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This year’s good rains improve the food security situation in Chad

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • October 2016 - May 2017
This year’s good rains improve the food security situation in Chad

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • A long growing season occurred this year, with the first rains falling a month earlier than usual, in April in the Sudanian zone and in May in Sahelian areas. There were above-average cumulative rainfall totals and a good distribution of rainfall in nearly all agropastoral areas. Cereal production is expected to be better than last year (by 16 percent) and above the five-year average (by 13 percent).

    • The current availability of fresh crops from ongoing harvests, wild vegetables, and other wild plant foods and the availability of milk in certain localized areas have improved the food security situation in all parts of the country (except for the Lake Chad area due to the conflict). Households will have more diversified sources of food between October 2016 and January 2017 and there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country with the exception of the Lake Chad area. 

    • With the usual depletion of their food stocks between February and May 2017, poor households in Kanem, the BEG area, Abtouyour (Guera), and Kobé (Wadi Fira) will face a sharp contraction in their main sources of income, namely migrant remittances affected by the national economic crisis and livestock sales affected by the suspension of exports to Nigeria, as well as economic pressure from IDPs in Kanem and the BEG area. Accordingly, these households will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity as of April 2017.

    • In spite of the reportedly good harvests in the Lake Chad area, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the month of January with the falling prices of livestock and the reduction in income from cash transfers and wage labor. The cereal stocks of poor households will be reduced to the bare minimum by February/March by the pressure from IDPs on their limited resources. They will face food consumption gaps and, without food assistance, will be propelled into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation by February.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    Farming conditions: The growing season began much earlier than usual, with the first rains falling in April in the Sudanian zone and in May in the Sahelian zone. Based on the status of crops at the end of the season, harvests are expected to be larger than average (by around 13 percent) and better than in 2015 (by 16 percent). Crop production in certain regions such as Western Logone, Mayo Kebbi, and Salamat is expected to exceed the five-year average by approximately 15 to 20 percent. This boost in production is largely attributable to rainfall conditions, with practically all parts of the country getting average to above-average levels of cumulative rainfall. The map of cumulative rainfall anomalies compared with the ten-year average (2006 to 2015), shows a moderate to large excess or about-average rainfall in all northern and southern farming areas and a slight deficit in the central reaches of East Mayo-Kebbi, in border areas between Tandjilé and Mandoul, and in far northern farming areas (Figure 1).

    Most crops are in the final stages of their growing cycle. More specifically, they are mainly in the grain and full ripening stage (pearl millet and off-season rice crops) and, in rare cases, the heading (sorghum) and vegetative recovery stage (berberé crops). Harvests in certain areas (Moyen Chari, West Mayo Kebbi, Wadi Fira, Sila, etc.) began ahead of schedule (in late September) due to the early planting of this season’s crops. In addition, certain households (in Koumogo subprefecture in Bahr Koh) still have carry-over cereal stocks capable of meeting their food needs for one month.

    In spite of the reported rainfall deficits at the beginning and end of the season affecting certain crops in the Sudanian zone, on the whole, harvests of cereal crops are still expected to be good in the wake of the good rainfall at the end of October. Thus, with the good food availability across the country and, in particular, in the Sudanian zone, the food stocks of most households will last longer than usual, until sometime between July and August 2017.

    Current off-season crops are making normal progress, particularly flood-recession sorghum crops commonly referred to as berbéré. The average to good soil water reserves should be reinforced by the light rains through the end of October 2016. With the good progress of crop growth and development and higher crop yields, there are good prospects for off-season crop production.

    Hydrologic conditions: The good levels of rainfall have helped replenish rivers and streams and seasonal lakes and ponds, causing some to overflow their banks. These available surface water resources are replacing pastoral wells and boreholes as animal watering holes in most areas, particularly in the Sahelian belt where seasonal lakes and ponds are one of the main sources of water.

    Streamflow rates in all watersheds are above-normal, by 15 percent at the Sarh station, 21 percent in N’Djamena, 14 percent in Logone at the Bongor station, and five percent in Mayo Kebbi at the Léré station. These flow rates and the current levels of seasonal lakes and ponds will help ensure water availability for four to six months, until the middle of April 2017, which is slightly longer than usual.

    Household cereal stocks: Household cereal stocks will be gradually replenished from ongoing harvests beginning at the end of September and extending through November. Certain households with carry-over cereal stocks such as those in the Mayo Kebbi area have been reinforcing them with green crops and fresh crops from ongoing harvests.

