Women's Rights in ChadFatime Ali Abakar is a 22-year-old living in Chad. She is one of many young women and girls learning about gender equality from the United Nations (U.N.). Through programs similar to the one that supports Fatime Ali Abakar, the U.N. Population Fund (UNEFPA) seeks to end gender-based violence by 2030. This includes child marriage, female genital mutilation and maternal deaths, all of which are prevalent in Chad. The specter of child marriage is an open discussion in Fatime’s classes. As a result, the taboo is challenged and young girls are equipped with ‘evidence-based, girl-centered investments’ that deliver skills, information and services toward eliminating the issue. UNFPA-UNICEF programs have, between 2016 and 2019, helped 22,000 schools deliver targeted education, assisted 11 countries with rolling out ‘national action plans’ and reached 4.2 million individuals with ‘community dialogue.’

Outcomes for Women and Girls in Chad

Chad has the highest rates of child marriage in the world. 67% of girls in Chad were married before age 18 and 30% before age 15. As of 2013, the adolescent birth rate was 179.4 per 1,000 girls aged 15 years to 19 years. In 2018, 16.2% of women and girls (15 years to 49 years) were subject to physical and/or sexual violence and 34.1% of girls and women in the same age groups had undergone female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation or FGM is a widespread practice in Chad. Unfortunately, it is a practice that violates human rights, and is one that is carried out on infant and under-15-year-old girls. A nonprofit organization, 28 TOO MANY, works with communities in Chad with the highest number of cases. On the bright side, there has been some progress in alleviating the issue, with The Reproductive Health Law awaiting support from the office of the President. Efforts to reduce poverty have also yielded positive results. In addition, the in-work poverty rate dropped from 47 % in 2011 to 42 % in 2018. As of 2021, this figure stood at 41%. The figure continues to remain relatively high because women do not have access to dignified work. They engage in activities like procuring water, cooking meals and looking after husbands and children. Women rarely inherit properties, and they mostly depend on men for security and prosperity.

Ongoing Work

Various organizations work to help women and girls in their pursuit of security. CARE International, for example, seeks to provide economic justice to women through access to financial services. CARE International defines economic justice as the ‘right to economic resources’.

These resources target women entrepreneurs, who account for 31% to 38% of small to medium size enterprises in the global south. As a result of this program, 270,000 women in 11 countries have seen their average business earnings increase by 91%. The management of run-off water and the construction of weirs in Chad’s Sahel region is among ongoing efforts. The Sahel is a vast, semi-arid region in Africa. In times of low rainfall, the area becomes highly susceptible to famine. A weir is crucial in these circumstances, as it ensures effective water run-off and consistent water availability. Between 2012 and 2018, the project created 64 weirs. As a result, feed available for livestock has increased ‘significantly’ and grass now grows on arable land for ‘longer periods’. Millet yields have doubled and vegetable yields have risen 23%.

Looking Ahead

Through programs supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF, efforts are underway to address gender-based violence and improve outcomes for women and girls in Chad. These initiatives aim to tackle issues such as child marriage, female genital mutilation and maternal deaths, providing girls with skills, information and services to challenge societal taboos and promote gender equality. Additionally, organizations like 28 TOO MANY and CARE International are working to combat practices like female genital mutilation and provide economic justice to women through access to financial services, contributing to positive changes in Chad.

– James Durbin
Photo: Flickr

USAID's Economic Support in ChadIn Chad, extreme flooding has caused a massive amount of damage, affecting over 1 million people across the nation. On December 14, 2022, USAID announced that it will be providing an additional $2.5 million in financial support, building on the initial amount of $100,000.

Flooding in Chad

Many countries in Africa are challenged by dry weather conditions and therefore struggle to find resources of water. However, in Chad, heavy rainfall is common in several regions due to the equatorial location of the country. In 2022, it recorded the, “heaviest rainfall in the past 30 years, resulting in rivers overflowing, rupturing the dikes.” This led to extreme flooding in the latter half of the year, affecting 200,000 households by October 31. Rivers running through the country’s most populated regions have a tendency to overflow in times of extreme rainfall, drastically affecting nearby towns.

