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Food security conditions remain fragile in the Southwest

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • July - December 2013
Food security conditions remain fragile in the Southwest

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • With the earlier than usual depletion of household food stocks and normal, seasonal increases in grain prices, households in Logone Oriental, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, and the greater Mayo Kebbi area are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes. However starting in October when the new harvest occurs, all areas of the country will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, where they will remain through at least December 2013. 

    • The rainfall deficits that were recorded earlier in the season (in June) were short-lived and delayed the planting of crops in certain localized areas by two to three weeks. These deficits were subsequently reduced by good rainfall in July and do not appear to have had any major or irreversible effects on crop growth and development. 

    • Grain prices in the Sahelian zone are starting to rise with the tightening of market inventories, but are still below their five-year averages. However, household food consumption indicators are stable with the availability of milk and the starting up of normal assistance programs across the Sahelian belt. 


    National Overview
    Current situation

    Rainfall conditions

    In the Sudanian zone, the rains began earlier than usual (in March instead of May) but were followed by a two-week-long dry spell in May and another two-week gap in June. Based on estimates of cumulative rainfall totals as of the second dekad of July, rainfall levels are relatively normal. In localized areas, deficits exist but it is too soon to be concerned as most areas showing rainfall deficits as of the end of June have more recently been reporting above-average rainfall.  

    Agropastoral conditions

    The two dry spells in May and June caused seedlings to wilt, prompting certain very poor and poor farmers to use their last remaining food reserves as seeds to replant failed crops. Sorghum and groundnut crops in the Lac-Léré area, for example, were replanted during the first week of July to make up for the area that had failed (30 percent). This has forced farmers to take on larger than normal debts against their upcoming September harvests. As of June, the size of cropped areas was down from the same time last year by 47 percent in the Sudanian zone and by four percent in the Lake Chad region. The resumption of rainfall activity in July, with normal total levels and distribution, allowed for the usual scaling up of farming activities. Crops that were unaffected by the previous dry spells, which account for approximately 70 percent of cropped areas, are progressing normally and are at developmental stages ranging from sprouting to bolting.

    As usual, most farming households in the Sahelian zone are engaged in planting and/or weeding activities. Sorghum and maize crops are currently in the bolting and tillering stages, which is normal for this time of year.

    The smaller area planted in crops this year, due to the poor rainfall distribution through the end of June, has caused a loss in farm labor income. However, the increase in rainfall in July and the recent start-up of weeding activities have significantly improved agricultural labor prospects for members of poor households compared to earlier in the year when crops were planted. The cost of farm labor for weeding operations in Ouaddaï is currently 4,000 FCFA/worker/day, which compares to 3,000 FCFA during a normal year.  

    As is normally the case at this time of year, livestock body conditions are gradually improving with the abundant supply of water and pasture and the good weather conditions (in terms of the temperature). The pastoral season started off with an above-average supply of grass and pasture residues after last year’s good rainfall levels and floods. This has contributed to transhumant pastoralists heading northward approximately one month earlier than normal. Moreover, this year’s earlier than usual growth of new pasture with the early March rains in the Sudanian zone and the residual soil moisture from last year’s floods is improving pasture availability and, thus, cutting the lean season short in pastoral areas.

    Transhumant herds movements northward to livestock receiving areas has been occurring for more than a month, which is slightly earlier than normal. In general, there are no epizootic outbreaks anywhere in the country, except in the Dababa region where a disease of mysterious origin killed close to 100 head of cattle in the first half of July. The government and, more specifically, the Ministry of Livestock Raising have taken steps to contain the outbreak.

    Refugee situation

    The latest ethnic fighting in Darfur (Sudan) at the beginning of the year and the new outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic triggered an influx of approximately 21,000 refugees into Tissi (in southeastern Chad, on the border with the Central African Republic and Sudan) and 5,620 Central African refugees into Nya-Pendé (in southern Chad, on the border with the Central African Republic) in the middle of April. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the situation of these displaced populations remains serious. A new group of seriously injured victims were evacuated to Abéché in June. There is still visible tension between different ethnic groups in the Darfur area despite efforts to calm the situation by promoting dialogue and discussion by the different tribes. The ICRC delivered assistance to a group of 10,000 food-insecure individuals in 15 villages in the Tissi area, mostly women and children, between May 6th and June 2nd of this year. Ongoing assistance programs are being extended and food supplies have been pre-positioned in the refugee camps to meet the needs of Central African refugees during the rainy season.

    Humanitarian assistance

    Distributions of food, cash, and NFIs are underway in Batha Est. The first food fair was held in June for a target group of 3,000 beneficiaries, with a second event scheduled for July. Distributions of 13,000 metric tons of food supplies for the lean season occurred in Batha and Guéra and there is an ongoing blanket feeding program in Ouaddaï and Wadi Fira.

