The number of people affected by the food crisis in Chad is approximately the number of people living in cities of Ottawa and Toronto combined, but government officials and CARE workers have hope for a brighter future – with lots of work ahead.
In the country of Chad alone, 3.6 million people are finding it increasingly difficult to eat this year due to chronic poverty, erratic rains, high food prices, and regional conflict.
Despite these devastating figures, Barabara Jackson the humanitarian director of CARE International writes of her meetings with local government officials in Chad last week and her message is a positive one: “Chad is an oasis of peace and stability.”
Surrounded by neighbouring countries that are riddled with instability and conflict, Chad’s Ministers of Plan and Agriculture speak of their country as an oasis or safe haven with vast opportunity for growth and progress, as they recognize the value in their country’s oil and water reserves.
In an effort to make this positive vision a reality and alleviate the struggles currently facing Chadians country-wide, CARE Chad is working to repair wells, provide food and nourishment to the most vulnerable populations, and distribute seeds for planting to local communities.
In a community where water coverage only reaches 2% of the population, and women are forced to walk several kilometers on journeys of up to 10 hours, this CARE repaired well, is an easy fix with a vast impact. “This helps us a lot,” says Tamboshe Dere, 60. “I am happy the pumps are fixed. Before, we had to walk seven kilometers to get water.”
In addition to its ongoing long-term development work and support of refugees in eastern and southern Chad, CARE Chad is also supporting the local government’s response to the food crisis by providing a blanket feeding program to children ages 6-24 months, and to mothers breastfeeding infants under six months. This blanket feeding program offers nutrient-rich food like “Plumpy Nuts”, and “Super Cereal” to mothers and children, with the goal of fighting malnutrition in these vulnerable age groups.
Barbara Jackson also writes about speaking with young women receiving blanket feeding and general food distribution and the success of the program so far. The women, grateful about being asked their opinions expressed, “The food has helped as we had nothing, but we have many people to share it with including our elderly who are not able to walk to collect the food and who have not been counted.”
“Clearly we have much work to do,” writes Barbara.
Chad, while being a “forgotten” country, is also a country ripe for opportunity and one in which we and other partners should support to develop communities’ and governments’ clear recognition of concerns of building resiliency and adaptation to the climatic and economic challenges of the present and the future. We need to continue to invest now and over a longer term to build individuals’ and communities’ abilities as we listen and learn from their local experience and voices to shape a strong, resilient and courageous future.
- Barbara Jackson, Humanitarian Director, CARE international