Hunger in Chad
The country of Chad is approximately three times the size of California and has a population of 11.7 million people. The country has been struggling with an unstable government since its independence in 1960 and currently, one third of the children living in Chad are malnourished. 87% of the population living in rural areas is surviving on a US $1.25.
In Chad’s central and eastern areas, known as the Sahelian zone, childhood malnourishment is high and is a consistently severe problem. The resources in Chad are in extremely short supply, meaning that jobs and farming are scarce. The International Medical Corps’ (IMC) has assessed and determined that hunger in Chad has officially reached “critical” levels, additionally finding that young girls are the most common victims of severe malnourishment.
Fish, wheat and Natron are major resources that are influenced by Lake Chad, but the great lake has shrunk in area over the past 40 years to a mere 10% of what it once was. As a result of this, the limited harvest of 2012 led to skyrocketing high costs of food.
More than 30 million people depend on Lake Chad for food and as a source of income, but the extreme droughts have eliminated most of the water and caused unsanitary conditions for those who lack any access to clean water.
Diarrhea and water-related illnesses have only added to malnutrition in children because they are unable to “retain vital nutrients in food.” IMC has determined that 26% of children under the age of five suffer from general acute malnourishment.
People living in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad form their livelihoods off of water as well, and the droughts have forced food insecurity upon approximately two thirds of the Chadian population alone.
Farm animals are dying and land resources are hard to come by due to the constant migrating of farmers to find suitable land conditions.
With frequent relocating comes strained relationships between the neighboring Lake Chad communities. Conflicts have risen due to the instability of each country’s economy and Chad has faced an onslaught of refugees straining the already minimal resources.
IMC is currently working to address the rising levels of hunger in Chad by educating the population on nutrition and providing assistance with health care. They are hoping by building awareness of malnutrition globally more people will recognize and aid the people of Chad.
– Rebecca Felcon
Photo: The Australian
Sources: Info Please, World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger, International Medical Corps, Discover Magazine