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Deterioration in the food security situation for most agropastoral Sahelian Chad

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • February - September 2016
Deterioration in the food security situation for most agropastoral Sahelian Chad

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  • Key Messages
  • Contexte nationale
  • Key Messages
    • Poor households in certain departments in the country’s Sahelian belt have depleted their cereal stocks earlier than usual (by the end of February instead of April/May). This is the case in Mangalmé (Guera), Western Batha, Kanem, Wadi Bissam (Kanem), Southern BEG, Mamdi (Lac), Djourf Al-Ahmar (Sila), and Kobé and Megri departments in Wadi Fira. These households are already facing an atypical rise in cereal prices and atypical reduction in their incomes, leading to gaps in food consumption. They will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as of March (Map 2).

    • The effects of the security problems in the Lac region and the shortfall in cereal production in the Sahel will be mitigated by the better pastoral livelihoods in Northern Kanem, Northern BEG, Eastern Batha, and Biltine (Wadi Fira) departments and the more stable security situation in Wayi department (Lac). Poor households in these areas will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions through May. The deterioration in the food security situation in Wayi department with the beginning of the lean season in farming areas will lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in that area as of June.

    • Food security conditions in Kimiti (Sila), Central and Western Guera, Dar Tama (Wadi Fira), Assoungha (Ouaddai), and Eastern and Western Tandjilé departments and in the Western Mayo Kebbi and Eastern Logone regions have deteriorated with the early depletion of cereal stocks in these areas. Poor households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between February and June in pastoral areas and through the month of September in cropping areas. Most households in the Sudanian zone have average levels of food stocks and will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through September (Map 1).

    • In general, pastoral conditions are fair, but pasture resources in the Hadjer Lamis, BEG, Kanem, Batha and Wadi Fira regions are limited, where the physical condition of livestock is deteriorating earlier than usual (beginning in February instead of April) and low demand and falling prices for livestock will reduce pastoral incomes. The situation will start to improve as of July with the growth of fresh pasture and heavier demand for livestock during the month of Ramadan.

    Contexte nationale
    Current situation

    Agropastoral conditions

    Crop estimates for 2015 put national cereal production, severely affected by the late start of the rainy season and poor distribution of rainfall, at 10 percent below the five-year average. The areas most affected by shortfalls in crop production are Kanem (-54 percent), Batha (-51 percent), Sila and Biltine (-31 percent), BEG (-27 percent), Guera (-25 percent), and Western Mayo Kebbi (-21 percent). Other affected areas include Eastern Logone (-14 percent), Ouaddai (-11 percent), and Tandjilé (-10 percent).

    The main ongoing farming activities in the Sahelian zone are the tending of crops, the harvesting-threshing of flood-recession sorghum (berbéré) crops, and market gardening activities. Berbéré production is down to as much as 30 percent below-average in all parts of the country. This shortfall in production is due to the low levels and poor distribution of rainfall and smaller areas planted in crops with the late start of the rains, which has also thrown berbéré harvests off schedule (which normally take place in January-February). These crops are still in the milk grain stage of their growing cycle and threatened by infestations of “miella.”

    Farming activities for winter off-season crops in reclaimed polder areas of the Lac region are progressing normally, where cropped areas are receiving their third and fourth rounds of irrigation and their second and third weeding. The size of areas currently planted in cold off-season cash crops is nearly 25 percent smaller than average due to security problems and the abandonment of farms. As usual, harvests of these cash crops were scheduled to begin by mid-February 2016, but yields are expected to be close to 15 to 20 percent below-average.

    Market gardening activities have been underway since the end of the growing season for rainfed crops, with wide-spread harvests of tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, etc. The departure of market gardeners in search of gold following its recent discovery in Fitri reduced the size of the area planted in these crops, resulting in a 10 to 12 percent below-average harvest.

    Current farming activities in the Sudanian zone involve crop storage, land clearing, and market gardening activities. There has been a great deal of interest in these latter activities in the past few years, fueled by the provision of farm input assistance and small gardening tools by the country’s food security partners. Berbéré crops in this area, which are grown mostly in the vicinity of Lake Iro (in the Moyen Chari region), are in the maturation stage and, as usual, should be harvested around the end of February, with average crop yields.

