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Good harvests improve the food situation despite COVID-19 and floods

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • October 2020 - May 2021
Good harvests improve the food situation despite COVID-19 and floods

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Good rainfall recorded during the season, with surplus accumulations, promoted smooth progress for the 2020/2021 agropastoral season. Despite the succession of dry spells followed by flooding in certain areas, production is expected to be average to slightly above average. Households in most agricultural and agropastoral areas should not suffer food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) as a result of the good harvests underway.

    • In the Sahel, cereal markets continue to show higher prices than the five-year average due to severe flooding and high transportation costs associated with COVID-19 measures. Food access for poor households remains limited by the high price of millet compared to the average in Abéché (+15 percent), Biltine (+9 percent), and Moussoro (+14 percent).

    • COVID-19 response measures, including curfews and travel restrictions, continue to affect the country’s economic activity. This has had a significant impact on poor and very poor households, limiting their work opportunities. Poor households in Bahr-el-Gazal and Kanem can meet their consumption needs, as in a normal year, but cannot afford non-food expenses. They are Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • Displaced persons and host households in Lac continue to depend on assistance, rainfed harvests, and wild products. They can meet their consumption needs but could not afford essential non-food expenses. They will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) as a result of assistance. Households in Tibesti face deficits due to limited access to food as a result of COVID-19 causing price increases in the markets. They are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Current situation

    COVID-19 measures: Since the first case was reported on March 19, COVID-19 continues to affect the livelihoods of poor households in urban and rural areas. The epidemiological situation as of October 16 showed a cumulative total of 1,404 cases recorded in 17 of the country’s 23 administrative provinces, with 93 deaths and 87 patients in treatment. COVID-19 control measures, including border closures, restrictions on road traffic (limitation of the number of passengers and traffic schedules), continued curfew (from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.), and an extension of the health emergency until March 2021 have led to higher transportation costs and lower volumes of internal and cross-border flows, among other effects, causing decreased incomes for poor households. As an example, a livelihood-based analysis (Household Economy Approach) indicated a 34 percent drop in income in agropastoral areas and a 19 percent drop in agricultural areas, according to a recent Save the Children study published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on October 23, 2020. As a result, household food access remains limited due to low income levels and high prices in agropastoral deficit areas of the Sahel such as in Bahr-el-Gazal (BEG) and Kanem.

    Agroclimatology: The season’s surplus cumulative rainfall allowed good crop development despite the dry periods reported in some places. According to preliminary results from the Directorate of Statistics, cereal harvests vary from average to above average. These harvests support the food consumption of households that were facing difficulties due to depleted stocks and limited access to markets during the lean season.

    Cereal stocks: The good harvests underway allow household stock replenishment even in the deficit areas of BEG and Kanem, except southern BEG.

    Agricultural labor: In the Sudanian zone, an oversupply of labor is reported in the provinces of Mandoul and Moyen-Chari. In the rice-growing basin (Mayo Kebbi Est, Mayo Kebbi Ouest, and Tandjilé), there is an observed decline in labor supply due to increased harvesting work performed by all, including poor households. Daily costs vary from average to slightly higher, as in Sarh where the working day is paid at 500 XAF. In Bongor and Lai, the daily labor cost is 1,500 XAF, compared to 750 in a normal year, due to higher demand caused by increased harvesting work to compensate for crop losses due to rotting.

    Pastoral resources and livestock movements: Thanks to good cumulative rainfall, pastoral conditions are favorable, grass cover has been richly replenished, and the ponds are filled beyond their seasonal level. This contributes to physically healthy animals, and therefore good milk availability. Herd migration to areas in the Sudanian zone has been delayed due to the wide availability of pastoral resources in the migratory area and the presence of floodwaters in the receiving areas of the southern provinces.