    Markets and trade

    Household and market demand for grain in the Sahelian zone has been below-average due to the above-normal levels of food stocks in that area. In contrast, grain demand in the Sudanian zone is stronger than usual and is particularly strong in Tandjilé Ouest, where food stocks depleted one month earlier than usual due to production shortfalls engendered by last year’s flooding problems in that area.

    In general, trade flows are generally limited and cover only short-distances, which is normal at this time of year, as conditions during the rainy season shut down major roads. Grain markets are functioning normally despite steadily tightening market supplies since the beginning of the lean season (in June). This reduction in supplies has been partially offset by the near 20,000 metric tons of grain (maize, rice, sorghum, and millet) released for sale by the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency) in June of this year and the unusual influx of imports from Cameroon (sorghum) and the CAR (maize), boosting trader inventories levels.

    Markets and prices 

    Current grain prices are generally up from the month of June, due to a normal seasonal decline in available supplies of maize, millet, sorghum, and berbéré (flood-irrigated sorghum). The Moundou market in the Sudanian zone is reporting the steepest increase (16 percent) in sorghum prices due to low market supplies of this grain and below-average trader stocks in that area. In general, grain prices are 17 to 24 percent above the five-year average in the Sudanian zone. Meanwhile in the Sahelian zone, grain prices are below-average, except for on markets in Mongo where the price of pearl millet is eight percent above the five-year average. These price fluctuations are a reflection of supply levels, but are not negatively impacting food access.

    Livestock prices have remained stable compared to June of this year. However, prices for sheep and goats on the Moundou market in Logone Occidental are six and 14 percent below the five-year average, respectively, due to the weaker than normal demand from Nigeria.

    Cross-border trade

    Cross-border trade with Nigeria remains at below-average levels, due to civil security problems in Nigeria and the closing of the border. Between Chad and Sudan, trade flows have been normal and mainly consist of sugar, flour, and pasta. With regards to Libya, the border has been closed, although there has been a continuing flow of informal imports at below-average levels, which is bolstering food availability in the country’s Saharan belt as far as the Wadi Fira region. On the other hand, grain trade flows between Cameroon and the CAR has increased since June.

    Food security situation

    With the earlier than usual depletion of household food stocks and normal seasonal increases in grain prices, household food consumption in Logone Oriental, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, and the greater Mayo Kebbi area has been reduced and is only minimally adequate. As a result, households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. Meanwhile the rest of the country is experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) (Figure 1).

