the National Food Security Program (PNSA). Though growing season conditions are generally good, areas at high-risk for flooding and areas susceptible to locust infestations will require special attention.

    Pastoral conditions

    There is well-established new vegetation (crops and pasture) in pastoral areas, with normal levels of new vegetative growth in almost all parts of the country due to good rainfall. The establishment of grass cover in agropastoral areas has significantly improved pasture availability. Seasonal and year-round watering holes in the Sahelian zone are approximately 80 percent full, improving animal watering conditions. There are no reported epizootic outbreaks except for some soil-borne diseases in localized areas of Mongo, Kélo, and Moyen-Chari. The lean season has ended for livestock, and body conditions are now better than in June/July. Greater milk availability is increasing household access to food for certain household groups.

    Locust situation

    The locust situation is calm in all parts of the country. There have been sightings of small groups of solitary insects east of Abéché and a group of immature winged adult locusts was sighted in the Adré area early in July. The Chadian National Locust Control Agency (ATLA) has assembled three teams (two in the west and one in the east), which have been deployed in the field since the middle of July as a preventive pest control measure.

    However, the normal levels of vegetative growth in desert locusts breeding areas (in Kanem, Lac, Batha, Ouaddaï, Wadi Fira, and parts of Ennedi) are likely to promote locust breeding activities in these areas. A full-fledged locust infestation could strip the land of grass biomass which serves as livestock pasture and could cause damage to crops, reducing crop production in farming areas of the Sahelian zone.

    Central agropastoral area of Northern Guera

    Food security situation

    This year’s earlier than usual rains helped ease food insecurity among poor households in agropastoral areas in the aftermath of last year’s poor growing season. The food security situation in Guera has visibly improved thanks to the diversification of local food sources with the presence of freshly harvested short-cycle crops (corn, groundnuts, and sweet potatoes) on certain markets (Mongo and Baro) and the availability of milk and wild vegetables. Lower grain prices and various ongoing assistance programs have made it easier for very poor and poor households to maintain their grain access during the height of the lean season.

    Sorghum prices on the Mangalmé market dropped by 25 percent between July and August. In contrast, August prices for small animals were up from July, with an average sheep selling for 28,000 CFAF in August compared to 20,000 CFAF in July and a goat selling for 18,000 CFAF in August versus 15,000 CFAF in July. Thus, price ratios for small animals/grain were more advantageous for pastoralists selling small animals in August than in July, significantly improving terms of trade for small animals/grain on the Mangalmé market for pastoralists. This good situation for pastoralists is attributed to a large demand for live animals with the observance of Ramadan and a drop in grain prices with ONASA's subsidized grain sales and harvests of short-cycle crops. Furthermore, cash transfer programs mounted by humanitarian agencies (in the form of cash-for-work activities and unconditional cash transfer payments) have strengthened the purchasing power of very poor and poor households.

    There has also been an improvement in the nutritional situation in Guera, where the findings from the June 2012 SMART surveys indicate the global acute malnutrition prevalence at 12.6 percent, compared with 13.3 percent in August of last year, 14 percent in March of last year, and 17.50 percent in August of 2010.  Though food security conditions are better than they were in the first half of the year, food insecurity levels in areas classified in Phase 2 of IPC 2.0 (stressed) will remain unchanged through the end of next month (September), before coming down to Phase 1 (minimal acute food insecurity) as of October.

    Markets and prices

    The Mangalmé market (in Guera) is fairly well-stocked with grain and other crops from secondary markets (Baro, at a distance of 78 kilometers from Mangalmé), where there are supplies of fresh short-cycle crops (corn, groundnuts, and sweet potatoes) from recent harvests. An examination of price trends shows a six percent drop in the price of pearl millet in Mongo between July and August (from 325 CFAF in July to 320 CFAF in August) and a 14 percent drop in pearl millet prices in Mangalmé over the same period (from 280 CFAF in July to 240 CFAF in August), which is unusual at the height of the lean season.

    Pastoral conditions

    The continual rainfall activity since the onset of the rainy season has improved pasture and water availability in this area. Water levels in seasonal lakes and ponds are higher than they were in June and there is a good level of new plant cover, improving the physical condition of the animal population and ensuring good levels of milk production. Thus, livestock are in better physical shape and there are no signs of animal disease outbreaks in this area.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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