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Food Security Outlook, Oct 2011-March 2012

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • October 2011 - March 2012
Food Security Outlook, Oct 2011-March 2012

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  • Key Messages
  • Most likely food security scenario for October 2011 through March 2012
  • Outlook for March through September 2012
  • Table 1. Less likely events that could change the above scenarios in the next six months
  • Key Messages
    • There was good enough food access in October for at least 80 percent of the local population in all parts of the country to meet their basic food and non-food needs.

    • Though there could still be near-average levels of nationwide crop and pasture production, even with the shorter-than-usual growing season, biomass development is not at its usual optimal level, particularly in the northern reaches of the Sahelian zone. 

    • Drought conditions, grasshopper infestations, and attacks by grain-eating birds in livelihood zones 7 (Transhumance) and 8 (Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening) are responsible for the below-average levels of rainfed crop production in these areas. 


    Most likely food security scenario for October 2011 through March 2012

    The 2011 rainy season failed to live up to expectations, particularly with regard to the temporal and, in some cases, the spatial distribution of rainfall. Many farmers in the southern part of the country chose to grow tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, etc.) in reaction to the poor growing season conditions, particularly in July and part of August. Though not included in the grain balance sheet, these substitute crops should ensure adequate household food availability in this area. Drought conditions in the Sahelian belt emboldened crop predators in general and, in particular, grasshoppers on the southern edge of livelihood zone 7 (Transhumance) and grain-eating birds and grasshoppers in the north of livelihood zone 6 (Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening) (Figure 2).

    Thanks to the two extensions of the nutritional assistance program and the blanket feeding program in livelihood zones 7 and 6 during the past consumption year, from October to December 2010 and from July to September of this year, local households still had residual food reserves as of the beginning of October.

    The availability of the large carry-over stocks of middle-income and better-off households and traders, particularly in the Sahelian zone, should bolster grain availability for the entire 2011/12 consumption year. On the whole, markets are fairly well stocked with carry-over stocks from previous seasons and fresh shipments of green crops harvested in October. However, as of the end of September, staple grain prices on virtually all markets tracked by FEWS NET were still high and at levels above the five-year average.

    Global acute malnutrition rates for August/September (the lean season) in the Sahelian zone were down from figures for March of this year (the post-harvest period) and for last year’s lean season in the Sahel (which was a crisis year).

    The effects of harvests of rainfed crops and good pastoral conditions, heightened by the availability of the small residual food reserves of very poor and poor households, plus grain loans and remaining food supplies from distributions of free food aid, should enable at least 80 percent of the nationwide population to meet its basic food needs.