    Food markets: Despite good harvests, which should help supply markets in most parts of the country, observed volumes are slightly below levels of a normal year due to high transportation costs resulting from COVID-19. Furthermore, the internal supply of the Lac markets is affected by the security emergency, while the internal supply of the Tibesti markets is affected by the limitation of cross-border flows of food products imported from Libya. In Lac, the food supply is gradually increasing with the ongoing rainfed maize harvests. In the Sudanian zone, millet prices have begun to fall due to stock replenishment during this harvest period. As an example, millet prices are stable compared to the average in Moundou (-4 percent) and Moissala (+4 percent) or slightly higher as in Sarh (8 percent). On the other hand, cereal markets in the Sahel region continue to show increases due to the slowdown in flows and high transportation costs caused by the ongoing health emergency. In addition, the prolonged presence of migratory herds in their Sahel-area homelands supports this upward trend in demand. As a result, millet prices are above the five-year average, as in Abéché (15 percent), Biltine (9 percent), Mao (9 percent), Moussoro (14 percent), and Goz Beida (22 percent).

    Livestock markets: There is an observed oversupply on livestock markets in migratory and agropastoral areas due to the continued presence of migratory herds in their home areas, coupled with the cessation of exports and low domestic demand from households. The availability of pastoral resources promotes strong milk production, resulting in low prices for dairy products in most locations in agropastoral and migratory areas.

    Flooding and impacts on food security: In Mayo Kebbi Est, the destruction of the Bongor-Katoa flood dyke impacted 34,062 victims, with nearly17,000 hectares of crops destroyed and 8,379 head of cattle lost in the floods (source: Flood Situation Report, Chad Food Security Cluster, October 2020). In the Lac province, more than 33,000 people were displaced by floods that destroyed 14,000 hectares of crops belonging to more than 55,000 farmers. In N’Djaména, more than 32,000 disaster victims were identified in the various districts of the capital, according to the latest official figures available in September. These households lost most of their livelihoods. A joint assessment by humanitarian actors and government structures identified humanitarian needs, particularly in food and non-food items, for the flood victims. The recorded crop losses, coupled with the low income levels of the affected households, limit their access to food.

    Conflicts and population movements: Chad hosts 883,583 displaced persons, including 482,691 refugees (Sudanese refugees in the east and Central African refugees in the south), 3,901 asylum-seekers, 297,187 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and 30,461 returnees to Lac, as well as 69,343 Chadian returnees from the Central African Republic. In August 2020, more than 2,500 new Sudanese refugees found refuge in locations in eastern Chad, following inter-community conflict in West Darfur. According to OCHA, by the end of August 2020 363,807 people had been displaced to Lac since the start of the security crisis. This number represents more than half of the province’s population and is attributable to the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks, including the abductions of individuals, in addition to floods.

    Sources of income for poor households: Given COVID-19 restrictions and their impact on employment opportunities (agricultural and non-agricultural labor) and remittances (border closures, reduced economic opportunities in destination areas or countries), household income levels have dropped significantly. In response, small-scale trade and increased sale of crops and small ruminants is seen as an alternative strategy across the country.

    Sources of food for the poorest people: During this harvest period, the current harvest is the main source of food for very poor and poor households in most areas of the country. In the Sudanian zone, the availability of winter vegetables helps improve household consumption. The wide availability of dairy products (such as butter and milk) provided by favorable pastoral conditions complements food consumption in the Sahel region.

    Nutritional situation: The Directorate of Nutrition and Food Technology has reported a decline in the nutritional situation in 18 of the country’s 23 provinces, noting a 38 percent increase in admissions to nutritional units in August 2020 compared to the average of the last five years. This trend is caused by food access challenges coupled with poor hygiene conditions and disruptions in the supply of inputs to some malnutrition treatment units. In Lac, increased admissions are a result of the combined effects of conflicts (population movements) accentuating food insecurity and the impacts of COVID-19 on poor host households as well as displaced persons.

    Humanitarian assistance: Nearly 214,608 IDPs from Lac, or 72 percent of IDPs, receive food assistance from the WFP and its partners. In response to COVID-19, the WFP assisted 1,694 households, or 10,164 people, in N’Djaména and provided logistical support to the National Food Security Office (ONASA) for distribution in N’Djaména. A few isolated ONASA interventions benefited more than 700 affected households in N’Djaména in a few receiving sites (including Walia High School and Adda1). Each household receives a food kit consisting of a 50 kg bag of rice, a 25 kg bag of beans, a 10 kg bag of sugar, and a 10 L can of oil. This indicates a fairly large number of people in need of food assistance and support to rebuild their livelihoods, which were lost during the season.

