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COVID-19 continues to impact food security in several areas of Chad

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • June 2020 - January 2021
COVID-19 continues to impact food security in several areas of Chad

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The clashes between government forces and Boko Haram elements in March and April, combined with the state of emergency, curfew and government restrictions due to COVID-19, are exacerbating food insecurity in the Lac region despite household strategies. The livelihoods of host households in Lac continue to deteriorate due to pressure from newly displaced persons. As a result, consumption deficits are observed and the area is in Stressed (IPC Phase 2 !) with ongoing assistance.

    • Households in the provinces of Barh el Gazel and Kanem, who normally depend on the markets for their food at this time of year, are experiencing a severe lack of food accessibility due to the total depletion of their cereal stocks and high food prices in the markets. The loss of these households’ means of production and their resulting low incomes are restricting their market access, meaning that they are unable to meet their food consumption needs and find themselves in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    • Market functioning is impacted by traffic restrictions and border closures, which are affecting supply volumes. Faced with declining supply, demand is sluggish in most areas of the country. However, there are localized increases in food demand in Tibesti province, the Abdi department of the Ouaddai province, and Goz Beida in the Sila region.

    • The nutritional situation among children aged 0-59 months is deteriorating in Barh el Gazel and Kanem due to the impact of COVID-19 on household food access coupled with poor sanitary conditions. In Lac, the influx of newly displaced persons has caused a deterioration in nutrition among children, despite the expansion of care interventions.

    National Overview


    Current Situation

    COVID-19: Since the first case was reported on 19 March 2020, Chad has recorded 865 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 as of 26 June 2020, including 778 recoveries, 74 deaths and 13 cases undergoing treatment. To limit the spread of cases, the government of Chad has introduced restrictions. These include the closure of non-food shops, educational institutions and borders, and traffic restrictions including the banning of urban and inter-urban traffic. Some of these measures have recently been relaxed or even suspended.

    Macroeconomic context: The deteriorating economic situation in Chad, already paralyzed by the fall in oil prices and the fight against terrorism that has been going on for almost six years, is being further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Chad’s economy is weakened overall, in particular by the significant declines in revenue and trade as well as in investment. The population of Chad is severely affected, especially poor and very poor households facing a loss of income due to the loss of their main income sources (labor, migration, money transfers, sales of staple food and small ruminants, etc.).

    Agricultural situation: Hot off-season growing activities were completed between late May and mid-June, as in a normal year. These were mainly rice harvests in the rice-growing regions of Laï, Kim, Kolobo and Mroup. Harvests in Lac have been completed since the first dekad of June. The start of the rainy season varies by latitude, from the Sudanian to the Sahel region. Thus, in Moyen Chari, Mandoul, Logone Occidental and Logone Oriental, agricultural activities are dominated by preparatory work, with localized planting. Planting ranges from 15 to 45 percent as in an average year. In Lac, preparations for the rainy growing season are under way on most polders. This includes making tiles for the polders, reconstruction of the irrigation network, and the start of ploughing in dune areas.

    In the transhumant area, variable quantities of rainfall were recorded during the first dekad of June. For example, in Abéché (24mm), Abdi (17mm), Goz Beida (36mm) there has been some localized planting, in some cases dry sowing.

    Pastoral situation: Ground vegetation is gradually being replenished in the Sudanian and eastern regions, particularly in Sila and southern Ouaddai, thanks to the small amounts of rain recorded at the beginning of the growing season. In the Sudanian region, the start of the rainy season has led to a gradual rise in seasonal migrants returning to their homelands, as in a normal year. In the Sahel, pastoral deterioration has been reported at the start of this rainy season, due to the scarcity of pastures and the drying up of water points in the area. In the Batha region, as in Barh el Gazel and Kanem, animals are still travelling long distances of over 15 km to graze, and in the opposite direction to drink. There is therefore severe deterioration in the physical condition of animals in these areas due to the severity of the pastoral lean season, although this season is coming to an end. In Lac, there is overgrazing in the southern part of the province and the outskirts of the city of Bol, due to insecurity in northern areas following government eviction orders. However, the overall animal health situation is stable. Note that COVID-19 restrictions are not affecting seasonal migrants, who are moving freely between areas.

    Household cereal stocks: In most areas of the country, households’ cereal stocks are declining or depleted. This is due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, which have caused households to sell their stocks at very low prices in search of income. In Barh el Gazel and Kanem, households are depending entirely on markets for their food consumption because of the total depletion of their cereal stocks. Many host households in Lac have no cereal stocks at all. This stock depletion is a result of pressure from new waves of displaced persons following the clashes between government forces and Boko Haram elements from late March to mid-April 2020.