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December 2013 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Rainy season: According to June forecasts by the ACMAD and CILSS/AGRHYMET, rainfall levels will be average and will have a normal distribution.  
    • Crop production: Average production levels are expected for October in all agricultural zones of Chad, similar to a normal year.
    • Agricultural lean season: Similar to a normal year, the agricultural lean season is expected to end in August in the Sudanian zone and in September in the Sahelian zone, based on the forecasts for a normal growing season.
    • Situation in pastoral areas: With the on-time and effective start of the rainy season in May, the pastoral season will be average to above-average. Livestock feeding conditions will be better than usual through December 2013 as the pastoral season started with an above-average supply of grass and pasture residues after last year’s good rainfall levels and floods. Moreover, this year’s growth in new pasture was earlier than normal due to the early March rains in the Sudanian zone. In addition, residual soil moisture from last year’s floods is improving pasture availability. Rates of soil-borne diseases will be normal throughout the outlook period and, as usual, transhumant herds will begin heading south in December.
    • Locust situation: Locust populations will be near-normal and their impact on crop production and pasture will be minimal. According to FAO’s seasonal outlook, the central and northeastern reaches of the country could be invaded by small swarms of locusts in July from Algeria and Libya, where locust infestations have gone undetected or have not been effectively contained. This will be followed by small-scale locust breeding activities with the onset of the rainy season, increasing the size of locust populations.
    • Cross-border trade: The country’s borders with Libya and Nigeria will remain closed throughout the outlook period, due to the persistent security problems in both countries. There will be a normal flow of cross-border trade with Sudan and limited trade with Nigeria and Libya throughout the outlook period, particularly with regards to livestock exports to both Nigeria and Libya.
    • Grain markets and prices: During the outlook period, there will be regular shipments of grains to markets and the supply of grain will be normal. Trade flows from the Sudanian zone to the Sahelian zone will continue to decline as of July with the definitive start-of-season. Intra-zonal trade in the Sudanian zone will also be reduced, similar to a normal year. Market supplies in the Sudanian zone could improve by August with the availability of early crops. Grain prices will follow normal seasonal trends and will increase slowly in July during Ramadan, which coincides with the peak of the lean season. Prices will then stabilize in August before starting to decline in September (during the harvest season) through December. Markets in the BET area will continue to be supplied from Libya but at below-average levels.
    • Livestock markets: Livestock prices in Abéché, N’Djamena, Mongo, and Massaguet could slowly increase between July and September in response to large local demand during Ramadan (between July and mid-August) and Tabaski (at the beginning of October). As of October, prices will then come down slightly, before stabilizing in November and increasing again in December during the end-of-the-year holiday season. Demand from Nigeria and Libya in border areas will be slightly lower than usual between now and December due to security problems in Nigeria and the closing of the Libyan border. This slight decline in demand from Nigeria and Libya will be offset by high meat demand during Ramadan (in July/August), the homecoming from the short pilgrimage to Mecca (in August/September), and the Feast of Tabaski (in October).
    • Subsidized grain sales by the ONASA: The second round of subsidized grain sales by the ONASA, scheduled for the end of July, will involve close to 14,600 metric tons of grain.
    • Sources of food and income: Household sources of food and income will function normally throughout the outlook period.
    • Market gardening activities: Based on current rainfall forecasts, market gardening activities will be normal and will begin in October in areas surrounding seasonal and year-round water sources. These market gardening crops will help diversify household food and income sources.
    • Refugee situation: Given the difficulties stabilizing the security situation in CAR and the Darfur government’s lack of success in keeping the peace between different ethnic groups there, Chad’s refugee population could increase during the outlook period. Thus, ongoing humanitarian assistance programs for Sudanese and Central African refugees will continue and refugees will provide a complete food ration throughout the outlook period. In addition, the new Sudanese refugees will require food and nonfood assistance to rebuild their livelihoods.
    • Security conditions: Security conditions within the country will remain stable throughout the outlook period. However, instability in the Central African Republic, northern Nigeria, the Darfur region of Sudan, and Libya could trigger a new influx of people from these countries seeking refuge in border areas of Chad.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    During the first half of the outlook period (July-September), grain availability will be tied closely to the levels of trader, ONASA, and food assistance agency stocks. The long-term  effects (in July-August) of rising prices in the Sudanian zone, particularly in deficit areas and areas affected by last year’s flash floods (Mayo-Kebbi Ouest, Logone Oriental, Tandjilé, and Logone Occidental) could undermine dietary diversity and cause a deterioration in the food security situation. Households in these areas will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between July and September with the depletion of their grain stocks and rising prices, limiting grain access for very poor and poor households. However in the rest of the country, poor households will be able to access food normally and/or through different forms of humanitarian assistance (cash transfer, food distribution, blanket feeding programs, etc.) and will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period (Figure 2).

    During the second half of the outlook period (October-December), the official closing of the country’s border with Libya will continue to restrict trade flows in the Sahelian zone, although small levels of food imports will bolster food availability in the BET, Wadi Fira, and Ouaddaï regions. Supply levels as of the beginning of the marketing season (in October) will be similar to a normal year. As usual, households in other parts of the Sahelian zone will have better food access with harvests expected to be average in these areas. Household dependency on market purchases will be sharply reduced and there will be an improvement in household food consumption during this period. There will also be an improvement in household income sources with the pursuit of market gardening activities in areas surrounding seasonal and year-round water sources. Thus, according to the findings of the analysis of acute food insecurity outcomes, all areas of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity (Figure 3). 


    Area of Concern

    Department of Tandjile Ouest (Capital: Kélo) / Livelihood Zone 2 (“Southwest, Rice”)

    Current situation

    Household grain stocks

    Household grain stocks were depleted one to two months earlier than usual (in March/April in comparison to May/June in a normal year) due to the flood-related damages to grain crops. As a result, poor households are dependent on market purchases and ONASA subsidized grain sales (at prices that are 50 percent lower than retail) to meet their consumption needs until the end of the lean season.

    Agropastoral conditions

    The distribution of rainfall has improved since the first dekad of July, although rainfall levels remain below-average. The main farming activities at this time are weeding sorghum crops and planting early varieties of rice, millet, maize, groundnuts, and sesame crops, which were two to three weeks behind schedule. An examination of crop growth and development shows that 60 percent of crops are in the tillering stage, 20 percent in the bolting stage, and 20 percent are between the sprouting and tillering stage, reflecting a two-to-three-week lag compared with their normal rate of progress.

    Assistance programs (FAO programs, the Natural Resource Management Program (PGRN), and the National Food Security Program (PNSA)) provided households with improved seeds. The PNSA program was started up last year and the PGRN and FAO programs began operating for the first time this year in this area. The PNSA also furnished farmers throughout the Sudanian zone with 670 metric tons of seeds (rice, sorghum, maize, and groundnuts). The FAO distributed 900 kilograms of seeds for rainfed sorghum to 900 households. Plowing activities, which started up at the beginning of May, are continuing. So far, the PNSA has mobilized 54 tractors for local farmers to use in the Department of Tandjilé Ouest. The cost of plowing a hectare of land with these tractors is 10,000 FCFA, compared with 15,000 FCRA when done with draft animals, which has been a source of savings for certain farmers.

