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Chad: strengthening communities

Zara Adam is a dynamic and capable woman. At 30, she is the mother of eight. 

Zara Adam pictured with her son. Photo: Claude Wandeler

She and her family live in the Sila region of eastern Chad, an area that was badly hit by the Sahel food crisis in 2011. Thanks to your support, she was enabled to feed her family and launch a small business.

Market day

In her village of Wandalou, Monday is market day and Zara is rushing to get back to the rest of her children at home. Here and there, traces of better times are evident on the market stalls including a few cucumbers, hot peppers, guavas, grilled meat and even some smoked fish. But for the most part, there is only millet – Chad’s staple grain – and basics like sugar, salt, oil, onions and garlic.

Hunger gap

The year has been difficult for local communities who rely on growing crops and raising animals for their survival. The last harvest provided Zara and her family with enough grain for just one month. It meant they were left with nothing until the next harvest. This period, known as the hunger gap, lasted up to ten months for many of the families in this region. 

Forced to sell

To survive, Zara and her husband took work as day labourers whenever they could, earning about €2 a day. The earnings were good, but there wasn’t enough work to go around. After a while, Zara was forced to sell some of her precious goats to provide for her family. Like many others in the region, she also began to think about selling her premature crops at a low price. 

Concern in action

It was around then that Zara came to the attention of Concern Worldwide. We were looking to protect harvests and prevent people from selling their assets. Our programme targeted 83,000 people in total, 3,000 of whom were reached with €40 cash-transfer payments.

Zara’s resilience

After receiving a cash transfer, Zara was able to purchase larger than usual amounts of rice, oil, sugar and salt at a village 20 kilometres away. She continued to sell the items at a profit in her home village, stretching the extra money as far as she could. She explains:

I only buy food for my family with the profit I make. With the rest, I buy more rice and sugar.

Unpredictable growing seasons

Despite her best efforts, Zara and thousands like her face further shortages in the future. The increasingly erratic weather across the Sahel meant that when the rains came, they caused flooding in several parts of the country. This is the reason that we will continue to work on improving access to nutritious food and healthcare for the most vulnerable people. Our focus, along with helping people to withstand shocks in the short-term, is to strengthen communities in the long-term.