Damages and Lasting Consequences

On October 19, 2022, Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in reaction to this extreme flooding. At this point, floods destroyed 465,030 hectares of farmland. The destruction of fertile land is a drastic consequence, especially due to the fact that Chad had already been suffering from severe food insecurity. In addition to this, “16,756 households had to flee their homes.” In total, more than 1 million people have been affected in 18 out of Chad’s 23 provinces, according to UNICEF Situation Report.

Inadequate Funding

As a result of the flooding, Chad is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance to support citizens in their time of distress. This funding is necessary for food, housing, and health support on the ground. Because of this, Chad’s government called for additional economic assistance from outside actors.

USAID Economic Support in Chad

At the beginning of the flood, USAID provided $100,000 in support of the country’s relief efforts. However, as the damages continued, it became clear that economic support in Chad was needed to a larger extent. On December 14, 2022, USAID announced that it would provide an additional $2.5 million. In conjunction with UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), this assistance will be able to act as a multifaceted humanitarian effort. The press release states that “This assistance will support broader response efforts providing flood-affected families with cash-based transfers, mental health and psychosocial support services, relief items, shelter supplies, and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.”

During 2022 alone, USAID’s economic support in Chad reached $73.6 million. This type of funding, coupled with the emergency funding in reaction to the flood, has been able to better the quality of life for those in a struggling country and support them in a time of need.

Overall, economic humanitarian assistance is important to aid countries in states of distress. USAID’s economic support in Chad is an excellent example of the importance of monetary support and has helped the country react to dangerous conditions produced by flooding. This support will lessen the drastic consequences of the flood and allow the country to aid its inhabitants as well as rebuild in the future.

– Hailey Dooley
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Malaria in Chad
According to the Malaria Consortium, Chad has one of the highest mortality rates globally for children younger than 5. For every 1,000 children, 119 die before the age of 5. Malaria is a significant cause of death in Chad, especially among children. Pregnant women and children are the most susceptible to contracting malaria because of their fragile immune systems. Several measures aim to control malaria in Chad, especially among the most vulnerable groups.

Preventative Measures

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of insecticide-treated nets and antimalarial medication among the most vulnerable populations in endemic countries.

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) funds insecticide-treated nets for distribution to countries facing high malaria burdens. In March 2022, AMF agreed to distribute 6.8 million mosquito nets across all of Chad’s provinces from January 2023 to April 2023. The distribution of these nets could prevent up to 9,000 malaria-related deaths. AMF also estimates that the supply of nets will add $163 million to Chad’s GDP. In a country where the poverty rate stood at 42% in 2018, measures to reduce the nation’s economic burden are crucial.

The Malaria Consortium aims to improve health across Asia and African regions “through evidence-based programs that combat targeted diseases and promote universal health coverage,” its website says. The Malaria Consortium’s malaria prevention efforts involve the distribution of seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) to protect vulnerable populations in endemic countries. This effective intervention involves “administering monthly doses of antimalarial drugs to children aged 3-59 months during the peak malaria transmission season.”

In May 2016, the Malaria Consortium established an office in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital city, and has led SMC initiatives since then. In 2021, the organization provided support for SMC interventions across 26 districts in Chad, with the aim of reaching about 1 million under-5 children.

Since 2000, the incidence of malaria in Chad has reduced from 267 per 1,000 vulnerable people to 206 in 2020, according to the World Bank. One can attribute the general decrease in numbers to increased treatment and prevention measures.

Malaria Vulnerability During Pregnancy

Contracting malaria during pregnancy poses risks to both the mother and child. “Pregnant women suffering from malaria are at increased risk of anemia and miscarriage and their babies are at risk of stillbirth, prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation and low birth weight,” says the Population Reference Bureau. Low birth weight is a significant cause of neonatal mortality. Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that malaria during pregnancy causes between 75,000 to 200,000 infant mortalities annually across the world. In 2020, the WHO Africa Region recorded that 34% of all pregnant mothers had malaria exposure.