    Grazing and watering conditions for livestock have been good, with the entire area covered with pasture and a normal supply of water across the region. There are no reports of epizootic diseases in the area with the exception of normal sporadic outbreaks of parasitic diseases.

    Markets and prices

    Markets are well-stocked with grains from trader inventories and from subsidized sales by the ONASA. In order to respond to strong household demand due to the early depletion of household cereal stocks, local traders are buying grain from Cameroon and the CAR, which is different from a normal year. Moreover, primary markets are unable to provide secondary markets with a normal supply of grains, due to the depletion of household grain stocks, their normal main source of supply. Thus, normal trade flows have been reversed and households are getting their supplies from secondary rather than primary markets. In general, prices are above the five-year averages; sorghum prices up 62 percent, pearl millet prices up 26 percent, and maize prices up 29 percent. However, July prices have generally been stable compared to June of this year, except for minor fluctuations (ex. a nine percent increase in sorghum prices and a 10 percent decline in rice prices).

    Small ruminant prices on livestock markets are 15 percent below normal seasonal levels due to a decline in demand from Nigeria with the closing of the border for security reasons. With livestock prices declining and cereal prices increasing, households are selling four to five animals, rather than two to three, in order to purchase the same amount of grain, in July (at the peak of the lean season).

    Income sources

    The main sources of income are wage labor and small ruminant sales. Similar to a normal year, households are also foraging for wild foods (wild vegetables), shea nuts, and carob beans. These wild foods are consumed, as well as sold, by very poor and poor households. There is an increasingly small supply of labor compared with normal for this time of year, with most farmers choosing to work their own fields, due to the above-average area plowed with tractors. In addition, the large demand for labor with the scaling up of ongoing weeding activities has driven up the daily wage rate to between 650 and 700 FCFA, compared with the normal range of 400 to 500 FCFA.

    Food security situation

    Households are currently having difficulty meeting their basic food needs due to the earlier than normal depletion of grain supplies and rising grain prices, triggered by a shortage of market supplies. In addition, household purchasing power is below average, making households more reliant on the gathering of wild plant foods compared to a normal year. However, these foods are barely able to make up the gap, creating Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario for the period of July through December 2013 in the Department of Tandjilé Ouest is based on the following assumptions:

    • Grain stocks: Market grain stocks will be below their normal seasonal levels through September. Then with the upcoming harvest, stock levels will return to normal levels by October. Household grain stocks will also be replenished by the October harvest and, with an average harvest expected, will be in line with a normal year.
    • Markets and prices: Market grain supplies will be ensured by imports from Cameroon and the CAR by local traders throughout the outlook period (July through December). However, given current market conditions, staple grain prices could be as much as 27 to 30 percent above the five-year average between July and August due to a low grain market supply. Prices will then stabilize between August and September, before starting to decline between October and December, in line with normal seasonal trends, but will stay above-average.
    • Farm labor: In line with normal seasonal trends, there will be greater demand for labor between August and September for the last round of weeding for long-cycle crops and for the harvesting of short-cycle crops.
    • Income sources: Very poor and poor households will have their normal income sources throughout the outlook period (July through December), including sales of wild plant products, craft-making, sales of crops and animal products, sales of firewood, and farm labor. However, sales of wild plant products and firewood will account for a larger than normal share of household income in the first half of the outlook period (July through September). By the second half of the outlook period (October through December), all sources of income will be normal.
    • Food sources: Households will rely on their normal food sources (on-farm production, market purchases, in-kind payments, and the gathering of wild plant foods). With the high price of grain limiting their grain access, very poor and poor households will be much more reliant on wild plant foods between July and August. The first harvests of early crops in September, supplemented by output from the ensuing main harvest, will allow households to live off their own crops between September and December.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Between July and September, during the lean season, households will have difficulty meeting their food needs due to poor household food availability and their large dependence on market purchasing. With their grain access tied closely to their purchasing power, they will be much more reliant on wild plant foods and will just barely fill their food gaps. They will step up the sale of firewood and wild plant products during this period in an attempt to improve their purchasing power. Thus, according to the evaluation of acute food insecurity levels, these households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.

    As of October, the upcoming harvest will reduce household dependence on market purchases and households will basically live off their own crops through December. At the same time, income from the sale of crops and market garden produce will improve their purchasing power, translating into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) household food insecurity.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    National

    • Infestations of crop pests (locusts, grain-eating birds, etc.)
    • Abrupt end of the rains 
    • Flooding
    • Smaller harvests 
    • Few wage-earning opportunities for farm laborers
    • Delay in harvests of early crops
    • Lower incomes
    • Below-normal inventory levels
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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