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Rising market prices and falling production exacerbate Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the Sahel and Lac regions

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • December 2023
Rising market prices and falling production exacerbate Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the Sahel and Lac regions

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through May 2024
  • Key Messages
    • Food consumption by refugees, returnees, and host households in the eastern provinces continues to deteriorate due to early depletion of cereal stocks by host households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity persists and is forcing some households to intensify emergency coping strategies on a significant scale. These households are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Very poor and poor households in the Saharan provinces (Tibesti, Ennedi Est, and Ennedi Ouest), as well as displaced people and host households in the Lac region, cannot meet their consumption needs without resorting to crisis strategies; they are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity.
    • Given the early depletion of host households' cereal stocks, the influx of refugees to Ouaddai, Sila, and Wadi Fira is putting increased pressure on the livelihoods of local populations. Market purchases and humanitarian aid are their prime food sources. However, due to the increased need for food aid, insufficient funding for humanitarian organizations is impacting the volumes available for Sudanese refugees, Chadian returnees, and host households. Many households resort to emergency strategies, including begging, which is practiced mainly by Chadian returnees and Sudanese refugees. 
    • The drop in the area planted during the off-season in several provinces is due to low moisture in most production basins and the current fuel shortage, which is limiting the irrigation of nurseries and the area planted with off-season rice in East Mayo Kebbi. In Ouaddaï, cash crop areas (onions, garlic) are heavily affected by the shortage. In addition, the late recession of water from the lake branches is delaying the cultivation of lowlands in the Lac province. The appearance of armyworms on berberé crops in the departments of Mont Illi and Mayo Lémié has led to the abandonment of many destroyed agricultural areas. 
    • The pastoral situation continues to deteriorate in pastoral and agropastoral localities due to the shortage of fodder and the complete drying up of ponds. These fodder deficits, coupled with the scarcity of water points, are affecting livestock body conditions, which are below normal. Poor grazing conditions have led to a massive movement of herds toward the south, resulting in overgrazing. This leads to regular clashes between farmers and pastoralists, resulting in loss of life and property, as in the canton of Banda in early December 2023. 

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical context: A new constitution was adopted by referendum on December 17, 2023. The results promulgated on December 24, 2023, enshrine the highly decentralized unitary state. Some opposition politicians who supported the federal option are contesting the results, which have been described as a sham. Civil society organizations are also denouncing the referendum, claiming massive fraud. In addition, the social context remains paralyzed by new fuel shortages since the end of November 2023. Most socioeconomic activities, particularly urban and interurban traffic, have been severely disrupted by fuel price hikes. This affects the functioning of food markets.

    Off-season agricultural campaign: This season’s activities continue to be greatly impacted by the rainfall disturbances recorded during the rainy season. Declines in planting are reported in the main production basins due to the low availability of nurseries and limited access to inputs. Support for the development of market gardening sites is being provided to 3,000 host households in the Assongha department and 1,500 people in the Ouara department, along with farm inputs and equipment. In the rice-growing basin (Tandjilé and Mayo Kebbi Est provinces), the dominant activities are soil preparation, setting up nurseries, and isolated transplanting. The construction of the Yagoua cross-border bridge is hampering the irrigation of rice-growing areas using water from the Logone River. This has reduced the acreage planted. In the departments of Mayo Lémié and Mont Illi, crop attacks by armyworms have been reported by the provincial phytosanitary database. In addition, the persistent shortage of fuel since the end of November 2023 is disrupting irrigation and off-season work, particularly in rice-growing areas and in the Lac province. 

    Pastoral situation: In the Sahelian zone, a marked deterioration in the pastoral situation has been reported due to the poor rainy season. In the western Sahel, livestock depend early on aerial grazing (plants whose leaves do not fall to the ground). In the Lac, most herds are on the islands and in the south to take advantage of the better pasture for grazing. In Moyen Chari, pastoral conditions have deteriorated due to the massive presence of herds and the poor availability of crop residues at watering points. As a result of the pastoral overload, there is competition between pastoralists for access to resources, leading to an atypical deterioration in the weight of livestock. Isolated clashes between farmers and livestock breeders are regularly reported, despite the relative calm observed in recent weeks.

