Food security and nutrition crisis, appeal for a response at scale in Chad
On 25 Jan 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) presented the report “Chad: food security and nutrition crisis. Appeal for a response at scale“. In Chad, over four million people are affected by food insecurity and malnutrition each year. Unable to meet their food needs, in a context where access to basic social services is extremely limited, their health and in particular their nutritional status can deteriorate rapidly. The agricultural lean season, from May to September, during which new agricultural products are not yet available on the markets while food stocks from the previous crop year are exhausted, and the rainy season that destroys many crops from July to October are both critical times for the most vulnerable Chadian populations. During and after these periods, many vulnerable households are no longer able to eat sufficiently and can adopt survival strategies that are harmful to their health and nutritional status.
The majority of these people live in the Sahel belt. In addition, the food situation of 2.6 million people will remain precarious. Under pressure, these families can fall into food insecurity at any time. In addition to these affected Chadian populations, more than 410,000 refugees and more than 66,000 Chadian returnees do not have access to sufficient livelihoods to cover their food and nutritional needs.
The food situation is alarming: Chad ranks second in the 2017 Global Hunger Index, highlighting the extreme vulnerability of its population in the face of the food crisis. This chronic crisis is accentuated by a deep economic and social crisis and intensifying agro-climatic hazards due to climate change, which affect the most vulnerable populations in the Sahel belt but also in new areas previously spared like Tandjilé.
The situation of pastoralists is particularly precarious in part of the Sahel. Faced with a shortage of pastureland and water points and the closure of the border with Nigeria, preventing the export of livestock, their incomes have dramatically dropped, threatening their livelihoods.
#Tchad : Crise alimentaire & nutritionnelle | La communauté humanitaire appelle à une réponse à l’échelle des besoins. https://t.co/0Kend4P5oy@UNICEFChad @WFP_Chad @OCHAROWCA @eu_echo @DFID_UK @GermanyDiplo @SwedeninUG @USAID @Japanfoundation @CanadaFP pic.twitter.com/RYuXXvRCSM
— OCHA Chad (@OCHAChad) January 25, 2018
The situation of displaced and host populations in the Lac region is worrying. Following population movements caused by the crisis in Nigeria and due to climate change directly affecting the Lake Chad area, nearly 172,000 people will be “under pressure” during the 2018 lean season, which means that they can fall into severe food insecurity at any time. More than 187,000 people will need emergency assistance.
Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of child mortality, with Chad having the sixth highest child mortality rate in the world. One in seven children die before their fifth birthday. In addition, malnutrition has irreversible consequences on the child’s cognitive and intellectual development as well as on the one of future generations through intergenerational genetic transmission.
In 2017, the nutritional situation has significantly deteriorated: the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) at national level is estimated at 13.9 per cent, against 11.9 per cent in 2016. Twelve out of 23 regions in the country have been declared in a nutritional emergency. As for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), the prevalence exceeds the 2 per cent emergency threshold in 15 regions. Nearly 200,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Chronic malnutrition has also increased, from 26 per cent in 2016 to 32.4 per cent in 2017, exceeding the critical threshold of 40 per cent in five regions.