To protect vulnerable pregnant women from malaria, the WHO recommends the use of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) as part of antenatal care. The use of insecticide-treated nets is also important to ensure the mother’s safety. However, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), branded as Fansidar, has its limitations. It has reduced efficacy among women with HIV and SP-resistance is becoming more common.

Efforts from organizations have contributed to a reduced prevalence of malaria in Chad. Continued treatment efforts and preventative measures will ensure the most vulnerable populations are protected from malaria.

– Yv Maciel
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in ChadThe nation of Chad is a victim of extreme poverty with a national poverty rate of 42% as of 2018. The impact of poverty in Chad is widespread, leaving innocent children born into these unfortunate circumstances extremely vulnerable. This article will outline five key facts to know about child poverty in Chad.

5 Facts about Child Poverty in Chad

  1. Population: As of 2021, 46% of Chad’s population was aged between 0 and 14 years, making it one of the world’s youngest populations. While a young population can be an opportunity for economic growth because of a plentiful supply of potential workers for the future, there are also drawbacks. For one, a more youthful population means that a large proportion of the population has a high dependency on their elders. Many children rely on a few adults to provide for their needs. As an impoverished country, the little resources that are available are inadequate. Moreover, young children should be gaining their education but families cannot afford to not let the youth work. In addition, a younger population will result in a future population increase due to greater rates of procreation.
  2. Education: The PASEC 2014 found that the rate of illiteracy among the youth in Chad was approximately 70%. When looking at women aged 15-24, this number jumps to 77%. Furthermore, 34.3% of children aged 6-11 are out of school and more than 800,000 aged 9-14 do not go to school at all. These statistics are alarming as a lack of education limits the youth’s likelihood of future success and their chances of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Central African Republic and Nigeria impacted Chad’s failing education system, leading to over 600,000 refugee children also needing schooling in Chad. It is also important to acknowledge that three out of four pupils that do have access to schooling are supervised by teachers whose highest level of education does not go above secondary school because of Chad’s minimal access to higher education, technical education and professional training. However, there are projects that intend to rectify this problem. The Chad Improving Learning Outcomes Project aims to increase access to primary education. Its work seeks to simultaneously boost access to schooling while also increasing the quality of teaching in reading, writing and numeracy. The World Bank estimates that 2.8 million students enrolled in public primary schools will benefit from an increase of 31,500 teachers and staff. Roughly 3.2 million students overall will experience these benefits firsthand.
  3. Child Labor: The economic difficulties that families face in Chad mean that many children are forced to work to help provide for their families. Not only does this mean missing out on their right to an education, but these children are also subject to harsh conditions. The children of Chad often experience the worst forms of child labor such as cattle herding and domestic work, which sometimes leads to human trafficking and further exacerbates child poverty in Chad. They work long hours with little pay and no food while also facing threats of abuse, discrimination and prostitution. Organizations such as UNICEF continue to support child protection systems to try to prevent the violence, abuse and exploitation that many children face.
  4. Child Marriages: Chadian children are not only victims of the workforce but also subject to early marriage. In goal 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, Chad committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriage by 2030. The nation also adopted the co-sponsored 2015 Human Rights Council Resolution and the 2013 U.N. General Assembly Resolution on child marriage. However, these attempts have not yet eliminated the practice of marrying off young girls. The legal age of marriage is 15 for girls but in customary law, it is 13 years, which goes against the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the 2015 EDS MICS report, 70% of girls under 18 and 29% of girls under 15 are married. It comes as little surprise then that Chad has the third highest rate of child marriage in the world. Religion and displacement are at the center of child marriage in Chad. Preventing child marriage is also another benefit of boosting education in Chad because of the correlation between higher education levels and later marriage.
  5. Health Care: Access to health care in Chad poses one of the most substantial challenges to Chadians. According to UNICEF, 2.7 million children in Chad are currently facing malnutrition. This is largely a result of internal displacement and environmental conditions depleting crop harvests, leading to increased food shortages. Additionally, due to a lack of sanitation, drinking water and health care in rural areas, roughly 209 of every 1,000 children die annually. Diseases such as pneumonia are primary causes of child mortality, and work towards increasing the number of vaccinations is occurring. In 2021, the proportion of children who had received three doses of vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis increased to 58% – up from 50% in 2019.

