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Food security conditions beginning to stabilize in certain areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • June 2012
Food security conditions beginning to stabilize in certain areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through September 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Approximately 2.4 million people, mostly in central agropastoral areas (Guera, Kanem, Bahr-el-Ghazal, Batha, and Sila), were in Phase 2 (stressed) of version 2.0 of the IPC food insecurity phase scale in May of this year, with the northern reaches of Mangalmé in crisis (Phase 3 of IPC 2.0). The lean season got underway two months earlier than usual and very poor and poor households are having difficulty meeting their food needs. The situation is still less serious than in 2009/10 and, for the time being, there are no signs of a food emergency.

    • Market supplies are tight in food-deficit areas and grain prices are still well above the five-year average and unaffordable for poor households in areas severely affected by grain deficits. Grain prices will continue to increase, remaining above the five-year average into September.

    • The earlier than usual and average to above-average rainfall in the Sudanian zone and parts of the Sahelian zone (Guera, Salamat, and portions of Chari Baguirmi) between April and May/June has been increasing the supply of local labor, particularly in rural areas.

    • The various relief programs underway, the average to good harvest outlook, the physical condition of livestock, and the improvement in the purchasing power of agropastoralists are expected to ease Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions in central agropastoral areas between July and September. 

    Updated food security outlook through September 2012

    With the poor 2011/2012 growing season and resulting 22 percent nationwide production deficit, poor households depleted their food reserves by March of this year and have been relying on market purchase as their main source of food. Food insecurity levels in the Sahelian zone remain at IPC Phase 2 (stressed). Poor households are having difficulty maintaining their food access in the face of the high price of grain. Conditions in the northern reaches of Mangalmé are also unchanged from April/May, and remain at Phase 3 (Crisis).

    The cumulative seasonal satellite rainfall estimate (RFE) shows cumulative rainfall totals of 200-300 mm throughout large parts of the south, including southern Salamat, all of Moyen Chari, large portions of Mandoul, and the southern reaches of East and West Logone. Rainfall levels in the 100-200 mm range are reported in the northern reaches of East and West Logone, West Mayo Kebbi, Tandjilé, and northwestern Mandoul and extending northwards into East Mayo Kebbi, southern Chari Baguirmi, Guera, and Salamat, indicating that the growing season is in full swing in these areas. Rainfall levels in the 50-100 mm range indicate an advancing vegetation front and areas with good conditions for planting crops. A look at cumulative rainfall anomalies shows moderate to large cumulative rainfall surpluses in virtually all farming areas across the country. Seasonal forecasts by the ECMWF for the period between now and September predict average to good rainfall conditions in most parts of the Sahel and West Africa. However, with the current limitations in the technical accuracy and consistency of medium-range forecasts, FEWS NET is assuming an overall average spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall.

    According to the findings by the Ministry of Agriculture mission conducted by the DPSA (the Crop Production and Statistics Service) between April 7 th and April 21st of this year, 2.4 million people are food-insecure, of which 1.2 million will be in need of assistance between April and September of this year. The food security situation of very poor and poor households in central agropastoral and rainfed farming areas is stable compared with conditions in April and May thanks to the different types of assistance programs mounted by humanitarian organizations and the Office National de Sécurité Alimentaire (the National Food Security Agency) in the Sahelian zone (distributions of general food aid, food fairs, food stamp programs, subsidized grain marketing programs, and cash transfer programs). According to the most likely scenario, conditions could improve beginning in July. 

    Grain prices on the Abéché, Sarh, and Moundou markets are higher than last month and above the five-year average due to tight market supplies with the depletion of on-farm inventories for the past two months and the added need for seeds. With the exception of corn, grain prices in N’Djamena are down from April but are still quite high compared with the fiveyear average. Prices could stay high into August or September with the growing demand for grain during the month-long observance of Ramadan (from mid-July to mid-August) and for the Feast of Eid El Fitr (August). There is a continuing flow of grain trade from the Sudanian to the Sahelian zone, but the volume of trade is extremely small compared with the first quarter of the year due to diminishing on-farm inventories. The levels of trader inventories are lower than usual and grain imports from Nigeria and Libya are still limited.

