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Ranked 186th out of 188 in the Human Development Index in 2016, Chad is among the poorest countries in the world. Of an estimated population of 12 million, two thirds are illiterate, 2.4 million are affected by food insecurity, and 35% of children in rural areas suffer from malnutrition. Despite a clear potential in terms of natural resources, several factors remain unfavourable to agricultural development. Food insecurity continues to be a major concern. Agricultural production is limited by unequal market access, exposure to multiple natural and ecological risks, and a reduction of arable land. Indeed, increasing rainfall variability regularly causes floods and droughts. Added to this is an oil-dependent economy, high youth unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities. These factors all contribute to Chad's fragility, which also faces a delicate political and security situation at national and regional levels.
To help rural communities cope with these challenges, Caritas Switzerland is working in the areas of food security, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Currently, five partners are participating in the implementation of the programme in the Sudanian zone, where arable land with high agricultural potential is located, as well as in the Sahelian zone.
Food security and Markets
In 2014 the results of the National Food Security Survey in Chad suggested that 2.4 million people were affected by food insecurity, 4% of whom faced severe food insecurity. The prevalence of malnutrition is much higher in rural areas than in urban areas. On average, more than 35% of children in rural areas compared to 23% in urban areas suffer from global chronic malnutrition. To meet these challenges, Caritas Switzerland's programme in Chad is pursuing the following objectives in terms of food security and markets:
Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk reduction
Dominated by small family farms with very limited means, agricultural production in Chad is based on low-input, slash-and-burn itinerant farming. Under these conditions, sufficient production can be ensured thanks to the long fallow period which allows the soil to regain its fertility. Recent decades have witnessed strong pressure put on basic natural resources due to high population growth, increases in herd sizes and a decline in isohyets, resulting in a significant reduction in fallow periods. As a consequence, family farms and rural communities remain vulnerable and exposed to climate change and disasters. They face poor rainfall distribution, flooding, droughts and rising temperatures. The objectives of the programme in Chad in the realm of climate change and disaster risk reduction are as follows:
Humanitarian aid is not a sector of activity in its own right under the Chad programme. Instead, it is a question of intervening on an ad hoc basis in the event of an emergency, and principally in complementarity with the food security programme already implemented.