Chad is a low-income food-deficit country, ranked 183 out of 187 countries on the 2011 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 various conflicts during its 50 years of independence. Tensions between ethnic groups in the north and in the south of the country have further contributed to political and economic instability. Economic development in Chad is inhibited by its landlocked location and the desert climate in the north. 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. Further to the 2011 drought, resulting in a 30 percent deficit in the population’s cereal needs, a severe food and nutrition crisis affected Chad in 2012. Then, flooding caused by heavy rains occurred in the main agricultural regions, although national production levels for 2012/2013 will not be greatly impacted.
Child malnutrition and recurrent epidemics are a major problem in the country. The SMART nutrition survey, carried out in September 2011 by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WFP reported in all 11 regions of the Sahelian belt a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate above the 15 percent “critical” threshold established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Access to basic education is limited due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and food insecurity. These limitations resulted in a net enrolment rate of 36.5 percent (with the lowest rates in the Sahelian belt) and adult literacy rates of 21 and 43 percent, for women and men respectively.