10 Facts about child labor in chad

In Chad, 87 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. This contributes to the high prevalence of child labor, something for which Chad is infamous. Child labor is a controversial and multi-faceted issue, and these 10 facts about child labor in Chad show that the issue is complex and in need of a solution.

10 Facts about Child Labor in Chad

  1. A majority of all children are working. 48.8 percent of children ages 5-14 work full time. This percentage is among the highest in African countries. When added to the percentage of children who attend both school and work, the percentage goes up to 77.2.
  2. Nearly half of Chad’s population is ages 0-14. One reason why child labor in Chad is so prominent is that there are significantly more children than adults. With children under 15 years old making up 48.12 percent of the population, there is pressure to work in order to support one’s family.
  3. Child labor occurs in multiple sectors. Child labor occurs in the agricultural, urban and service industries. Children as young as 6-years-old typically work as herders for livestock, and as they get older, begin to perform other duties like chopping wood, fishing and harvesting crops. In the urban and service industries, children work in carpentry, mining and street vending. The Ministry of Labor permits light work in agriculture for children at least 12 years old, but this law can be exploited due to its lack of specificity.
  4. Education is not accessible. Another reason there are so many instances of child labor in Chad is because quality education is inaccessible. Despite the fact that the government mandates free and compulsory education up until the age of 14, only 37.9 percent of students complete primary school. Many schools require an additional payment for school-related fees, and some families cannot afford them. Additionally, there have been teacher strikes, decreasing the number of open schools in Chad altogether. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) has been attempting to improve the access and quality of education in Chad since 2017, and future data will show how the program is going to affect school-age working children in Chad.
  5. Children are forced to be soldiers. Chadian children who live in Internally Displaced Persons sites are the most popular army recruits. Sometimes, they are kidnapped by army recruiters, but other times, they join willingly to escape horrible conditions and lack of education within the IDP site. In 2007, up to 10,000 children may have been used as soldiers in the conflict between Chad and its opposition groups. The government of Chad admits that it has no policy when it comes to the recruitment of children for the army, and a UNICEF program to remove children from military groups failed due to underfunding.
  6. Human trafficking worsens child labor. As a result of trafficking, children are sold and forced to work away from their families, sometimes even begging in the streets for money. One of the worst instances of child labor and trafficking occurs when boys called mahadjirine travel to Koranic schools to get an education, but they are forced to work and return all of their profits to their fraudulent teachers. The Chadian government criminalizes labor trafficking and began a procedure to identify and prosecute offenders, but its success only lasted briefly. The number of arrests and convictions for labor traffickers decreased and then remained stagnant only two years after the initial implementation.
  7. Chad’s respect for children’s rights is ranked as worst in the world. The Realization of Children’s Rights Index grades each individual country on a scale of 1-10 on how much the country respects children’s rights based on statistics of child mortality, child labor, poverty, education and other issues that affect children’s lives. Chad is the lowest on the list of 196 countries with a score of 0.05 out of 10. The highest country, Liechtenstein, scores a 9.42 out of 10. This means that every other country in the world has more policies in place to protect the rights of children.
  8. Nearly half of children ages 15-17 work in hazardous conditions. Despite the fact that Chad’s minimum working age is 14 years old, boys and girls ages 15-17 are counted in child labor statistics because of dangerous working conditions. 42 percent of working 15-17-year-olds deal with circumstances that can be physically and mentally harmful such as extensive work hours, working underground, working with heavy machinery and abuse.
  9. Child labor correlates with the prevalence of malnutrition. As instances of child labor increase, malnutrition becomes more likely. In a study of multiple developing countries that experience child labor, it was found that in countries with only 10 percent of children working, malnutrition affected up to 50 percent. For Chad, a country where more than half of children work, malnutrition could affect up to 70 percent of children.
  10. International groups are working to prevent child labor. The International Initiative to End Child Labor is an organization that is committed to ending child labor in countries like Chad. The group educates communities on what kinds of child work are considered acceptable or unacceptable, what the worst forms of child labor are and what working conditions are appropriate for young workers. The IIECL has been working towards the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labor since 1998.

