Republic of Chad
Vast landlocked country of Central Africa, the Republic of Chad is a low-income food-deficit country. The population, concentrated in the Southern part of the country, is young and predominantly rural. The country is experiencing a strong demographic growth and a high influx of refugees.
The agricultural sector, which is subject to harsh climatic constraints, has dominated the economy of the country for many years. Oil extraction has recently become the main driving force of the Chadian economy. However, the majority of the population is still involved in agriculture, a sector characterized by low productivity.
Despite a satisfactory economic performance recorded during the last decade, poverty affects two-thirds of the population. Moreover, limited health coverage and insufficient quality of health care services contribute to very high levels of infant and maternal mortality. As a matter of fact, infant and underfive mortality rates have not declined substantially in the last 25 years. The situation is further worsened by lack of adequate sanitation and access to safe water. With regard to education, illiteracy reaches alarming levels, affecting three-quarters of the population.
The diet is mainly based on cereals (sorghum and millet) and starchy roots (cassava, yam), complemented by pulses. Consumption of animal products and of fruit and vegetables, foods rich in micronutrients, is low. At national level, the food supply barely meets the average energy requirements of the population, and due to disparities in access to food more than one third of the population is undernourished. As a result, many households face recurrent, and sometimes very severe, food insecurity.
Although breastfeeding is a very common practice in Chad, exclusive breastfeeding is exceptional while complementary feeding is often not introduced in a timely manner and is insufficiently diversified. These inadequate child feeding practices, along with poor health coverage and poverty, are the main determinants of malnutrition. Stunting, i.e. chronic malnutrition, affects 41% of children under five years of age. Malnutrition is therefore a major public health problem in Chad. Moreover, during the last decade, no improvement has been observed in the prevalence of chronic malnutrition. The nutritional status of women of childbearing age is also of concern.
Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread. The prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders has decreased considerably but the problem persists, particularly in certain areas of the East. Consumption of iodized salt must be increased and encouraged throughout the country. Among young children and women, vitamin A and iron deficiencies are highly prevalent mostly because of low levels of consumption of foods of animal origin and of fruit and vegetables. Iron deficiency anemia is a major public health problem in Chad as more than three-quarters of young children and more than one third of adult women are affected. The coverage of vitamin A and iron supplementation must be considerably expanded in order to combat these deficiencies more efficiently.