    Current food security situation: Considering the positive results of the season and the good pastoral conditions (pastures and water) promoting milk availability, households in most agricultural and agropastoral areas are able to meet most of their consumption needs despite low income levels. Their food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Displaced persons in Lac living with host households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) as a result of humanitarian assistance. Households in Tibesti, affected by the closure of the Libyan borders, face consumption deficits due to low income levels limiting their access to the markets on which they depend, where food prices are significantly higher than average. In the rest of the country, some of the very poor households in Kanem, BEG, Tibesti, and in some urban areas that have faced income losses are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    The most likely scenario from October 2020 to May 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Impacts of COVID-19 measures: The pandemic’s persistence would lead to the continuation of measures based on its prevalence. This would sustain the slowdown in national economic life. Continued curfew and movement restrictions and the extension of the state of emergency until March 2021 would continue to limit the functioning of economic activities, with an impact on the income level of the poor and very poor. Continued transportation restrictions would keep transportation costs high, limiting the volumes of domestic cereal flows as well as imported manufactured goods, which would be further affected by border closures.

    Agroclimatology: Late or average end-of-season dates are projected for the southern region. During this period, long or medium dry periods would be observed.

    Rainfed harvest projections and off-season harvest (bérbéré) outlook for 2020/2021: Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (slight decrease in sowing, reduced labor supply), dry spells, floods, and other factors, the rainy season harvests are projected to vary from average to slightly above average overall. Surplus cumulative rainfall recorded in mid-September would promote a smooth off-season. Bérbéré, currently being transplanted in locations including the central-eastern Sahel region, the plains of Mount Illi, Mayo Dallah, and Mayo Boneye, could reach average to slightly above-average production in February. This production outlook will be determined by a normal withdrawal of the floodwaters in the plots and a normal level of residual moisture. The off-season sowing of rice and maize would take place between November and January; the expected production would be around average. In BEG and Kanem, harvests are projected to be equivalent to the average and would cover consumption needs until February 2021. Households would then depend on the markets.

    Market availability and supply: Considering the good overall levels of rainfed production, the market supply should be supported by new harvests from October and off-season crops (maize and bérbéré) through February. This should increase the level of supply in the markets. Market supply in insecure areas (Tibesti and Lac) is likely to proceed slowly due to security factors (state of emergency) and COVID-19 measures (border closures).

    Demand for food and livestock: Most food markets, except those in BEG, should show a decline in demand for cereals as a result of high production levels. Institutional demand (ONASA) could be lower than average due to the budgetary challenges faced by the country in recent years following the economic crisis. However, humanitarian purchases for assistance are expected to remain close to normal due to the level of stocks replenished from the good rainy season harvests.

    Livestock supply: Limitations on exports should continue to cause weak domestic demand, and the good pastoral conditions — as well as adequate physical conditions, promoting an increase in calving — should contribute to an oversupply in the livestock markets.

    Pastoral resources, migratory herding, and livestock physical conditions: The pastoral conditions should continue to improve until the end of January 2021, ensuring the continuation of satisfactory physical conditions. However, due to poor rainfall distribution reported in southern BEG, pastoral difficulties resulting in a slight deterioration of resources compared to other areas in the western Sahel region should be observed.

    Migration should begin as in a normal year due to the wide availability of pastoral resources (water and pastures) in home areas and the floodwaters in the receiving areas of the southern provinces. However, an anticipated trend in pasture degradation and water scarcity could cause some herders to migrate as early as October.

    Sources of income for poor and very poor households: Considering the slowdown in economic activity resulting from COVID-19 and exacerbated by the flooding during the lean season, household sources of income will likely decline throughout the analysis period. The halt in livestock exports coupled with weak domestic demand should continue to cause a decline in income from the sale of small ruminants. Due to the scarcity of employment opportunities in urban areas (including domestic employment, migration, and street vending), incomes should be below normal. Similarly, remittance volumes are expected to remain low due to the economic difficulties in the areas where moving populations settle or are received.