    Farm labor: There is currently a high demand for farm labor for the intensive harvesting of peanut and maize crops, driven by the presence of crop predators. This year, in-kind wage payments are much more widespread than cash payments with the limited circulation of currency on the labor market due to the nationwide economic and financial situation. Daily wage rates have not changed since last year, except in the Lake Chad area, where they are down by nearly 50 percent. In general, income levels from wage labor are in line with the average, except in Kanem, the BEG area, and the Lake Chad area.

    For example, residents of Kanem and the BEG area normally working as laborers in the maize harvest in the Lake Chad area are currently being paid in kind at the rate of 10 percent of their output. In other words, they are paid 10 kg of maize for each 100 kg of maize harvested or shelled. Thus, income levels from farm labor in Kanem and the BEG area are as much as 40 percent below-normal with the farm labor surplus created by displaced populations. In-kind wages in Wadi-Fira are around two “coros” of pearl millet (5 kg), the equivalent of 1200 CFAF/day (down by 20 percent from the same time last year due to the large supply of labor). In contrast, there is a larger demand for labor for the 2016/2017 season in Guera with the larger areas planted in crops compared with 2015/2016, where wage rates are unchanged or up from 2015 (1500 francs/day in  2016 versus 1000 francs/day in 2015).

    Locust situation: In general, the locust situation is stable in all parts of the country. However, there are localized reports of small numbers of grasshoppers and caterpillars sighted in certain areas, particularly in the Sahelian belt. The intensity of these infestations varies from moderate to severe depending on the area and crops in question, but are concentrated mainly in the BEG, Kanem, Ouara, Wadi Fira, and Sila areas. Early harvests are being organized in anticipation of an exacerbation of this situation in the eastern part of the country, specifically in Wadi Fira. The Plant Protection Service (DPVC) is mounting a plant health surveillance program to monitor the situation in affected areas.

    The grasshoppers first appearing in September and, in some cases, causing severe infestations precipitating early harvests of pearl millet crops in Kanem, Barh- Gazal, and Hadjer Lamis, are all gone.  There is no longer a grasshopper presence anywhere in the country, which bodes well for a good market gardening season. 

    Status of pasture resources: Animals are in better than usual physical condition with the good rainfall conditions helping to create good levels of new grass cover and excellent water levels on seasonal lakes and ponds ensuring an available supply of water for livestock. However, there are pockets of poor pasture production, particularly in Wadi Fira where pasture levels are well below-average and way down from 2015.

    The map of NDVI anomalies compared with the 2001-2010 average based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the second dekad of October 2016 shows more or less average conditions (Figure 2). There are minimal deficits of five to ten percent (90-95) and 10 to 20 percent (80-90) in practically all regions of the country (mainly in the northern Lake Chad, Kanem, Bar El Ghazal, Batha, and Wadi Fira regions), in some cases alternating with five to ten percent surpluses, again, mostly in northern areas, denoting good farming and pastoral conditions.

    Animals in the Sahelian zone currently have good pastures and watering holes close to homes or villages (at distances of 300 to 400 meters), in contrast to the dozens of kilometers they were forced to travel last year (2015/2016). There are also available supplies of crop residues but, in many cases, agropastoral households are using them for their own livestock.

    Population movements: There are continuing reports of regular population movements in the Lake Chad area. The UNOCHA puts the number of displaced persons in October at 131,765, up four percent from September 2016.

    The East Mayo Kebbi region is another receiving area for refugees and returnees from Cameroon and Nigeria, numbering 3039 in October according to figures supplied by the National Commission for Refugees (CNAR). These reported population movements are attributable mainly to security problems engendered by the conflict with Boko Haram.

    Crop markets: There is a larger than usual availability and supply of staple food crops on local markets from carry-over stocks and trader inventories swollen with fresh crops from ongoing harvests.

    Cereal prices are currently below-average with the better ongoing harvests, even in normally low-production areas (agropastoral areas), with the presence of processed foods from Sudan and Libya easing pressure on staple cereals and stabilizing prices. October 2016 prices for millet, for example, were under the five-year average by 11 percent in Abéché, 16 percent in Moundou, and 21 percent in Moussoro.

    The nationwide economic crisis, the first signs of which appeared late in 2015, has definitely affected market demand and is thwarting the good market access of urban households looking to purchase certain items to meet their basic food needs. 

