Chad is a low-income food-deficit country, ranked 184 out of 187 countries on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. Chad has a population of 11.5 million, and 87 percent of the rural population lives below the poverty line.
Poverty in Chad has been aggravated by numerous conflicts during its 50 years of independence. Tensions between the country’s northern and southern ethnic groups have further contributed to political and economic instability, and Chad’s landlocked location and desert climate in the north inhibit economic development. The Sahelian zone (central and eastern Chad) is particularly affected by chronic food deficits. Moreover, Chad is subject to spill-over effects from crises in neighboring Sudan and the Central African Republic. It is estimated that there are 330,000 refugees in Chad, which puts additional pressure on the limited resources of the already highly vulnerable local population.
Chad relies heavily on external assistance for its food security, especially in the Sahelian zone. Cereal production is heavily affected by erratic rains, cyclical droughts, locust infestations and poor farming practices. The 2011 drought, which resulted in a 30 percent deficit in the population’s cereal needs, was then followed by a severe food and nutrition crisis in 2012.
Child malnutrition and recurrent epidemics are a major problem in the country. Nutritional surveys conducted in 2013 confirmed that acute malnutrition rates remain high in the Sahelian Belt, with five out of ten regions showing rates of global acute malnutrition near or above the 15 percent critical threshold set by the World Health Organization for emergency interventions. Historical data shows a cyclical trend with peaks in acute malnutrition well above the 15 percent critical threshold during the annual lean season, when household food stocks run low and vulnerable groups are most at risk of malnutrition. Chronic malnutrition rates are also high, exceeding the World Health Organization’s 30 percent threshold for critical chronic malnutrition in six Sahelian regions and four of the seven southern regions.
Access to basic education is limited due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and food insecurity. The net enrolment rate is 36.5 percent (with the lowest rates in the Sahelian belt) and adult literacy rates are 21 and 43 percent, for women and men respectively.