These 10 facts about child labor in Chad demonstrate the consequences of child labor and the need for action. If child labor is eradicated in Chad, the rest of Africa and the world could take notice and begin to address other countries with child labor issues as well.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

EUs Progress in Chad

The European Union (EU) is one of the major donors to Chad, a country where 46 percent of residents live below the poverty line. The reasons for the high amount of people living in poverty include the fact that the country finds it difficult to accommodate the more than 300,000 refugees it houses, occasional droughts destroy food security and there is poor healthcare and inefficient farming techniques. In 2018, the EU’s progress in Chad stems from providing more than $74 million in humanitarian aid to Chad.

Influx of Refugees

With more than 46 percent of Chad’s population living in poverty, it’s difficult for the government to even provide aid to the native population. The EU is helping Chad by providing basic needs, such as healthcare, food, shelter, water and sanitation. It also provides care for refugees, host communities and internally displaced people. The refugees arrive from neighboring countries Sudan and the Central African Republic, amounting to more than 300,000 refugees fleeing to seek protection and job opportunities in Chad. Though Chad doesn’t have the capacity to take care of these refugees, outsiders like the EU, are providing aid to those in poverty.

Agricultural Practices

Another way to show the EU’s progress in Chad through its focus on agricultural self-sufficiency and self-reliance. More than 80 percent of Chad’s labor force involves agriculture. Agriculture also accounts for half of Chad’s GDP. One major way EU is helping Chad prosper is by providing efficient and sustainable farming techniques. A lack of capital has created a major strain on the government helping its citizens, so the EU is also helping by providing financial assistance.

The country of Chad is divided in half by the Sahara Desert in the north, the Savanna in the south and the Sahelian belt in the center where the transition from desert to Savanna takes place. The environment makes it difficult to farm, and poor farming practices contribute to poverty conditions. The government of Chad believes the future lies in the mobilization of the private sector, including improving the business environment concerning agriculture and mining. The EU’s involvement is helping to improve the lives of millions of people in Chad who struggle to find clean water and produce an adequate amount of crops.

Seeds for Solutions is a project aimed at helping host camps and villages. This project is located in the eastern portion of Chad where Sudanese refugees and Chadians work together to cultivate crops. The region is arid, but the fields are provided daily water thanks to an irrigation system maintained through solar energy. The advanced farming technique helps yield a greater output of crops. About 70 percent of harvested crops are sold, and the farmer’s family then consumes the rest.

Training Programs

In partnership with the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Lutheran World Federation, the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations helped to create a vocational training center where people are taught masonry, carpentry, mechanics and sewing. Estelle, a young Chadian woman, is one of the hundreds of Chadians taking part in the program. “In our country, women are in the field or in the kitchen; I want to participate in the construction of my village and my country,” stated Estelle during her nine-month training at one of the four vocational training centers in the country.

The UNHCR and its partners are involved in hosting income-generation activities for refugees and citizens. The IT centers are involved in teaching sewing, masonry and carpentry, and have more than 300 students. The income and products from these activities enable the people to accomplish the EU’s goal of improving self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The EU’s progress in Chad is visible through the many programs implemented to help alleviate poverty. Although conditions in Chad are still far from perfect, the EU is providing some important resources to help improve the lives of the people in the country.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Chad
Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world and has the lowest life expectancy of all countries. In 2017, the life expectancy for a Chadian citizen was found to be only 50.6 years. For comparison, Monaco is the country with the highest life expectancy, and citizens of this country live, on average, almost 40 years longer. This is a scary and stark contrast that can be attributed largely to the instability and poverty that people of Chad continuously face.

Chad in Numbers

In 1960, The Republic of Chad attained its independence from France and has faced much hardship since. The country has felt the recurring impact of civil war, religious war and natural disasters. For these reasons, the country has been unable to maximize its rich gold, uranium and oil resources.

Food and water are extremely scarce resources in the country as only 4 percent of Chadians living in rural areas have access to clean water. This makes them very susceptible to dangerous water-borne diseases including diarrhea and cholera. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that medical resources are also extremely scarce. For every 38,000 inhabitants of the country, there is only one doctor .

Close to 63 percent of Chadians are living in poverty, and only 32 percent of the population is literate. This is related to the fact that 80 percent of the population depends on subsistence farming and livestock. With a lack of educational resources, the Chadian people are forced to rely on their agricultural skills to maintain a livelihood. This is problematic for a country that has faced repeated natural disasters.

These are just some of the many statistics that point to the dire living conditions that contribute to the country’s extremely low life expectancy. There are, however, a number of efforts being undertaken to ameliorate the situation.