Child poverty in Chad continues to run rampant with the youth facing harsh conditions, unfair lifestyles and limited health care. Child poverty is not only a breach of human rights but it also strips children of their innocence and forces them to grow up too quickly.

– Ruby Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Chad
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.” Incidents of human trafficking are more prevalent in areas enduring high rates of poverty as poverty makes people more susceptible to the lure of trafficking. Human trafficking in Chad, in particular, is a cause of concern due to Chad’s ranking as a Tier 2 Watch List country.

Human Trafficking in Chad

The U.S. Department of State ranks Chad as a Tier 2 Watch List country in 2021 as the nation “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.” Due to conflict and instability in surrounding countries, the Department of State said that Chad hosted “approximately 930,000 refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and asylum seekers as of February 2021.” These groups are particularly susceptible to becoming trafficking victims “based on their economic instability and lack of access to support systems.”

Human trafficking in Chad disproportionately affects women and children. Girls are the most susceptible as some girls are “forced to marry against their will,” making them vulnerable to situations of sexual abuse and “exploitative domestic work.” Human trafficking commonly affects most children in the form of child labor despite government policies attempting to restrict this practice. Based on data from 2019, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs recorded that approximately 45.8% of children ages 5 to 14 engage in child labor in Chad.

Efforts to End Human Trafficking

In 2020, Chad made advancements to end the worst forms of human trafficking. The Government of Chad created a country-wide anti-human trafficking committee to prioritize human trafficking cases. To raise awareness of the issue, the government utilized social media and radio campaigns. The Ministry of Women, Family and National Solidarity, in collaboration with local organizations and a global group, ran “transit centers that served as temporary shelters throughout the country.” These temporary shelters gave “housing, food and education to victims of gender-based violence and other crimes, including potential victims of trafficking,” the Department of State reported.

However, the U.S. State Department reports that the Chadian government “did not report investigating, prosecuting or convicting any confirmed trafficking cases.” The government also did not designate members of the national anti-trafficking committee, leaving the group potentially without authority.

Existing Solutions

Because there are links between human trafficking and poverty, the prevalence of human trafficking in Chad could reduce with efforts to minimize the country’s poverty rate. According to the World Bank, about 43% of Chad’s population lived under the national poverty line in 2018.

Despite a lack of advocacy-based organizations and NGOs, Chad has developed legislation to eliminate human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State reported that “Law 006/PR/2018 on Combatting Trafficking in Persons criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking.” Furthermore, “Article 7 of Law 006/PR/2018 prescribed penalties of four to [30]years imprisonment and a fine of 250,000 to 5 million Central African francs.”

Looking Ahead

Chad, weakened by poverty and ineffective government policies, is facing several difficulties when attempting to reduce the presence of human trafficking. Despite this, there is still hope. Through international funding, the government of Chad can receive assistance to take action against human trafficking violations and develop an effective refugee camp system. Overall, Chad has the ability to fight against poverty and human trafficking.

– Sania Patel
Photo: Flickr

Girls Not Brides Girls Not Brides is an international nonprofit that works to end child marriage around the world. The organization is an initiative founded in 2011 by The Elders, a group of senior statesmen and human rights advocates brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela. Girls Not Brides has been working for over a decade to bring the issue of child marriage to the forefront of the government’s attention.

What is Child Marriage?

