from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 25 May 2010
(Ndjamena/New York, 25 May 2010): On the third day of his visit to Chad, John Holmes, United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, visited western Chad, which has been hit by a severe food and nutrition crisis. About 1.4 million people are affected in the western Sahelian region alone according to the latest emergency food security assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) while in November 2009, an assessment revealed that about 2 million people were food insecure in the country as a whole.

Mr. Holmes met the Governor and the Sultan of the administrative region of Kanem. Both of them expressed the need for urgent support from the international community to assist people facing hunger in the region, which is home to 354,000 people.

In Mao, the largest town in Kanem, he visited three nutritional centers where he saw children suffering from malnutrition and talked to mothers. "I am encouraged that nutrition centers are functioning and will be extended to children in other affected areas. However it is worrying to see so many these children suffering from malnutrition and this may only be the tip of the iceberg," said Mr. Holmes.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Chad, 102,000 severely malnourished children will need life-saving treatment in 2010, 50,000 of them in the Sahelian belt. However, more funding and more organisations in the field are needed urgently. The rate of acute malnutrition has been above acceptable thresholds for years, but has worsened this year due to last year's drought and crop failure. In 2009, the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) conducted by the Government of Chad, WFP, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported rates of global acute malnutrition in the Sahelian regions ranging from 25.3 per cent in the Batha region to 19.9 per cent in the Lac region, well above the emergency threshold of 15 per cent. Humanitarian actors and the Ministry of Health are providing care to affected children and working to prevent further cases in their efforts to reduce child mortality among children under five.

WFP will start general free food distributions to some 450,000 vulnerable people on Thursday 27 May in the three most affected provinces of Kanem, Batha and Guera. Serious food shortages have already forced many men to leave their villages in search of work elsewhere.

"The situation is alarming, particularly given that the lean season has only just started. We need to act now to ensure assistance reaches everyone in need," said Mr. Holmes. "Funds have to be secured immediately to get supplies in the country as quickly as possible. We do need more organizations particularly non-governmental organizations (NGOs), on the ground in the West" he added.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), support to agriculture and livestock activities is still necessary for 200,000 farm households and 300,000 herder/agro pastoral households. Livelihoods are being severely weakened by the drought, with farmers indebting themselves more and more and the health of the herds deteriorating fast.

In January 2010, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated US$3.8 to the response to the food and nutrition crisis. The humanitarian appeal for Chad as a whole will be revised in June and will indicate the overall requirement for the response to all emergencies, including this food insecurity and malnutrition crisis.

For further information, please call: OCHA-Chad: Katy Thiam, +235 620 15 42,; OCHA-New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 347 244 2106,; Nicholas Reader, +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117,, OCHA-Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570, OCHA press releases are available at or For more information about CERF, please see

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