    Livestock markets: The closing of the country’s borders with Nigeria due to the security crisis created larger supplies of animals on local markets. This was followed by a decline in prices with livestock exports to Cameroon and Nigeria virtually precluded by security concerns engendered by the Boko Haram movement. For example, the price of an average sheep in October 2016 was under the five-year average by 23 percent in Ati, 34 percent in Mongo, 26 percent in Moussoro, and 20 percent in Moundou (Figure 3).

    The falling price of livestock has weakened the purchasing power of pastoral households. As a result, these households have poorer access to crops in spite of their good local availability on markets well-stocked with food crops.

    Nutritional situation: The median GAM rate calculated based on SMART survey data for post-harvest periods (of (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015) reflects a habitually serious nutritional situation, with high levels of global acute malnutrition above 10 percent, even in the post-harvest period. Likewise, SMART survey data collected at the height of the lean season (August – September 2016) puts the estimated nationwide GAM rate as measured by the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) at 11.9 percent [CI 11.3-12.5 percent] based on 2006 WHO standards. This rate is above the WHO’s warning threshold of 10 percent. It is statistically identical to the figure for last year (11.7 percent [CI 10.9 – 12.5 percent]) during the post-harvest period. The severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rate was estimated at 2.6 percent by the same 2016 survey, compared with 2.8 percent in 2015.

    The GAM rate is above the WHO emergency threshold of 15 percent in six regions, namely West Ennedi (at 23.3 percent), Borkou (at 19.3 percent), Ouaddaï (at 16.9 percent), Batha (at 16.6 percent), Barh El Ghazel (at 16.1 percent), and Salamat (at 15.6 percent). However, these rates are statistically identical to the median values for these regions calculated based on data collected by SMART surveys conducted during post-harvest periods (of 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015) in these areas. Thus, in spite of these high prevalence rates, the nutritional situation is stable compared with previous years.

    A break-down by age group shows children between six and 23 months of age with high rates of acute malnutrition compared with older children between 24 and 59 months of age. More specifically, the GAM rate for children between six and 23 months old is 15.8 percent, versus 9.8 percent for the age group from 24 to 59 months. This same trend is found in most areas. Gender-specific data shows more boys affected by GAM (13.6 percent) [CI 12.8 – 14.5 percent]) than girls (10.0 percent [CI 9.3 – 10.8 percent]).

    The 2016 SMART survey was conducted at the height of the lean season (August- September). By now (October), with the current good food availability, the relatively easy food access and better dietary diversity have most likely already improved conditions.

    Food security situation: With the expected better harvests, the good levels of household cereal stocks compared with the norm, and the normal livelihood conditions, most poor households are presently able to meet their food and nonfood needs (tuition/registration fees, drugs, etc.). There are normal sources of food and better sources of income in all pastoral areas with the income from farm labor (except in the Lake Chad area), the good physical condition of animals, and the income from dairy products. Accordingly, all parts of the country with the exception of the Lake Chad area are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. Households in the Lake Chad area are in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity since the analysis did not take into account ongoing food assistance programs due to a lack of sufficient data.


    The most likely food security scenario for October 2016 through May 2017 is based on the following assumptions with respect to nationwide conditions:

