A U.N. agency says a lack of donor funds is jeopardizing emergency agricultural programs in Chad where two million people are at risk of hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization says food insecurity exists in parts of Chad following drought and pest infestations.
The FAO says it’s received only (US) $2 million of the nearly $12 million it requested last November for Chad. That compares with $14.5 million raised for neighboring Niger, which also faces food shortages.
In N’djamena, Remy Courcier, FAO’s Emergency Unit Coordinator in Chad, says, “The crisis initiated with the lack of rains last year has created a problem for a big number of people here in Chad.”
Seed and feed
The agency says it will only be able to deliver small amounts of seed and animal feed to farmers in Chad. For example, it plans to distribute 360 tons of seed instead of its goal of nearly 11,300 tons; and about 400 tons of animal feed will be distributed rather than the planned 6,000 tons.
“Many families, that are relying on (rain fed) cereal crops like millet and sorghum, that had only half of the normal production last year...did not keep proper seeds to be able to sow them again this year,” he says.
As for livestock, Courcier says, “Around one-third of the cattle last year, in 2009, died. And this year there is a very severe situation for the animals and in Chad it is very important for the families not to lose the animals.”
Food insecurity in Niger has received much media attention in recent months and donors have responded much more generously to the situation there.
“The easiest way to explain that is what the government in Niger has done. They have contacted donors and humanitarian programs early. And they have declared the problem officially and early,” he says.
Not all of Chad faces serious problems. The FAO official says, “It is very clearly defined as the Sahel areas and some parts of what we call the Sudanian part, the southern part.”
He adds, “It is where the families rely on the production of these rain fed cereals. Where they have other production (of food), it’s not so severe.”
The agency estimates Chad’s cereal production declined by 34 percent compared to 2008. A 30 percent drop is reported in Niger where 2.7 million people are estimated to need food aid, while 5 million more are considered at risk of food security.
Last week, the FAO’s early warning system issued a special alert saying “the food situation is of grave concern in parts of the Sahel where more than 10 million people are at risk of hunger.”