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Poverty in ChadLocated in Central Africa, the country of Chad is the fifth largest landlocked state and has a poverty rate of 66.2%. 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 climate change. 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 are enrolled in 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, teachers are often outnumbered 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 be cut in 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