Chad is an arid, low-income and landlocked country suffering from chronic food insecurity. Conflict in neighbouring countries has put additional pressure on already-limited resources, and Chad now hosts an estimated 450,000 refugees, primarily from Central African Republic and Sudan.
High levels of poverty in Chad have been aggravated by numerous conflicts during the last 50 years of independence, and ethnic tensions have contributed to political and economic instability and poor economic development. 87 percent of the rural population lives below the poverty line. Access to basic education remains limited due to a lack of infrastructure and persistent food insecurity; net enrolment rates are just 63 percent, and adult literacy rates are 34 percent (2011). Chad ranks 184 out of 187 countries on the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index.
Chad relies external assistance to ensure food security, especially in the Sahelian zone. Erratic rains, cyclical droughts, locust infestations and poor farming practices negatively affect cereal production. Food insecurity in Chad is primarily caused by a lack of access to food. Despite progress achieved, more than three million rural Chadians are in need of humanitarian assistance, while 790,000 people need emergency food assistance.
In addition to persistent food insecurity, child malnutrition is a major threat to the population. Results from the latest SMART nutrition survey (conducted in January-March 2014) reveal malnutrition rates between 6.8 and 13.3 percent, an improvement compared to the same period in 2013. However, the nutritional situation in the country’s Sahelian belt remains fragile; five regions have rates above 10 percent (Bahr El Ghazal, Batha, Kanem, Lac, Wadi Fira) while in six regions surpass the 15 percent emergency threshold during the lean season (Bahr El Ghazal, Batha, Kanem, Lac, Ouaddai, Wadi Fira). Malnutrition is also a concern among refugees and people fleeing the most recent crisis in C.A.R. Although no nutritional survey has been undertaken so far, estimates suggest that as many as 14 percent of the children screened at some sites in Southern Chad are suffering from acute malnutrition, and the situation appears to be deteriorating.