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Chad - Climate

Chad is a landlocked country (area: 1,284,000 km2) with a population estimated at 10.8 million people; it has an annual growth rate of 2.0 percent. The agriculture sector engages more than 70 percent of the active population. The main crops are millet and sorghum in the northern part of the agricultural zone, with increased crop diversification around Lake Chad and areas further south. Annual rainfall totals vary from 1,000 millimeters (mm) in the south to 300 mm at the northern limit of the agricultural zone. Variability increases with latitude, resulting in a higher risk of production shortfalls in the northern part of the agricultural zone. In spite of considerable revenues from oil exports, the country remains one of the world’s poorest, with limited access to adequate food, health facilities, potable water, and education for a large part of the population.

In Chad, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and host communities in the east are chronically food insecure, and poor populations in the Sahelian zone experience major acute food insecurity one year in three. Human and animal pressures on a degraded ecosystem, combined with limited agricultural development, have led to low levels of national food production. In-migration from Sudan has placed increasing pressures on the eastern part of the country; in this region, the population has doubled, and competition among IDPs, refugees, and host populations has limited access to resources and employment.

During the rainy season (May-October), roads are often impassable due to standing water or mud. In the summer, the temperature can climb to 130 degrees Fahrenheit; therefore, precautions must be taken to stay hydrated. During the dry season (November-April), dust storms may diminish air quality.

Rainfall in Chad declined rapidly between 1950 and the mid-1980s, recovered in the 1990s, and declined again in the 2000s. Between 2000 and 2009, the average rainfall in Chad’s crop growing regions was about 13 percent lower than the 1920–1969 mean average, which is more than 1.3 standard deviations below this mean. These changes can be visualized in three ways: as a contraction of the region receiving adequate rainfall for viable agricultural livelihoods, as maps of anticipated changes in rainfall, and as time series plots.

Chad receives most of its rain between June and September, and rainfall totals of more than 500 mm during this season typically provide enough water for farming and livestock. Between 1960 and 1989 the region receiving (on average) this much rain during June–September. During the past 25 years, this region has contracted, exposing populations in the eastern parts of the country to increased rainfall deficits. If present rainfall trends continue, by 2025 the drying impacts will likely lead to a further, more substantial, contraction.

Since 1975, temperatures have increased by more than 0.8° Celsius (°C) across much of Chad, with typical rates of warming greater than 0.2°C per decade. Assuming the observed trends persist, most of the country will soon have warmed by almost 1.0°C. Again, observed changes alone account for 63 percent of these change magnitudes. Chad is becoming both drier and hotter, which is consistent with an increase in atmospheric circulation bringing dry subsiding air during the June–September rainy seasons.

A time series of air temperature data indicates that the magnitude of recent warming is large and unprecedented within the past 110 years. Given that the standard deviation of annual air temperatures in these regions is low (approximately 0.5°C), these increases represent a extremely large (approximately 2.0 standard deviation) change from the climatic norm. This transition to an even warmer climate could decrease crop harvests and pasture availability, amplifying the impact of droughts. This seems particularly problematic in the east, where warming has coincided with rainfall declines and an influx of displaced persons from neighboring Sudan.

Given the rainfall declines, raising yields in wetter areas may be a more viable option than extending agriculture into more marginal areas. Rapid population growth, however, may make it difficult to slow the process of agricultural extension into marginal areas. Increasingly frequent droughts might be offset by improved water and agricultural management practices, and raising yields could lead to improved food availability. Infrastructure development may provide irrigation opportunities to improve agricultural potential. Chad has two long rivers, and several permanent lakes, that could be used to support irrigated crops. Analysis of crop statistics indicates that without investments in agriculture, stagnant yields combined with decreases in the amount of farmland per person will lead to a 30 percent decline in per capita cereal production by 2025.

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Page last modified: 31-10-2016 18:57:08 ZULU