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How Agroforestry is helping farmers fight hunger in Chad

What’s happening in Chad right now, and how Tearfund is using Agroforestry to help families have enough to eat.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 12 Apr 2024

Abdelmadjid in Chad stands in the market garden area that has been set up with the help of Tearfund's local partner. He is holding a large blue sack full of okra that he has grown and harvested.

Abdelmadjid in Chad works in the market garden set up by Tearfund’s local partner to help farmers provide for their families in the face of growing food insecurity in the country. Credit: Tearfund

One third of all the people across eastern Chad right now are refugees. With devastating conflict just across the border in Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes there and sought some form of safety in Chad. Most of these are women and children.

Refugees from the conflict in Sudan

The refugee camps are full and many people are living in makeshift shelters. In one village near the border with Sudan, there are twice as many refugees as locals. In a country that was already struggling with widespread poverty and some of the highest levels of hunger in the world, all of this is putting intense strain on resources and infrastructure. A Reliefweb report in October 2023 suggested that, by that time, 6.9 million people in the country were in need of humanitarian aid.

‘6.9 million people in Chad are in need of humanitarian aid.’

Not enough water

Chad is one of the hottest and driest places on the planet but, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, in some refugee camps on the edge of the Sahara Desert, people are having to survive on as little as seven litres of water a day – this includes for drinking, cooking and hygiene. ‘People wait in lines for water brought in by trucks,’ the report says, ‘often considering themselves lucky to have water once every two days. Others choose to dig in dry riverbeds in search of water.’

With not enough access to clean water, diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera are a major problem. Doctors Without Borders reports that it has recorded almost 1,000 cases of hepatitis E in the refugee camps and several pregnant women have died.

The climate challenge for farmers and food

And the heat and lack of water is only set to get worse as Chad is right near the top of the list of countries worst affected by climate change.

Lake Chad (after which the country is named), is a vital water source for 30 million people, but since 1963, it has shrunk by 90 per cent. Along with this, reduced rainfall over time, interspersed with sudden flash flooding (which affected 1.3 million people in Chad in 2022), has left farmers like Abdelmadjid and his family facing, first hand, some of the very real challenges caused by the changing climate.

Abdelmadjid tells us, ‘It was like a heavy burden I had to bear. I was unable to provide for my family's most basic needs. I was discouraged and despondent and trying to make ends meet through debt. I could feel the sky falling, it was so complicated.’

‘I was unable to provide for my family's most basic needs. I was discouraged and despondent and trying to make ends meet through debt. I could feel the sky falling, it was so complicated.’
Abdelmadjid, Chad

Working to solve food insecurity

One of the ways Tearfund is working in the face of the country’s major food insecurity problem, is by rehabilitating green spaces and helping people like Abdelmadjid to find more productive ways of farming that will provide enough food – both for his own family and for the wider community. It’s called ‘Agroforestry’.

Tearfund’s local partner, Projet Évangélique de Développement Communautaire (PEDC), identified the area where Abdelmadjid lives as one where there was a significant level of food insecurity and where there was a large piece of land which was bare and not being used.

Agroforestry in action

To begin, our partner cleared and prepared 30 hectares of land with compost to transplant 18,750 seedlings of many different species, and a solar-powered borehole was installed on the site. One hectare of the land was set aside and prepared for market gardening, for people like Abdelmadjid to grow crops such as okra, cucumbers, watermelons and turnips.

The produce from this site is certified organic and the healthy fruit and veg grown here has already started to provide a good yield to be sold at the market – providing for the farmers’ families and contributing to reducing malnutrition in the country.

Along with this, our local partner has been working to help children, particularly girls (who are most likely to have to drop out of school if the family does not have enough money) to stay in education – both by helping families earn an income and by providing nutritious food for children in school.

A glimmer of hope

Abdelmadjid says, ‘Since I joined this project, I've been happy because I've benefited from seeds, training, awareness-raising and agricultural techniques adaptable to climate change. As a result, I was able to put into practice my new knowledge of crops, cultivate a large area and obtain a good yield.

‘Before the project, the land was bare, undefined and undeveloped. However, we now see incredible greenery with, above all, good agricultural profitability.’

Abdelmadjid has also joined the committees set up to help make sure that the good results can continue once the project itself ends. He says, ‘After [Tearfund’s partner’s] intervention, I feel relieved because there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon for me and my family, who will now be able to eat every day. Income from the sale of market garden produce has enabled me to be financially independent and provide for my family.

‘I have developed the ability to adapt to challenges by being physically and mentally strong and flexible.

‘In conclusion, I thank God, PEDC and its financial backers – in particular Tearfund. May God bless you and extend PEDC's reach through new projects.’

If you'd like to give to help more people like Abdelmadjid, you can do so here.

Read more about Agroforestry in other parts of the world where Tearfund works here.

Pray for Chad

    • Pray for all those facing food insecurity in Chad and Sudan. The UN has warned that: in Chad, more than a million people face losing access to lifesaving aid unless more funding is raised to help; and in Sudan, the conflict is on course to become the world’s worst hunger crisis, with a third of the country's 18 million people facing acute food insecurity already. 
    • Pray for the basic needs of people who have been displaced. Pray for provision for their basic needs, and for protection for women, as incidences of sexual and gender-based violence increase in situations where people are forcibly displaced.
    • Pray for the presidential elections in Chad. It is the first time in Chad’s history that a president and a prime minister will face each other in a presidential poll. The first round of voting will take place on 6 May, with a provisional second round scheduled to take place on 22 June. The elections are part of a transition back to democracy from rule by Chad’s military government. Pray for the country's political and social situation, and for a peaceful and smooth presidential election.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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