These past few months have been distinguished by the revolutionary spirit demonstrated across the Middle East and North Africa. In the context of Libya, the implications of its internal conflict have reached all corners of the world. For Chad, the influx of returnees and refugees has imposed a migrant crisis where ever growing needs must be met.
As of the 1st of April 2011, a total of 410,000 people have fled the violence in Libya (International Organization for Migration). In Chad, particularly in the north, 2,200 refugees and returnees have been recorded to date by UNHCR. A further 200,000 to 300,000 Chadian migrants are expected to return home by the World Food Programme (WFP).
Many Chadian migrant workers come from extremely poor and rural areas. For their families, many are wholly dependent on the remittances sent home. However with the return of the migrant workers, remittances are neither being made nor being sent home. Already suffering from chronic household insecurity, these households have become suddenly and exceedingly vulnerable.
To add, Chad is a land-locked country with 2 million of its population dependent on food provisions by the WFP. Mainly supplied to Central and Western Chad, WFP food aid are delivered on trucks, with 60% passing the Cameroon Port and 40% sourcing from Benghazi. Upon the disruption of the Libyan corridor, 40% of food aid supplied by the WFP have been delayed and diverted to Port Sudan.
Current Challenges to Our Project
The beginning of 2011 has seen humanitarian needs to be characterized not by poor rainfall patterns such as in 2010, but instead by impeding market conditions.
As forecasted, the Bahr el Gazel region has experienced exceptionally good pastoral and harvest conditions. This is owed to high-intensity rainfall patterns in 2010 as well as the delay in the drying-up of seasonal lakes and herd movements. In spite of this, since the ban on livestock export and establishment of price ceilings by the government, this has had an inert effect on the livestock market and household income. These market disruptions are likely to run until the elections in April.
Where livestock rearing generates 80% of the income in the Bahr el Gazel region, the ban on livestock export continues to make improvements to livestock income impossible. Following this, a sharp rise in grain price for April to June during the height of the lean season (period between harvests) has been forecasted by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET). ACF are extremely concerned with these changing market conditions as with little purchasing power, household coping strategies are likely to cut food intake and worsen the existing high rates of under nutrition. ACF also raises concern over overgrazing.
As mentioned in the January update, ACF remains concerned with the epidemic crises. In 28 of the 61 districts in Chad, 2236 cases and 131 deaths of measles, meningitis and cholera have been recorded and registered by the Red Cross to date. Having intensified to alarming levels, and since the epidemic is likely to worsen in April with the oncoming warmer months, ACF will continue to monitor the situation and support our local partners and other humanitarian actors. With regards to cholera in particular, ACF highly stresses for its eradication prior to the rainy season to prevent further spread.
Child-by-child, you have brought positive change to the food and nutrition crisis affecting 1000’s of children under-five in the Bahr el Gazel region. According to the WHO, the fatality rate for children under-five suffering from severe acute malnutrition typically ranges from 30% to 50%. With your donations, no matter how small or large, many of Chad’s children are now able to overcome these statistics and take their first steps to a positive childhood - a truly inspiring moment.
Needless to say, regardless of 2011’s exceptionally good agricultural conditions, the recent political interferences, migrant crisis and alarming levels of epidemics are far from optimum and the nutritional needs in the Bahr el Gazel region remain to be addressed. To add, Chadians are still recovering from the drought in 2010. It is therefore critical for ACF to continue to identify and treat undernourished children without delay, as well as train local partners and staff towards establishing a sustainable national health system.
We hope you will be able to help us multiply our work to end child hunger in the Barh el Gazel region, Chad.
Chad Project Update - January 2011
For Chad, 2010 was characterized by a dramatic rise in humanitarian needs, primarily nutritional, and more recently exacerbated by the spread of water-borne diseases.
Unpredictable heavy rainfall and flooding during the summer of 2010, combined with extremely low availability of safe water (for example there is only 44.7% coverage across the country, and 12% of hygienic sanitation facilities according to UNICEF) has made cholera an inevitable epidemic in Chad.