    Livestock in the Sahelian zone are in below-average physical condition due to poor pasture availability (Figure 3). The condition of the animals observed by the FEWS NET team in May in the area between Massaguet and Massakory was already alarming and could further deteriorate if no action is taken between now and the end of June. The long distances separating animal watering holes is another factor affecting their physical condition. In spite of the low demand for livestock, there are reports of herd thinning sales in the area between Massaguet and Moussoro in an attempt to avoid losses. As a result, prices for small animals have fallen, while grain prices in Moussoro have increased, weakening terms of trade for agropastoralists and undermining the purchasing power of agropastoral households with remaining sheep herds. Most very poor households without any livestock resorting to labor migration to large urban areas have not yet returned to begin farming their land. The earlier than usual rainfall has resulted in the sprouting of fresh grasses and is starting to improve the condition of pasture in certain localized areas. 

    Demand for livestock will pick up with the observance of Ramadan and the Feast of Eid El Fitr (in July/August), driving up prices. Terms of trade should improve, strengthening the purchasing power of poor households. This year, the premature start of the rainy season in Chad has created conditions conducive to heightened locust activity in certain areas where food insecurity levels are already in IPC Phases 2 (stressed) and 3 (crisis). Any improvement in the food security situation hinges directly on a good 2012 harvest. The good rainfall conditions reported in May are creating more propitious locust breeding conditions due to the emergent natural vegetation and with crops in the emergence stage of their growing cycle. The imminent start of the rains in the Sahel will also affect the migration of locust populations from the African Sahel to Chad in the weeks ahead.

    Central agropastoral areas of Northern Guera and Kanem

    Food insecurity levels in the Sahelian zone are unchanged from April/May. The worst-off areas are the Northern Guera and Grand Kanem areas, particularly Mangalmé and Bahr-el-Ghazal (BEG). The depletion of household food reserves and the unusually high price of grain are making it difficult for poor households to maintain their food access during the lean season currently underway. Grain-buying by returning households between May and June was bolstered by wage income from labor migration. Thus, the situation of this group of households has stabilized and is expected to remain in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) into September. Households in Mangalmé without any livestock which did not engage in labor migration will be in IPC Phase 3 (crisis) until July in spite of the distribution of food aid, which is proving inadequate. These households will be planting crops for this growing season thanks to the distribution of seeds. The different assistance programs and on-farm employment could help improve the situation of households in crisis beginning as of July.

    Humanitarian aid. In response to localized crises, a number of humanitarian organizations and the Chadian government, via the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency), have joined forces to mount different types of assistance programs, including distributions of free food aid, subsidized grain marketing programs, food for work activities, cash transfer programs, etc. Some are designed as short-term responses, while others will extend into September. Together, these programs should significantly help food insecurity and, for the most part, are designed to facilitate food access for very poor and poor households and protect their livelihoods. The latest targeting operation by the Ministry of Agriculture in April of this year estimates food needs at 41,799 MT.

    Malnutrition. The numbers of malnourished children in Kanem are falling thanks to the joint efforts of the different humanitarian agencies active in that area and, in particular, the distribution of Plumpy’Doz to at-risk children by UNICEF. According to the Regional Health Service in Kanem, admissions rates at therapeutic feeding centers fell by 14 percent between March and April of this year and by 23 percent between April and May. These figures should continue to come down over the course of this coming month with the effective implementation of the UNICEF/WFP program for the treatment of 300,000 children between now and the end of June. However, the current number of malnourished children (3318) is triple the figure for the same time last year, or 1029. 

    Pastoral conditions. The deterioration in pastoral conditions is especially noticeable in northern Kanem, where local officials are reporting animal health problems affecting cattle, small animals, and camels, reflected by swollen abdomens in the case of cattle and small animals and by paralysis of the extremities in the case of camels. The members of the Action Against Hunger mission in this area photographed cattle eating the carcass of a dead animal. With the lack of pasture and animal feed supplements, there are fears of a possible outbreak of poisoning from eating diseased animals.

    Markets and prices. Grain prices in Mongo rose slightly (by 7 percent) between April and May of this year and are 48 percent above the five-year average. This rise in prices is due partly to the low level of trader inventories and partly to tight market supplies with the depletion of on-farm inventories for the past two months and the added demand for seeds. Prices could continue to climb into July/August in response to demand during Ramadan. 

    Summary. The imminent revival of farming activities in central agropastoral areas is increasing demand for farm labor. With distributions of food and nonfood aid by humanitarian organizations and government-subsidized grain marketing programs by the ONASA beginning in the second half of June, the expectation is that the food security situation of very poor and poor households could stabilize between now and the end of June. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    NDVI Anomaly (2001 – 2010 average), May 2012

    Figure 2

    NDVI Anomaly (2001 – 2010 average), May 2012

    Source: USGS/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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