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Acute food insecurity levels ease in northern Guera as of July

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • July - December 2012
Acute food insecurity levels ease in northern Guera as of July

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  • Key Messages
  • Current food security conditions as of July 2012
  • Most likely food security scenario (July through December 2012)
  • Key Messages
    • The rainy season got off to an early start, producing above-normal levels of rainfall. This has considerably improved pasture and water availability in agropastoral areas and growing conditions for rainfed grain crops.

    • Food security conditions are gradually improving in the country’s Sahelian zone due to the various assistance programs mounted by the government and the humanitarian community and the early start to the rains, improving the availability of milk and wild vegetables. Ongoing programs will continue through September, seeking to help facilitate food access for households having difficulty meeting their food needs and to jump-start farming activities of program beneficiaries through the distribution of farm inputs. As of the end of June, approximately 260,000 households (1,560,000 people) had received program assistance. 

    • Given these improvements, the size of the food insecure population is expected to have decreased.  The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation targeting mission in April 2012 established the size of the population in need as 1,180,679 people, including 561,000 people in the Sahelian zone. 

    • The food security situation of very poor and poor households in northern Guera who faced Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) in June has since improved. These households are expected to remain at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels between July and September. People are eating two to three meals a day due to support provided by humanitarian aid programs, access to wild vegetables, and the availability of milk.

    • Grain prices in the Sahelian zone are stable for the second consecutive month, but are still high compared to July 2010 prices (20 to 50 percent higher). The average price of grain in this area is 360 CFAF/kg, still well above the five-year average (318 CFAF/kg) due to the poor 2011/2012 harvest. Prices could stay stable through September, subsequently declining significantly between October and December.  


    Current food security conditions as of July 2012

    The various assistance programs and early start of the rains are bringing down acute food insecurity levels in the country’s Sahelian zone. In spite of a grain deficit of close to 22 percent compared with the five-year average, markets are still being regularly supplied with grain from grain-surplus areas in the south, where current market inventories are average and larger than in 2009/10 in spite of the disruption in imports from Nigeria and Libya.

    Very poor and poor households in northern Guera (an agropastoral area), whose food reserves had been depleted since April and whose only source of food had been purchases from the market, were able to diversify their food sources as of July due to the early start of the rains, which improved the availability of milk and wild vegetables, and the mounting of different response efforts. The number of such households, currently in Phase 2 of IPC 2.0 (stressed), is estimated at 18,000 (108,000 people).

    Current market conditions and status of trade

    Sahelian markets are still being provisioned with grain from surrounding markets and markets outside the area. Grains from the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency) and sorghum from refugee camps have also appeared in certain markets in the Sahelian zone. Grain supplies on wholesale markets like Moundou, Sarh, Doba, Laï, Kélo, and Bongor are average.

    Prices for cattle and sheep have been rising with the growing demand for livestock in preparation for the observance of Ramadan and the increasingly large presence of livestock exporters. Wholesalers from N’Djamena have been spotted buying livestock on the Mongo market. 

    There is still a normal flow of long-distance (Amtiman-Abeché) and medium-distance (Mongo-Abéché) trade, but since the beginning of July there have been few signs of the usual flow of trade between the Sudanian and Sahelian zones during the lean season with the marketing of grain by the ONASA at government-subsidized prices. Any grain trade in the Sudanian zone is relatively short-distance trade, which is normal at this time of year.

    Despite the suspension of grain trade between Nigeria and Chad since the unilateral shutting of the border between the two countries by Nigeria this past December, there is still a small volume of grain imports. There is a continuing flow of livestock trade, which was not affected by the unilateral measures taken by the government of Nigeria, though not its usual rate observed before the border was closed.

    The subsidized grain sales program had an immediate effect on markets. The price of corn in Bol, 300 CFAF/kg as of the end of June, came down to 260 CFAF/kg by mid-July. Likewise, sorghum that was selling for 270 CFAF/kg at the end of June in Abéché was at 230 CFAF/kg in mid-July. In general, current grain prices are in the range of 320-340 XAF/kg, 30 percent above last year (160-300 XAF/kg) and 26 percent above the five-year average.

    Situation in pastoral areas

    This year’s rainy season began two to three weeks earlier than usual, producing above-normal levels of rainfall (Figure 2) and improving pasture and water availability in practically all parts of the country. While passing through Chari Baguirmi June 27-29th of this year, the FEWS NET mission to Guera observed seasonal lakes and ponds used as animal watering holes filled nearly to the brim and reported normal water access for household use. The near-normal availability of fresh grass has caused close to 90 percent of pastoralists to return to their home bases earlier than usual. Distances between animal watering holes and the nearest grazing points have normalized with the availability of pasture in the vicinity of local villages.