The term ‘child marriage’ refers to any formal or informal union between a child under the age of 18, and an adult or another child. According to the Girls Not Brides Atlas, the three countries with the highest rates of child marriage as of 2020 are Niger, Central African Republic and Chad. Currently, one in five girls worldwide are married before they are 18, which is a decrease from 10 years ago when one in four girls were victims of the practice. Despite this reduction, the practice still remains very prevalent in certain places. Child marriage can be the result of grave gender inequality, as the frequency of the tradition amongst boys is one sixth of that amongst girls.

Child marriage is also largely driven by poverty, as girls can pose as financial burdens to their families and are married to help relieve fiscal pressure. Girls believe that marriage is the key to securing their futures and sometimes drop out of school before they receive secondary education and begin their lives as wives. In some communities, marriage at a younger age can mean a lower expense. It is customary in different cultures for the girl’s family to ask for money in exchange for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Younger brides tend to go for higher rates, which serves as an incentive for impoverished families to sell their daughters as soon as they can.

The Dangers of Child Marriage

The practice of child marriage has devastating effects on the girls who fall victim. Girls married under the age of 15 are 50% more likely to suffer from domestic violence than those married at a later age. Child marriage can result in girls having sex before they are emotionally and physically ready and is a key driver of adolescent pregnancy, which carries its own health risks. When a girl enters a marriage, she is usually expected to drop out of school and tend to the home and eventually, the children.

If and when girls are ready to return to school, they are faced with barriers such as household responsibilities and a lack of educational and social preparation. In fact, school closures due to the pandemic have exposed 10 million more girls to child marriage as isolation and rising financial instability have driven families to turn to child marriage in order to cope with the economic challenges that came with COVID-19.

How Girls Not Brides is Working to End Child Marriage

Girls Not Brides is working to end child marriage in a multitude of ways. Not only does it work to prevent child marriage, but it also amplifies the voices of current and potential victims. Girls Not Brides strives to bring awareness to the problem by encouraging informed discussions about the topic on local, national, and international levels. As of 2020, Girls Not Brides is made up of more than 1,500 members from 104 countries around the world and has advocated across multiple platforms and top-tier media outlets.

Girls Not Brides offers in-person and online workshops in order to enlighten people on child marriage and educate them in ways they can help. It also mobilizes various political and financial supporters to help further its cause.

A Look Ahead

The nonprofit comprises of 1,400 civil society organizations around the world and works with a range of stakeholders and partners to ensure that its message is being heard. Girls Not Brides is working to end child marriage so that girls everywhere can grow up to reach their full potential, and is bringing light to an issue that is often overlooked but extremely important.

Ava Lombardi 
Photo: Flickr

Child Malnutrition in Chad
Chad, a country located in Central Africa, faces one of the highest levels of child malnutrition worldwide. A meta-analysis of child malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa from 2006 to 2016 found that 39.9% of children in Chad suffered from stunting and 28.8% were underweight. Extreme weather events and conflict in the country exacerbate food insecurity, making it more difficult for many families to provide adequate, nutritious diets for their children. To help improve children’s health and reduce food insecurity, four recent initiatives are tackling child malnutrition in Chad.

Scaling Up Nutrition

Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is an organization that collaborates with low- and middle-income countries’ governments to organize malnutrition prevention efforts. In 2017, SUN developed partnerships with five civil society organizations in Chad focused on improving nutrition. SUN has also established six local Civil Society Alliance offices across different provinces of the country. With SUN’s support, these organizations adopted nutrition as an integral part of their development plans. SUN has also trained and mobilized 35 radio presenters and journalists for nutrition communication, who continue to help raise awareness on malnutrition across the country.

Collaboration with UNICEF and the UK

Through its Department for International Development, the U.K. committed £4 million to a collaboration with UNICEF to reduce acute malnutrition in Chad in 2018 and 2019. Using this grant, UNICEF provided therapeutic milk, Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and essential drugs to 58,670 children across 20 provinces nationwide.