    • Based on its field missions and informal technical discussions with provincial Agricultural Ministry officials, FEWS NET is projecting country-wide rainfed crop production at between 1.7 and 1.8 million metric tons, close to the five-year average for 2005/06-2009/10, or the average since 2004/05. However, with the record 2010/11 harvest topping the average by more than 50 percent, the average for the most recent five-year period is not a good measure for comparison.
    • Supplies of freshly harvested crops are expected to drive grain prices on major Sahelian (Abéché, Moussoro) and Sudanian (Moundou, Sarh) markets down below the nominal five-year average by margins of 3 to 10 percent in the case of pearl millet (the staple grain crop in the Sahel) and 15 to 25 percent in the case of sorghum (the staple grain crop in the south).
    • Expected shortfalls in harvests of off-season grain crops between January and March of 2012 due to a poor distribution of rainwater will trigger unusually sharp rises in staple grain prices for that time of year, on the order of 10 to 15 percent for pearl millet prices on Sahelian markets and 15 to 20 percent for sorghum prices on southern markets, compared with normal price fluctuations on Sahelian and Sudanian markets of 4 to 7 percent and 0 to 12 percent, respectively, compared with the five-year average.
    • As usual, livestock prices in general and the price of small animals in particular will rise between October and December, in the weeks leading up to the Feast of Tasbaski and the year-end holiday season. Terms of trade for sheep/millet will be in favor of livestock vendors. Pastoralists and agropastoralists selling livestock have been bringing in the equivalent of 20 to 25 kg more grain since the end of the lean season in agropastoral areas (April to September). Terms of trade between January and March will be lower than in the summer months, but should still be close to the five-year average.
    • The repatriation of Chadian migrants from Libya should not affect conditions during the outlook period (October 2011 through March 2012).
    • There should be a normal flow of supplies from markets in surplus areas to deficit areas thanks to an average harvest and carry-over inventories from 2010/11.
    • The opening of Chad’s new oil refinery in August of this year should not significantly affect grain prices, trade, or demand.
    • Parents will keep their children in school to take advantage of school meal programs and the special program promoting the education of young girls.
    • Humanitarian and government aid for at-risk populations in especially hard hit areas of livelihood zones 5 (Central Agropastoral), 7 (Transhumance) and 6 (Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening) in the form of food aid, nutritional assistance, and grants of seeds should be on par with the average.
    • An outbreak of African Swine Fever in the southwestern reaches of the country in Dodjé, Kabbia, Lac Léré, and Mayo Dalla departments in livelihood zone 1 (Southern Staple and Cash Crops) led to the slaughtering of pigs in April of this year, which are an essential productive asset for poor households. To make matters worse, the delay in the harvesting of green crops from July to September caused staple grain prices to spike sharply. As a result, very poor and poor households, which make up more than 40 percent of the population of these areas, were unable to meet their basic food and non-food needs until September of this year.

    Taking all of these factors into account, at least 80 percent of the population of each of these areas should be able to meet its food needs between October and December of this year without resorting to severe, negative coping strategies and should not experience acute food insecurity (Figure 3). However, very poor households in the south of livelihood zone 7 (Transhumance) and very poor and poor households in the north of livelihood 6 (Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening) will be hit especially hard by the current poor growing season, particularly by shortfalls in crop production and supplies of wild plant foods. By January, the limited income-generating opportunities in these areas will not suffice to meet basic food needs (Figure 4).

    Southern reaches of livelihood zone 7 (Transhumance)

    Very poor households, which make up 17 percent of the population of this livelihood zone, are not thoroughly integrated into the transhumant pastoral system. They depend on the market for close to 60 percent of their food supply for the consumption year and on the gathering of wild plant foods for another 15 percent (particularly between October and December). The remainder of their food supply comes from in-kind payments (10 percent, mainly during the harvest season in October/November and, to a lesser extent, during the presence of transhumant herds in the area between July and September) and from on-farm crop production and food loans against their harvest or other assets (15 percent, mainly between April and June/July). Unlike poor households, which generate over 30 percent of their income from sales of small animals, very poor households are still highly dependent on the gathering of wild plant products. On average, sales of wild plant foods account for 35 percent of their annual income and another 35 percent comes from sales of firewood for the local market. As a result, these households are extremely vulnerable to poor food availability, particularly in the case of wild plant foods, and high staple food prices.

    Poor households still had residual food reserves as of the end of September, thanks to the second round of distributions of food aid under the blanket feeding program for the consumption year between July and September. FEWS NET interprets the availability of these food reserves at the end of the consumption year as a sign of these households’ good coping capacity. According to the findings by the FEWS NET mission to Bahr El Gazel in September of this year, the size of the (small) animal herds of very poor households was down to somewhere around four head of stock, compared with the average of 5-10 head of stock. Thus, in spite of this year’s (2010/11) excellent pastoral conditions, earnings from livestock-raising activities could not compensate for the two consecutive years of pasture deficits in the west of this livelihood zone in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

    September prices for pearl millet (the staple grain crop in this area) on the Moussoro market, the main rural market, were slightly high, up 11 percent from last year and 12 percent from 2009 (which was a crisis year) and more than 17 percent above the five-year average.

