Lake Chad's Water SupplyChad, or The Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in central-northern Africa. The nation is mostly flat terrain and it is made up of deserts and wetlands. The wetlands, and in particular, Lake Chad, are a great source of water for the country’s residents. Unfortunately, over the last few decades, Lake Chad’s water supply has been diminishing. Not only is the lake experiencing severe pollution, it is also drying up. This has led to a humanitarian crisis. 

Problems Rising

Lake Chad reaches across the majority of the southern region of Chad, and it also covers and supplies water to areas of people who live much farther north and also in the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. In January of 2023, the World Bank surmised that Lake Chad’s water supply supports, “an estimated 30 million people whose livelihoods are closely linked to agricultural, herding and fishing activities.”

These 30 million people are now being drastically affected by the extreme loss that natural disasters have produced. According to the United Nations in 2019, “The water body has diminished by 90% since the 1960s due to overuse” and drought. Since they can no longer find food or clean water, competition for these needs has created conflict in the region and the lack of water has also led to unsanitary conditions. 

Conditions Currently

The conditions of Lake Chad are not only hostile because of nature. Lack of water has an extreme effect on the human body and children can be among the most vulnerable. UNICEF’s “For Every Child” program shared that a lack of adequate water could cause extreme diarrhoeal disease and malabsorption phenomena, as well as extreme and chronic malnutrition. Additionally, in 2021, Down To Earth published an article explaining the way Chad’s residents have been forced to comply with extremist groups in the region due to their newfound desperation. Apparently, in previous years, residents were likely to migrate for fresh water and food sources when necessary. Now, they are blocked into certain areas by terrorist groups. They have no ability to find new resources, so they must find ways to sustain Lake Chad

Solutions to Scarcity

In response to the water scarcity Chad faces, they have taken steps toward being sustainable and resourceful. In 2018, Chad became the first African country to join The Water Convention, which is serviced by the United Nations. This showed promise that “Chad has confirmed its strong commitment to the sustainable management of transboundary waters through the principles and rules of international law.” This will hopefully guide the use of the water to be sanctioned with more cooperation, as opposed to conflict. 

Additionally, there are many towns making efforts of their own. The town of Bol, for example, has a community farm with water provided by The Agency of the Great Green Wall. They are also restoring the land in order to make the ground more fertile. Finally, “they have constructed underground cisterns and implemented drip irrigation systems, enabling them to grow crops even in the driest seasons.” 

Overall, it would seem that water management is a key component of addressing Lake Chad’s water supply.

These progressions are slow but meaningful. Given time and cooperation, the people who rely on Lake Chad for water, fishing and daily life may be able to achieve a solution to the water crisis they face. With the natural disasters, sustainable tactics will be vital for restoring Lake Chad. 

– Rachel Breeden
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in ChadThe landlocked nation of Chad, located in Central Africa, has continuously experienced challenges in addressing its ongoing poverty crisis. While many recent efforts by international programs have brought clean water and a steady supply of food to millions, hunger in Chad still affects many men, women and children there.

Conditions Causing Hunger in Chad

According to the World Food Program USA, 42% of Chad’s population is currently living below the poverty line. Additionally, the number of people that have been forcibly displaced in Chad has exceeded one million.

Chad also hosts more refugees than any other West or Central African nation, with more than 600,000 currently living in Chad. The influx of refugees across Chad’s border increased significantly after recent conflicts began in neighboring Sudan.

Extreme climate conditions have also caused more difficult growing seasons for agriculture throughout Chad, worsening the food crisis. A recent report by AP News stated that the Lake Chad Basin has become increasingly vulnerable to floods and droughts, which directly impacts food security.

Malnutrition in Chad

Hundreds of thousands of children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in Chad in 2021. Nearly 300,000 children under the age of five were treated that year, with UNICEF reporting that this number is increasing annually.

45.4% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 currently suffer from anemia in Chad. According to the Global Nutrition Report, Chad is “off course” in addressing several malnutrition-related health issues, including childhood overweight, sodium intake and obesity.

Efforts to Improve Hunger in Chad

The Global Hunger Index (GHI), which attributes a hunger score for various countries based on their levels of undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality, has given Chad a score of 37.2. This places Chad in the “alarming” category and ranked 117th out of 121 countries that are reviewed by the GHI. However, Chad has seen a decline in its GHI score in the years since 2000, when their score was listed at 50.7.

Action Against Hunger, a global organization that works to end hunger around the world, began working in Chad in 1981. Last year, with a team of 264 employees, Action Against Hunger helped over 1.2 million people suffering from hunger in Chad. The organization’s efforts included increased access to water, hygiene and food security programs.

The World Food Program (WFP) USA also aims to assist millions of people in Chad this year. To address the rising number of refugees in the nation, WFP USA plans to provide food to 100,000 refugees and host communities. Additionally, the organization will work with communities to improve assets such as warehouses for crops and will expand nutrition assistance to an additional 16 regions considered high-risk in Chad.

Overall, there are still many challenges to addressing hunger in Chad. However, the resilience of those living in the nation and the commitment of numerous international organizations to provide funding and support toward improving conditions in Chad present hope for a better future for millions.

– Tristan Weisenbach
Photo: Flickr

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

Poverty in Chad
Located in Central Africa, the country of Chad is the fifth largest landlocked state and has a poverty rate of 42%. With a total population of approximately 15.5 million, a lack of modern medicine, dramatic weather changes and poor education have riddled the country with deadly diseases and resulted in severe poverty in Chad.