UNICEF also used the DFID grant to develop more sanitary and hygienic health centers, improving 30 facilities across the country. This development benefited an estimated 40,000 mothers and caregivers of children suffering from acute malnutrition.

Zafaye West Health Center

A nutrition project that UNICEF and the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office sponsored supports the Zafaye West Health Center. The project selected N’Djamena, where the health center is located, as a priority province in Chad for nutrition aid because a 2019 survey detected a high prevalence of acute malnutrition in the area.

Community volunteers from the center travel door-to-door to reach out to mothers, encouraging them to visit the health center to check up on their children’s health and engage in educational campaigns. The campaigns educate mothers on the importance of balanced diets for their children and teach them nutrient-dense, affordable recipes to prepare. The nutrition project has saved 43,000 children, located within the six target provinces it serves, from acute malnutrition as of June 2021.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme is an organization that provides food assistance across more than 80 countries worldwide. WFP helps provide nutritious meals to 120,000 school children in the Sahel, the region of Africa where Chad is located. The organization also feeds 15,000 children in the Lake Chad region through an emergency school meal program.

In addition, WFP helps prevent child malnutrition in Chad among 6-month-olds to 2-year-olds by providing cash-based nutrition support to their families. This support provides families with more stable access to nutrient-dense foods.

Although many children in Chad currently face malnutrition, these four initiatives are making progress in eradicating this issue. With this support, child malnutrition in Chad may decline in the years to come.

– Aimée Eicher
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in ChadThe World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation as “any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Despite constituting an international human rights violation, FGM remains a pervasive issue affecting the lives of many women, especially in developing countries. According to UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation globally. FGM is particularly prevalent in Chad, a landlocked country in Northern Africa, despite laws banning female genital mutilation in Chad. Over the years, steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of FGM in Chad.

The Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Chad

BMC Public Health explains that, in Chad, the citizenry continues FGM practices in both religious and traditional contexts. FGM is a hazardous practice, often done without anesthetic, putting girls and women at risk of both short and long-term health effects. These effects include genital swelling, bleeding, the inability to pass feces and urine, urinary tract infections and birth complications, among other consequences.

A BMC Public Health research article based on data from 2014-2015 indicates that, in Chad, 50.2% of women and 12.9% of girls have been genitally mutilated, endangering their health. There are multiple conditions that affect this staggering statistic. First, BMC Public Health explains that women with lower levels of education are more likely to experience FGM. Poverty levels also drive the practice as impoverished families have their daughters undergo FGM with the intention of marrying them off, granting impoverished families dowries and the benefits of marrying into a wealthier family. The practice of FGM tends to follow ethnic and religious traditions and is most common among the Sara ethnic group and other Muslim tribes.

Addressing FGM in Chad

While FGM prevalence has been decreasing throughout much of the world, Chad, Mali and Sierra Leone have seen an increase of 2–8% over the last 30 years. This increase in prevalence demonstrates the importance of efforts addressing FGM in Chad, especially now, when poverty rates are heightened due to COVID-19. With the help of NGOs, the U.S. government and tribal leaders, Chad is fighting the deeply entrenched traditions of FGM to protect the well-being of young women and girls.

NGOs play a vitally important role in the creation of long-term programs aimed at changing societal and cultural norms surrounding female genital mutilation in Chad. These NGOs can expand their reach with support from the Chadian government. For example, the Chadian government aided the Chadian Association for Family Well-Being in its work surrounding FGM education and awareness. This education includes seminars, campaigns and conferences explaining the dangers of FGM.

The Role of the US

Not only has Chad’s government stepped up to combat FGM but the U.S. has played a critical role in education surrounding FGM practices. From 1997 to 1999, the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy and Human Rights Fund supported a locally implemented FGM education program to change norms surrounding FGM in Chad. This resulted in a roundtable meeting with “doctors, judges, parliamentarians and NGO representatives, a national seminar” and four regional seminars, all of which helped spread awareness of the dangers of FGM in Chad.