    Pastoral conditions

    In general, the already abnormally low levels of pasture have been further reduced by brush fires. Moreover, practically all seasonal lakes and ponds have run dry (with a few exceptions in the Sudanian zone). Animal health conditions are stable and livestock in the Sudanian zone are still in average to good physical condition. On the whole, pastoral conditions in the Sahelian zone are fair. The below-normal levels of pasture in Ouaddaï will not meet the needs of local livestock through the month of June. There is currently still average pasture availability in the Sila region and Dar-Tama (Wadi Fira) and an adequate supply of pasture in Salamat, in Guera, and in Batha. Crop residues from harvests of berbéré crops will help improve pasture availability to some extent. By March 2016, livestock wells in the eastern part of the country will be unable to keep pace with the growing watering needs of livestock since the month of February due to the extreme heat in that area.

    There is a growing shortage of pasture around villages in the Western Sahel, requiring animals in Kanem and Barh El Gazal to travel long distances. Animals are being watered at boreholes and livestock wells, which is leading to high tensions. However, animals are still in average physical condition, though their condition is tending to deteriorate. In general, pastoral conditions in the Lac region are rough with the unstable situation in that area slowing trade and herd movements and increasing the size of the animal population due to the presence of transhumant herds unable to return to their home bases.

    Household cereal stocks

    Household cereal stocks consist mainly of rainfed crops from the 2015/2016 season and, in general, are smaller than usual. Most households counting on berbéré crops to augment their cereal stocks will be disappointed with their yields with the reported problems with wilting crops, particularly in Mangalmé department (Guera) and Ati in Western Batha. There will be more or less average levels of cereal stocks in the eastern part of the country through the end of April 2016, except in Kobé and Megri departments in Wadi-Fira and Djourf Al Ahmar department (Amdam) in Sila, where there are low cereal stocks due to the shortfall in rainfed crop production.  

    Cereal stocks are limited in the Western Sahel, where households are market dependent. In spite of the good volume of cereal production for 2015-2016, households in the Lac region have nearly depleted their cereal stocks due to the pressure put on them by the larger household size in that area with the presence of DPs, with whom host populations are sharing their meals. There are average levels of household cereal stocks in the Sudanian zone with the carry-over stocks and diversified diet in that area (potatoes, taro, yams, etc.).  

    Farm labor

    In general, this year, there is a smaller supply of farm labor in the Sahelian zone than in the past with the discovery of gold in the Batha region attracting large numbers of workers from the Kanem, BEG, Guera, Batha, Ouaddai, and Tibesti regions. The departure of these workers is reducing their income from farm labor in these areas, as well as their total wage incomes. Panning for gold is an informal activity and is currently banned by the government. Certain workers are still flocking to Salamat to work in the berbéré harvest, where the daily wage is up 33 percent from 2015, or 1500 CFAF compared with 1000 CFAF last year. There will be continuing employment opportunities for farm labor (crop maintenance work) in market gardening activities in Ouaddaï through March 2016, where the daily wage is up by 20 percent from the same time last year, from 2500 CFAF to 3,000 CFAF. There is a large availability if not a surplus of farm labor in the Lac region with the presence of refugees, returnees, and DPs from Nigeria and the Lake Chad islands. The daily wage earned by a farm worker in reclaimed polder areas in Guini, Mamdi, or Berim (farming areas of Bol) was 1000 CFAF as of the beginning of February, compared with 2000 CFAF in 2015, representing a 50 percent pay cut.

    Most of the current demand for farm labor in the Sudanian zone is for land clearing work. The daily wage rate is around 500 CFAF, which is in line with the norm. The continuing market gardening activities in certain areas generally rely on unpaid family labor.  

    Population movements

    Certain farmers in the Western Sahel have reportedly abandoned their market gardening activities to look for gold in Fitri department (Batha), particularly in neighboring areas. There are continuing reports of population displacements in Lac due to security incidents connected with the Boko Haram movement, with especially large numbers of DPs in Bagasola and areas around the city of Bol. According to the count by the Ministry of Social Action, there are currently around 95,000 displaced persons. The flow of seasonal migration by residents of Eastern Batha, Koundjourou (Western Batha), and Mangalmé to Salamat to work in the harvest of off-season crops is already underway due to the low levels of rainfed crop production in these areas. There are no reports of any unusual population movements in the Sudanian zone at this time.

    Cereal supply/availability

    With the regular market supplies in the Sahelian zone, there is good cereal availability on most cereal markets, except in Iriba (Kobé) and Matadjana (Megri) in the Wadi Fira region and in the Western Sahel where there is a smaller than usual seasonal supply of cereal crops due to the low production in Wadi Fira. The flow of trade to western markets has slowed with the disruptions in the Lac area, resulting in low supplies on the Kanem and Bahr El Gazal markets. Harvests of berbéré crops are underway in Guera, Salamat, Batha, Moyen Chari, and Chari Baguirmi, where there is good cereal availability, though less than usual. There are already supplies of berbéré as well as market garden crops on markets in Ouaddaï. Markets in the Sudanian zone have good cereal supplies from harvests of rainfed crops and markets in crop-short areas are still getting a normal flow of supplies.