Within a month of the mid-August floods 735 cholera cases including 46 deaths were reported by the Government of Chad. By December 6,369 cases of cholera and 180 related deaths have been documented according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
At the end of 2010 over 2.5 million people were deemed ‘vulnerable’, a dramatic increase from 500,000 in 2009. Inclusive in this figure are 500,000 refugees still dependent on humanitarian assistance. It is estimated that approximately 43,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned home with a further 30,000 ready to return in 2011. However, this remains uncertain as lack of security, basic needs and access to services, limit the voluntary return of refugees.
For 2011, ensuring long-term solutions to enable the return of refugees and minimize dependency on aid will be the main challenge for humanitarian agencies.
Current Challenges to our Project
In terms of the IDPs and refugee situation, Action Against Hunger remains concerned regarding the Health and Nutritional status of our target communities, and are continually monitoring the situation.
ACF are also concerned that the withdrawal of the United Nations peace keeping forces on the 31st December 2010 may create challenges in securing a stable and conducive humanitarian space and that full access to our beneficiaries may become increasingly difficult. This also is being monitored.
Another issue identified is the lack and deterioration of health centres, for example, Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF-France) have ended their support in the region. With limited drugs sent out in the recent months, there is a possibility of reduced or no support being available by early 2011. This situation is also being monitored very closely.
Despite the focus on the spread of water-borne diseases in this update, our needs assessment identifies that 35% of under-five’s continue to suffer from acute malnutrition. This figure persists to exceed the 15% emergency threshold for acute malnutrition stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
However, thanks to your kind donations, Action Against Hunger continues to make critical and positive changes despite these challenges, and deliver life saving treatment for those 1000’s affected by acute malnutrition in the project area of western Chad.
Thankfully, forecasted cereal production and pastoral conditions are extremely encouraging for 2011. Nevertheless, Chad has yet to fully recover from its humanitarian crises of 2010, and the needs remain vast. It is therefore critical to address both immediate and long-term needs for malnourished children and their families, and every donation we receive, no matter how small, is essentially life-saving. We hope you will continue to help us.
For this, we need your care, your compassion and your continued support.
Nicole Ng – Operations & Programme Funding Administrator – January 2011
Action Against Hunger remains concerned at the alarming rates of acute malnutrition being observed in the region. Surveys, funded by DFID UK, were conducted in July and August by Action Against Hunger, in collaboration with the Chad Government, UNICEF, and World Food Programme (WFP) in the regions of Mao, Nokou, and Bahr El Ghazel, and these reveal that the rates of child malnutrition remain between 21-28%.
These rates continue to remain well in excess of the emergency threshold of 15% as indicated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WFP also reports that since May 2010, the levels of food insecurity have again increased in the Bahr El Ghazel region. In essence, 1 in every 4 children under the age of 5 are suffering from life threatening acute malnutrition, and 64% of households have critically insufficient food to feed their families.
What We are Doing
Action Against Hunger has scaled up its programmes to treat thousands of undernourished children by supporting 33 nutrition centres in Kanem and Bahr El Ghazel. It is also working with the Chad Ministry of Health to extend its treatment programmes in 10 additional health centres with the highest rates of acute malnutrition. This takes the number of supported health centres to 43, and will allow a significant increase in the access of quality care available. Support to the Chad Ministry of Health has allowed Action Against Hunger to define new protocols for treating malnutrition and these should allow a greater inclusion of children in nutrition programmes in the future, and thus help in significantly reducing infant mortality rates.
However, the needs are enormous and vastly outstrip the resources available to diagnose and treat all affected children. The current crisis is beyond all emergency norms and scales, and with malnutrition rates higher than that of Niger currently, it desperately needs not only immediate attention, but also a longer-term sustained approach to avoid future catastrophes.