Mobilizing Tribal Leaders to Fight FGM

Due to the cultural and ethnic ties surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation in Chad, tribal leaders have played an important part in the movement to end FGM. Because of the trust bestowed upon tribal leaders, they can increase awareness about FGM’s consequences and generate support for the laws banning its practice among ethnic groups throughout the country. In order to motivate and educate tribal leaders, the Red Cross of Chad set up an advocacy program that creates initiatives and training sessions for tribal leaders to combat FGM in their communities.

While the inhumane practice of FGM continues in Chad due to deeply entrenched cultural roots, the U.S. and Chadian governments play consequential roles in combating the prevalence of FGM. This support is crucial as female genital mutilation in Chad severely harms girls’ and women’s health, impacting their futures and their abilities to rise out of poverty.

Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code
Photo: Flickr

healthcare access in LMICs
Around 2 billion people around the world lack proper access to surgical care or advanced medical care. On average, low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) have fewer than two operating rooms and one trained surgeon per 100,000 people. Due to this, treatable maladies often result in death. In 2011, around 5 million people died of injuries in LMICs. The barrier between proper medical care and patients is the cost of care. More often, the costs of admission, medications and food are based on the strained economic conditions of impoverished countries. The shortage of medical professionals in LMICs has been identified as one of the most significant obstacles to achieving health-related U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One can see the severity of this lack of healthcare access in LMICs in countries such as Mozambique, with only 548 doctors for more than 22 million people.

Lack of Medical Professionals

The absence of medical professionals in LMICs is often due to the poor economic situation of these countries. This results in limited financial resources to support a good healthcare system and provide proper training for doctors. Even when training is available, many skilled doctors work overseas due to others offering them a better medical career abroad, leading to a lack of healthcare access in LMICs. The British Medical Journal claims that “African countries have lost about $2.6 billion…training doctors who are now living in western countries.”

On average, there is less than one doctor for every 20,000 people in Chad. In addition, an equipment shortage in Chad means there are fewer than four hospital beds for every 10,000 people. Furthermore, inequitable distribution of service is a major problem in these countries. Due to a limited number of doctors being available to treat millions of people, often patients with a higher income receive what little medical support is available. Those of a lower income in these countries find it more difficult to afford treatment and especially cannot afford emergency medical procedures.

Consequences for Patients

Lack of trained medical professionals often means that diseases, surgeries, injuries and complications often result in death. Disease is excessive and often untreatable in these countries. Medical procedures often require advanced training and experience to be conducted successfully. The demand for these procedures greatly exceeds the supply of surgeons and institutions, leading to low healthcare access in LMICs.

For example, 90% of those who are visually impaired live in LMICs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of cases involving visual disability are preventable. Eye surgery, an effective method of treating blindness, is rarely available. Furthermore, according to the National Library of Medicine, 6 billion people in LMICs lack access to safe and affordable cardiac surgery.

According to WHO, 94% of all maternal deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Many women facing birth complications rarely have access to trained professionals who can handle these complications. Sometimes, doctors with insufficient training may perform emergency procedures improperly, resulting in debilitating injuries or even death. Furthermore, 99% of hemorrhage-related peripartum deaths occur in LMICs. These problems all stem from the fact that a qualified medical professional attends less than 50% of all births in LMICs.

Rising Cancer Rates

Another consequence of a poor global healthcare system is the rising cancer mortality rates in LMICs. More than half of the 10 million cancer deaths in 2020 occurred in LMICs. When comparing the healthcare systems of different regions, high-income countries usually spend around five to 10 times more per person. As a result, less than 50% of those diagnosed with cancer in high-income countries die from the disease. On the other hand, 66% of those diagnosed with cancer in LMICs die from the disease. This is mostly due to the fact that LMICs do not have the resources for treatment facilities or radiation therapy centers.