    Cereal demand

    There is a large demand for cereals in departments with limited rainfed crop production such as the three Mubi and Dadjo II cantons in Mangalmé department (Guera). There is also a higher demand in Western Batha and Fitri than last year, fueled by the poor yields of rainfed and berbéré crops for the 2015/2016 season. There has been very little demand for staple cereal crops (millet and sorghum) in Ouaddaï since January 2016 with the good volume of production for 2015-2016. There is a higher than usual household demand in Wadi Fira due to the limited availability of carry-over cereal stocks with the shortfall in cereal production for 2015-2016.

    There is an acute cereal demand in the Western Sahel, where camel caravans from Kanem and Bahr Al Gazal have been sighted heading for Hadjer Lamis and Chari Baguirmi in search of cereal supplies despite the steady flow of vehicles delivering supplies to markets in these areas. There is currently an average level of cereal demand in the Sudanian zone, where households are consuming own-grown crops and large quantities of tubers such as taro and potatoes. There is no institutional or significant demand at this time, except for trader inventories and local consumption.

    Cereal trade

    There is a normal flow of inter-regional cereal trade, except for trade between Lac and other regions. Markets in Moussoro (BEG) and surrounding areas are also getting normal supplies of maize from the Lake Chad area. Markets in Kanem get their supplies of maize from the Lac region and their supplies of millet and sorghum from Hadjer Lamis and Chari Baguirmi, but these trade flows are slowed/disrupted by the current state of emergency in the Lac region. There is currently a normal flow of trade from surplus to deficit areas of the Sudanian zone.

    Cereal prices

    In general, cereal markets are well stocked with crops from cereal harvests between October and December 2015 and the first localized harvests of berbéré crops. The extremely large volume of imports (rice, food pastes, wheat flour) in Ouaddaï, Wadi Fira, Sila, and the Western Sahel is also affecting cereal prices, keeping them stable. Millet prices on the Abéché market in the Ouaddaï region in January 2016 were close to the five-year average (-3 percent). Prices on the Iriba market in the Wadi Fira region are also near-average (+1 percent).

    On the other hand, cereal prices in the Western Sahel are up from last year and above the five-year average. This rise in prices is attributable to the low production in 2015 though, in some cases, prices have come down. Maize prices in Moussoro are 13 percent above the five-year average.

    There are shortages of cereal supplies on markets in the Lac region, where maize prices began rising in the month of January with most households starting to become market dependent, for cereals in particular. The price of maize on the Bol market was 197 CFAF/kg in January 2016, 15 percent above the five-year average of 171 CFAF. In addition, the selling price of fuel used both for transportation and for the operation of motor-driven pumps in the Lac region is 750 CFAF/liter, compared with its official price of 550 CFAF/liter. This is a result of the security problems limiting the flow of supplies from N'Djamena and Nigeria, which are restricting motorcycle and vehicular traffic and driving up transportation costs. Thus, high transportation costs are causing the prices of most commodities trucked in from N’Djamena to increase.

    Staple food prices in the Sudanian zone are down from the same time in 2015 or, in some cases, stable. These price trends are attributable to the good levels of food stocks and the currently low demand with the decline in household purchasing power. For example, sorghum prices in Sarh are 20 percent lower than in January 2015 and close to the five-year average (-5 percent). Millet prices are also down from January 2015 on the Moundou (-14 percent) and Kélo (-15 percent) markets.

    Livestock prices

    Livestock prices on all markets are still low and well below-average due to the official closure of the country’s border with Nigeria since August 2014 as a result of the crisis in northeastern Nigeria created by the Boko Haram insurgency. This border closure is disrupting the country’s main export channel for livestock. In general, prices for livestock are well below-average in Ouaddaï (-32 percent) and Sila (-38 percent). Cattle prices for January 2016 on the Mao market in the Western Sahel were up slightly from last year due to the presence of Libyan traders. However, prices are still lower than normal.

    Humanitarian assistance

    Refugees and returnees from the Central African Republic in Haraze Mangueigne (Salamat) are receiving regular deliveries of assistance from U.N. agencies and international NGOs. Others are living with families and being monitored by the WFP. Humanitarian actors are continuing to provide assistance to returnees and refugees in the southern part of the country to help them engage in income-generating activities and, thereby, diversify their sources of income.