In addition, Action Against Hunger is calling on the international community to support and invest in Chad’s health care system, which cannot cope currently as it has been crippled due to a shortage of funding, lack of medicines and few trained medical staff.
What Your Support Means.
Action Against Hunger would again like to say thank you to everyone who has generously donated thus far. Your ongoing support remains critical however.
Sadly, the emergency in Chad remains a ‘forgotten and hidden crisis’ in the world’s media, who have focused on more dramatic-image related natural disasters. Yet, this slow moving disaster has affected millions, and their suffering is also immense, despite the lack of media exposure. In addition, treatment for acute malnutrition is not only possible, but works effectively well. As such we ask for your continued support, and to kindly raise awareness amongst family and friends to contribute towards achieving the full funding required for this key project.
As such, at the end of September 2010, we still require much needed support to reach our initial target of £34,790 for this component of our project. A simple donation of £6 provides life saving treatment for one child for a week, and is a small price to make a priceless difference in the lives of malnourished children and their families in Chad.
We hope you will be able to help further.
Hitendra Solanki – Programme Funding Manager - Action Against Hunger - October 2010
Since the Chad emergency programme began in February, the availability of food in the region has decreased even further, and the situation looks like it will become worse in the coming months. This is due to the combination of poor harvests, and lack of pastures for animals to feed on. Low availability of produce is thus increasing food prices in the markets, and as livestock become ill due to lack of food, the price of these animals is decreasing also, leaving many families unable to sell or buy enough food to feed themselves.
In June 2010, the results of an assessment of the situation in Chad, which involved the participation of more than 4,000 households in 212 villages, was released by the United Nations (UNHCR). This provides a snapshot of the situation facing vulnerable households across the country. It shows that 1.6 million people are facing many physical and financial barriers in getting food to eat. Even normally self-sufficient families are desperate, with 78% of families now buying their food at the market, even though almost 84% normally grow their own food, and 46% raise animals. In particular, nearly 17% of children under 5 are suffering from Acute Malnutrition, with 4.4% severely malnourished. This is significantly higher than the 15 percent level classified as a ‘critical’ emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the underlying, or chronic, levels of malnutrition affecting children are equally shocking, at over 39%. The figures for this survey were collected in the summer of 2009, so they are very likely to be even worse now in 2010. The situation remains desperate and unlikely to improve until after the rainy season in September when pastures re-grow, and crops are harvested.
What We are Doing
In response, ACF have now established their operations team in the region, with nutrition and care practices teams recruited and trained, emergency stocks of ‘Plumpy Nut’, other therapeutic foods, as well as essential medicines, all ready and in place. Malnutrition prevention activities are also in place, with community drama groups holding street theatre events to educate and inform local communities on a variety of topics, such as breastfeeding, using water safely for sanitation and hygiene, washing hands to reduce diseases, and on basic nutrition for health. ACF are also working closely with the Ministry of Public Health in Chad, to ensure that all emergency activities are coordinated efficiently. Since March, we began treating children with Acute Malnutrition from the ACF field office in Moussoro, as well as the local hospital there. There are also another 15 Outpatient Treatment Programmes (OTPs) being supported at local government health centres, where ‘Plumpy Nut’ is also being distributed. Additionally, emergency supplies of this life-saving ‘ready to use therapeutic food’ or 'RUTF' are also on standby in N’Djamena, ensuring that the increasing numbers of children suffering from Acute Malnutrition will be provided treatment without interruption as the situation continues to deteriorate further in the region.
The photographs accompanying this report were taken during a field visit in May 2010, and shows mothers, and care-givers, with their children receiving care and treatment at the Outpatient Treatment Programme (OTP) centre in Toula, in western Chad.
Action Against Hunger would like to thank everyone who has donated so far. Your support has been critical. However, we still need your help to reach our target of £34,790. If you can, we kindly ask that you please forward this project link to all your families and friends for their support also, as every single donation made for this project will help towards saving the lives of children suffering from malnutrition in Chad.
Action Against Hunger - July 2010
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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