    Sources of income: An erosion of the main sources of income is reported in most areas due to below average agricultural production and the scarcity of economic opportunities. The oversupply of non-agricultural, urban labor brought about by the massive influx of seasonal migrants to urban centers in search of work has driven wages down, reducing household incomes derived from migration. In rural areas, the overall erosion of most employment sources is reducing the income of very poor and poor households.

    Due to increased pressure by very poor households on natural resources, income from the sale of firewood, handicrafts, and gathered products has decreased as the quantities harvested are very small. 

    In the east, the massive presence of refugees and returnees continues to put pressure on livelihoods. In addition to the drop in production by host households, the closure of the Sudanese border continues to cause a marked erosion in income from non-agricultural labor and petty trade, among other things, due to the halt in cross-border flows. 

    The deterioration in pastoral conditions is exacerbating the drop in income from the sale of livestock, as pastoralists move to more remote areas in the south of the country. Poor livestock body conditions have reduced the market value of livestock, resulting in lower-than-average prices in some parts of the Sahel. 

    The regular displacement of artisanal gold miners from Tibesti by the police continues to reduce the income earned from migration by artisanal gold miners from very poor and poor households in the Sahel.

    Food sources: Most food sources are below average due to low production, low income levels, and pressure on available resources. In the Sudanian zone, food consumption is essentially sustained by harvests, despite the low levels of replenished stocks, supplemented by payments in kind and wild products. In the Sahel, market purchases are the main source of food due to the depletion of household stocks. However, purchase volumes are lower than in a normal year due to low household income levels and atypically high prices compared with the five-year average. 

    In some areas, such as Lac and even areas in the Sudanian zone, there is a marked reliance on wild products because of the low availability of cereal stocks. Product volumes are much lower than in a normal year due to pressure from households.

    In the east of the country, refugees and returnees depend for food on markets, the solidarity of host households, and humanitarian aid. However, consumption gaps persist due to inadequate humanitarian aid, low income levels caused by competition, and pressure on livelihoods. Pressure on household stocks has led to early depletion of these stocks, reducing the levels of community support available to refugees and returnees, particularly in the department of Assongha in Ouaddaï.

    Grain markets and prices: The supply of food products to markets has been affected by increased transportation costs, exacerbated by the persistent shortage of fuel since the end of November 2023. Cereal supply is down significantly compared with a normal year, due to low production and limited internal flows. Atypical price rises, compared with the five-year average, were seen in most areas of the country. In Lac, price increases of 62 percent and 67 percent compared to the five-year average for millet and maize, respectively, were reported in Bol at the end of November 2023 (Figure 1). The same price trends persist in the eastern provinces due to strong pressure on local cereals. More generally in the Sahel, the low volumes of food products imported from Libya and the halt to inflows from Sudan are accentuating the sharp rise in market prices for cereals. 

    Figure 1

    Change in maize prices in the Bol market (January to November 2023)
    Variation des prix du maïs

    Source: FEWS NET

    Livestock market: In the provinces neighboring Sudan, market availability is below average. This low level of supply is the result of herds moving away to towns in the southern zone in search of better grazing conditions. The presence of intermediaries and other buyers is leading to price rises in the markets of N'Djaména and certain localities in the southern zone. These price levels are being driven by strong export demand for livestock to Nigeria, despite the depreciation of the Naira, and to Cameroon. Compared to the five-year average, small ruminant prices have increased 17 percent in Fianga and 31 percent in Kélo, two export assembly points. Regional implications of institutional change in Niger, including the embargo, continue to limit the outward flow of livestock from the western provinces (BEG, Kanem) to Nigeria. 

