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Food security starting to deteriorate in parts of Chad

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • January - June 2015
Food security starting to deteriorate in parts of Chad

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Despite above-average harvests in most agricultural areas, there are reports of cereal production was five to 76 percent below average in Kanem, Sila, Tandjilé, Wadi Fira, Mayo Kebbi Ouest, Moyen Chari, Lac, and Mayo Kebbi Regions, with the Kanem (-76 percent), Sila (-50 percent), and Tandjilé (-27 percent) regions posting the largest decreases.

    • Food markets in all livelihood zones are active and functioning normally. In general, cereal prices are down from the last quarter of 2014, which is improving cereal access. Insecurity in Nigeria and Libya has slowed the flow of livestock trade to those countries, triggering an atypical decline in prices.

    • Despite the improvement in the food security situation of poor households in the last three months of 2014 with the harvesting of fresh crops, below-average cereal production in certain areas result in an early exhaustion of household stocks. Households will be dependent on market purchase to meet their food consumption needs, while cutting certain essential nonfood expenses. 

    • Poor households will be market-dependent between January and March and their food consumption will be reduced. As a result, foor security for these households will deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). With the help of food assistance programs, they will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity between April and June. 

    National Overview
    Current situation

    Agricultural conditions

    Currently, agricultural activities taking place in certain parts of the country are dominated by harvests. Harvests of rainfed cereal crops in the Abéché area of the Sahelian zone are more than 90 percent completed and harvests of oilseed and cowpea crops in Guera, Batha, and Salamat are fully completed. As usual, harvests of sorghum, millet, and oilseed crops in the southern part of the country are still in progress. Harvests in Moundou and Sarh, for example, are approximately 85 to 90 percent complete. Berbéré crops, the main flood-recession crops grown in normal crop-producing areas (Salamat, Sila, Ouaddaï, Guera, Batha, and Moyen Chari) are currently doing well thanks to good residual soil moisture, except in Bahr Signaka department where crops are reportedly wilting. Most crops are currently in the grain formation and milk grain stages of the growing cycle. Harvests are already underway slightly earlier than usual (normally beginning in late February/March).

    In general, market garden crops are making normal progress. Most are in the maturity stage and some crops are already being shipped to market. However, crops in the Abéché area of Ouaddaï shows most garlic crops in the growth stage, most onion crops in the tillering stage, and most tomato and okra crops in the flowering/maturity stage.

    Household cereal stocks

    Due to the 2014 cereal deficit, current estimated available cereal stocks in the southern part of the country, particularly in Moyen Chari, Tandjilé, and Mayo Kebbi Ouest, are expected to meet household needs only through the end of June instead of September, as is normally the case. On the other hand, household cereal stocks in Logone Oriental and Logone Occidental are larger than usual and will cover needs until the upcoming harvest season. Available household cereal stocks in the Sahelian zone and, more specifically, in the Kanem, Sila, and Wadi Fira Regions are below-average and, in general, will meet household needs for a period of three to seven months. Households in Sila are waiting for the harvest of berbéré crops to build up their food stocks. Households in the Salamat and Batha Regions will have available food stocks for 12 to 13 months, with expected harvests of berbéré crops supplementing their stocks of rainfed cereals, except for those in northern Guera (Moubi Hadaba, Moubi Goz, Dadjo 1, and Abtouyour) with barely enough food stocks to meet their needs for two months (through the end of February). The low levels of food stocks in Bahr El-Ghazal (BEG) will last local households only through the middle of February.

    Agricultural labor

    The wage rate for day labor in the southern part of the country is 500 CFAF, which is similar to wage rates at the same time last year. Supply and demand are also unchanged from 2014, though demand is slowing with the end of the harvesting period. The largest employer of labor in the Moyen Chari (Sarh) area at this point is CST (Compagnie Sucrière du Tchad), the national sugar company.

    Wage rates for day labor in the Abéché area of the Sahelian zone and, in particular, in the market gardening area of Biteha range from 2,000 to 2,500 CFAF. Market gardening activities are currently extremely popular and the main source of labor demand. The average wage in all other areas is 1,700 CFAF. However, the size of the labor pool is shrinking with the heavy migration by youths to northern areas of the country to prospect for gold.

    Status of pasture resources

    In general, green grass cover is becoming scarce and can be found only in streambeds or lowland areas. Pasture in the Sahelian zone is currently in relatively good condition as a result of the good forage availability in that area, which is better than usual. On average, available pasture supplies could meet livestock needs for four to five months in Wadi-Fira (through March/April), five to six months in Ouaddaï, and six to seven months in Sila. There is still adequate food availability for livestock in the Sudanian zone with the supply of crop residues in that area. However, with the pressure on existing pasture, the current volume of available pasture will not last beyond the end of March.

    Markets and prices

    As usual, there are large food supplies on markets in the Sudanian zone from the near-average cereal production. There is currently a large flow of supplies from collection and assembly markets such as Bodo, Deli, Doher, Danamadji, etc. Good household stocks levels are keeping demand on markets stable. Prices are also stable, but trending upwards with the progress of the post-harvest season. Prices for millet and sorghum on the Sarh, Kélo, and Bongor markets are unchanged from December 2014. Sorghum prices in Moundou are unchanged from January 2014, but millet prices in Sarh are up by seven percent.