    • Agro-climatic conditions: There will be average levels of rainfall in the Sudanian zone for the rest of the rainy season. There will be a normal end-of-season in the Sudanian zone at the beginning of November.
    • Crop pests: There could be grain-eating birds in the Abtouyour and Bahr Signaka (Melfi) areas of the Guéra region through the end of the sorghum harvest (in December 2016) and the harvest of berbéré crops (late in March of 2017).
    • Harvest outlook: Based on the above-average levels of cumulative rainfall in all parts of the country and the late to normal end-of-season, there could be a crop production surplus, with exceptional harvests in certain areas such as the Sila and Salamat regions. Cropping rates for berbéré crops will be up from last year and above-average. There will be larger than average harvests of off-season crops with the excess rainfall in flood-recession farming (berbéré) areas of the Lake Chad region and rice-growing areas. There should be an extended market gardening season in all areas due to the good soil water levels and plentiful supply of water in seasonal lakes and ponds and bottomlands.
    • Institutional stocks and procurements: According to the National Food Security Agency (ONASA) and the Crop Production and Statistics Bureau (DPAS), there will be large carry-over trader inventories, reinforced with fresh crops from ongoing harvests. With cereal production levels generally expected to be above-average, there will be normal annual stock-building needs for the replenishment of national food security stocks. The volume of institutional procurements is projected at somewhere around 25,000 metric tons. These procurements could take place between December 2016 and mid-March of 2017.
    • Household food stocks: As of October, households will be able to replenish their food stocks with fresh cereal crops from harvests for the 2016/2017 agropastoral season, which will above the five-year average in most parts of the country. Households (for the most part) will continue to have cereals stocks at their disposal until the first harvests of green crops for the 2017/2018 season. In addition, according to the ONASA, the level of existing stocks will make for a shorter lean season.
    • Cereal availability: With the above-average levels of cereal stocks, there will be a larger than normal supply of cereals. As of October 2016, wholesale traders will have available stocks of fresh cereal crops from ongoing harvests through May 2017. There will be normal market supplies from farmers and wholesale traders at least through May 2017.
    • Cereal demand: Demand will slow with the October harvest and will be lower than usual through March 2017 with the good levels of household cereal stocks. By April 2017, household food stocks in areas with structural production deficits such as the BEG area, Kanem, Wadi-Fira, and most of the Sahelian belt will begin to be depleted in line with normal trends, with typical patterns of household food consumption through May 2017. As is normally the case, these households will be market-dependent through the end of May and beyond.
    • Income from farm labor: There will be above-normal levels of wage income with the large areas in need of harvesting in spite of the pressure on the supply of work from refugees from the Central African Republic and the Lake Chad area scattered throughout many areas of the country, except in the Lake Chad, Kanem, and BEG areas where the large concentrations of DPs will continue to create a labor surplus, which will sharply reduce incomes.
    • Price trends: As usual, prices will move downwards between October and December with the good harvest outlook, thereby reinforcing carry-over stocks currently at positive levels. Cereal prices will stabilize between January and February, followed by a brief downward trend in prices in March with the harvest of berbèré crops. The months of April and May will be marked by the usual depletion of carry-over stocks and household market dependence. This will drive up cereal prices through the end of the outlook period (May 2017), though prices will stay below the five-year average. Livestock prices will be below-average for the entire outlook period (October 2016 through May 2017) with the closing of the country’s borders with Nigeria, the main destination for livestock exports.
    • Pastoral conditions and herd movements: There could be sufficient grass cover to meet the food needs of livestock through April 2017 with the reported pasture surpluses in most pastoral and agropastoral areas. With the large availability of pasture, there will be less recourse to the use of animal feed, whose price could begin to fall sooner than usual to below-average levels, driven down by low demand. As usual, seasonal lakes and ponds will gradually run dry as of the month of March. Pastoral conditions will deteriorate between April and May with the normal shortage of pasture (during the lean season for pastoral populations). Herd movements will be delayed by the good availability of pastoral resources (pasture and water). Transhumant herds could remain in the Sahel for an extended period, concentrated in localized areas with good pasture availability such as the stretch from Massakory - Tourba to Karal, which could create an earlier than usual shortage of pasture for sedentary herds in these holding areas.
    • Income from animal products: The good physical condition of livestock with the larger than average pasture surpluses will drive the prices of animals up slightly, which could improve income from the sale of livestock and animal products in agropastoral and transhumant pastoral areas, though prices for livestock will remain below-average. There will be a better than usual availability of milk and butter, which is a source of food and household income, through the end of March.
    • Security situation created by Boko Haram: The instability in western Chad will continue to affect the food security of area residents suffering from disruptions to their livelihoods. The combination of this heightened insecurity and the large-scale military operations in the Lake Chad area could further delay the resumption of trade between Chad and Nigeria in the short term. In addition, the instability will trigger more population displacements and limit humanitarian operations, which could heighten the negative effects on the livelihoods of resident populations and the flow of exports, with an especially large impact on the Lake Chad, BEG, and Kanem areas.
    • Trade: The conflict in northern Nigeria will continue to disrupt domestic and cross-border trade with Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon through the end of the outlook period (May 2017). The persistent slowdown in livestock exports to Nigeria will continue to erode terms of trade for pastoralists or exporters of livestock. Trade with Libya will also remain slow due to the civil war in that country, which is a continuing source of concern.
    • Effects of the devaluation of the Nigerian naira: The value of the naira has fallen by more than 40 percent since the middle of 2016. This trend will continue with the June decision by Nigeria’s central bank to allow the currency to float at market rates after months of fixing the exchange rate. However, the closing of the country’s border with Nigeria will prevent its depreciation from having any major effect on Chadian markets between now and May 2017.
    • Economic crisis: Chad’s economic crisis will continue, negatively affecting income-generating activities and migrant remittances. Incomes in areas highly dependent on these sources such as the BEG, Kanem, Abtouyour (Gúera), and Kobé (Wadi Fira) areas will be sharply reduced and cereal demand will continue to slow. Food prices will move steadily downwards with the good harvest, facilitating food access for very poor and poor households. There could be cases of acute food insecurity associated with the effects of the economic crisis on incomes in certain urban areas and other especially hard hit areas between January and May 2017.
    • Sources of food and income: There will be normal trends in household sources of food and income between October and January. Between February and May, households in deficit areas of the Sudanian zone (Tandjilé and East Mayo Kebbi) will be slightly more dependent than usual on market purchases as a result of the dry spells towards the end of the season affecting rice production. Households in parts of the Sahelian zone (Kanem, Bahr El Gazel, and Wadi Fira) with structural production deficits more affected by shortfalls in their main sources of income will be moderately more market dependent than usual. The food security situation of poor households in Kobé (in the far northern reaches of the Wadi Fira region) and Abtouyour departments (in the Guera region) could deteriorate in the second half of the outlook period (beginning in April) due to the low levels of food stocks with the smaller than average volume of cereal production, the reduction in migrant remittances as a result of the economic crisis, and the low supply of pasture in Wadi Fira, which will affect the physical condition of livestock. Accordingly, food consumption by households counting on home-grown crops will be reduced in April and May 2017. 
    • Nivel of humanitarian assistance: There will be normal humanitarian assistance programs (cash transfer programs, distributions of food rations, treatment programs for malnutrition, subsidized cereal sales programs, etc.) through May 2017 in all parts of the country with the exception of the Lake Chad area, where deliveries of assistance will be scaled up as a result of the security problems affecting local livelihoods. However, the instability in this area will restrict the access of humanitarian agencies to certain populations such as those in remote settlements on islands in Lake Chad.
    • Trends in the nutritional situation: In spite of a median GAM rate based on SMART surveys conducted during post-harvest periods (of 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015) reflecting an habitually serious nutritional situation in most Sahelian areas, there will be a steady improvement in the state of nutrition between October 2016 and May 2017, driven by the good availability of food sources from the above-average ongoing harvests.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    There will be a visible improvement in the food security situation of poor households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) up until September 2016 with the consumption of fresh crops from the better than usual ongoing harvests, wild vegetables, other wild plant foods, and dairy products. They will also have better incomes with the employment opportunities for farm labor afforded by the main harvest season currently underway and their sales of straw, firewood, wild vegetables, and other wild plant products. The good household food stocks will meet the needs of most households in the Sudanian zone through May 2017 and until April for households in the Sahelian belt. Most poor households will have no food consumption problems through May 2017 and there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in most parts of the country. The severe disruptions to livelihoods in the Lake Chad area by the ongoing conflict will put it in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity between October 2016 and January 2017.