    Institutional stocks: The institutional stocks of the National Food Security Office (ONASA) are severely limited. Procurement for the replenishment of these stocks has been delayed. Only a few partners, such as the World Food Programme (WFP), have stocks currently deployed for distribution in response to COVID-19.

    Agricultural labor: As a result of the restrictions on road traffic coupled with the ban on movement between towns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of labor is less than a normal year in most areas of agricultural production in the country. In Koumra, labor supply is declining due to the delays experienced by seasonal migrants who are stuck in large cities such as N’Djaména. In Lac, on the other hand, an oversupply of labor has resulted from the influx of newly displaced persons due to the hostilities between late March and mid-April. However, demand for agricultural labor is less than in a normal year given the decline in purchasing power resulting from income losses caused by COVID-19. As a result, daily rates are 15 to 25 percent lower than in a normal year. In Bol, for example, a working day is paid at XOF 1,500-1,750 compared with XOF 2,000 in a normal year.

    Non-agricultural labor: Given the downturn in the national economy over the past few years, coupled with government measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic, non-agricultural labor is severely limited. Thousands of jobs are being lost in many sectors (building, carpentry, public transport, freight transport, warehouses, etc.), which are at a standstill. Demand is marginal and daily rates are very low. For example, the daily rate for a worker in the Bongor market averages XOF 1,500 compared with XOF 3,000 in a normal year: a decrease of about 50 percent.

    Food markets and prices 

    Food supply: Despite the downturn in market supplies, cereal stocks in the country’s main consumer markets are slightly below average. In Barh el Gazel and Kanem, supply is being slightly boosted by small volumes of maize imported from Cameroon via unusual routes. Millet supply however remains below normal levels, due to the decline in supply flows from Hadjer Lamis and the provinces of the Sudanian region. In Lac, the current state of emergency and the downturn in flows due to insecurity and the government’s COVID-19 measures are affecting market supplies, leading to a decline in maize and millet supplies to the Bol market. The supply of imported food products is below average in most markets, as a result of limited flows because of borders being closed for security reasons and due to COVID-19 measures.

    Demand for food (institutional purchases): In most markets, the demand for food is limited due to lower incomes resulting from the impact of government measures to control the pandemic. However, localized small increases in food demand have been reported in Abdi, Am Dam and Goz Beida, due to low and irregular supply flows. This upward trend in demand is also observed in Lac due to the current state of emergency, which has led to the depletion of household cereal stocks. In the N’Djamena markets, a slight increase in demand for millet has been reported due to limited supplies.

    Food prices: In May 2020, basic food prices compared with the five-year average had fallen overall, with the exception of a few increases, including millet prices in Mao (+17 percent), Moussoro (+15 percent) and Massaguet (+14 percent). These increases were caused by a slight increase in demand resulting from the downturn in supplies in these areas, most of which are structurally deficient. In Bol, the price of maize is 36 percent higher than the five-year average, due to strong demand caused by the influx of newly displaced persons following the upsurge in insecurity between March and April 2020. Most markets in the Sudanian region have low prices because of the large volumes of cereal provided to markets by households seeking income to start the growing season. This relatively high supply is being met by low demand, resulting in falling prices.

    Livestock markets and prices 

    Livestock supply: Livestock market supplies were average in most of the country’s livelihood zones in May and June 2020. However, these supplies are sluggish due to ongoing community disputes. The demand for large livestock is greatly affected by border closures, which continue to limit exports to Sudan and Nigeria via Cameroon. However, there was a temporary increase in demand for small ruminants in some areas due to celebrations of the end of Ramadan, and this will last until Eid al-Adha celebrations. However, demand for livestock is limited, while oversupply is observed in most livestock markets due to the cessation of exports following closures of borders and markets because of COVID-19.

    Livestock prices: Compared with the five-year average, increases in the price of sheep have been reported in Moussoro (+28 percent), Massakory (+25 percent) and Bokoro (+24 percent).

    Conflicts and population movements: In Lac, there is now a relatively stable security situation since the government’s ‘Anger of Boma’ response to attacks by Boko Haram elements in late March 2020. As a result of these hostilities, the humanitarian community identified nearly 40,000 newly displaced persons, giving a total of more than 270,000 displaced persons in the province under a state of emergency. A lull is reported in Ouaddai, Wadi Fira and Sila, where there has been a relative decrease in community altercations creating tribal disputes. The movement of artisanal gold miners to Tibesti is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the return of seasonal migrants to their respective areas is delayed and limited as a result of government measures.


