Chad Food Security Alert: December 16, 2009

Situation Report
Originally published
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Decrease in cereal production and poor pastoral conditions in Chad 2010

The initial findings of the joint FAO/CILSS/FEWS NET/WFP/Government preassessment of the 2009/10 agricultural season show a decline in gross production of grain by 34 percent compared to the five–year average and a net cereal deficit of 637,000 tons. The assessment methodology does not take into account the crops that have not matured following the early cessation of rains in September in the pastoral zone, north of the pastoral zone, and the rain–fed cereal zone (Figure 1). The production of tubers, pulses and oilseeds (864,117 tons projected) and the favorable exchange rate for imports from Nigeria will not compensate for food shortages in these areas. Poor households will rely on purchased foods earlier than usual, leading to an abnormal rise in cereal prices since March 2009. Despite the intensification of coping strategies, reduced job opportunities in March will limit access to food markets, causing food insecurity and lack of livelihoods support. In an area accustomed to high levels of malnutrition, typical coping strategies will be insufficient to meet food gaps, and nutritional and livelihoods assistance will be necessary until September 2010.

Figure 1. Map of Livelihood Zones in Chad

Source: FEWS NET Chad

Rainfall deficits and dry spells have resulted in reseeding, delayed crop development, and pest attacks across deficit areas. Furthermore, early cessation of rains in late sown areas has led to poor maturation of crops, particularly around Abeche, in the border areas and neighboring agro–pastoral and agricultural areas. Erratic rainfall has also reduced biomass and refilling of watering holes in winter grazing areas, especially in the northern Sahel, and reduced the flooding and receding area for out–of–season crops, notably in Salamat.

Cereal prices are currently higher than the five-year average, the highest in the region, and have increased sharply compared to the average from March/April. Prices of livestock are declining because exchange rates are unfavorable for traders from Nigeria, the number of cattle brought to market is higher than usual to reduce the impact of forage deficits, and the herd has not fully recovered as a result of the previous shortage. Overgrazing due to the concentrated number of livestock arriving early in the south in October instead of March, as in normal years, has reduced animals' weight as well as their reproductive capacity and milk, resulting in lower household income. Poor and middle households have intensified sales of small ruminants, driving down prices. Poor pastoralists receive less grain than usual as payment for their work, and the poor in agricultural and agro–pastoral areas will receive lower terms of trade than usual.

The traditional social safety net, usually activated in July, will not be sufficient to mitigate high food insecurity, which is likely to occur as early as April. The government and its partners have organized a mission targeting populations at risk of food insecurity in 2010. The results, expected in mid-December, will determine the urgency, nature, and importance of needs from April 2010. FEWS NET will continue to monitor the situation and needs to inform decision–making.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) issues alerts to prompt decision-maker action to prevent or mitigate potential or actual food insecurity. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.