    Between February and May, the heavy pressure from DPs and refugees on the shared means of resident populations of the Lake Chad area and the continued disruptions of local livelihoods will propel this area into a state of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). As usual, household cereal stocks will begin to be depleted, first, in the Kanem and Bahr El Ghazal regions and then in Kobé and Abtouyour departments, which are crop-deficit areas, as of the month of March. By April, households will be market dependent and their food consumption will be adversely affected by the contraction in their main sources of income such as livestock sales with the suspension of exports to Nigeria and cash remittances from migrant workers. The country’s current economic crisis will unquestionably limit the cash transfers vital to most poor households. In addition, the wage incomes of households in the BEG and Kanem areas will be down sharply with the influx of labor from conflict areas around Lake Chad inundating the job market and driving down the daily wage rate by nearly 50 percent. Accordingly, households in both regions and departments will be in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity in April and May. 

    Figures Current food security outcomes for October 2016

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes for October 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1: Cumulative rainfall (RFE) anomalies for the period from April 1st through October 20th compared with the 2006-2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 1: Cumulative rainfall (RFE) anomalies for the period from April 1st through October 20th compared with the 2006-2015 average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2: Cumulative NDVI anomalies for the period from April 1st through October 20th compared with the 2006-2015 average

    Figure 4

    Figure 2: Cumulative NDVI anomalies for the period from April 1st through October 20th compared with the 2006-2015 average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3: September 2016 prices (in CFAF) for an average sheep compared with 2015 and the four-year average

    Figure 5

    Figure 3: September 2016 prices (in CFAF) for an average sheep compared with 2015 and the four-year average

    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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