Ensuring food security for poor Sahel farmers

The Sahel zone is characterised by structural poverty and chronic food insecurity. Changing climatic conditions and swarms of locusts jeopardise agricultural production, there is a lack of technical equipment, adapted seed and appropriate knowledge. The project improves the nutritional situation of the rural population. The families learn about new cultivation methods and are given information about livestock farming and climate change. Thanks to the setting up of platforms, the farming families are able to network more effectively, which strengthens their position in political decision-making processes. 


Country / Region / Place
Chad, Sahel Zone

Target group
250,000 poor farmers as well as 62,000 members of producer groups and women’s groups

Funding requirement: 
564,072 Swiss Francs

Project duration:
01.01.2016 bis 31.12.2019

Project number:

Project objective:
Contribute to improving the food security in the rural communities.

Project coordinator:
Karin Mathis, Tel: 041 419 22 36; kmathisnot shown@caritasto make life hard for spam


Background information

Chad, situated in the Sahel belt, is one of the world’s poorest countries. The UN Human Development Index ranks the country 184th out of 187 countries. Two thirds of the population can neither read nor write, and only half of the people have access to clean drinking water.

Chad is divided into three climate zones: the scarcely populated desert in the north (around 50% of the country), the Sahel belt in the centre (40%) and the savannah in the south (10%). The population in the Sahel zone is estimated at roughly 1.6 million people. They are predominantly Muslim and live mainly from agriculture and livestock farming. In some regions, fishing and gathering play a supplementary role.

The Sahel region is characterised by structural poverty and chronic food insecurity. The main source of food of the region’s population comes from cereal production. The main crops are millet, sorghum, maize and niébé (a type of bean). However, agricultural production in these areas is insufficient, and is moreover subject to considerable fluctuations. This is due, one the one hand, to the difficult climatic conditions (insufficient and unevenly distributed rainfall), and on the other hand to the periodic invasion of swarms of locusts and grain-eating birds. Other reasons for the low productivity are the lack of improved seeds, the producers’ inadequate technical equipment – they still work almost exclusively with the hoe – and outdated cultivation methods.  There is also a lack of agricultural research and extension, and of access to credit. Moreover, the few farming families who produce surpluses have no access to marketing structures.

The production techniques of the farming families in the Sahel are not sufficiently developed. Agriculture is still practised very extensively and is barely linked with the other systems (forestry, animal husbandry). Livestock farming also faces a variety of challenges, such as the increasing scarcity of pastures and of water, animal diseases, and the lack of veterinary provision. 


What are we doing?

Our partner in the implementation of this project, ACORD-Chad (Association de Coopération en Recherche pour le Développement) is an African non-governmental organisation which implements projects to improve the nutritional situation of the rural population in various African countries. In Chad, ACORD works exclusively in the Sahel zone.

ACORD supports measures that enhance the agricultural production of small farmers and thus increase the farmers’ household income, but at the same time preserve soil fertility. Methods such as intercropping of cereals and legumes, planting nitrogen-fixing plants, or fruit rotation, are introduced. Targeted support is given to small-scale livestock farmers, with activities designed to address important aspects of hygiene, feeding and health in animal husbandry.

In addition, ACORD supports measures aimed at fostering a professional approach by the farmers. The aim is to establish an information system that enables them to identify the demands of the market better and to improve their marketing. Furthermore, the capacities of the cooperatives that were established in the preceding phases will be strengthened. In this, the project focuses on developing funding mechanisms that allow better marketing of the products.

The partner organisation supports rural producers to organise themselves and create networks (regional and national) in order to tackle the problem of food insecurity together. This involves establishing regional coordination platforms whose work is supported by our partner. The organisational development is supported with the aim of enhancing the visibility and positioning of the platforms, so that they can enter into alliances with other partners. This lays the foundations that will enable the producers to participate in national debates about agro-pastoral policies and strategies. Furthermore, the project helps to improve the production infrastructure, for example by building storage silos for the harvest and fenced areas for vaccinating the livestock.

The changing climatic conditions present a great challenge for the producers in Chad.  For this reason, the project runs awareness-raising courses for the farmers about climate change, in which strategies are formulated on how to avoid the overexploitation of resources by means of local utilisation agreements and protective measures. ACORD also provides training for the farmers in methods of agroforestry, fodder crop production and soil remediation. ACORD also supports the further development of an emergency mechanism which will enable the beneficiaries to respond quickly and effectively in case of crises. Data is systematically collected and disseminated, and emergency plans and clear decision-making processes in case of a crisis are elaborated.


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