- Lack of funding for relief efforts in drought-struck Chad could deepen the food crisis in the country, humanitarian agencies today warn. Two million people are at risk of hunger and a famine could develop.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned today that a lack of funding is threatening its emergency operations in Chad. Drought and pest infestation has slashed food production in the country, with cereal production estimated to have dropped 34 percent compared to 2008.
The UN agency's emergency operations expert, Fatouma Seid, said FAO had so far only been able to mobilise US$ 2 million of the US$ 11.8 million it requested last November for agricultural emergency operations in Chad as part of a wider relief appeal.
"It means FAO will only be distributing 360 of the 11,286 tonnes of seeds we had been planning to issue to farmers for their next harvest," she said. "We had aimed to distribute 6,000 tonnes of animal feed too, but can only manage 413 tonnes."
FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture said last week that the food situation was "deeply worrying" in parts of the Sahel region, where more than 10 million people are at risk of hunger. A death rate of about 31 percent for cattle was reported last year in western and central areas of Chad, while significant livestock deaths were occurring in some parts of Mali.
The situation was said to be particularly serious in neighbouring Niger, where some 2.7 million people will need food aid this year while an additional 5.1 million people in the country were considered at risk of food insecurity.
FAO had raised about US$ 14.5 million for Niger, where emergency relief operations include government sales of subsidised cereals, comprehensive feeding by UNICEF and WFP, and the distribution of animal feed, seeds and fertilizer by FAO.
"Donors are afraid of a repetition of the 2005 food crisis in Niger, when many people starved to death," Ms Seid stated. "In comparison, there is less awareness of what is happening in Chad, although the situation there is just as critical," she added.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) says that 102,000 severely malnourished children in Chad would need life-saving treatment this year. Malnutrition is now the underlying cause for half of the deaths among children under five in the country.
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