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.