    Conflicts and population movements: Considering the security context characterized by isolated incursions by armed Boko Haram members in the province of Lac, new population movements could be observed with the retreat of the floodwaters between February and April. This could disrupt the livelihoods of host and displaced households due to the added pressure on resources.

    Global acute malnutrition (GAM) changes: Strong rainfed production coupled with the availability of milk and market garden products should contribute to an improvement in the nutritional situation between October 2020 and January 2021. Beginning in February 2021, the declining stock levels in structurally deficient areas (BEG and Kanem) and the disruption of household livelihoods in insecure areas (Tibesti and Lac), coupled with respiratory infections, should cause an increase in admissions to nutritional units.

    Sources of food for poor households: The new harvests should support food consumption for poor and very poor households in most of the country’s provinces between October 2020 and January 2021, as in a normal year. The depletion of household stocks in the western Sahel area (BEG and Kanem) from March 2021 should lead households to depend on markets for their consumption throughout the rest of the scenario period, as in a normal year.

    Price trends: Despite the current harvests, most Sahelian cereal markets in particular are showing an upward trend in prices. In N’Djaména, cereal prices have fallen slightly but generally remain above average, thanks to supplies from agricultural and agropastoral areas following the current season’s harvests and the wide availability of substitute products. This price trend should continue until the end of 2020 before starting to rise, which would continue until the end of May 2021 due to the slowdown in flows and high transportation costs caused by COVID-19. Sheep prices in N’Djaména, which are currently below average, should remain at this level with a one-time relative increase, which would remain below the five-year average, in December 2020 due to the holiday season. This downward trend would be more pronounced from March due to the decline in the physical condition of livestock following the pastoral lean season and weak domestic demand coupled with export restrictions.

    Food assistance: Humanitarian assistance for displaced and host households in the province of Lac will continue until the end of 2020. However, households affected by the floods are receiving ongoing food distributions to help their recovery.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Between October and January: Food availability should be ensured by the strong rainfed harvests in progress (average to slightly above average), supplemented by dairy and market garden products. Households in agricultural and agropastoral areas should therefore be able to meet their consumption needs for five to eight months, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    Despite low income levels caused by the dual health and economy crises, access to cereal markets in low production areas (BEG and Kanem) should be promoted between October and November 2020 by stable or even lower-than-average prices due to supplies from high production areas. These households have minimally-adequate reduced consumption, but are unable to afford essential non-food expenditures; they are considered Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The Lac area displaced persons and host households will continue to depend on assistance, supplemented by marginal quantities of crops from generally reduced areas. They will have minimally-adequate reduced food consumption and will be unable to afford essential non-food expenditures. They will be considered Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).

    In Tibesti, market access will likely be limited by the low volumes of flow, causing relatively high prices in the face of declining income levels compared to a normal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and insecurity leading to border closures. Households could face consumption deficits and would remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Between February and May, a normal depletion of stocks would be observed from the end of February, causing most poor and very poor households in BEG and Kanem to depend on the markets. However, their access to the markets could be limited by low income levels from the sale of firewood, small ruminants, and remittances. These households would be considered Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Food consumption of Lac-area displaced persons and the households sheltering them will largely depend on assistance. They will not be able to afford other essential non-food expenditures. Despite income from artisanal gold panning and marginal remittances, households in Tibesti would not be able to access markets to meet their food consumption needs. They will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenarios.



    Impact on food security conditions


    • Lifting of pandemic restrictions.
    • Decline of the security situation in Libya.


    • Regular resumption of socio-economic activities (commerce and other productive activities including non-agricultural labor).
    • Normalization of cross-border flows, resulting in increased supply in the deficit areas of BEG and Kanem as well as Tibesti. This would facilitate food access for poor households. Their food consumption would be improved, and a larger portion of households in these areas would be at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.


    • Decline of the security situation in Libya.
    • This would continue to affect households in Tibesti, more of which would find themselves in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    Figures Le prix du mil à N'Djamena reste autour de la moyenne jusqu'en décembre puis augmente nettement au-dessus de la moyenne dans

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Le prix du mouton demeure en-dessous de la moyenne pendant la période ed projection

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    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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