    The most likely food security scenario for February through September 2016 is based on the following assumptions with respect to nationwide conditions:

    • Agro-climatic conditions: Based on an analysis of NOAA, ECMWS, IRI, and UK MET seasonal forecasting models, the assumption is that the rainy season will get off to a timely start and produce average to above-average levels of rainfall. There will be sufficient cumulative rainfall for normal crop growth and development.

    • Outlook for harvests of off-season crops: An across-the-board shortfall in harvests of berberé crops is expected after the late start of the 2015 rainy season and poor distribution of rainfall and with the smaller cropped areas with the rains ending sooner than usual.

    • Farm labor: The current gold mining activities reported in many areas could significantly affect the availability of labor for upcoming harvests of off-season crops. There will be well below-average levels of income from farm labor in areas affected by the conflict such as the Western Sahel with the heavy pressure from refugees/IDPs and returnees driving down wage rates.

    • Cereal markets and prices: There will be decreasing supplies of cereals beginning in March, until the end of the lean season, due to the shortfall in crop production. Cereal prices will stay high for the entire outlook period, peaking between July and August during the lean season in farming areas.

    • Cereal demand: There will be a steadily growing household demand on local markets with the heavy dependence of households on market purchase for their food supplies, particularly in areas reporting large shortfalls in cereal production and in the Lac region.

    • Cereal trade: There will be a normal flow of cereal trade from crop-producing areas and the Sudanian zone to markets in the eastern part of the country. However, trade flows to the Western Sahel will continue to be disrupted, with the crisis and resulting security measures slowing commercial trade between Lac and other deficit areas of the Sahel such as Bahr El Gazal and Kanem, which normally get their maize supplies from the Lac region.

    • Cereal supplies: There will likely be a smaller than average supply of cereals with the shortfall in cereal production for last season and the limited volume of imports from Nigeria and Cameroon, and due to the security situation in the Lake Chad area, which will continue to disrupt trade, creating shortages on cereal markets, particularly in the Western Sahel, which will keep price elevated.

    • Farm inputs: Farmers in all crop-producing areas of the country are regularly supplied with fertilizer every year but, more often than not, there are long delays in its delivery. However, based on the recommendations and arguments of different specialized agencies and advocacy organizations for farmers, the ONDR (the National Rural Development Agency) and PNSA (the National Food Security Program) should make timely deliveries of farm inputs to farmers before the start of the 2016-2017 growing season, including supplies of seeds and fertilizer.

    • Security incidents linked to Boko Haram: The escalating security incidents in the Lac region since the end of 2015 will continue to disrupt livelihoods, markets, and trade through at least September 2016. This security crisis could create a food crisis in this area by jeopardizing harvests of both cold and hot off-season crops.

    • Pastoral conditions and availability of water: There will be a growing shortage of pasture and animal watering holes in most pastoral and agropastoral areas between now and March/April. As a result, pastoralists will begin traveling long distances to feed and water their animals. The lean season for pastoral populations could begin earlier than expected (by February rather than April/May) with the low supplies of pasture and water. Assuming the rainy season goes well, conditions will improve by the beginning of July with the growing availability of pasture and watering holes, to which pastoralists should continue to have ready access through at least the end of the outlook period. 

    • Seasonal herd movements and physical condition of livestock: Transhumant livestock ensconced in grazing areas farther south will remain put as long as possible, before starting to head back up north towards the beginning of July instead of in mid-June as they normally do, making certain of the usual good replenishment of seasonal lakes and ponds and animal watering holes. Transhumant herds in the Lac region will be forced to remain there by the continuing security problems linked to Boko Haram. The physical condition of livestock will begin to deteriorate as of March-April with the shortage of pasture and drying up of watering holes and the limited milk production, which will be below-average until July. Thus, there will be no improvement in the physical condition of livestock before July, with a risk of atypically large numbers of animal deaths. Agropastoral households will continue to have below-average incomes, curtailing their cereal access.

    • Livestock markets: In general, there will continue to be a lower than normal demand for livestock with the limited volume of exports to Nigeria and Libya. Prices will stay below-average through the end of May, rising slightly in June/July during the month of Ramadan and again in September (with the celebration of the Feast of Tabaski). However, there could be moderate fluctuations in demand for livestock between now and March with the reported influx of Libyans, attracted mainly by the good prices for sheep and cattle, and with needs for the upcoming election campaign in April.

    • Livestock prices: There will be no change in the level of foreign demand with the country’s borders expected to remain officially closed for the entire outlook period, particularly its borders with Nigeria and Libya. Thus, livestock prices will remain low, weakening terms of trade for pastoralists and steadily eroding their food access.

