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Crisis levels of food insecurity in certain parts of the Sahel

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • May 2014
Crisis levels of food insecurity in certain parts of the Sahel

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Poor households in the Sahelian belt are having difficulty meeting their basic needs due to last year’s below-average harvests, poor pastoral conditions, and high prices. Projected deliveries of humanitarian assistance should prevent a further deterioration of food security outcomes but these households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity between now and the upcoming October harvests.
    • With the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the closure of the border, flows of maize and cassava from that country have reportedly been disrupted. However, these disruptions are currently having only a minimal effect on markets due to the good availability of locally grown food crops.
    • The presence of refugees and returnees from CAR and their impact on the existing resources of host populations (ex. limited food availability, higher market demand, and above-average prices) have curtailed food access and have created Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes in the Logone Oriental, Moyen Chari, and Mandoul areas.

    Current situation
    • Agricultural conditions: In the Sudanian zone, the main agricultural activities for the 2014/2015 growing season are currently the planting of peanut and sorghum crops, spurred by early rainfall activity starting in March/April, several weeks sooner than usual (Figure 1). Currently, the main agricultural activity in the Sahelian zone is plowing.
    • Status of pastoral resources: With the rains beginning in March/April, there are already signs of emerging pasture across the Sudanian zone, providing food for livestock herds in this area. Animals in the Sahelian zone are also grazing on new grass growth, spurred by early rainfall in April. However, livestock body conditions are still reportedly poorer than usual due to the below-average availability of pasture resources after last year’s low cumulative rainfall totals.
    • Population movements: The closure of the border between Chad and CAR has disrupted trade and slowed the flow of refugees and returnees into Chad. Current estimates put the number of refugees and returnees at approximately 100,000. These populations are able to meet their essential and nonessential needs without any major difficulty through gifts from the local community and various types of food and nonfood assistance provided by the government, international organizations, and NGOs.
    • Household cereal stocks: Household cereal stock levels in most parts of the country are currently in line with the norm. However, cereal stocks in the Mandoul, Moyen Chari, and Logone Oriental areas are low and below-average, where households are sharing their food supplies with returnees in their communities. Cereal stocks in the Wadi Fira, Kanem, Barh El-Ghazal, Batha (East), northern Guera, and Hadjer Lamis areas of the Sahelian zone were depleted earlier than usual (by March) due to last year’s large cereal deficit.
    • Cereal markets: Local or weekly markets in the Sahelian zone are still fairly well-stocked with supplies from better-off farmers or local traders. Similarly, in the Sudanian zone, there are regular market supplies from trader inventories at normal levels, except in the Mandoul, Moyen Chari, and Logone Oriental areas where the closure of the border with CAR has created a shortage of maize. Moreover, returnees are buying their supplies on the same markets frequented by host populations in these three areas, which is creating a high demand for food crops and driving up prices. The price of maize on the Goré market, for example, jumped from 300 FCFA to 800 FCFA between January and May of this year, affecting the purchasing power of host populations. Prices are also rising on certain markets in the Sahelian zone. The steepest price increases to levels well above-average were the 18 percent increase in millet prices in Biltine and Mongo and the 17 percent increase in maize prices in N’Djamena. These prices increases have been driven by high demand, which is due, in part, to the seasonal return migration by pastoralists (who are large cereal purchasers at this time of year) and to the premature depletion of household cereal stocks.
    • Livestock markets: Prices for animals on livestock markets in the Sudanian zone are falling, where livestock supplies are unusually large with the presence of pastoralists from the Central African Republic. Prices for small ruminants in Moundou, for example, are 25 percent below the five-year average. However, in the Sahelian zone, livestock prices are up from April 2014, May 2013 and the five-year average as animals are traveling further out of the area in search of pasture and water. However, terms of trade are similar to the five-year average.

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for April to September 2014. However, the following assumption with respect to prices has been added to the updated outlook:

    • Cereal prices: With humanitarian assistance programs reducing demand and moderating price increases, millet prices in Biltine are rising more slowly than previously expected. Thus, between July and September, revised price projections show millet prices peaking at approximately 27 percent above the five-year average.

    Projected outlook through September 2014

    Returnees in host areas of the Sudanian zone (Logone Oriental, Moyen Chari, and Mandoul) are buying their supplies on the same markets frequented by host populations, where there is a mounting demand for food crops with the growth in the local population and corresponding food needs. This has triggered an unusually sharp rise in prices which, in turn, has weakened household purchasing power. In addition, increased competition for on-farm and nonfarm employment (ex. work as bricklayers), access to water and wild food collection is affecting the food and income sources of host households. This, in turn, has caused households to scale back their essential nonfood expenditures and reduce consumption to minimally adequate levels. As a result, households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of September. On the other hand, poor households in other southern areas of the country will maintain their food access without any major difficulty from household food stocks and from purchases on local markets and, thus, will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    The unfavorable pastoral conditions, premature depletion of household food stocks, and rising prices in the Batha, Kanem, Hadjer Lamis, and Guera areas of the Sahelian zone will affect the food security of very poor and poor households in these areas. Their food consumption will be reduced but minimally adequate, exposing them to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes. However, households in the worst-off areas (the southern BEG and Wadi-Fira areas) will continue to face food consumption gaps and will just barely meet their minimum food needs. Thus, these areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity through the end of September, with projected volume of humanitarian assistance preventing a further deterioration in the food security situation.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Start-of-season anomalies for the 2014 rainy season

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Start-of-season anomalies for the 2014 rainy season

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3


    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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