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Household food consumption is declining in conflict zones

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • December 2018
Household food consumption is declining in conflict zones

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Conflicts near Lake Chad and recently in Tibesti are disrupting livelihoods and markets. The decline in trade flows of food products (rice, pasta, wheat flour) across the Libyan border is accelerating the depletion of households’ assets and adaptation strategies in Tibesti. Household incomes are far below average, affecting financial and physical access to food.

    • The already precarious nutritional situation in Tibesti may be compounded by a lack of food access and availability. In the most recent SMART surveys (September 2018), the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) was already close to the critical threshold (13.6 per cent). This situation requires responses to address the causes of malnutrition such as dysentery, malaria and respiratory infections.

    • The good 2018-2019 harvests recorded in the Sahelian area and in Mayo-Kebbi have led to a good replenishment of household and commercial stocks compared to a typical year. Consequently, there is little market dependency. However, the cereal deficit in Moyen-Chari, Mandoul, Tanjilé and the two Logone regions may lead to stock depletion by May 2019 (two to three months earlier than usual).

    • Pastoral conditions are good thanks to the availability of pasture and water. Animal body conditions are good, with a slight relative increase in prices, which remain below average. However, in the face of an atypical fall in the price of cereals, there has been an improvement in the terms of trade in livestock/cereals.


    Current situation

    Agricultural situation: Harvests of rainfed crops are almost complete, and cereal production for the 2018/2019 agricultural season is estimated at 3,003,362 tons, an 11.9 per cent increase over the five-year average (Directorate of Agricultural Statistics (DSA), November 2018). However, a decline of 4.5 per cent is recorded in all regions of the Sudanian area, except for East and West Mayo Kebbi.

    Production of other food crops is estimated at 1,781,495 tons (DSA, November 2018). This is 7.7 per cent higher than the five-year average. The Sudanian area, on the other hand, recorded a decline of 6.8 per cent compared with 2017, but a slight increase of 1.8 per cent over the five-year average.

    The pastoral situation: The 2018 pastoral season saw an early start with a fairly good spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall. Total rainfall from April 1 to October 31, 2018 indicates that most regions recorded a surplus, resulting in a good biomass yield. The fodder balance is largely in surplus and can cover requirements until the next wintering. Semi-permanent pools are half full, but most of them are likely to dry up by February 2019. The animal health situation is stable thanks to vaccination campaigns undertaken by the State and its partners. The southward migration of the herds of transhumant pastoralists originating in Bahr-El-Ghazal and Kanem was already observed in the Sudanian area, specifically in Moyen-Chari and Mandoul, in November, despite the availability of fodder and surface water in their regions of origin. These herds are moving faster than usual and have caused serious damage to crops in Mandoul. For example, in the village of Béko, approximately 108 hectares of all crops were destroyed. The villages of Tura and Békessi also suffered losses. The animal body condition is normal.

    The agricultural labor force: Demand for agricultural labor is above average in the Sahelian area owing to higher than average harvests, but it is decreasing as the agricultural season is drawing to a close and harvesting activities have decreased. The arrival of refugees and returnees in the Lake Chad area is also leading to an increased labor supply. However, in the Sudanian area, demand remains medium to low owing to falls in harvestable areas of rice, particularly in Mayo Kebbi and Tandjilé. Additionally, demand is slightly higher than normal in Moyen Chari, as each producer wants to finish their harvest before arrival of the transhumant herds, which are descending rapidly to the Sudanian area.

    Population movements: In Moyen Chari, refugees from the Central African Republic are dependent on food assistance. Additionally, the latest attacks in the Lake region, which took place in September, led to the displacement of 180 people from Kaїga to Bagassola.

    Cereal supply and availability: The markets are well supplied with agricultural products thanks to the current harvesting of rainfed crops and merchant stocks. On the other hand, there is a disruption to food flows in conflict areas, particularly in Lake Chad and Tibesti. The supply of local products is being reinforced by imports (pasta, wheat flour, rice, oil and sugar) from Libya, Sudan and Cameroon. Cereal products, oilseeds and tubers are available in sufficient quantities thanks to around average production. However, availability is lower than in normal in areas where production has fallen.

    Demand for cereal products: Cereal demand is normal thanks to good harvests, but institutional demand for replenishment and to support future interventions remains lower than normal.

    Food flows and prices: The flows are normal, with the exception of the conflict zones (the Lake Chad and Tibesti regions). The cereal price trend in November 2018 is below the five-year average. However, the price of rice remained stable (+5 per cent) owing to poor harvests in the Sudanian area. Wholesalers are taking advantage of the relatively low prices (maize, millet and sorghum) to replenish their stocks. The prices of black-eyed peas, sesame and groundnuts, which are the main cash crops, are at the level of the five-year average.

    Livestock prices: In November, the price of animals (sheep, goats and cattle) fell between 10 and 25 per cent compared with the five-year average. This decline is due to the low demand from Nigeria and the slowdown in flows from and to Sudan and Libya.

    Humanitarian assistance: In the Lake Chad region, support from NGOs is ongoing and has greatly supported returnees and internally displaced persons, who benefit from food and household goods (buckets, mats, containers, tents and others). However, no assistance was given to the people of Tibesti.