    Humanitarian situation: In December 2023, Chad registered 484,626 Sudanese refugees and 98,770 Chadian returnees in the eastern provinces (UNHCR). Refugees and returnees continue to experience food shortages. The WFP reported that it had assisted more than 537,000 people (refugees, returnees, and host households). The delay in funding is of concern to humanitarian actors, including the WFP, which fears a significant drop in food aid to 550,000 people, including Sudanese refugees and Chadian returnees in the east. The WFP also fears a total suspension of nutrition operations. This increases the pressure of refugees and returnees on the livelihoods of host households and further exacerbates the food insecurity of populations in host provinces. In Lac, the halt to the deployment of aid continues to exacerbate the food insecurity of IDPs and host households facing rainfall production deficits. 

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The food insecurity of refugees and returnees, resulting from limited access to food, is causing a marked deterioration in their consumption. Despite crisis coping strategies, they cannot meet their basic food needs. Increasing numbers of people are resorting to emergency strategies but are unable to cover their consumption needs. This exerts increased pressure on the livelihoods of host households, with whom they compete for access to available resources and opportunities. This is exacerbating Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the eastern host provinces. Very poor and poor households in Lac, Tibesti, Ennedi Est, and Ennedi Ouest continue to have significant gaps in food consumption and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). This situation is the result of rising price trends compared with the five-year average, which limit household access to markets.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    seasonal calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions in the October 2023 to May 2024 Food Security Outlook report remain unchanged, with the exception of the updated assumptions below:

    • Food markets: The upward trend in prices, compared with the five-year average, is set to continue, reaching atypical levels from the end of March to the beginning of May, limiting access to food for most very poor households.
    • Insecurity in Lac: Isolated attacks by armed groups could be recorded until the end of January or mid-February 2024 due to the water levels of the lake, which may encourage incursions, and the limited capacity of the defense and security forces to control non-state armed groups. However, the level of attacks is expected to fall slightly compared with previous years due to the gradual lowering of water levels in the Lac region. The massive defense and security force presence is likely to help maintain security in the province. 
    • Security context in the Sudanian zone: An increase in tension is possible due to the massive presence of herds, leading to regular clashes between farmers and herders. Late return to areas of origin due to the harsh pastoral lean season is likely to reduce agricultural areas in Sudanian zones. 
    • Humanitarian aid: Due to the steady influx of refugees and returnees and the erosion of livelihoods, including the complete depletion of host households' stocks, humanitarian aid could be insufficient to cover the food needs of refugees, returnees, and host households. The sustained pressure caused by the delay in aid and the competition for household livelihoods will continue to affect the food consumption of refugees, returnees, and host households. 

    Projected Outlook through May 2024

    Food consumption by Sudanese refugees and Chadian returnees and host households will continue to deteriorate in the period from February to May 2024. As a result of significant food consumption gaps, we are likely to see a sharp increase in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) coping strategies. Some households are likely to experience significant food consumption deficits and acute malnutrition, facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In the Sahara, recurrent disruptions to the flow of imported foodstuffs from Libya to Ennedi Est, Ennedi Ouest, and Tibesti are likely to maintain upward trends on the markets. Given the erosion of the incomes of very poor households, their access to markets will be limited. They will marginally manage to cover their essential food needs, but only by employing crisis coping strategies. The deterioration in the livelihoods of IDPs and host households in the province of Lac will further affect their food situation. The depletion of host household stocks and significantly increased staple food prices compared with the five-year average will lead to sustained food insecurity. Internally displaced and host households in Lac and the Sahara provinces (Ennedi, Ennedi Est, Ennedi Ouest, Tibesti) will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). A suspension of aid would further exacerbate food consumption gaps for IDPs and host households in Lac. Very poor and poor households in the western Sahel (BEG, Kanem) and the Mangalmé department will continue to have consumption deficits. They will only be able to meet their basic food needs by resorting to crisis strategies and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Chad Food Security Outlook Update December 2023: Rising market prices and falling production exacerbate Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the Sahel and Lac regions, 2023.

    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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