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Food security conditions are deteriorating and becoming severe in Barh El-Ghazel and Wadi Fira

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • March 2014
Food security conditions are deteriorating and becoming severe in Barh El-Ghazel and Wadi Fira

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Very poor and poor households in Wadi Fira and southern Barh El-Ghazel (BEG) depleted their cereal stocks in February, two months earlier than usual. They are presently unable to meet their basic food and nonfood needs and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Recent harvests of off-season (berbéré and market garden) and irrigated (rice, wheat, and maize) crops are improving current household food stock levels in Salamat, Guera, Batha, Chari Baguirmi, Lac, and Kanem. In addition, the earlier than usual subsidized grain sales by the National Food Security Agency (ONASA), which normally start up during the lean season rather than in March, are helping poor households maintain normal food access.
    • Prices for cereal crops on most markets in the Sahelian zone are well above the five-year average. Millet prices in Abéché, Moussoro, and Sarh, for example, are up by 32 percent, 31 percent, and 24 percent, respectively. These high price levels have begun to limit household food access, causing households to start selling off their small ruminants.

    Current situation
    • Agricultural conditions: The ongoing 2013/2014 growing season for cold dry-season crops in the Lake Chad area is marked by the beginning of maize, wheat, and bean harvests. The 25 to 30 percent larger area planted in crops this year should translate into above-average production levels. Harvests of berbéré (flood-recession sorghum) in sorghum-producing areas (Salamat, Guera, Batha, and Chari-Baguirmi) are underway, where production levels are also above-normal.
    • Household cereal stocks: Household cereal stocks in Wadi Fira and southern  Barh El-Ghazel are already depleted, two months earlier than usual. Cereal stocks in Batha, Kanem, and Hadjer Lamis are also slightly below-average and will meet household needs only until May, compared to June in a normal year. Stock levels in most southern areas of the country are still at sufficient levels to sustain local households until July/August, which is more or less normal for these areas.
    • Institutional stocks: The ONASA pre-positioned close to 4,800 metric tons of grain (maize, millet, sorghum, and rice) in the Barh El-Ghazel and Wadi Fira areas between February and March 2014. These food security stocks are currently being sold to at-risk populations at a close to 50 percent discount compared with market prices. These sales are earlier than usual this year and are normally limited just to the lean season (June to October).
    • Pastoral conditions: Pastoral conditions in all parts of the country are relatively stable despite an earlier than usual reduction in livestock food supplies from crop residues in and around border irrigation schemes. Prices for goats on the Moundou market are down from February by nearly 15 percent, although they are still close to the five-year average (-5 percent). This slight decline in prices is a result of low demand from exporters with the civil security problems in Nigeria and is weakening the purchasing power of pastoralists.
    • Sales of small ruminants and cash remittances: Poor households in Biltine are currently counting on these two major sources of revenue which, in and of themselves, accounted for 58 percent of total household income for the month of March. These households are starting to sell breeding stock (a departure from the norm) as off-season activities continue to wind down. This year’s especially large flow of short-term seasonal labor migration by farm workers to Salamat is an important source of income for poor households affected by the large grain production shortfalls in Wadi Fira. In the Sudanian zone, farm labor opportunities are increasing with the start-up of land clearing activities and field clean-up work. Wage rates have remained stable.
    • Markets and prices: Grain markets are well-stocked with flood-recession crops from localized, ongoing harvests, which are bolstering market supplies. However, household grain demand is unusually strong and growing in BEG and Wadi Fira with the earlier than usual depletion of cereal stocks in localized areas. The depletion of these stocks drove March prices for millet on the Moussoro and Abéché markets above the five-year average by 31 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
    • Refugees and returnees from the Central African Republic (CAR): More than 87,000 people have been displaced into Chad due to the new conflict in the CAR since December 2013. The response from the humanitarian community is slow and weak compared with the mounting needs of these refugees and returnees, particularly for women and children who account for over 90 percent of the refugee population. However, due to ongoing humanitarian assistance, these households are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.
    • Current food security situation: The food security situation in the Wadi Fira and BEG areas has deteriorated since last month with the depletion of household food stocks. Very poor and poor households are especially hard hit, as their food access has been limited by an atypically sharp rise in food prices and below-average incomes. Even with scaled-up livelihood strategies, these households are unable to meet their food needs and, thus, are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for January through June 2014. An in-depth examination of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2014.


    Projected outlook through June 2014

    In the Sudanian zone, prices for cereal crops (millet, sorghum, and maize) are still slightly elevated compared with the five-year average although the food security outlook remains fair with harvests of flood-recession and irrigated rice crops strengthening food availability. Thus, poor households in this part of the country should be able to maintain their food access without any major problems and will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    In the Sahelian zone, there will be a deterioration in food security in the BEG and Wadi Fira areas compared with conditions in the first quarter of the year. Household food stocks will be depleted and high grain prices and below-average sales revenues for small ruminants will make it more difficult for local households to maintain their food access. Households in the BEG and Wadi Fira areas will face food consumption gaps and will barely meet their basic food needs, putting them in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). With ongoing harvests of berbéré crops bolstering household cereal stocks in Batha and Guera, the food security situation of very poor and poor households in these areas will be less severe. Households in these areas have already cut back essential nonfood spending and their food consumption will be reduced though still minimally adequate. These households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity through June 2014.

    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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