Food Security Outlook

New crops from ongoing harvests improve the food security situation

October 2015 to March 2016
2015-Q4-1-1-TD-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Harvests of rainfed cereal crops for the 2015-2016 growing season are average to slightly below average due to the late start-of-season, mid-season dry spells, the locally reduced-area planted, and the early end of rains in certain areas. There were reports of deficits in certain departments in the Lac, Kanem, Bahr el Ghazel, Batha, Wadi-Fira, and North Guera regions.

  • Supplies on cereal markets have improved since the lean season (between June and September) with the arrival of new crops from ongoing harvests. The seasonal decline in prices since September is improving household cereal access.

  • The current availability of new crops from ongoing harvests has improved the food security situation of poor households in all parts of the country. These new crops, together with wild plant foods and local milk availability, will give households more diversified sources of food between October and December 2015. As such, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country during this three-month period.

  • The levels of cereal stocks and milk availability in Lac, Kanem, Bahr El Ghazel, Batha, North Guera, and Wadi-Fira will become limited as of January, earlier than in a normal year. As a result, poor households in these areas will be dependent on market purchase earlier than normal and face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes. Displaced populations from Nigeria and the Central African Republic receiving humanitarian assistance will continue to experience Stressed ! (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes with the help of ongoing assistance.

National Overview

Current situation

Rainy season

Rainfall continues normally in the southern part of the country though, in general, rainfall levels are down from 2014 and below-average (Figure 1). At the same time, according to the Meteorological Services and Applications Department (DEAM), rainfall conditions in the Sahelian zone are average to below-average. The Batha, Wadi Fira, and Ouaddai regions have the largest rainfall deficits. The rainy season got off to a late start (at the end of July instead of by the end of June, as is normally the case) and ended fairly early (by the end of September), causing large delays in crop growth and development. However, there are harvests underway in most farming areas.

Hydrologic conditions

The height of the Chari River is down from last year and lower than normal for this time of year, which will reduce market garden production. On the other hand, the heavy rains in August and September helped raised the level of the Logone River, which is on par with the norm and close to the figure for the same time last year. In spite of its below-average height, the waters of the Bahr-Azoum River in the central reaches of the country are inundating plain areas of Salamat used for the cultivation of berbéré (flood-irrigated sorghum) crops. Water levels on the Batha River and Lake Fitri are especially low compared with the norm for this time of year, raising fears of shortfalls in yields of berbéré crops and of a poor market gardening season. Lowlands, also known as wadis, have begun to run dry. The water situation is also quite poor farther towards the East owing to the low levels of seasonal lakes and ponds, which are still currently 25 to 30 percent lower than normal in the wake of the reported pockets of drought in this area during the rainy season.

Locust situation

The locust situation in the Sudanian zone is stable, where there has been no sign of a locust presence anywhere in that part of the country. There were sightings of isolated solitary immature and mature locusts in September between Batha and Kanem and Salal and Djedda, in northern Abéché, and in southern Fada. There are signs of small-scale breeding in the vicinity of Arada, where solitary larvae were spotted in mid-September after the reported egg-laying activity in August. A few adult locusts were sighted in the vicinity of Kalait in the last week of September. Even small-scale breeding will only add to the numbers of locusts in Kanem, Batha, Biltine, and Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti, which could begin molting sometime in October. According to the FAO, there is also a moderate risk of the formation of small bands in these areas as the vegetation begins to dry up.

Status of crops

There are ongoing farming activities in the Sudanian zone involving crop maintenance and protection work and harvesting activities, particularly for groundnut, maize, and sorghum crops. The last October rains helped improve soil moisture conditions, facilitating the performance of this work. In general, crops are in the maturity and harvesting stages.

Nevertheless, the harvest season has been extended in areas affected by rainfall deficits, particularly in the Sahelian zone. Crops in high-rainfall areas are reportedly in different phases of maturity. Crop yields in the Sahelian zone are down as a result of the late start-of-season and ensuing dry spells.

According to reports and local farmers, crop production for the 2015/2016 growing season in the Sahelian zone is down from 2014/2015 and below the five-year average. The Agricultural Production and Statistics Department (Direction de la Production et des Statistiques Agricoles) expects crop production for the 2015/2016 growing season to be more than four percent below the five-year average.