Actions Being Taken

In February 2018, after visiting several African countries including Chad, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, Ursula Mueller, brought attention to the dire need for greater relief efforts in Chad.

Groups like the Chad Relief Foundation (CRF) have been responsive to such calls for a number of years now. CRF provides assistance to refugees in Chad and, as of December 2017, had provided Chad with a total of $983,257. This money goes toward efforts to provide citizens with resources like medicine, education and some means to reduce the spread of illness, such as mosquito nets.

Additionally, The World Food Program is providing food relief to 1.4 million Chadians affected by chronic food insecurity. The organization provides the citizens with money that allows them to buy food from local markets in order to support the local economy. One can only hope that by ameliorating food insecurity in the country, life expectancy in Chad will begin to rise.

Solutions to the Problem

Although there are relief efforts at work in the country, Chad faces dire prospects if more is not contributed to the country’s efforts to stabilize. The life expectancy in Chad is frighteningly low and perhaps the most alarming thing about it is that it is caused by factors that can be fixed or prevented with adequate assistance. It is important that countries with the means to do something contribute to the efforts of improving the standard of living in Chad so that the citizens of the country can enjoy the long and full lives that all humans have a right to.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in ChadChad has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Out of 15 women in Chad, one will die due to complications while giving birth. This makes a rate of 6.7 percent, which is dangerously high. In 2010, only 23 percent of women had help from someone medically qualified to do so while giving birth. Every couple of minutes, a woman in Chad dies due to birth complications.

Maternal mortality rates, along with child mortality are a good indicator of the status of health care in the country. Higher rates imply the lower quality of and access to health care. Lack of personnel and training prevents women from getting the help they need during childbirth. An increase in health care professionals and proper training will raise the likelihood of saving the lives of the mother and the child.

Chad Mother and Child Health Services Strengthening Project

In 2014, The World Bank approved funding of almost $21 million for the Chad Mother and Child Health Services Strengthening Project. The money comes from the Health Results-Based Financing Fund that is supported by the U.K. and Norway.

The Project targets regions that have particularly high rates of child and maternal mortality in Chad. Increased funding will go to health care services in the areas with low access to resources and higher indicators of maternal mortality. The Project provides care for the woman throughout her pregnancy, helps with deliveries by professionals and even immunizations for the newborn.

The Services Strengthening Project is set to conclude its goals by 2020. The Project is trying to reach 80,000 pregnant women and provide them with antenatal care during a health care visit. This number was exceeded in 2018 since the people of the Project reached 82,117 women by this year. Additionally, they are hoping to achieve 35,000 births with the help of skilled medical professionals by 2020. As of 2018, they are well on their way with 29,500 births. As for its other goals, that include child immunization and health personnel training, the Project is also right on track.

Education of Mothers in Chad

Community awareness is just as important in preventing maternal mortality in Chad as providing access to services. Women have extremely limited opportunities when it comes to education, and four out of five women in Chad between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate. Having limited knowledge of antenatal care, hygiene and disease greatly influence the likelihood that a mother or child will not survive the pregnancy.

Levels of HIV in women also contributes to maternal mortality in Chad. Only 10 percent of women aged 15-24 have a thorough knowledge of HIV prevention. Without education on HIV, women easily contract it and spread it to their children. Training provided by programs like the Chad Mother and Child Project can significantly mitigate this issue simply through education and increase of awareness.

Training for health care professionals and midwives in the region, in addition to education for the mothers, lays the foundation for a long-term solution to maternal mortality in Chad. Lack of proper care for expecting mothers not only leads to deaths, but to abandoned families and children without mothers. This repercussion leads to an even longer lasting impact on communities as a whole.

Chad, in particular, is in desperate need of change and improvement in its health care for mothers. Many developing countries have improved their rates of maternal mortality in recent decades, but Chad’s only increased by 10 percent between 1980 and 2010. One of the Millennium Development Goals was to see a 75 percent decrease in pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths, but Chad has yet to reach this goal.

Trained staff on hand, proper medical tools and educated mothers can make the world of difference in decreasing the deaths of maternal and child mortality in Chad.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Google

Credit Access in Chad
Located in Central Africa, Chad is a landlocked country with a population of approximately 12 million people. While the national poverty fell from 54.8% in 2002 to 46.7% in 2011, Chad remains 186th out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. Credit access in Chad stands out as one of the leading impediments to economic growth.

