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CHAD: 'Emergency' food insecurity despite bumper crops

DAKAR, 10 October 2007 (IRIN) - With an upsurge in interethnic violence in eastern Chad, record numbers of people may soon be unable to find food for themselves, food aid analysts warn.

“Crops have been growing exceptionally well this season but if farmers end up fleeing before they are able to harvest there will still be a big food crisis,” said Salif Sow, West African Representative of the network of organisations providing food security analysis, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

On 5 October FEWS NET issued an alert that raised Chad to “emergency status”.

The alert predicted that people in many areas in eastern as well as southern Chad would need massive amounts of international food aid for a year or more. “Populations' dependency on humanitarian food assistance [is likely to increase] until they are next able to harvest.”

FEWS NET said that interethnic conflict is on the rise in the Dar Tama department of Guereda zone to the northeast of the aid hub Abeché, over 1,000 km east of the capital N’djamena, and that the number of displaced people there is growing. “This swell in numbers [of displaced] is particularly concerning given that populations in this area are in the middle of the production season,” the alert said.

“Abandonment of fields at this point will likely further these populations' dependency on humanitarian food assistance.”

The irony, said Sow, is that Chadians could go hungry despite bumper crops. “Not only are crops likely to produce high yields in November but the upside of recent flooding is likely be an increase production of sorghum, the off-season crop, [which is planted following the rainy season].”

“Last year Chad produced some 4,000 metric tons of sorghum and this year [with water still lying on the ground] production could be much higher,” he said. “But of course it will go to waste if people have to flee their farms because of insecurity.”

The alert also said that localised flooding in portions of southern and eastern Chad over the past month will have an adverse affect on displaced people and refugees in Koukou zone, as well as populations in Mandoul, Mayo Kebbi and Moyen Chari.

The floods damaged or destroyed crops, food stores and shelters, while damage to roads has limited humanitarian access.




Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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