    At least 80 percent of the local population, including poor households, is currently in IPC Phase 1 (no or minimal acute food insecurity) thanks to an adequate, if somewhat smaller than usual, availability of wild plant foods and harvested crops, sales of wood, and the demand for labor engendered by the presence of transhumant herds.

    Projections of acute food insecurity outcomes in this area for the period from October 2011 to March 2012 are based on the following assumptions:

    • Drought conditions and grasshoppers infestations in this area will put on-farm crop production and the availability of wild plant foods 25-50 percent below-average. Very poor households will choose to sell their supplies of wild plant foods, instead of keeping them for household consumption. This translates into a reduction of approximately 20 percent in the food supplies of very poor households, which will need to be offset by boosting the share of their annual food supply obtained through purchasing from 60 percent to around 80 percent.
    • Below-average pasture availability will delay the arrival of transhumant herds in this area, affecting in-kind payments and miscellaneous income from livestock-raising activities associated with the presence of transhumant herds (guarding and convoying herds and craft sales).

    With the above-mentioned preference to sell offsetting the poorer-than-usual availability of wild plant products, the larger supply of these products put up for sale should keep income figures from these sales more or less on par with the average. Even assuming that very poor households double the level of effort put into gathering and selling wood, its higher opportunity cost (the extra time spent gathering dwindling supplies of this resource) and below-average price in the face of a weak local demand will limit any increase in income from this activity to approximately 30 percent, at best, for the entire year. The combination of these factors and current conditions should enable very poor households to meet their basic food and non-food needs with wild plant products, on-farm production, and market buying, which should keep them in IPC Phase 1 (no or minimal acute food insecurity) through December/January.

    As of January, poor households will be completely dependent on the market. Supplies of wild plant products as a source of income will be depleted and transhumant herds will have left the area (reducing demand for labor). To supplement their earnings from sales of firewood, their main source of income, poor households will begin selling small animals in January/February 2012 instead of in April/June, as they would normally do in an average year. Terms of trade for male goats/millet will be below-average by February/March. The earlier-than-usual sale of these small animals will be the first warning sign of livelihood protection deficits and stress (IPC Phase 2).

    Northern Ouara, Biltine, and Assoungha in the north of livelihood zone 6 (Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening)

    In an average year, poor households, which make up 27 percent of the population of this area, obtain nearly 60 percent of their food supply from household production (harvests of crops and in-kind payments for wild plant products) between the months of October and January. Food loans from middle-income and better-off households during the lean season (July to September) provide close to 20 percent of their food supply. Food purchases, which account for 25 percent of their food supply in an average year, mainly between March/April and August, are financed mostly with income from farm labor and sales of wood or straw, which tend to surge between December and June. Internal labor migration to large cities (Abéché, Faya, and N’Djamena) to work mainly in construction and in warehousing operations in connection with marketing activities, brings in extra income. This explains the vulnerability of poor households to a shortfall in agro-forestry-pastoral production, as well as to a low demand for unskilled labor.

    There are especially large carry-over inventories in all parts of livelihood zone 6 (Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening), which are creating an unusually large supply of food credit from traders looking to turn over their inventories. This fact, and the two rounds of distributions of food aid under the blanket feeding program for the 2010/11 consumption year, left even poor households with family food reserves coming out of the lean season in late September/early October, pending this year’s later than usual harvest. The availability of household food reserves at the end of the lean season is unusual. As of the beginning of October, at least 80 percent of the population was not dependent on food aid to meet its basic needs and not experiencing acute food insecurity.