Financial Institutions in Chad

Chad’s financial depth is among the lowest in Africa. According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Development Database (GFDD, 2016), financial system deposits of commercial banks and other financial institutions made up 6.8% of GDP in 2014 in Chad, three times lower than the sub-Saharan African median of 24.6%, and the lowest in the sub-region that year.

Likewise, the ratios of private credit to GDP and deposit money banks’ assets to GDP were less than a half of the median in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, coming at 6.6% and 8.1% respectively.

The role credit has in the growth of developing countries’ economies cannot be overstated. Increased credit access in Chad is essential for allowing farmers, businesses, and consumers across Chad to utilize investment capital and thus help expand economic activity.

Credit Access in Chad

There has been a marked decline in financial and credit access in Chad between 2011 and 2014, according to Global Findex Data. During that period, the proportion of adults with an account at a bank declined from 9% to 7.7%. In comparison, the average proportion of adults with an account at a financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 23.9% to 28.9%.

Borrowings and savings in Chad experienced a similar trend. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of adults who borrowed money from a bank declined from 6.2% to 2.4%, while the proportion of those who saved declined from 6.8% to 4.6%.

In order for people living in Chad to grow businesses, buy homes or purchase goods, the imperative is that they have access to financial institutions so that they can borrow and save money from those institutions. Credit is essential for building capital and achieving economic growth.

Progress is Being Made

While these statistics might suggest a rather grim financial situation, there is some progress that indicates an improvement of credit access in Chad for its citizens. IMF Financial Access Survey Data report from 2015 notes an increase in ATMs from 30 in 2011 to 64 in 2014. Borrowers at commercial banks have increased from 2.8 to 8.8 per 1000 adults. While these gains are modest and fall short of the sub-Saharan Africa average, they present a glimpse of hope for a country plagued by inaccessible credit and financial institutions.

As mobile banking proliferates throughout Chad’s financial sector, it offers increased access to credit. A Luxembourg based telecommunication firm, Tigo, and Airtel Money, an Indian telecommunications firm have helped facilitate the transition to mobile banking in Chad. They offer services that allow users to pay bills, conduct money transfers, and make everyday purchases. As of 2013, there are 50,000 Tigo Cash users and 53,000 Airtel Money users in Chad.

In addition, a recent U.N. initiative, the Chad Local Development and Inclusive Finance Program, works to promote access to financial institutions and foster sustainable development. The program aims to create 20 multifunctional centers for financial services and 20,000 micro-enterprises. These enterprises will help create jobs for at least 500,000 households.

While Chad’s financial woes are far from over, the proliferation of mobile banking and microfinance across the country have allowed more people to gain access to credit.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Chad
Girls in Chad have more of a challenge receiving an education than boys do. This is a common issue in impoverished countries and the reasons are different and specific to each country. The girls in Chad are forced into child marriage and expected to do household chores at a young age. This results in girls having to drop out of school early to fulfill their role in the society. Girls’ education in Chad has seen some improvement given the limited resources they have to increase the quality of education.

Reasons Why Girls in Chad Receive Less Education

One of the main reasons why girls in Chad do not receive an equal education is that they are expected to fulfill gender roles. In Chad, as mentioned earlier, forced child marriages are a major reason for girls dropping out of school, leaving them with barely any education. Radia, a female high school student from a refugee site in Chad, has the following to say, “When they get married, these young girls usually have to leave their family, their friends, and their community and move to their husband’s house. Their studies are interrupted, removing another source of social support and education.” Clearly, these young girls are not ready for marriage or motherhood.

Girls’ education in Chad is not as important as their responsibilities at home such as ensuring there is enough water, food and that the family’s needs are met. These girls are not fully educated, yet they are forced to take care of others rather than prioritize what is right for them. On the other hand, boys are not expected to shoulder the same responsibilities.

Using Resources Wisely to Help Girls’ Education in Chad

The value of education may be less in Chad. However, there are ways of changing that by using resources the right way. People, especially children, living in global poverty often do not receive a proper education because resources are not used efficiently. For example, the number of dropouts reached 19 percent in Chad. Also, community teachers have been used as primary teachers in Chad.

This situation can be improved by employing teachers that are qualified to teach different subjects and are paid well. Chad currently does not have enough teachers to accommodate regular-size classes.

