Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 4:11 pm
Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide
Last week, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg announced a contribution of $33 million to support food security, nutrition and short-term cash assistance efforts across the West African region of the Sahel, bringing USAID’s total humanitarian assistance to the region to more than $270 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The announcement caused barely a ripple in the US media, and many who heard the news may have even asked ‘What crisis?’ or ‘What’s the Sahel?’ As aid organizations, it is our responsibility to issue and amplify calls to action to respond in the Sahel, and to broadcast the important message that coordinated action now will save lives and prevent costly interventions later – and we have the evidence.
Millet is the staple crop that keeps most people alive in Niger, but this year, drought and poor harvests threaten to leave 13 million people in need of emergency food assistance by April. Photo: Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide US, Tahoua town, Niger
Right now, a series of factors—including volatile spikes in food prices, failed harvests and cyclical drought—have triggered widespread food shortages across the Sahel, according to the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network. Levels of malnutrition among children under five have already reached the internationally recognized emergency threshold of 15 percent in parts of many affected countries, which include Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 9:54 am
Refugee children at Dosseye Camp, Southern Chad where Concern is meeting the needs of refugees from Central African Republic. Photo: Francesca Reinhardt, Chad
By Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Chad
Fatou Yali dreams of the herd of cattle her family once had, and the day she can start building up her own herd in her new home in Chad. Fatou is one of 76,000 refugees from the Central African Republic now rebuilding their lives in neighbouring Chad.
“Many people left ahead of us, when they heard the rebels were approaching,” she says, “but we wanted to stay. Even when they took our cattle, we wanted to stay. But when the shooting came to our door, we had to leave.”
Fatou comes from near the town of Paoua, northern CAR, which has seen heavy fighting between rebel and government forces since 2003. She is from the Fula tribe, which stretches across west and central Africa, and who make up a large part of the Dosseye refugee camp, near the town of Goré, Southern Chad.
They have been here for four years, and as the situation in CAR remains volatile, many have little hope of returning. The government and local communities have generously donated land to the refugees, allowing them to take the first steps towards self-sufficiency. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
Dosseye Refugee Camp, Southern Chad. Photo: Francesca Reinhardt
By Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Chad
At 6:30 am on the dot the rain begins to fall in Goré, southern Chad. It sounds like an avalanche clattering down on the tin roof overhead. This is the sound everyone’s been waiting for with bated breath, because it’s already mid-May and the rains should have started a few weeks ago. But after twenty minutes it stops. Is it a false alarm? There’s no more rain, but the air is thick and heavy and clouds still hover in the distance, promising more. So after a long, hot dry season, the farmers swing into gear.
When to plant is a serious gamble for farmers. If the rains don’t start in earnest, the soil will dry up and precious seeds will get blown away. If they wait too long, it might be too late, and food stores from the year before will have to last even longer. For many subsistence farmers, the months between the end of the harsh dry season and the first harvest are known as the “hunger gap,” when they have to survive on the last of the cereal crop, foraging, and loans.
There is an added danger that if families get too hungry, they will eat the seeds they need to plant for the next harvest, thus threatening their food supply for the following year. Some families hide their seeds in trees, or anywhere else that will keep them out of reach of hungry children. This is obviously a difficult choice for families to make: to have their children go hungry now, or risk starvation the following year. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Paul O’Brien is Overseas Director
for Concern Worldwide
Members of a shea butter collective that Concern works with in Gore, Chad. Photo: Chad, Concern Worldwide
I arrived in Chad last week to meet with our country team, and to assess our programs and the ongoing humanitarian needs in our program areas. Chad is one of the world’s seven least developed countries: it ranks at 163 out of 169 countries on the 20
10 United Nations Human Development Index. The goal of our programs here is to target the poorest communities in the poorest parts of Chad—and I was curious to see how successfully we were doing that. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 8:00 am
Shea butter training gets underway in Goré, southern Chad, where Concern trains women in the processing of Shea butter and production of soap, food stuffs, and cosmetics. Photo: Chad, Concern Worldwide
Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Concern Worldwide, Chad
I’m based in a small town called Goz Beida in eastern Chad. It’s a dusty corner of the Sahel, where the bulk of the traffic comes in the form of slow-moving donkeys and camels. It’s an unforgiving environment, but I’m learning things here that I don’t think I could learn anywhere else.
Chad is a vast landlocked country, covering several eco-zones, and some of the highest rates of poverty on the planet. The challenges are enormous. Chad has the world’s highest child infant mortality rate, and is in the bottom five countries ranked by the United Nations Human Development Index. Chad has experienced not only natural disasters, but also civil conflict, the internal displacement of populations, refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Central African Republic (C.A.R.) and Sudan, the Sahel food crisis, drought, flooding, and cholera outbreaks. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:39 pm
Currently, Chad is hosting some 268,000 Sudanese and 74,000 CAR refugees and attacks by armed militias and rebels, inter-ethnic violence and tensions over land access have led to the internal displacement of more than 170,000 Chadians.
Aid agencies are trying to provide assistance to as many people as possible according to key humanitarian principles, such as impartiality, independence and neutrality.
But access to the affected populations can be very difficult and even dangerous for humanitarian workers. Just recently two humanitarian workers were kidnapped in the border town of Adé and so far only one has been released. Last year, the head of an international NGO was shot dead while travelling in eastern Chad. Read the rest of this entry »