    Current food situation: Food consumption is satisfactory in almost all areas, thanks to the surplus harvest in the 2018/2019 agricultural season and the availability of tubers and vegetable products (such as tomatoes, carrots, eggplants and lettuce) that ensure good food diversity. These products also generate income. Households are facing Minimal (IPC, Phase 1) food insecurity.

    However, some returnee and displaced households in the Lake Chad region are experiencing difficulties in accessing food due to conflict that limits access to income sources. Consequently, their food consumption is reduced and they are unable to afford certain essential non-food items. They are under pressure and may move into the Crisis phase without ongoing assistance (IPC Phase 2!). Moreover, households in Tibesti are facing difficulties in accessing markets and sources of income, while stocks are very low, and their food consumption is low.


    The most likely scenario for December 2018 to May 2019 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

    • Agricultural production: The start of the off-season sorghum (berbéré) harvests is scheduled for late February 2019 and will continue until March, as in a normal year, except in Guéra, where they will continue until April due to the slow recession of water in marshland areas during transplanting.
      • Crop disease losses during harvests of rainfed crops and off-season harvests will be average to slightly below-average. However, in Sarh, losses will be slightly above average due to the early end of the rainy season and the likely damage caused by Spodoptera friji caterpillars to the berbéré between December and March.
      • Income-generating opportunities and in-kind payments for poor households will remain high for berbéré harvests (January to March 2019) compared to 2017/2018. However, payments will be average to below-average according to the area, owing to the financial crisis.
    • Food stocks (in households, business and institutions): Cereal stocks (for households and traders) will be average or above the national average thanks to the good production recorded in 2018/2019 and commercial imports. However, the regions of Guéra (Mangalmé department) and Batha (Batha-Ouest) will experience an early decline in cereal stocks due to the high levels of reported debt (National Food Security Surveys (ENSA), October 2018). In Kanem and Bahr-el-Ghazal, which are regions in structural deficit, cereal stocks will be exhausted between February and May, as in normal years. In Biltine (Wadi Fira), a high concentration of food stocks will be expected due to the disruption of flows to Tibesti. The volume of institutional purchases will be smaller this year, unlike in previous years, due to economic difficulties.
    • Markets and prices of agricultural products: A seasonal increase in household demand will gradually be reported on the markets. This increase will be more pronounced in Moyen Chari, Mandoul, the two Logone regions, Tandjilé, Wadi Fira, Kanem, Bahr-el-Ghazal and Tibesti because of the high market dependency resulting from the early decline in household cereal stocks. Manufactured food flows from Libya will slow down due to civil insecurity. Cereal prices will be below average throughout the analysis period, except in conflict areas where an atypical increase may be observed.
    • Livestock farming: Livestock movements from north to south (November to January) and from south to north (May/June) will remain normal. However, they are moving faster than usual and are found in areas where harvests have not yet been completed.
      • The current level of pasture largely exceeds national needs throughout the analysis period.
      • Livestock prices will rise from May onwards as a result of increased demand for livestock linked to the Ramadan period (May/June). However, prices will remain similar to last year, below the five-year average. The terms of livestock/cereal exchange will follow the same trends.
    • Non-agricultural income: Non-agricultural activities, such as seasonal migration, construction and brick production, will increase after the harvest period (November to January depending on the area), following the seasonal trend. However, income from these activities and from livestock sales will be lower than average due to the financial crisis and conflict.
    • Food assistance: Food assistance targeting the most vulnerable households is available until December 2018. Given the ongoing profiling in the Lake Chad region to categorize those in need of support, the assistance is planned and likely, but funding is not yet confirmed for 2019.
    • Credit: Households may start to borrow to meet their food needs from April to May 2019, but at below-average levels. In rice-growing areas, indebtedness may begin in December to enable people to replant rice for the off-season.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    For the December 2018 to January 2019 period, Tibesti households will need to adopt crisis strategies such as limiting non-food expenditure and reducing the number of meals, will face a consumption deficit and be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Some Lake Chad region households, particularly internally displaced persons and refugees, will struggle to access food through meal sharing, and will suffer from the rapid depletion of stocks and lower incomes. These households will decrease their essential health and education expenditures and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) during this period, thanks to food aid.

    Thanks to the good harvest of cereals, oilseeds, pulses, tubers and vegetable products underway, below-average grain prices and milk availability, poor households in other parts of the country will have adequate food consumption and will be able to meet their food needs without great difficulty; they will be face Minimal (IPC, Phase 1) food insecurity.

    For February to May 2019, conflict zones (Lake Chad region and Tibesti) may experience food difficulties and develop crisis strategies. In the Lake Chad region, uncertainty surrounding assistance will put households in food difficulty and lead to consumption deficits; they will be in the food security crisis phase (IPC, Phase 3). In Tibesti, the persisting security environment will continue to affect household food consumption, despite their adaptation strategies. As a result, they will remain in Crisis (IPC, Phase 3).

    Household cereal stocks in Bahr-el-Ghazal and Kanem will be gradually depleted from February onwards, and households will depend on the market. Access will be limited because of the slowdown in flows from Libya, which will lead to higher food prices. Poor and very poor households will be able to cope with reduced food consumption but will not be able to afford certain non-food expenditures. Food security will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    For other areas of the country, activities such as increased market gardening will generate additional income. Therefore, food insecurity will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until May 2018.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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