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Running on empty in eastern Chad

Across the Sahel region, families struggle to find enough to eat in the months before the harvest. This year is more difficult than most as the cost of grain has doubled and the markets are almost empty. Concern Worldwide is helping by providing food and support to those in need.

Hunger gap

Radia Oumar knows that time is against her. It is May and she can barely find enough grain to feed her family, yet the next harvest is not until September. This is what is known as the hunger gap. A day’s labour in a neighbouring market buys Radia about two mixing bowls’ worth of grain. This is not nearly enough to feed her family of five.

Scraping by

Since their harvests failed, many families like Radia’s must scrape together enough money to buy food each day, living day-to-day, hand-to-mouth. To make ends meet, they are resorting to foods only eaten in times of extreme shortages:

The village is suffering; all the grain stores are empty. We do what we can, the rest is in God’s hands. [We are eating krebs]. Usually krebs is only for goats, now we add it to the sorghum. I hope the rain comes soon, so we can collect more plants to eat.

Hidden difficulty

Radia is providing for her whole family. Her son recently died and his wife Kaltouma is having a difficult pregnancy and cannot work. Kaltouma has never been to a health centre and the nearest one is 30 km away. Their village, in a remote area of eastern Chad, is called Moulabada, which means “hidden.”

During conflicts that swept eastern Chad in 2007, this hiding place stood them in good stead. But the nearest source of water is two hours away. This means that women like Kaltouma walk four hours a day just for a few containers of water.  

Our charity response

To help families like Radia’s in eastern Chad, we are launching an emergency response programme to bring food, water and nutritional support to villages in need. The programme aims to help families before malnutrition sets in. An early recovery programme will help farmers and pastoralists to maintain their livelihoods in the face of this crisis.

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