    The most likely scenario for June 2020 to January 2021 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

    • Climate forecast for the 2020-2021 growing season: According to the national and regional hydro-meteorological services (National Meteorological Agency, African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development, AGRHYMET), the start of the season will vary from early to normal in the Sudanian region, and remain normal in the northern provinces of the Sahel.

    Cumulative precipitation similar to or above the average for the period 1981-2010 may be recorded in the south of the country. The Sahel region will receive average precipitation, with dry spells of average to above average duration. A normal to late end to the rainy season is predicted.

    • Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and household livelihoods: The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have critical economic and social impacts on the country. The country’s economic situation will continue to be negatively affected throughout the analysis period due to budget deficits caused by the fall in government revenues and the downturn in investment and trade. These macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19 will undermine the recovery progress achieved to date, with adverse effects on household livelihoods. Income losses, observed since the economic crisis caused by falling oil prices and aggravated by response measures to the pandemic, will intensify throughout the lean season from June to August. Despite good harvests expected in October, household livelihoods will still depend on the lifting or relaxing of COVID-19 measures.
    • Harvesting outlook: Rainy season crop production should be average, thanks to good rainfall which is expected to be slightly higher than average. However, there may be a reduction in land area planted, due to problems with access to inputs, paid labor, etc. Nevertheless, the humidity from the predicted good rainy season would promote good levels of off-season production (market gardening, berbere and off-season maize and rice, in Lac and the rice-growing basin respectively).
    • Outlook for pastoral resources and movement of livestock: Ground vegetation and semi-permanent ponds will be replenished by the overall good rainfall expected in the country. The seasonal migration cycle will remain broadly the same as a normal year. However, earlier migration could be observed in part of the central Sahel due to disruption caused by long dry spells and season end dates. In Lac, most herders remain concentrated in the south and the waterside areas, which are considered to be safer than the north. Movements in the island areas could be limited due to fear of isolated livestock thefts by armed individuals.
    • Household cereal stocks: In most areas of the country, household cereal stock levels are likely to be well below a normal year. In the Sudanian region, there could be low stocks due to sell-offs prompted by low market prices. In the rice-growing basin, the recent off-season rice harvest will contribute to the replenishment of stocks. In Lac, despite the off-season maize harvests, household stock levels will remain below the levels of a normal year due to the pressure of newly displaced persons on host household stocks.
    • Agricultural labor: Between June and September, labor supply is expected to be normal, due to COVID-19 traffic restrictions slowing the return of seasonal migrants from large urban centers to their respective areas. Demand is likely to remain sluggish and daily rates lower than normal because of capital losses by wealthy people as a result of COVID-19 measures.
    • Non-agricultural labor: Given the scarcity of employment opportunities due to the economic crisis, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, non-agricultural labor will be severely limited to a few small activities, such as handling and building work in large centers, resulting in marginal incomes for poor and very poor households.
    • Food markets and prices: Food supply will vary from similar to slightly below the five-year average across the country. Market supplies will be atypically low because of poor road conditions and border closures. Demand will remain sluggish due to low income levels. Market prices are expected to be low due to lower incomes, except in Moussoro (Barh el Gazel), Mao (Kanem), Abdi (Ouaddai), Goz Beida (Sila) and others where moderate to significant increases could be observed due to significant decreases in flows.
    • Livestock markets and prices:
      • There is likely to be average supply in livestock markets between June 2020 and January 2021 in most of the country’s livelihood zones. However, livestock market supplies will continue to be sluggish due to ongoing community disputes limiting the supply of livestock.
      • Overall, demand will remain low as a result of the government’s COVID-19 measures limiting livestock exports. Demand for large livestock will remain low due to border closures continuing to limit exports to Sudan and Nigeria via Cameroon.
      • Most livestock markets will continue to show low livestock prices. There will be slight temporary increases in the prices of small ruminants during festive periods (Eid al-Adha, year-end festivals), but prices will remain below the level of a normal year.
    • Nutritional situation: An increase in admissions to nutritional units could result from food deficiencies exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions and cultural practices. Global acute malnutrition could reach critical levels. Specifically, poor and very poor households in Barh el Gazel and Kanem, as well as host households for displaced persons in Lac, are likely to have nutritional deficiencies.
    • Humanitarian assistance: Displaced persons and host households in Lac will receive assistance provided by the humanitarian community under the leadership of WFP until the end of December 2020. Seasonal assistance will be provided during the lean season to 425,255 people in poor and very poor households in Batha, Barh el Gazel, Kanem, Wadi Fira, and Lac. The nutritional part of this assistance will cover 47,251 people, including 28,350 malnourished children and 18,900 pregnant or breastfeeding women. The humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic will reach 60,132 people in these five provinces.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From June to September 2020: Depletion of stocks for host households in Lac, on whom displaced persons are dependent for shared meals and other resources, scarcity of labor opportunities, and low incomes causing limited access to markets. These displaced persons in Lac, and their host households, could face consumption deficits despite the assistance and strategies adopted. As such, they would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The food situation of most poor and very poor households in the country could deteriorate due to the depletion of their cereal stocks. Market access would therefore be reduced. In Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental and Tandjilé, despite strategies including selling off of cereal stocks and increased labor, households will have limited food consumption. In Barh el Gazel, Kanem, Guéra, Ouaddai and Sila, households could have limited consumption despite mass sales of small ruminants. In Tibesti, market supplies are impacted by the limitation of cross-border flows caused by the closure of the Chad-Libya borders. In addition, low levels of income from inter-urban traffic, disrupted gold mining and small-scale trade are affecting the functioning of the markets on which households depend for their consumption. Households in these provinces could therefore have minimal food consumption and be unable to afford some essential non-food expenses. As such, they would be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Households in other provinces of the country may be able to cover their basic food needs despite the lean season, through residual stocks and other food sources such as wild products.