    The lean season for the animal population ended three to four weeks earlier than usual, and livestock are in normal physical condition and are in better shape than in 2009/10. The productivity of sedentary milking animals which did not leave for the Sudanian zone is below-normal. The mission did not report any livestock fatalities.

    Assistance and current food security outcomes

    Governmental (the National Food Security Agency) and humanitarian stakeholders have been mounting assistance programs (subsidized grain sales, distributions of free food aid, blanket feeding programs, food-for-work programs, and cash-for-work activities) in response to the crisis since March. These programs will continue through September, seeking to help facilitate grain access for households having difficulty meeting their food needs and to help jump-start the farming activities of program beneficiaries through the distribution of farm inputs (seeds and farm implements).  A total of 260,000 households have received program assistance.

    Food security situation

    The food security situation of very poor and poor households in northern Guera is better than it was in the first half of the year due to various assistance programs and the early start of the rains which is improving the availability of milk and wild vegetables. These 18,000 households (108,000 people) in northern Guera who were previously in IPC Phase 3 (crisis) are now in IPC Phase 2 (stressed). This puts the entire Sahelian zone and an estimated 561,000 people in IPC Phase 2 (stressed).

    The food security situation of households dependent on grain and cash crops in parts of the Sudanian zone (Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Mandoul, and Moyen Chari) has improved from IPC Phase 2 (stressed) to Phase 1 (minimal acute food insecurity) thanks to early harvests of groundnuts, sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, and wild vegetables.

    The nutritional situation of mothers and children in very poor and poor households has improved since the first quarter of the year with the mounting of humanitarian assistance programs and the joint WFP/UNICEF program. The number of registered children in therapeutic feeding centers in Mao has been steadily falling since April.


    Most likely food security scenario (July through December 2012)

    The following assumptions underlying the most likely food security scenario for July through December 2012 are based on an analysis by FEWS NET of current conditions, historical data, and stakeholder programs:

    • The continued implementation of planned assistance programs by humanitarian stakeholders throughout most of the Sahelian zone and in parts of the Sudanian zone through September will help facilitate food access for households in need, enabling them to get through the lean season with less borrowing.
    • The early start of the rains, triggering the return migration by transhumant herds three weeks ahead of schedule (in mid-June), will reduce localized disputes between farmers and pastoralists.
    • Based on observations of conditions since the beginning of the year and ensuing forecasts, most models are predicting a weak to moderate El Nino phenomenon, which should mean fairly good rainfall conditions in Chad for the rest of the season.
    • The growing season is looking promising after getting off to an early start. According to ONDR (National Rural Development Agency) rainfall gauging stations, rainfall levels as of the end of June were higher than that last year during the same time. Thus, there should be good harvests in most farming areas and large household food reserves as of early October.
    • Normal pasture and water availability is improving milk availability.
    • The first crops will be on the market as of the end of July due to the early start of the rains in all parts of the country.
    • There should be normal market supplies between July and September and above-normal market supplies between October and December.
    • Subsidized grain sales by the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency) and sales of early crops will keep grain prices stable in July-August and bring them down as of September.
    • The observance of Ramadan and celebration of Eid El-Fitr will drive up prices for livestock between July and September, with prices peaking in October (with the celebration of Tabaski).

    There has been a considerable improvement in food security conditions across all of the country since the beginning of July with the rainy season starting ahead of schedule and the combined effects of assistance efforts by the government and the humanitarian community. Parts of the Sudanian zone (Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Moyen Chari, and Mandoul) that were in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) since January of this year have since joined the rest of the area in Phase 1. This improvement is attributable to harvests of short-cycle crops like corn, sweet potatoes, and cassava and the availability of wild vegetables. Very poor and poor households in the northern Guera area of the Sahelian zone who were in IPC Phase 3 (crisis) through the month of June are currently in Phase 2 (stressed) thanks to assistance programs and the availability of milk and wild vegetables with the early start of the rains. There should be a sharp rise in demand for farm labor during the harvest season between July and the end of October.

    Locust invasion

    There is a potential threat of a locust invasion in Chad. The most vulnerable areas are Fada, Arada, northern Batha, Adré, and parts of Wadi-Fira (Biltine, Guéréda, and Amzoer), where conditions are conducive to mass egg-laying and locust development. A locust invasion would affect most farming areas in the country’s Sahelian zone and could decrease crop production for the 2012/2013 season. At the regional level, according to the FAO, the small groups of desert locusts present in northern Niger and Mali are already in the maturation process. Growing numbers of immature and mature winged locusts have been sighted in grazing areas of central Niger.