    According to ground data collected in late September in this area, the last two dekads of the month were dry, with the rains ending abruptly around the middle of the month. The late start and early end of this year’s rains made for a short rainy season. Crops successfully planted in late July and early August were hurt by water deficits during their reproductive phase. This early end of the rains will inevitably affect the performance of crops grown in marginal soils, which did not have a chance to build up large enough water reserves with this year’s shortened rainy season. In addition, widespread grasshopper infestations in the northern part of the area and attacks by grain-eating birds forced farmers to prematurely harvest what, in many cases, were still immature grain crops, which will reduce both the quantity and the quality of rainfed crop production in this area. These events took place towards the end of the season, after poor households had already taken out the usual loans against their harvest of rainfed crops between June and August (representing more than 15 percent of their annual food supply).

    Projections of food security outcomes in this area for the period from October 2011 through March 2012 were based on the following assumptions :

    • At a minimum, there will be a 20 to 30 percent shortfall in grain production in this area.
    • There will also be at least a 30 percent shortfall in groundnut production, the main rainfed cash crop grown in this area, which could drive prices at least 10 percent above the five-year average between October and December. The usual high demand for groundnuts from processing plants can be expected to put prices 15 to 20 percent above the five-year average between January and March.
    • Pasture supplies will be depleted at least two months earlier than usual, or by January/February instead of April, triggering premature temporary migration (in February/March instead of in April) by usually sedentary animal herds into the far southern areas of this livelihood zone and/or Salamat.
    • Supplies of wild plant foods (wild grains, jujubes, etc.) will be down by at least 30 percent.
    • Losses of rainfed market garden crops across the area, particularly okra and tomato crops, could be as high as 25-40 percent compared with production in an average year.
    • Losses of seedbeds for off-season market gardening activities (onions, okra, leafy vegetables, etc.) will reach at least 30 percent compared with average production figures.
    • There will be no major food aid programs in this area between October and March aside from nutritional assistance programs.
    • There will be more or less normal levels of gift-giving.
    • Due to administrative burdens and the collection of illicit levies on both sides of the border, current price differentials of over 50 percent on cross-border markets in Chad and Sudan are not expected to trigger any further excessive exportation of commercially-marketed grain crops to Sudan.

    The 30 percent shortfall in supplies of wild plant products (jujubes, tamarinds, and hay) and harvests of cash crops (groundnuts, okra, and tomatoes) represents a double loss of food and income, making households more dependent on the market. Even with the reduction in household consumption by poor households looking to boost sales of these products will still be at least 20 percent below-average. A large part of this seasonal income will be used for irreducible year-end expenses. However, with their well below-average levels of debt thanks to this year’s unusual circumstances providing them with enough food reserves as of early October to last until the harvest, these households will be able to meet their basic food and livelihood protection needs between October and December without resorting to stress-relieving strategies.

    The period from January to March is marked by the depletion of the meager supplies of crops produced by very poor and poor households and the beginning of a seasonal rise in grain prices. The 30 percent shortfall in groundnut production for industrial processing and the destruction of least 30 percent of seedbeds for off-season market gardening activities will limit employment opportunities. The need to purchase above-average amounts of grain during a period of rising prices, while bringing in less seasonal income and coping with the demands of family ceremonies between January and February, will force these households to use part of their savings in the form of small animals, further reducing the size of their already small herds consisting of 2 to 3 head of stock/household, compared with an average of 4-5 head of stock. Heads of households without any small animal herds will begin their seasonal migration earlier than usual (by November instead of January) and will be followed by the other members of the household at the beginning of January to better ration their limited migration income. The use of such strategies oftentimes comes at the expense of livelihood protection, but is also designed to manage small survival deficits by better rationing normal household food supplies. These households will be in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) and, thus, will require assistance to sustain their livelihoods.


    Outlook for March through September 2012

    The following additional assumptions were used by FEWS NET to extend its projections of the most likely food security scenario beyond March 2012:

    • According to climatology studies, the 2012 rainy season should get off to a normal start in May/June.
    • Assuming that the 2012 rainy season gets off to a normal start, transhumant populations will return home on schedule, in June/July.
    • Terms of trade for livestock/grain will decline between April and September, as is typically the case.
    • Subsidized sales programs and distributions of free food aid under the blanket feeding program will be implemented between May and September, during the lean season in each area.