At present, the main farming activities involve the clearing of land for market gardening activities and the planting of seedbeds for market garden crops, the first harvests of early-planted groundnut crops, and harvests of cereal crops. There is still little demand for farm labor with harvests not yet in full swing to help boost income from on-farm day labor. There is a shortage of labor in the Sudanian zone, even in villages, with everyone busy harvesting their own crops and with able-bodied workers leaving the countryside in search of better job opportunities in the city. The daily wage for farm labor in the village of Kiati, for example, in Bao subprefecture (in Logone Occidental) has jumped from 500 CFAF to 1,000 CFAF.

Status of pastoral resources

Livestock in the Sudanian zone are currently in good physical condition with the abundant supply of pasture in that area, which should meet their needs through at least May 2016. However, there will be a shortage of pasture much sooner (by February) in Lac Iro department, where supplies of crop residues will be depleted fairly quickly after the devastation to local crops from transhumant livestock herds, causing certain farmers to lose a large part of their harvest. This could expose a small part of the population of Kyabé, Roro, and Dindjebo subprefectures to food security problems before the usual beginning of the lean season (by May/June instead of July).

Pasture resources in the Sahel in general and Ouaddaï and Wadi Fira areas in particular are less plentiful than usual due to the abrupt end of the rains. They are expected to meet the needs of local livestock for an estimated three to four months, compared with a normal coverage period of up to six months. There are currently plentiful accessible market supplies of milk just about everywhere.

Population movements

Most current population movements involve workers seeking on-farm employment, mainly in the harvest, looking to earn income or in-kind cereals to meet their needs, traveling from low-production areas (Kanem, Bahr El Ghazel, Hadjer Lamis, etc.) to major crop-producing areas (Ouaddai, Lac, Salamat) to offer their services as farmhands. There are also reports of transhumant herd movements in northern and northwestern Lac Iro department.

Household cereal stocks

Most households have long depleted their cereal stocks from last year. Over 80 percent of the households interviewed in the course of the ENSA survey, a national food security survey have no remaining sorghum crops from last year. Any existing stocks on hand are small and held by large farmers. Small farmers have practically no cereal crops left from last year. Many households are already consuming early sorghum crops from ongoing harvests. Over 40 percent of households are dependent on market purchase until the end of the current round of harvests. Of this figure, approximately 25 percent are pastoral households. With harvests in the Sahelian zone already underway, household food stocks are starting to be replenished as usual.

Crop markets

Cereal supplies in the Sudanian zone are tighter than at the same time last year due to the late start-of-season, throwing harvests off schedule. However, there is a steadily increasing flow of sorghum and maize crops to local markets. Groundnut supplies are also down from this time last year. On the other hand, there is a comparatively higher demand for groundnut crops than at this time last year with the reduction in supplies as a result of the smaller areas planted in these crops.

There is still only a limited flow of cereal trade. The largest flow of trade involves shipments of groundnut crops from the Sudanian zone to the Sudan through the Sahelian zone. There are reports of the presence of large shipping companies on wholesale markets loading up groundnut crops bound for N’djamena, mainly from the Doher, Bodo, and Moundou markets.

Prices for sorghum, maize, and pearl millet, the main dietary staples for Chadian households, are down from the same time last year but above the five-year average in Moyen Chari/Mandoul, for example (by 22 percent in the case of sorghum, 11 percent in the case of millet, and 24 percent in the case of maize). Sorghum prices in Moundou are also 23 percent below figures for this time in 2014, but 24 percent above the five-year average. The same goes for the price of pearl millet, which is down by 14.3 percent though still 5.3 percent above the five-year average. There is very little movement in sesame prices with the large on-farm and trader inventories of this crop, while groundnut crops are selling well on local markets with the arrival of new crops from ongoing harvests.

Prices for pearl millet on the Abéché market, for example, in the Sahelian zone show little movement from September 2015 or October 2014. There are more or less adequate market supplies, with good cereal availability from household cereal stocks and trader inventories. Though yields are down, there are shipments of new crops to market from ongoing harvests.