    • Sources of food and income: Household sources of food and income will be affected by the shortfall in cereal production for 2015, the premature rise in prices, and the decline in wage income from farm labor. There will be larger than usual numbers of households dependent on market purchase in deficit areas of the country’s Sahelian zone and in the Lac region between March and September.

    Trends in prices for staple food and cash crops

    • Millet prices: There could be atypically sharp rises in millet prices between now and September in parts of eastern Chad affected by the below-average levels of rainfall and crop production during the 2015/16 crop year.

    • Sorghum prices: There could be moderate rises in sorghum prices between March and May with the expected low levels of berbéré production. There will be further rises in prices from their current level with the beginning of the lean season in June, with prices peaking in August before starting to come back down in September, though remaining well above the five-year average.

    • Maize prices: There will be a steady rise in maize prices between March and July, driven by smaller than average market supplies. The expected shortfall in hot off-season crop production (in late July) could steepen price increases through September, driving them well above the five-year average.

    • Sesame prices: There will be a slight rise in sesame prices, driven by the falling levels of market inventories and the growing foreign (from the Sudan, Niger, and India) and domestic demand for sesame oil production during post-harvest periods of 2016. However, prices on many markets will be near or slightly above-average through September 2016.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Between February and May, the cereal stocks of most poor households in Mamdi (Lac), Wadi Bissam (Kanem), Southern Kanem, Southern BEG, Western Batha, Mangalmé (Guera), Djourf Al Ahmar (Sila), and Megri and Kobé departments (Wadi Fira) in the Sahelian zone will be reduced to a minimum by the poor rainfed cereal production in 2015, the poor harvests of flood-recession (berbéré) crops, and the smaller volume of market garden crops. As a result, very poor and poor households will be completely dependent on market purchases. However, with the high level of staple cereal prices and deterioration in their purchasing power as a result of their reduced incomes, these households will face food consumption gaps which will put them in the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) stage of food insecurity between February and May 2016. 

    In addition, most departments in deficit regions, as well as Wayi department (in Lac) will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity during this period, including Assoungha (Ouaddai), Dar Tama and Biltine (Wadi Fira), Eastern and Western Tandjilé, Eastern Batha, Kimiti (Sila), Northern Kanem, Northern BEG, Guera, Abtouyour and Barh Signaka departments in the Guera region, and Western Mayo Kebbi and Eastern Logone departments. Poor households in these areas will be facing a deterioration in their food security situation, driven by the erosion in the purchasing power of pastoral households, the reduction in household income due to production deficits (except in the Lac region where security problems are disrupting sources of income), and the limited availability of milk, which is virtually nonexistent. In addition to the slowdown in business in the petroleum industry, the country’s three southern regions (Tandjilé, Western Mayo Kebbi, and Eastern Logone) began the year with virtually no carry-over cereal stocks and have been contending with production deficits. Accordingly, poor households in all these areas will have trouble meeting their basic food needs without limiting their nonfood spending and, thus, will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between February and May.

    The difference in the severity of food insecurity in these two areas is attributable to their specific circumstances. For example, Wayi department in the Lac region is less affected by security problems than Mamdi department, though both are in the Lac region. Northern Kanem and Northern BEG departments are pastoral areas with better livelihoods than in Southern Kanem and Southern BEG. Kimiti department (Sila) is less affected by food insecurity than Djourf Al Ahmar (which is also in Sila) due to its carry-over stocks from 2014/2015 and average level of berbéré production compared with the comparatively low level of production in Djourf Al Ahmar.

    The rest of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period.

    Between June and September, the departments in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the first half of the outlook period will remain in this phase with the lean season for farming households getting underway and the continued food consumption gaps in these areas. The transhumant pastoral area of Western Batha is an exception, where food insecurity levels will drop back down into the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase as of June. Food security conditions in other pastoral areas (Northern Kanem and Northern BEG) will show an improvement beginning in June, where there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity with the start of the rainy season and the resulting recovery of pastures, the physical recovery of livestock, the rise in livestock prices during the month of Ramadan and with the celebration of the end of Ramadan and the Feast of Tabaski, and the availability of animal products (milk, etc.). Although they are also pastoral areas, Biltine and Dar Tama departments (in Wadi Fira) and Kanem and Wadi Bissam departments (in Kanem) will see no change in their respective levels of food insecurity after several years of crop production shortfalls (in the case of Kanem) and with their lack of diversified livelihoods.

    In addition, Wayi department (in the Lac region) could be propelled into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with the definitive start of the lean season in farming areas and the poor cereal access in that area. The rest of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity (Map 3).


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, February 2016

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, February 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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