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Acute food insecurity persists due to combined impacts of COVID-19 in the middle of the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • August 2020
Acute food insecurity persists due to combined impacts of COVID-19 in the middle of the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through January 2021
  • Key Messages
    • Government measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to damage the livelihoods of very poor and poor households, affecting the food situation in both rural and urban areas. At the peak of the lean period, rising food prices in Barh el Gazel (BEG) and Kanem are limiting access to markets for poor and very poor households due to income erosion.

    • In the Sahelian region, most markets are experiencing an upward trend in prices, for example an increase of 21 per cent in the price of millet compared with the five-year average has been reported in Moussoro and Ati, due to low trading volumes. In the Sudan region, late humanitarian purchases led to increases in the price of millet at the Moundou market (+12 per cent). This reduces households’ ability to purchase food from markets.

    • The agropastoral growing season is proceeding normally despite the long dry periods recorded during the first dekad of August in most parts of the Sudan region. These periods have caused crop losses (groundnuts, maize) in the two Logone regions, the two Mayo-Kebbi regions and Tandjilé. However, the first maize and edible groundnuts are supplementing winter vegetables and improving household consumption.

    • LHouseholds in Tibesti continue to face food consumption shortfalls due to the disruption of trade as a result of the ongoing border closures due to the instability in Libya and COVID-19. These households are therefore in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Internally displaced persons in the Lac region are dependent on humanitarian action; thanks to food aid, they are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.

    Current Situation


    Government measures related to COVID-19: Despite a slight easing of government measures linked to COVID-19, including the reopening of shops, and the resumption of air and road traffic, household livelihoods continue to deteriorate. The impact of the restrictions (limitations on trade, disruption of market functioning, income losses, etc.) is being further exacerbated by the lean season and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an economic slowdown. Despite the sluggish recovery of some activities, household living conditions are still far from improving due to the deterioration of urban capital and the erosion of rural household incomes. As a result, the food situation faced by households remains a concern.

    Agriculture: The agropastoral growing season began earlier overall, commencing between late April and mid-May in most parts of the Sudan region. Relatively long dry periods of more than 10 days were recorded in several areas, especially between late July and early August. In the rice-growing areas (East and West Mayo-Kebbi and Tandjilé), heavy rainfall meant that it was possible to carry out secondary sowings of maize, sorghum and groundnuts.

    With the exception of sorghum, where the sown areas are comparable to levels seen in a normal year, smaller sown areas of several crops have been observed. Government measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic may result in below average harvests overall. In the eastern provinces (Ouaddai and Sila), the leasing of tractors and the use of donkeys and horses have contributed to the expansion of farmed areas. In the western Sahel, the start of the season toward the end of the third dekad in July encouraged widespread sowing. However, in southern Barh el Gazel, where secondary sowing was carried out, poor rains have resulted in heavy weed infestation of agricultural areas, leading to the abandonment of fields in some areas.

    The phenological stages of crops vary according to agroecological zones. In Kanem and Bahr el Ghazel, maize crops are at the earing-up to ripening stage in some places, for early sowings with supplementary irrigation, and pearl millet is at the earing-up stage in irrigated areas. In the eastern Sahel, pearl millet is at the stem elongation stage, while pulses are at the flowering stage. As for cereal crops in the Sudan region, millet is at the tillering to vegetative stage, early sorghum is at the earing-up stage, while the first groundnuts are already on the market.

    Agricultural labor: Travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the growing season coupled with high transportation costs are limiting the return of seasonal migrants to their areas. Consequently, a significant decline in labor supply is being reported in several areas of the country, such as Barh el Gazel, Kanem, Hadjer-Lamis and in the Sudan region.

    In Ouaddai and Wadi Fira, the mass departure of able-bodied young people to the gold-bearing areas of Tibesti to work in artisanal gold mining has led to a reduction in the labor supply. In the Moyen-Chari and Mandoul regions, the declining labor supply is being driven by the successful production of non-wood forest products (shea butter) as an alternative source of income that mobilizes large numbers of very poor and poor households. Conversely, in Sila and Ouaddai, following heavy rainfalls in the first two dekads of August that resulted in a high level of weed infestation in agricultural areas, labor demand for crop maintenance increased. As a result, daily wages have increased by about 25 per cent, from XAF 2,000 to XAF 2,500 per day. By contrast, despite strong demand in some areas, wages have remained stable, at or close to average due to the economic slowdown brought about by the ongoing health crisis.