    Most export demand from traders is for oilseed crops, particularly sesame and groundnut crops, which is the source of the reported price increases for these crops. This is especially true in Sarh, where the unit price of groundnuts is up by 13 percent from December 2014 and 20 percent above the five-year average, and in Moundou, where sesame prices are up by 17 percent from last December and four percent above the five-year average. There were small drops in January 2015 prices on livestock markets in most areas as a result of the disruption in trade between Chad and Nigeria. Prices on the Abéché market were down by 42 percent and prices in Mao were down by 25 to 30 percent. Prices for small ruminants are down from January 2014 and below the five-year average on the N’Djamena market (by 10 percent) but are up in Mao (by 20 percent).

    There are also good market supplies in the Sahelian zone, as is normally the case during the post-harvest season. Prices are stable owing to the good levels of crop production for the 2014-2015 growing season, moving in line with normal seasonal trends.

    Terms of trade are still in favor of pastoralists despite decreases in the price of goats. A male goat is currently trading for 120 kg of cereals in Moundou, compared with 115 kg in January 2014. Pastoralists in the Sahelian zone have been trading a sheep for 100 kg of cereals in January 2015, compared with 126 kg in January 2014. 

    Population movements

    Transhumant pastoralists and their animals are currently between Ouaddaï and Sila in the Sahelian zone, with some moving across the greater Batha area, except in Gogmi, Sorki, Mousmaré, and Melfi cantons in Bahr Signaka (Melfi) Department, where reported migratory movements, mainly towards N’Djaména, began earlier-than-usual due to the production shortfall in that department. There are no signs of any unusual population movements in the southern part of the country. There have been reports of earlier than usual population movements from Bahr Signaka to large towns and cities (beginning in November instead of in April, after the harvest of berbéré crops).

    Nutritional situation

    A total of 136,463 children with severe acute malnutrition ( SAM ) were admitted to and treated at therapeutic feeding centers between January and the end of November 2014, up from the 135,988 admissions for SAM

    over the same period in 2013, though less than in 2012 (146,986). Trends in admissions followed the same pattern as in 2012 and 2013 but, for various reasons, admissions figures as of August 2014 were down from the two previous years, though malnutrition is still a major concern in all parts of the country (Figure 1).

    Current food security situation

    As is often the case in January, the household food security situation in all parts of the country is satisfactory and linked to harvests for the current growing season and on trader inventories. Most poor households currently have good food access thanks to own-produced crops and diversified sources of income, such as sales of firewood and straw, small-scale trading, market gardening, etc. that enabling them to earn some income with which to buy supplies and build up their food stocks, and to meet other nonfood needs. The presence of market-garden crops (tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, lettuce, etc.) on local markets is helping households diversify their diets.


    The most-likely food security scenario for January through June 2015 is based on the following national assumptions:

    • Outlook for off-season harvests: With good residual soil moisture helping to bolster the growth and development of berbéré crops, there should be average to above-average levels of crop production and a normal expansion in market gardening activities in most areas. These market gardening activities and the growing of flood-recession crops will produce adequate levels of food and income for most very poor and poor households.
    • Household food stocks: Household food stocks will vary from area to area according to the volume of crop production for last season. However, with national cereal production above the five-year average, there will be average to above-average food stocks across the country. The expected harvest of off-season crops should enable certain households to build up their food stocks to meet their needs between now and the lean season.
    • Labor outlook: Demand for labor is expected to slow to some extent with the end of the harvest of rainfed crops, but there should be near-normal demand for labor for off-season crops and market gardening activities, except in Ouaddaï, where there are reports of mass migration by area youths to northern areas of the country to prospect for gold.
    • Outlook for pasture production: In general, there will be average levels of pasture production, with many areas reporting better pasture supplies this year. With the overgrazing problems engendered by the massive influx of transhumant pastoralists and their animals from the Central African Republic in the southern part of the country, for example, and the over-supply of animals as a result of the slowdown in livestock exports to Nigeria and Libya, the lean season for pastoral populations is expected to begin earlier than usual. In addition, most semi-permanent lakes and ponds will be dry by February.
    • Closure of the border with the CAR: The closure of the country’s border with the CAR will continue to result in below-average cereal trade flows between the two countries.
    • Closure of the border with Libya: The persistent insecurity in southern Libya will keep the border between the two countries closed, resulting below-average incomes for exporters of Chadian livestock, as well as for small-scale pastoralists facing a steady deterioration in terms of trade for their animals. Areas such as the Kanem and Barh El Gazal Regions will continue to suffer from the repercussions of this restriction on trade between the two countries, particularly on imports of foodstuffs from Libya, which are widely consumed by very poor and poor households in both areas to help offset shortages of their cereal stocks.
    • Conflict in northeastern Nigeria: The entire area along the border between Nigeria and Chad as well as a number of villages in the far northern reaches of Cameroon have become the target of atrocities by members of Boko Haram. With Chad’s heavy dependence on imports of staple foodstuffs from neighboring Nigeria, the crisis in Nigeria will negatively impact poor and middle-income households across the country by increasing the cost of living.