Poor Health Conditions in Chad Lead to Disease

The most common types of disease and the primary causes of death include malaria, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Malaria, usually spread through mosquito bites, is a potentially fatal disease and is quite common in the country of Chad. Due to poor sanitation, Chadians are more susceptible to malaria; the most recently estimated number of cases was 500,000 per year.

Along with malaria, lower respiratory diseases contribute to Chad’s high mortality rate – the most common and deadliest of those being meningitis. Lower respiratory tract infections occur in the lungs and can sometimes affect the brain and spinal cord. A lack of available vaccinations in the country has increased susceptibility to meningitis. Meningitis is most deadly in those under the age of 20, and with a countrywide median age of 16.6 years old, Chad has seen a rise in total meningitis cases and overall deaths.

As of 2015, there were an estimated 210,000 Chadians living with HIV. According to UNAIDS, there were 12,000 AIDS-related deaths just last year, along with 14,000 new cases. Those living with HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of death with their compromised immune systems. They are unable to fight off diseases and, with the preexisting severe risk of malaria and meningitis, they are more susceptible to death.

Harsh Weather and its Role in Food Insecurity and Disease

Due to its geography, Chad is one of the countries most severely affected by environmental challenges. Approximately 40% of Chadians live at or below the poverty line, with the majority relying heavily on agricultural production and fishing. The drastic change in rain patterns and the consequent frequency of droughts have placed a significant strain on their food supply. Fishing in particular has been sparse. Lake Chad, the country’s largest lake, has diminished by 90% in the past 50 years. The rising temperatures in Chad have caused a decrease in both crop yields and good pasture conditions, placing more strain on those who depend on Lake Chad for food and the nutrients it adds to farming.

In addition to affecting poverty in Chad, intense weather patterns have also increased the number of infectious diseases. The infrastructure of the country has not been able to keep up with the rapidly growing population in urban areas. This results in poor sanitation. The sanitation services are overwhelmed during floods, which contaminates the water supply.

Lack of Education Affects Poverty in Chad

Despite the relatively large population, less than half of school-aged children attend school. With attendance rates so low, the literacy rates in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 fall; currently, they only reach 31%. According to UNICEF, attendance rates are astonishingly low; 8% for children in upper secondary school and 13% for lower secondary school. With education rates so low, income inequality, infant and maternal deaths and stunting in children continue to rise; as a result, the overall economic growth of the country declines.

Enrollment is low in Chad due to the lack of resources in schools. With the country in severe poverty, schools remain under-resourced, both in access and infrastructure. Some schools have no classrooms and no teaching materials. Furthermore, students often outnumber teachers 100:1. As a result, the quality of learning decreases, as does the overall attendance rate.

As of now, only 27% of primary-school-age children complete their schooling. According to UNESCO, if adults in low-income countries completed their secondary education, the global poverty rate would reduce by half. Even learning basic reading skills could spare approximately 171 million people from living in extreme poverty. Educated individuals are more likely to develop important skills and abilities needed to help them overcome poverty. Education also decreases an individual’s risk of vulnerability to disease, natural disasters and conflict.

Poverty in Chad is widespread, and the rate of impoverished people will continue to grow if it is not addressed. Poor health conditions and a lack of education are just a few of the many problems people face; while the living conditions may seem dire in Chad, a gradual decrease in overall poverty rates proves that there is hope.

Jacey Reece
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

poverty in chad
Poverty in Chad? Surprisingly for an oil-producing nation, Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. After gaining its independence from France, Chad struggled to find its footing. Mismanagement, corruption, conflict and a harsh climate did the country no favors, and Chad has consistently remained one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Over half of Chad’s population lives in poverty; this is partly a result of the harsh geographical conditions. The majority of Chad is covered by desert and for a developing country that depends largely on subsistence farming, this presents a significant challenge. The most successful practice is migratory farming, where herds can move and adapt to changing climate conditions, but even these are severely limited by resources. As well, droughts in the 1970s and 80s aggravated already sub-optimal conditions. Recently, changes in climate have brought lower rainfalls and consistent overuse has led to soil erosion and land degradation. Farmers lack infrastructure, support and resources needed to grow sufficient food.

Geographic isolation, a lack of cultural cohesion and lack of education are all contributors to the problem. Spread out among a huge amount of land, Chad’s citizens are separated by large swaths of land, making it difficult to distribute necessary resources. Most people do not speak either of the country’s official languages (Arabic and French) and 90% of the country is illiterate.

Gender discrimination is also rife in Chad, though women are an essential part of a family’s survival. They are given work outside the home as well as the responsibility of raising a family, tending farms, gathering water, raising children and cooking. Yet they are culturally limited from access to education or training, and marginalized by society. These women are especially vulnerable to the psychological as well as physical effects of poverty.

Chad’s reality is brutal; a large percentage of the population is undernourished and lacks access to education, as well as high levels of food insecurity and infant mortality. Chad is not set to meet the MDGs as a result of poor management and weak planning and implementation.

Chad’s story is not a pretty one, but an important one. It is a reminder of the harsh reality that is daily life in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the amount of work that remains to be done in the region.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: Rural Poverty Portal, World Bank
Photo: Charity in Chad