The Progression of Girls’ Education in Chad

Girls’ education in Chad shows signs of progressing. There has been an education plan called PIET which the government of Chad has started. This education plan is effective from 2018 to 2020 and consists of three different priorities which are as follows: continue to provide quality primary education, improve the relevance of education at every level as well as improve the management and coordination of the education sector in Chad.

Impoverished countries often do not offer the best education due to fewer resources. Girls do not receive as much education as boys in Chad because they are expected to get married and take over household responsibilities at a very young age. However, with the help of foreign aid, these impoverished countries might be able to provide equal educational opportunities to girls.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Google

Facts About Poverty in Chad
With an estimated 200 ethnic groups who speak about 100 languages living within its borders, the central African nation of Chad is one of the most diverse countries in the world. The nation is also one of the theorized places of origin of humankind, an idea substantiated by a ~7 million year old humanoid skull discovered within Chad’s borders.

Through its history, Chad has been a central part of some of Africa’s greatest empires, a French colony and an independent state marred by internal and external conflict. Chad is an incredibly complex nation with many factors that contribute to poverty and instability. Here are 10 of the major facts about poverty in Chad that will hopefully demonstrate how the country could benefit from foreign aid.

10 Key Facts About Poverty in Chad

  1. After gaining independence from France in 1960, Chad fought in a civil war for almost 24 years. France, Libya, the Arab leaning northern regions and the African-leaning southern regions of Chad were just a few of the major parties involved in this conflict.
  2. Continuous power struggles within the nation have led to the deaths of more than 51,000 people and the complete instability of an ever-changing government.
  3. Lake Chad is an expansive fresh-water source that provides for millions of people living in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The lake is central to food and water supplies, land support and nutrient recycling, regulatory groundwater replenishment, carbon sequestration and air purification. Over the past 45 years, Lake Chad has lost 90 percent of its volume and surface area.
  4. Diminishing rainfall, water pollution due to increasing oil exploitation and commercial rice and cotton farming and the absence of government environmental regulatory programs all contribute factors to the destruction of the Lake Chad Basin. Agriculture, which employs nearly 83 percent of the working population in Chad, and the livestock sector, which provides direct or indirect income for 40 percent of the population, made up 23 percent of Chad’s GDP in 2015. Thus, the disappearance of the lake is a large factor in Chad’s poverty.
  5. Since 2015, Chadian forces have combatted the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram to restabilize the Lake Chad region. By the beginning of 2017, attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram displaced more than 100,000 people and created 7,000 refugees on Chadian soil.
  6. The presence of Boko Haram in Chad has periodically closed the border to Nigeria, a main outlet for trade, and slowed economic growth in the lake region. The instability created by Boko Haram’s terrorism further exacerbated long-standing tensions between ethnic communities and the civil conflict in Chad.
  7. Reports for 2017 illustrated that 28 percent of Chad’s population struggle with food insecurity. That is approximately 4 million people — 98 percent of whom live in the Sahelian belt that stretches across west Africa from Senegal to Chad. In fact, malnutrition rates are above emergency levels for children between the ages of five and nine in the Sahel region of Chad.
  8. To help improve food security and reduce instances of malnutrition in the Sahel region of the Lake Chad Basin, the World Food Programme is supporting 1.4 million of the region’s most vulnerable. The group accomplishes such an admirable feat by providing cash-based transfers that can be used to purchase food at local markets and improve the regional economy.
  9. In 2011, the richest 20 percent of Chadians accounted for about 48 percent of total consumption expenditures, while the poorest 20 percent of Chadians accounted for only 5 percent. The increase in these wealth disparities can be attributed to the growth in the oil industry, as the increase mainly benefited oil-related investment in urban capital; meanwhile, the rural industry of cotton production went into decline.
  10. The poverty gap index, a measure of the how much average income of impoverished people falls below the poverty line, shows huge discrepancies between urban and rural areas in Chad. Rural areas have a 22.6 percent poverty index gap, while urban areas stand at 6.6 percent. Rural poverty is more severe due to low levels of education, large numbers of children per household and climate changes’ direct effect on income and employment. Overall, the incidence of monetary poverty was twice as high in rural areas than it was in urban centers in 2011.