    The climate of insecurity in northern Mali, hindering locust control efforts, will allow the locusts to mature without any treatment, with a risk of their migration to other Sahelian countries, including Chad. If there is a locust invasion at the end of August or after, it would cause considerable damage to crops and pasture.

    After swarms of locusts were observed in areas adjacent to Sudan, a team of Locust Control Agency technicians based in Abéché in eastern Chad has been deployed on a canvassing mission to the area along the border between the two countries.

    Central agropastoral area (northern Guera)

    The rainy season has gradually settled in across the area, where cumulative rainfall totals as of the end of June were higher than at the same time last year (178 mm compared with 73.2 mm in 2011 in Mongo and 114 mm compared with 70 mm in 2011 in Magalmé). Planting activities are ahead of schedule and the first round of weeding for short-cycle crops is already underway throughout northern Guera.

    The early start of the rains has improved pasture availability and water availability in natural seasonal lakes and ponds from a quantitative standpoint. This, in turn, has significantly improved the physical condition of livestock. There are no signs of an epizootic outbreak in this area.

    Market supplies are normal and prices stayed stable between June and July. However, pearl millet prices in Mongo are 43 percent above the five-year average. Prices were stable in July, but will edge upwards during the observance of Ramadan. They will begin to come down as of September with the short-cycle crops harvests.

    Livestock prices are up from the month of June and will continue to rise with the observance of Ramadan (as of late July – early August). Terms of trade for livestock-grain should improve as of the end of July as grain prices hold steady and livestock prices rise during the month of Ramadan. In line with this trend in terms of trade for livestock-grain, terms of trade for labor-grain also began to improve as of July with the rise in demand for labor. A day’s wages which bought 7 kg of grain on the Mongo market in April of this year bought 8 kg in July. Likewise, a day’s wages which bought 5 kg of grain in Sarh back in April bought 7.5 kg in July. Terms of trade for pastoralists also improved in July, with an average sheep bringing in 107 kg of grain in July compared with 104 kg in April. This has strengthened the purchasing power of agropastoral households, improving food security conditions for this group of households between July and September. There should be another large improvement as of October with the beginning of the harvest season and the high demand for livestock for the celebration of Tabaski.  

    Ongoing planting and weeding activities have increased demand for farm labor. There should be a high demand for labor as of September with the beginning of harvesting activities. This will shore up the purchasing power of very poor and poor households with no livestock herds, bolstering income from craft-making activities (10 percent), sales of firewood (20 percent), and the small cash remittances (5 percent) from migrating household members in the city.

    Sales of livestock and milk are an important source of income (15 percent) for poor households with their own animal herds. With the observance of Ramadan and with livestock exporters already reportedly returning to the area, there will be more demand for livestock, improving terms of trade between now and September.

    Humanitarian aid programs, the joint WFP/UNICEF program, and the upcoming harvests should sharply reduce the number of cases of child malnutrition between the end of August and December.

    With household food reserves depleted for the past three months, market purchases and outside aid have been the main sources of food for very poor and poor households. Certain households in IPC Phase 3 (crisis) through the end of June reportedly have small food reserves (for three to four weeks) from the various ongoing assistance programs (FEWS NET mission to Guera, June 2012). Adding to this assistance, the availability of milk and wild vegetables with the early start of the rainy season has been an important factor in helping to improve the food security situation of very poor and poor area households. These households are currently able to meet their basic food needs, which should keep them in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) through September and put them in Phase 1 of IPC 2.0 as of October, after the harvest. The rest of this agropastoral area will remain in Phase 2 (stressed) through September, making the transition to Phase 1 between October and December.

    The Sudanian zone should stay in IPC Phase 1 between now and December thanks to harvests of early crops and the main harvest in September, bolstering household food reserves. Virtually the entire Sahelian zone will remain in Phase 2 (stressed) through September with the operation of humanitarian aid programs and the availability of milk and wild vegetables, making the transition to Phase 1 as of October, once the harvest season is underway. Thus, the whole country should be in Phase 1 by October if the current rainfall outlook holds up.

    Table 1. Less likely events that could change the above scenario

    Geographic focus area

    Possible events

    Impact on food security conditions

    Nationwide

    Locust invasion of farming areas

    -Small harvest and limited farm income

    -Delay in the rebuilding of household food reserves

    -Few local gainful on-farm employment opportunities

    Sahel

    Poor targeting for the implementation of assistance programs

    -Delay in the pre-positioning of ONASA grain reserves

    -Limited coverage of very poor and poor household consumption needs

    -Reduced household working capacity

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2012

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2012

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall anomalies compared with the 2007-2011 average

    Figure 3

    Rainfall anomalies compared with the 2007-2011 average

    Source: IRI/NOAA

    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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