    Between October 2020 and January 2021: The food security situation for host households and displaced persons in Lac could be improved by the new harvests together with humanitarian assistance that partially covers the required volumes for daily rations. Due to low production levels and low income from labor and remittances, Barh el Gazel and Kanem households could have less adequate basic food consumption. In Tibesti, limits to cross-border trade could affect market supply volumes, and households’ low incomes could reduce their access to food. In these provinces, they might not be able to meet their basic consumption needs or afford some essential non-food items (health, clothing, etc.) without coping strategies. They would remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The other provinces in the country will have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    • Complete lifting of government measures (traffic restrictions, ban on movement between towns, etc.)

    • Deployment of food assistance in areas in Crisis food insecurity

    • Continuation of restrictive government measures as a result of high prevalence of COVID-19

    • Opening of borders (especially with Cameroon, Libya and Sudan)

    • Locust invasion

    • Gradual revival of the economy and resumption of income-generating activities (e.g. labor, sale of agropastoral produce) for poor and very poor households

    • Decreasing food prices; household access to markets

    • Improvement to food situation, through access to cereals in markets (low prices) and distributions/sales at moderate prices

    • Disruption to traffic and consequently flows

    • Higher prices in markets during lean season

    • Resumption of cross-border trade (food imports and livestock exports), improving income levels

    • Increased availability of imported food on the market

    • Devastation of fields by crop pests

    • Lower production 

    Zone 8 (Lac)
    • Upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram

    • Reduced flows disrupting market functioning

    • Decrease in staple food prices

    • Production deficit

    • Climate disruption through lengthy dry periods

    • Locust invasion

    • Devastation of fields by crop pests

    • Cessation/suspension of humanitarian assistance

    • Disruption to agricultural growing season 

    • New waves of displaced persons

    • Devastation of fields by crop pests

    Zone 5 (BEG et Kanem)

    • Deterioration of road network during rainy season

    • Locust invasion

    • Decrease in land area planted due to wealthy people losing capital

    • Increase in humanitarian assistance

    • Opening of borders with Libya

    • National Food Security Office (ONASA) organizing cereal sales at moderate prices 

    • Improvement to food situation of households

    • Limitation to flow volumes

    • Devastation of crops by pests

    • Lower production

    • Disruption to productive activities (agriculture, livestock farming, fisheries, etc.) and other socioeconomic sectors

    • Improvement to food consumption

    • Resumption of market supplies of processed food products This would lead to lower prices in markets, facilitating access for poor and very poor households.

    • Resumption and increase in migration, with increase in household incomes

    • Resumption of money transfers to poor and very poor households

    • Creation of non-agricultural employment (handling, market intermediaries, etc.) in relation to flows

    • Control of price rises in markets and access for poor and very poor households

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

    Figures NMME precipitation forecast July to September 2020: Cumulative precipitation similar to or above the average for the period 1

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: NOAA/NMME

    NMME precipitation forecast July to September 2020: Cumulative precipitation similar to or above the average for the period 1

    Figure 2


    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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