Livestock markets

There are adequate supplies of cattle in the Sudanian zone. Supplies of small ruminants and goats in particular are low due to the losses of animals during the lean season. There are smaller consignments of goats on the Doher, Tapol, and even the Goré market, where parents with school-age children normally sell more goats at this time of year, with the start of classes, in order to pay for their tuition fees and buy them notebooks and school uniforms. The large availability of animals on livestock markets has driven prices down sharply from previous months. Supplies are being regularly monitored, but there is little demand with the closure of the country’s borders with Libya and Nigeria. Terms of trade for male goats/millet remain detrimental to pastoralists, who are able to buy only 55 kg of millet with proceeds from the sale of a male goat on the Abéché market, compared with as much as 75 kg of millet five years ago. Conditions on livestock markets will continue to be affected by the closure of the country’s borders with certain neighboring countries.

 

Food security situation

The availability of new sorghum, groundnut, and maize crops from ongoing harvests is helping to facilitate household food consumption in the Sudanian zone. At present, available supplies of oilseed, vegetable, market garden, and tuber crops are effectively enhancing household diets. The food security situation has improved with the end of the lean season and the beginning of the harvest. Children in most households are eating at least two meals a day, supplemented by groundnuts, guavas, wild vegetables, earth peas, cowpeas, cassava, etc. Current food security conditions in the Sahelian zone have also improved with the beginning of the harvest. With the good cereal availability on local markets, bolstered by remaining household cereal stocks and ongoing harvests, the availability of milk, and the gathering of wild fruits and vegetables, very poor and poor households are able to meet their food and nonfood needs without resorting to coping strategies.

Nutritional situation

 

The nutritional situation of refugee households and returnees in the southern part of the country, particularly in Moyen Chari, is steadily improving, with the IRC (International Rescue Committee) and CSSI (Centre de Support en Santé International) continuing to monitor the state of child nutrition in the Maïngama and Belom camps.

These NGOs are providing immediate help for malnourished children, supplying them with enriched porridge and other vitamin-rich foods. Clinical cases of malnutrition receive immediate treatment. In general, admissions rates for severe acute malnutrition in all parts of the country are down from 2014 (except for figures for the month of August). This is due, at least in part, to the growing numbers of health facilities for the treatment of malnutrition, as well as to improvements in the quality of care. It is also attributable to the enormous efforts mounted by the Chadian government and its partners (the WHO, UNICEF, and international NGOs such as MSF, IMC, ACF, CSSI, etc.) to combat malnutrition over the past few years.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for October 2015 through March 2016 is based on the following assumptions on nationwide conditions:

 