Hope of Continued Effort

Poverty in Chad has improved incrementally over the last 50 years, but there is much progress to be made especially when compared to many other developing areas. These 10 facts about poverty in Chad show an incredible opportunity for foreign aid to improve infrastructure and stability.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Chad
In 1960, Chad achieved independence from France. For close to half a century, Chad was embroiled in regional conflict and internal upheaval. As the conflict has begun to subside, the Chadian government is pursuing increased governance and development. Girls’ education in Chad is a salient point in development for the government.

As the Chadian government works to improve educational conditions for girls and the population at large, Chad continues to receive a large influx of refugees from Nigeria, Libya and the Central African Republic. For many of these refugees, the chances of returning to their countries seem unlikely. Therefore, the issue of providing education to girls becomes an even greater task. 

Statistics on Girls’ Education in Chad Show Inequality Compared to Boys

According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), the female literacy rate between the ages of 15 and 24 is roughly 41 percent. In contrast, the literacy rate for males in the same range sits at 53 percent. Furthermore, 49 percent of females have never attended primary school, compared to 42 percent of males. Furthermore, the Global Education Monitoring Report notes that the average number of years of education for females is 3.16 years.

Although the Chadian government has made primary and secondary education compulsory, girls are disproportionately less educated. One major contributor to this was the now-defunct legal marriage age. According to Chadian law, girls were allowed to marry at the age of 15, and 72.3 percent of girls married before the age of 18. At face value, this may not appear to be a major reason why girls have less access to school. However, it becomes evident when studying secondary school statistics. The transition from primary to secondary education for girls is 82 percent, which remains relatively close to male transition rates. But only 9 percent of these females manage to complete their secondary education, presumably because many girls married and left school.

Government Projects and New Marriage Age Minimum Help Girls

Chad has received large amounts of support from UNICEF through various education initiatives. One initiative, the Revitalizing Basic Education in Chad project, aims to provide quality education to impoverished children and adolescents in Chad. The project’s major goals are to provide quality education for 34,760 children who are currently out of school. Supporting the Chadian government’s efforts, this initiative plans to raise primary school completion rates to 80 percent by 2020. This project has the potential to greatly improve girls’ education in Chad. 

In 2015, Chad’s president launched a campaign to end child marriage and raise the legal marriage age to 18. This initiative was entered as a bill in Chad’s parliament and was successfully passed in 2016. Strict penalties were introduced; an individual who marries a female under the age of 18 can face up to 10 years in prison and a substantial fine. This legislative success will play a major role in girls’ education in Chad. 

Girls’ education in Chad still presents major challenges to the government and NGOs. However, great strides have been made to improve girls’ education in the country. With the support of UNGEI and continued educational reforms passed by the Chadian government, as well as raising the legal age of marriage, the future of girls’ education in Chad is improving. For these successes to continue, it is imperative that Chad continues to receive aid and guidance in developing a robust educational system. The ultimate goal is equal opportunity for all. 

– Colby McCoy
Photo: Flickr

Ongoing challenges in Lake Chad
Countries surrounding Lake Chad in Central Africa are facing staggering levels of poverty. In addition to ecological challenges, violence stirred up by the terrorist organization Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria has begun to affect other nations in the region — notably Chad, Cameroon and Niger — causing detrimental consequences on food and livelihood security.

How the Region’s Citizens Are Being Affected

Due to ongoing challenges in Lake Chad, the United Nations has found that 10.7 million people are in need of assistance, seven million are food insecure and 515,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. According to the Operational Inter-Sector Working Group, the upcoming June-to-August rainy season in the Lake Chad region will leave 536,000 people vulnerable in Northeast Nigeria.

Areas of Concern for Ongoing Challenges in Lake Chad

  1. Once the third-largest source of freshwater in Africa, satellite images show that the lake has vanished to roughly 10 percent of its original size, putting millions from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria at risk of losing their main source of water. In the 1960s, populations surrounding Lake Chad, which was then home to over 130 species of fish, enjoyed a level of food security.But decreasing water levels from the overuse of water, prolonged drought and global warming are forcing local populations to switch from fishing to agricultural production. “This is not only a humanitarian crisis, but it is also an ecological one,” Food and Agriculture Organization Director -General Graziano da Silva said at a media briefing in Rome in early 2017.
  2. Currently, armed fighting is a staple of the region. In Northeast Nigeria, the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram, a jihadist militant organization, will severely hurt cultivation in peak seasons in 2018. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of fatal conflict events in 2017 compared to the years 2013–2016 in this region. Households are highly dependent on emergency assistance from humanitarian aid agencies and deteriorating living conditions have led to population displacement.In addition, some areas are facing additional conflicts. There were 323 protection incidents reported on 84 sites in the Chad Lake region between January and April 2018, including violations of the right to property, violations of the right to life and physical integrity and sexual violence, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
  3. Food prices are well above average and are much higher than what is sustainable for those making low wages. Concern is higher in the summer “lean season,” when income is lowest and food prices are highest before harvest begins.Although humanitarian aid organizations are providing supplies, USAID reports that more needs to be done to eradicate acute food insecurity. USAID estimates that in the Adamawa State region in Nigeria, response needs are likely much higher than the organization is able to reach.

