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Below-average household cereal stocks in certain areas of the Sahel

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • February 2014
Below-average household cereal stocks in certain areas of the Sahel

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Due to below-average cereal production in localized areas, current household stock levels are lower than usual in Wadi Fira, Batha, Bahr El-Gazal (BEG), Kanem, and northern Ouara. Poor households in these areas are currently only able to meet their minimal consumption needs and are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.
    • In worst affected areas (Wadi Fira and BEG), households are intensifying their off-season activities to atypical levels. However, their ability to increase coping beyond current levels in the coming months will be limited. These households will start facing food consumption gaps starting in April and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.
    • Despite poor cereal production in parts of the Sahel, key markets in the Sahelian zone have average supply due to good production levels at a national level and normal trade flows from the Sudanian zone. However, unlike the Sudanian zone, prices remain above average in the Sahelian zone, limiting food access.

    Current situation
    • Pastoral conditions: In general, livestock body conditions are still normal despite the limited availability of pasture (natural forage and fodder supplements) and of water, particularly in Wadi Fira, Ouaddai, Guera, Salamat, and Moyen Chari. In pasture-deficit areas, herd movements to seasonal grazing lands got underway in September this year, instead of November/December as in a normal year.
    • Farm labor: Seasonal labor demand for harvesting and threshing activities is currently strong and larger than usual in berbéré (flood-recession sorghum) producing areas (mainly in the Salamat region) due to the expected good harvests in these areas. Unusually large numbers of households are flocking to these areas to gain access to food (through in-kind wage payments) and cash income.
    • Household cereal stocks: Household cereal stocks in deficit-producing areas (Hadjer Lamis, BEG, and Wadi Fira) are nearly depleted, two months earlier than usual. In general, cereal stocks in the Sudanian zone are adequate, strengthened by the ongoing harvests in berbéré-producing areas since the beginning of the month.
    • Cereal markets: There is a regular flow of grains from the Sudanian zone to the Sahelian zone, in line with normal seasonal trends. This is attributable to good grain availability on markets in Sudanian areas. Most coarse grain supplies in the Sahelian zone are from traders as supplies from farmers on collection markets are limited. Despite the smooth trade flows, limited market supplies are driving up grain prices in this zone. February prices for pearl millet in Abéché, for example, were 10 percent higher than at the same time last year and nine percent above the five-year average. In general, cereal prices in the Sudanian zone are falling, particularly in the case of sorghum and pearl millet. This downward trend in prices is a result of the plentiful market supplies of grain in this zone. Millet prices on the Sarh market, for example, were 12 percent lower than in February of last year.
    • Livestock markets: Prices for small ruminants are down from February of last year by between seven to 20 percent. Cattle prices are also down in Guera and Moyen Chari, but are up in Salamat. The higher price of cattle in Salamat is due to low supplies in this area with the earlier than usual herd movements to seasonal grazing lands farther south. In general, sheep-to-grain terms of trade are unfavorable for pastoralists. For example, revenues from the sale of one sheep in Mongo would enable a pastoralist to purchase 200 kg of sorghum, compared with 380 kg in February of last year. Likewise, a pastoralist could buy 237 kg of maize with the revenues from the sale of one sheep at the Sarh market, compared with 284 kg last February.
    • Returnees from the CAR: Conflict in the Central African Republic has created a steady influx of returnees into Chad. The latest situation report by the IOM puts the number of returnees in Chad at 58,822. A donation program mounted in mid-January has helped raise contributions of items such as mats, blankets, mosquito nets, grain, milk, sugar, soap, etc. The sick are also receiving free medical care at health centers. The response plan proposed by the Food Security Cluster early in February includes a provision for food assistance for 150,000 recipients. The WFP is also winding up a second delivery of food assistance to 41,000 recipients in the southern zone (seven-day rations) and is developing a cash transfer strategy (vouchers) for 50,000 returnees/refugees in transit centers for a two-month period.

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for January to June 2014. An in-depth examination of this scenario can be found in FEWS NET’s recent Food Security Outlook. However, the following assumption has been added to update the outlook:

    • The livestock herds of Chadian citizens returning to the Salamat and Moyen Chari areas from the Central African Republic could exacerbate overgrazing problems and related disputes. The large concentrations of animals in these areas will result in poor pasture availability, a deterioration in livestock body conditions, and a loss of household income.

    Projected outlook through June 2014

    The current food security situation in the country’s Sudanian zone is satisfactory on account of the good food availability in this area. Households in most parts of the country will be able to meet their basic food needs between now and June without resorting to any coping strategies. Accordingly, they will experience No or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout this period.

    However, the food security outlook will continue to be marred by unfavorable conditions in the Wadi Fira, BEG, Batha, and Kanem areas, where below-average crop production levels have made households more dependent on market purchases than usual. In addition, unusually high food prices are limiting food access. Households are currently cutting their nonfood expenditures and are scaling up their off-season activities (market gardening, animal sales, and migration) to atypically high levels in an effort to ensure their food access on local markets. Thus, poor households in these areas are only minimally able to meet their consumption needs and will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity through March. Food security conditions in Batha and Kanem will stabilize between April and June, where food availability is being strengthened by recent harvests of flood-recession sorghum crops in Batha and by off-season crops (cold-season market garden and maize crops from the Lake Chad area) in Kanem. However, the stream of food and income from animal production and market gardening activities in areas especially hard hit by last year’s rainfall deficits (the Wadi Fira and BEG areas) will dry up sooner than usual due to the below-average pasture and water availability in these areas. Moreover, the ability of poor households to further intensify their coping strategies in the coming months will be limited. Consequently, food security conditions for very poor and poor households in the Wadi Fira and BEG areas will deteriorate into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation between the beginning of April and the end of the lean season, with these households expected to face food consumption deficits.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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