  • Rainy season: The rainy season will continue through the end of October in large parts of the south. The above-average levels of cumulative rainfall between the middle of September and October will allow late-planted crops (crops planted at the end of July and in August) to complete their growing cycle. Cumulative rainfall totals for the period between mid-September and October in the Sahelian zone were also above-average, particularly in Ouaddaï, Sila, Wadi Fira, Salamat, Hadjer Lamis, and Lac, where the season will end sometime in October with the normal retreat of the Intertropical Front (ITF) southwards.
  • Hydrologic conditions: Water levels in most seasonal lakes and ponds and wadis (intermittent rivers and streams) are fairly good. There are reports of localized flooding from certain intermittent rivers such as the Batha, Biteha, and Ouadi Moura. The Bahr-Azoum has also reportedly overflowed its banks. Thus, according to reports by the DEAM (the Meteorological Services and Applications Department) and the Ministry of Agriculture, the current levels of seasonal lakes and ponds and other watering holes should provide livestock with a supply of drinking water through at least the month of January.
  • Crop production: Crop yields across the country will be average to slightly below-average and just under figures for last year. With the late start of the rainy season and poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall, there will be an average to slightly below-average volume of crop production by the country as a whole, across all livelihood zones. These crops should meet the food needs of most households through at least March 2016. Crop production forecasts based on estimates of the size of cropped areas by the ONDR (the National Rural Development Agency) and SODELAC (the Lake Chad Development Agency) show production deficits under the most likely scenario.
    • There will be average to above-average yields of millet crops with the generally good conditions in crop-producing areas and the larger areas planted in millet by farmers in dune areas of the Lac region.
    • There will be below-average levels of maize production due to the late start of the rains and ensuing dry spells in July and August in maize-producing areas (Lac, Batha, Salamat, Sila, Ouaddaï, Moyen Chari, Mandoul, and East and West Mayo Kebbi).
    • There could be average to above-average levels of sorghum production, particularly in the southern part of the country.
    • There will be a smaller than average volume of cowpea production with the lag in the planting of these crops and the attacks on fields of standing crops in major crop-producing areas of southern Chad.
    • Off-season crop production: The planting of seedbeds for off-season crops in all interested areas is finally complete. There could be lags in normal crop growth and development and delays in harvesting activities on account of the late planting of these seedbeds and the reportedly low flooding levels in Salamat, Sila, and Batha.
  • Food availability (food production for 2015 and carry-over food stocks): In general, the levels of household food stocks will be slightly below the five-year average and will fall only slightly short of meeting total food needs, which have been steadily mounting over the past five years with the growth in the size of the population. There will be a somewhat more delicate balance between availability and needs in the case of maize and sorghum with this year’s locally below-average yields of these crops due to the late start of the growing season.
  • Farm labor: As one of the main sources of household income, there should be a normal stream of income from on-farm labor between October and December in what are expected to be average to slightly below-average cereal harvests. As usual, poor households in certain areas will turn to market gardening activities to expand their sources of income between January and March.
  • Pastoral resources and herd movements: While the condition of pastures has visibly improved with the pick-up in rainfall in late July in all farming areas, there are still small pasture deficits in the eastern reaches of the Sila, Ouaddaï, and Wadi-Fira regions and the southern part of the country. This will be offset to some extent by the surplus in the north, in the area between central Kanem and western Sila, Ouaddaï, and Wadi Fira. Thus, there will be slightly below-normal pasture availability in the country as a whole between October 2015 and March 2016. However, current levels of pasture will enable pastoralists to feed their animals through at least the month of December without traveling too far from their home bases and through March without too much difficulty. Transhumant pastoralists from northern areas of the country began heading south by the end of September or the beginning of October instead of in November/December, as is normally the case. Large-scale transhumant pastoralists returning to the northeast forced by shortages of pasture to stop just outside of Arada were able to start heading south in October. In general, livestock should be in good physical condition through January. There will be plentiful supplies of milk accessible to very poor and poor households in transit areas for transhumant herds and livestock-raising areas through December/January. With the diminishing supply of pasture as of December/January, livestock will travel increasingly farther from their home bases, limiting access to dairy products. As far as animal watering conditions are concerned, the rainfall activity since the second dekad of July helped fill seasonal lakes and ponds and wadis, which should allow for the watering of livestock through February/March.
  • Desert locusts: The reported small-scale breeding will add to the numbers of locusts in Kanem, which are expected to begin molting in October in Batha, Biltine, and Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti. According to the FAO bulletin on the desert locust situation, there is a moderate risk of the formation of a few small bands in these areas as the vegetation begins to dry up.
  • Supply of food crops and livestock: In spite of the already depleted carry-over food stocks of poor households and the expected below-average volume of cereal production, markets will be well-stocked with foods crops. Thus, there should be no shortages of supplies with the reopening of roads and normal flow of trade once the rainy season is over, except in the Lac region where security problems will restrict the flow of trade. The expected harvests of flood-recession (berbèré) and cold off-season (maize) crops between January and March and carry-over ONASA (National Food Security Agency) inventories from 2015 will help bolster market supplies. There will be a larger than average supply of cash crops in general and groundnuts in particular with the larger areas planted in these crops in lieu of cereal crops. There will also be a larger supply of sesame crops than last year with the expansion in the cultivation of these crops to meet the high demand in Sudan. There will be a larger than usual supply of livestock with the slowdown in exports to Nigeria and Libya, the presence of pastoralists and their herds from the CAR, and the return of transhumant herds.
  • Demand for food crops and livestock: There will be a larger demand for cereal crops between January and March 2016 with the expected below-average harvests of off-season berbéré and maize. However, households will be consuming mainly home-grown crops between October and December 2015. Oilseed crops and groundnut crops in particular are in high demand with the presence of large-scale Sudanese importers on Chadian markets due to the poor groundnut harvest in Darfur (Sudan) and the uncharacteristically high price of groundnuts in Sudan during the harvest season. There will be an above-normal demand for livestock, fueled by political campaigns for the Presidential elections scheduled for April 2016.
  • Institutional procurements: There will be smaller than usual institutional procurements for the rebuilding of national food stocks in 2015 due to the country’s financial woes and their potential induced effects on the ONASA (the National Food Security Agency).
  • Price trends: There will be a normal seasonal decline in cereal prices between October and December, which should be followed by the usual price stability between January and March. As usual, there could be a new seasonal rise in livestock prices in December with the approach of the end-year holiday season, which had been relatively stable in October after the celebration of Tabaski (at the end of September).
  • Closure of the country’s border with Libya: The country will continue to feel the effects of the suspension of livestock exports with the closure of its border with Libya, which will have especially serious economic consequences in the Borkou Ennedi Tibesti, Kanem, and Bahr el Gazel regions highly dependent on trade with this neighboring country.
  • Closure of the country’s border with Nigeria: The latest attacks (in September and October 2015) on villages such as Ngouboua and Bagassola did nothing to improve this already long-standing situation, with the border expected to remain closed for the next several months, preventing the usual rebound in the previously large flow of trade between the two countries.
  • Sources of food and income: There should be a normal flow of food and income from sources such as farm labor, the sale of livestock, construction work, the sale of cereal crops and market garden produce, the sale of poultry and eggs, petty trade, the gathering of wild plant foods, the sale of straw fencing, matting, and miscellaneous hand-made goods, the sale of wood, etc.), particularly between October and December. Market garden production in certain areas will also help enable poor households to diversify their diets and expand their sources of income.
  • Nutritional situation: The current low global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates in all parts of the country compared with the five-year average are expected to continue through at least March 2016, with even the poorest households armed with a supply of home-grown crops and, thus, much less dependent on market purchase, which will help facilitate their food access and make them less vulnerable to malnutrition. Thus, malnutrition rates are expected to follow normal seasonal trends, coming down during the post-harvest period in all parts of the country. This assumption is supported by the growing numbers of therapeutic feeding centers across the country and, in particular, in Kanem and Bahr El Gazal, the two regions with the country’s highest rates of malnutrition.
Most likely food security outcomes