    Non-agricultural labor: Given the disruption arising from COVID-19 and its impact on the country’s economy, resulting in a slowdown in seasonal activities, the non-agricultural labor force continues to be small. Daily wages are lower than average for a normal year. This is affecting both urban and rural household incomes.

    Pastoral situation: Good rainfall in pastoral and agropastoral areas has led to the replenishment of grass cover and the filling of semi-permanent pools, ensuring that these resources are available to livestock. However, the return of transhumant herders to grazing areas was slowed due to delays in the start of the rainy season in transit areas (Chari-Baguirmi and Hadjer-Lamis). Overall, the animal health situation is stable in most areas of the country.

    Household cereal stocks: In the West Sahel, household cereal stocks are fully depleted; households are entirely dependent on markets for their consumption, as in a normal year. In the Sudan region, a significant decrease in stock levels is being reported due to sell-offs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Cereal markets and prices: Most of the Sahelian cereal markets are reporting rising prices due to the late institutional purchases made by the National Office of Food Security (ONASA), in the middle of the lean season, in the production areas. In addition, the travel restrictions linked to COVID-19 resulted in limited supply to the markets in the Sahelian region and drove the rise in millet prices in these markets during July 2020. In Bol, the state of emergency in response to civil insecurity coupled with the health crisis continues to impact markets leading to higher prices compared to the five-year average. Millet prices are up 43 per cent and maize prices are up 37 per cent. In the Sudan region, World Food Programme humanitarian purchases led to a decline in market supply in Moundou and caused an increase in the price of millet from 3 per cent in June to 12 per cent in July. This has reduced the ability of many poor and very poor households to buy food in markets.

    Current food situation: Despite the easing of government COVID-19 measures, the food situation faced by households remains a concern due to the decline and depletion of household stocks, with dwindling incomes limiting access to markets where food prices are increasing. In Tibesti, household food consumption is lower due to limited market access as a result of higher prices caused by low volumes of cross-border flows. The impact of the civil insecurity in southern Libya (rising fuel prices), coupled with border closures in response to COVID-19, has disrupted trade, one of the main sources of livelihood for households. Incomes are significantly reduced despite the strategies developed in response (smuggling, gold mining, selling food, etc.). Households are facing consumption deficits.

    In the West Sahel, food consumption in households that depend entirely on markets during this period is reduced and minimally adequate due to increased prices and low incomes. In Lac, displaced households are dependent on cash assistance, and limited income from agricultural labor. As a result, their food consumption is reduced and minimally adequate. These households have no capacity for non-food expenditure. While host households accommodating internally displaced persons share meals, their income from the sale of firewood, wild products, and handicrafts is decreasing due to the impact of COVID-19 and the current state of emergency. Their food consumption is slightly supported by winter vegetables, small quantities of fish and early crops. In most other provinces of the Sahel, particularly the areas bordering Sudan (Ouaddai, Sila, Wadi Fira), including those where a curfew is in place, households’ food consumption continues to be reduced due to the disruption of their livelihoods by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used to develop the FEWS NET most likely scenario for the June 2020 to January 2021 period.

    Projected Outlook Through January 2021

    In the provinces of Tibesti, households will experience an improvement in their food situation between October 2020 and January 2021 due to the gradual recovery of economic life, including the suspension of travel restrictions announced by the government at the end of June 2020. However, they are likely to have reduced, minimally adequate consumption and are expected to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes because of border closures as a result of COVID-19 and instability in southern Libya, which will continue to limit the volume of food flows coming from Libya. Internally displaced households in the Lac region are likely to be largely dependent on humanitarian assistance but will also have access to early crops and harvests, like their host households. They will likely continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes, thanks to humanitarian assistance. The provinces of Barh el Gazel and Kanem will likely continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until September. Very poor and poor households in most provinces of the country are expected to see an improvement in their food situation as of October 2020 thanks to the availability of new harvests. Easing the travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 will promote internal flows of food and revitalize economic activities, contributing to an improvement in household food consumption, except in Lac and Tibesti. In the provinces of Borkou, East and West Ennedi, Occidental and Oriental Logone, Hadjer-Lamis and Guéra, households’ food consumption will likely continue to be reduced due to the disruption of household livelihoods as a result of the impact of COVID-19; they will likely continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes between October 2020 and January 2021.

    Figures Title: Chad seasonal calendar
Description: The main harvest is from September until mid-November. The off-season harvest is

    Figure 1

    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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