Food Insecurity rising in Chad

03/07/2012 - A lack of rain, drought, and poor harvests as well as rising food prices are some of the factors leading to increasing food insecurity in Chad, which is leading to an increase in malnutrition, especially in children.

A mix of drought, poor rains and harvests as well as rising food prices have resulted in food insecurity and malnutrition in the Sahel region, including Chad. Severely malnourished children are suffering from complications such as infections, diarrhoea and malaria on a massive scale.

USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) claims that Chad's underdeveloped economy is among factors limiting the local diversity of food sources and income, but that sociocultural care practices and poor health systems are also to blame.

Regarding health systems, some of the hospitals in the hardest hit areas are severely understaffed, with some even lacking a full time doctor.

Many of the high-risk children live in rural areas without access to medical care. Even the children who are helped in a therapeutic program, in the absence of adequate nutrition in the home and an improved food security situation in the community, they will remain at risk of suffering from malnourishment again.

In May, at least 2.4 million people in Chad were classified as being in the "stressed" food insecurity phase.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) aims to assist at least 1.5 million people in Chad, among them children younger than two years and their mothers.

UNICEF estimates that at least 127,000 children will be at risk of severe acute malnutrition in Chad in 2012. In Chad, between January and April the number of food insecure people shot up by 125 percent to reach 3.6 million.

Chad had estimated that 1.6 million people there would be food insecure due to below average 2011 harvests and erratic rains. Land-locked Chad faces logistical challenges when it comes to moving food aid, notes WFP.

The crisis in Libya has also affected local trade with northern Chad, while radical Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram activity in northern Nigeria has also slowed down trade in neighbouring western Chad and Niger.

The Chadian government has announced the subsidized sale of cereals but aid officials say more needs to be done.