The three-month period from October through December coincides with the post-harvest period marked by generally good food security conditions throughout the country, bolstered by the availability of milk and wild plant foods and the first shipments to market of early rainfed crops such as sweet potatoes, border-irrigated maize, cassava, yams, groundnuts, fresh okra, etc. serving as substitute foods and improving the food access of poor households. In general, there will be sufficiently good access to these different sources of food in spite of the slightly below-average levels of production in certain localized areas. The effects of production shortfalls in these areas will not be felt until later in the consumption year. Thus, the large majority of households across the country will meet their food consumption needs between October and December 2015. They will rely on household crop production and will not resort to any coping strategies. There will also be a seasonal improvement in the nutritional situation from good food availability. Households in all areas of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through December 2016.

Food stocks in certain parts of the Sahelian zone (Lac, Kanem, Bahr El Gazel, Batha, and Wadi Fira) will begin to decrease as of February due to the localized shortfalls in cereal production in certain departments in these regions, which will make households much more dependent than usual on market purchase at that time. Cereal demand will affect prices during this period and make it impossible to ensure ready access to cereal supplies for very poor and poor households. Poor households will deal with this by increasing their usual coping strategies (the gathering of wild plant foods, craft-making, etc.) to uncharacteristically high levels in order to bridge the gap. However, these strategies will not completely offset the effects of the cereal deficit and high cereal prices on poor households, which will translate into livelihood protection deficits for as long as they continue to be affected by these factors. Thus, poor households in the Kanem, Bahr el Gazel, Batha, northern Guera, and Wadi Fira regions will not be able to meet their essential nonfood needs as they face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes between February and March 2016. Households in all other areas of the country should continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, with the exception of those in receiving areas for refugees and IDPs from the Lac region and the Central African Republic (Grande Sido), where food insecurity will be held at Minimal ! (IPC Phase 1!) levels by expected deliveries of food assistance.

 

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

About Scenario Development

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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The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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