    Northern Ouara, Biltine, and Assoungha in livelihood zone 6 (Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening)

    Earlier than usual shortages of hay beginning in January 2012 will force very poor and poor households to rely on migrant remittances from at least one other working household member in addition to the head of household to support the family between March and May. However, this can only make up for part of the projected 40-50 percent shortfall in harvests of winter market garden crops and loss of income from off-season farming activities with the expected 30 percent  production shortfall for these crops. As usual, grain prices will rise by around 10 percent after the harvest of off-season crops in March, just when total income normally begins to decline, between March and June. Terms of trade for wage labor/millet will also decline, losing the usual 1 to 2 kg of grain equivalent per average daily wage. This group of households will be forced to resort to rationing their limited available food supplies but will not be looking at a major food consumption gap. However, they will not be able to protect their livelihoods. As a result, these households will stay in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) between April and June.

    The period from July to September is a time of peak grain prices with extremely limited income-earning opportunities through on-farm employment, in many cases, at the expense of the worker’s own crops. Despite the already small size of their remaining animal herds of 2-3 small animals per household after the earlier-than-usual sales of livestock between January and March, these households could actually begin selling their breeding animals, which would still not necessarily meet household food needs. Limited food availability will prompt poor households to begin cutting back their food intake, which could degrade nutritional conditions in this area, driving malnutrition rates above emergency thresholds. However, targeted assistance programs by the government and its partners throughout this period, such as subsidized grain sales by the National Food Security Agency and the WFP blanket feeding program, could reduce the magnitude of food consumption gaps, though without necessarily protecting household livelihoods, keeping these households in IPC Phase 2 (stressed).

    Southern reaches of livelihood zone 7 (Transhumance)

    Very poor households are completely dependent on food supplies purchased on the local market between April and June. This time of year is also marked by a normal seasonal rise in millet prices and a decline in migration income. This group of households will be forced to resort to negative coping strategies to meet their food needs, such as the selling of breeding animals from their already decimated small animal herds (with only 2 to 3 remaining head of stock). Households without any small animals will be forced to strictly ration their meager food supplies, creating large food consumption gaps compared with needs. This would degrade nutritional conditions, driving the already high global acute malnutrition rate in this area above the emergency threshold for this time of year. Unable to protect their livelihoods and faced with a survival deficit, this group of very poor households could be in IPC Phase 3 (crisis) during these three months.

    The period from July to September coincides with the presence of transhumant herds in this area, with a sharp rebound in business on local markets, and is marked by the best milk access of the year. Assistance programs mounted by the government and its partners at this time of year, including subsidized grain sales and distributions of free food aid under the blanket feeding program, will help improve food access for very poor households, which could move into IPC Phase 2 (stressed) between July and September. 


    Table 1. Less likely events that could change the above scenarios in the next six months

    Area

    Event

    Effects on food security conditions

    Nationwide

    Repeal of government price caps and price control measures

    Large spread between prices in surplus grain-producing areas and grain-short areas; farm-gate prices incapable of sustaining livelihoods; oddly enough, higher retail prices than without government price caps due to a lack of supplies at official prices

    Livelihood zone  7 (Transhumance)

    Brush fires

    Larger-than-projected losses of pasture and wild plant products (wild fruits, hay, wood) and poorer-than-expected food access; premature deterioration in the physical condition of livestock

    Livelihood zone 6 (Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening)

    Serious damage by grain-eating birds to at least 50 percent of cropped areas ready for harvesting

    Sharp decline in grain production; limited food availability; earlier-than-usual rise in prices; limited grain access for very poor and poor households; food consumption gap

    Figures Seasonal calendar and timeline of critical events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar and timeline of critical events

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Current food security outcomes, October 2011

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Current food security outcomes, October 2011

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Livelihood zone map of Chad

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Livelihood zone map of Chad

    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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