Organizations Making an Impact

Organizations like the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) support the training of doctors to improve healthcare access in LMICs. MEPI works to increase the number of new healthcare workers, strengthen medical education systems and build clinical and research capacity in LMICs. Charities such as Mercy Ships send volunteer surgeons to provide lifesaving surgical procedures and invite local doctors to expand upon their surgical skills alongside the volunteer surgeons. Mercy Ships also provides mentoring programs for surgeons, anesthesia providers, ward nurses, operating nurses and biomedical technicians. By providing new medical tools and resources, constructing new medical facilities, providing training for local professionals and working with local governments, Mercy Ships leaves a long-lasting impact.

Poverty and disease are closely related. In order to have significant improvement in global health, economic development of LMICs and improved medical education is essential. The growing disparity in surgical access and other health services requires urgent attention. We can put this into action through the comprehensive development of healthcare access in LMICs.

– Arya Baladevigan
Photo: Unsplash

Food Insecurity in Chad
Citizens of Chad suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition. This is due to a number of reasons such as geographical location. Humanitarian crises and poverty have impacted approximately 6.3 million Chadians. However, three notable organizations are working to fight food insecurity in Chad including Action Against Hunger, CARE and the World Food Program U.S.A. (WFP). These groups are working to ensure a direct solution, by providing food to Chad’s citizens. Moreover, these programs are attempting to implement long-term solutions, such as creating more fiscal opportunities and supplying clean water.

Food Insecurity in Chad

The country’s geographical location does not provide a reliable agricultural system. Chad is a landlocked country without any bodies of water. The country’s location also entails a hot, dry climate and the country experiences periods of drought. This has led to a lack of water for drinking and producing food. Moreover, conflict with bordering countries has applied further pressure to Chad’s limited resources. This has led to political instability, social unrest and a great influx of refugees. The country has accepted around 465,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic. Lack of food supply has resulted in over 317,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 2019. An estimated 790,000 inhabitants in Chad live with food insecurity.

Action Against Hunger

In 2019, Action Against Hunger helped 579,092 Chadians combat food insecurity. The organization reached those in need with programs focusing on nutrition and health, sanitation and hygiene and food security and livelihood. Action Against Hunger has worked to create solutions for the long term. For example, it initiated health and nutrition courses in Kanem, Bar El Gazal and Logone Oriental. Moreover, to promote behavioral change, the organization implemented husbands’ schools and care groups.

Action Against Hunger has also provided emergency, short-term and long-term solutions directly related to food. This includes supplying food, teaching new agricultural techniques (solar-powered irrigation systems and farmers’ field schools) and providing job opportunities to young people and women.


Although CARE does not directly focus on food relief, it offers a number of programs to improve the well-being of Chadians into the future. This includes initiatives such as natural resource management, farming classes and education on water and sanitation.

World Food Program USA (WFP)

WFP has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace to provide nourishment to underserved Chadians. The organizations collect food from producers in the United States and local markets. They also distribute food vouchers, cash transfers and specialized nutrition products to struggling Chadians.

WFP has three other initiatives that it focuses on titled Emergency Operation, the School Meals Program and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation.

  • Emergency Operation: This program focuses on those seeking refuge in southern Chad. WFP provides them with nourishment, food vouchers and e-cards, and gives nutrition support for mothers and children.
  • School Meals Program: This initiative seeks to increase school attendance, specifically amongst girls. The school meals program reaches approximately 265,000 elementary school children. All students in attendance receive a hot meal and girls can take a monthly ration of oil home to their families. This in turn encourages parents to send their daughters to school, and thus increases the rate of educated females.
  • Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation: This program can assist up to 2.2 million Chadians and refugees in need. Health centers and clinics provide supplementary feeding to local and conflicted populations.

Despite food insecurity in Chad, the country is benefitting from significant aid from prominent organizations. Through these organization’s continued support, Chad should be able to improve nutrition for its entire population in time.

– Ella Kaplun
Photo: Flickr