How Challenges Are Being Addressed

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is working heavily to mitigate ongoing challenges in Lake Chad, creating a response action plan for 2017–2019 which targets Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. To assist nearly three million people, the Food and Agriculture Organization is in the process of implementing programs include providing livestock emergency support (restocking vaccinations and animal feed), supporting food production and rehabilitating infrastructure to bolster production.

Next, there seems to be mutual understanding among countries in the region of the urgency of action. In February 2018 in Abuja, the Lake Chad Basin region commission along with the Nigerian government and UNESCO held a conference called, “Saving Lake Chad to restore its basin’s ecosystem for sustainable development, security and livelihoods.”

Finally, USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network seeks to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. In April 2018, 2.25 million people in the northeast area of Nigeria received food assistance from the organization.

Ongoing challenges in Lake Chad, including the disappearance of Lake Chad, civil conflict driven by Boko Haram and limited access to foodstuff, have pushed thousands into poverty. Keeping these issues in mind, humanitarian aid organizations are working to mitigate and reverse the impacts of decades of damage.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

Chad
Relations with the United States and Chad began in 1960 following its independence from France. Over the past few decades, Chad has emerged from a half-century of regional conflicts and internal turmoil to pursue better governance and development. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Chad by recognizing the significant steps the country has taken after decades of instability.

The United States and Chad

The U.S. has supported the Chadian government in committing to more regional stability and security, and promoting human rights and the rule of law. The U.S. government hopes to pursue these goals through the State Department, diplomatic engagement and multilateral, regional and bilateral assistance programs.

Today, over half of Chad’s population lives in poverty and has experienced decades of conflict and instability. Chadians face one of the highest rates of maternal mortality, high infant mortality and life expectancies of fewer than 50 years in the world. Many of Chadians are food-insecure, meaning they do not have consistent access to the food they need for basic nutrition.

To address these issues, USAID has partnered with the U.N. World Food Program to distribute food to those in need. Also, the organization aids in providing money to hungry families and aid farmers by getting the seeds they need to produce more food.

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Chad

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Chad by being its 95th largest goods trading partner with $931 million in total goods in 2016, and goods exported totaling $33 million. Chad was the United States’ 176th largest goods export, and top export categories included vehicles, machinery and electrical machinery.

U.S. total exports of agricultural products to Chad totaled $1 million, and Chad was the U.S.’s 78th largest supplier of goods imports in 2016; interestingly, U.S. goods imports from Chad totaled $899 million in 2016, down 31.1 percent from 2015. The U.S does not have an investment treaty or bilateral tax agreement with Chad, which is a partnership that could lead to better U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Chad in the future.

Uncertain Partnership

Recently, the Trump administration included Chad in Presidential Proclamation 9645 restricting travel from Chadians. The decision to include Chad in the “travel ban” occurred over the objections of the Pentagon and State Department.

Chad has been one of America’s more reliable counterterrorism allies in Africa. Chad has battled Islamic terrorists in the region, including offshoots of Al Qaeda and Boko Haram. Chad’s military has worked closely with Americans, playing host to exercises conducted by the United States.

Over the past decades, many top U.S military officials have talked about the importance of foreign aid and how it strengthens relations with countries around the world and national security. In 2011, senior Pentagon officials — including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Director of the CIA — argued before Congress in halting proposed cuts to America’s foreign aid budget.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Chad by having a reliable ally in Africa to fight terrorism in the region and a strong trade partner to increase both nations’ economies. It remains to be seen how relations between Chad and the United States continue, but whatever the outcome, peaceful conversations are always preferable.

– Zak Ott

Photo: Flickr