    Trade and price dynamics:

    • Cereal supply/availability: With the national cereal surplus, cereal supplies will be normal compared to needs, with no shortages or outages in any part of the country. Markets will get fresh supplies of cereal crops from January harvests, supplemented by cold-season maize, flood-recession sorghum, and tuber crops from the Lake Chad area. The ONASA (the national food security agency) will have a stock of 7,000 metric tons of cereals positioned in different regions of the country.
    • Domestic cereal trade: Intra-zone trade and cereal transfers from the Sudanian to the Sahelian zone will resume as of January with the seasonal improvement in road conditions, but the volume of trade could be smaller than usual with the 15 percent above average cereal production in the Sahelian zone.
    • Cereal demand: There will be a steady growth in household demand on cereal markets with the gradual depletion of household cereal stocks beginning in January, and as traders begin their usual stock-building activities. Household demand could be well below average, but will still peak as usual at the beginning of the lean season in June. However, currently minimal levels of institutional and trader demand will begin to increase in  February/March with the shipment to market of fresh berbéré crops.
    • Cereal prices: Cereal prices will start to increase in February, dropping back down in March with the harvest of berbéré crops, before to rising until the end of the lean season. Prices in the Sahelian zone will be slightly above the five-year average in June 2015, particularly for millet, due to the strong demand during the month-long observance of Ramadan. Prices in southern areas of Chad affected by the conflict in the CAR will stay well above-average until the beginning of the lean season with the growing demand from refugees/returnees and the disruption in trade flows from the CAR, particularly maize imports.
    • Supply of livestock: As of January 2015, most livestock will be concentrated in areas close to southern markets (Sido and Péni). As a result, there will be large supplies of livestock on these southern markets will have large, while market supplies of livestock in pastoral areas such as the northern BEG area, northern Batha, Kanem, and northern Wadi Fira and in agropastoral and agricultural areas, will remain low until the beginning of the rainy season (in June 2015). Supplies in southern areas of the country will peak in January. There will be especially large supplies in border areas with the CAR due to the large numbers of animals of returnees from the CAR.
    • Livestock trade: There will be fewer than usual exports to Nigeria, the CAR, and Libya with the persistent civil insecurity in those countries and resulting border closures. Cross-border trade flows will be normal between Chad and Sudan.
    • Demand for livestock: Demand for poultry and small ruminants will peak in June with the observance of Ramadan. There will be a slightly larger domestic demand than in previous years in line with population growth, but lower-than-usual demand from neighboring countries (Nigeria, the CAR, and Libya).
    • Livestock prices: Prices for cattle and small ruminants are expected to decline as returnees from CAR bring large numbers of animals to market and due to the disruption in exports to Nigeria. Prices will gradually increase in June during the observance of Ramadan.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Cereal availability will be bolstered by harvests of berbéré crops and residual cereal stocks (7,000 metric tons of ONASA inventories) in the first half of the outlook period (February-March 2015). Various food assistance programs will enable returnees from the Central African Republic in the Sudanian zone to meet their food and nonfood needs. As a result, these households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) acute food insecurity. For host populations in areas receiving returnees and in the rest of the Sudanian zone, poor households will have staple food access from supplies of home-grown crops which, on average, will meet their needs for nine to ten months, and, thus, will also experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period. In southern Kanem, the southern BEG area, and large parts of Guera in the Sahelian zone, poor households may face difficulty accessing food due to the premature depletion of their food stocks and the deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereals, driven by the steep drop in livestock prices with the limited demand for exports to Nigeria as a result of the Boko Haram conflict.

    The food security situation will remain unchanged at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for households in the Sudanian zone and, in particular, in receiving areas for returnees and refugees from the CAR (Moyen Chari and Mandoul) in the first half of the outlook period, with the help of different types of food assistance. Households in other parts of the south will also face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period. Shortages of water for livestock in the Sahelian zone, particularly in Kanem and BEG Regions, will start to create food security problems as of April. In addition, pasture will be in poorer than usual. There will be less milk consumption and a sharp decline in the prices of livestock due to their poor physical condition. The already lower than usual demand for livestock exports to Nigeria will continue to decline with the escalation in the Boko Haram conflict and resulting border closures. The slowdown in trade with Libya will continue. Even with food assistance, this could reduce household food access and will likely create some food consumption deficits (IPC Phase 2!). The dwindling food stocks of poor households in southern Guera (Melfi) will make them largely dependent on market purchase. This will trigger an atypical slight rise in cereal prices, reducing food access. Poor households will turn to their usual livelihood strategies. Those with small ruminants will sell more animals to reinforce their cereal stocks. The pasture deficit and scarcity of animal watering holes will weaken the physical condition of livestock, limit the availability of animal products, and reduce income from livestock production. Thus, most households will have some difficulty meeting their food needs and will cut back on certain nonessential expenditures. Food assistance will keep household food insecurity at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels. 


    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, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current Food Security Outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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