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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05NDJAMENA1350 2005-09-01 17:51:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

2005 FOOD CRISIS IN THE SAHEL SPARES CHAD

Tags:   EAID PREF PREL SOCI CD WFP 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

011751Z Sep 05

ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   USNW-00  CA-00    CIAE-00  
      COME-00  INL-00   DODE-00  DS-00    EAP-00   EB-00    EUR-00   
      UTED-00  FDRE-01  VC-00    H-00     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    
      LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   M-00     AC-00    NEA-00   DCP-00   
      NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OIC-00   OMB-00   NIMA-00  EPAU-00  PA-00    
      MCC-00   PM-00    GIWI-00  PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    
      IRM-00   TRSE-00  FMP-00   R-00     EPAE-00  IIP-00   SCRS-00  
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-00   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00   
      SWCI-00    /002W
                  ------------------31933B  011716Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2239
INFO AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 
AMEMBASSY DAKAR 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 
AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
					  UNCLAS NDJAMENA 001350 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR AF/C, AF/EB AND PRM, ALSO PASS USAID
USAID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA AND DCHA/FFP
DAKAR FOR RFFPO AND OFDA
ROME FOR FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PREL SOCI CD WFP
SUBJECT: 2005 FOOD CRISIS IN THE SAHEL SPARES CHAD




1. Summary. While a massive food aid and disaster relief
program is being implemented in neighboring Niger, and OFDA
disaster assessment teams gauge the seriousness of reported
shortages in Mali and Burkina Faso, the consensus among
on-ground observers of the situation in Chad is that Chad is
not experiencing a food security crisis. An August 24 press
release from Agence France Presse which describes half of
Chad as threatened by famine and currently risking
starvation, in part due to recent failed rains, is inaccurate
and misleading according to a GOC/donor food security
technical committee which convened August 31. The FEWS Net
project, funded by USAID, monitors the food situation closely
and keeps the Embassy well informed of important
developments. It sits on this technical committee and shares
the view that the article was off target. We will continue
to rely upon FEWS Net for up-to-date and accurate assessments
of food needs. End summary.



2. Despite a mediocre 2004/05 cereals harvest last
September/October, the overall food situation for the
country, with the notable exception of the eastern border
zone which is reeling from the effect of 200,000 Sudanese
refugees, was judged then and continues to be viewed as
satisfactory. It is significant to note that the GOC did not
issue an appeal for food aid at any time in the postharvest
period, something it has not been shy to do in the past when
harvest shortfalls were significant. Moreover, the FEWS Net
project basically flagged only two regions where continued
surveillance would be required because of poor crop
production: the sahelian east (Wadi Fira) and the sahelian
west (Kanem). The food situation in both was kept from
deteriorating through the organization of subsidized food aid
sales programs authorized by the GOC/donor food aid
coordinating group and, in the east, from WFP's effective
food aid program for Sudanese refugees in the twelve camps,
later expanded to include some of the neighboring host
country population. In short, there were only a couple of
localized food security problems which occurred as a result
of last year's 2004/05 mediocre harvest, and they have been
addressed.



3. We are still in what is called the preharvest "lean
period." This is the time of year when hardships, caused by
the previous year's production shortfalls, are most acute.
However, this year the rains have been so good that early
crops are already being harvested and the wild grains of the
sahelian zone, coveted by local populations, are being
gathered. Livestock are doing well from the emergence of
pasture, resulting in dairy products on the market. Crop
prospects, according to FEWS Net, are good practically
everywhere in the country. Cereal prices have started to go
down in N'djamena and Abeche. However, the rainy season
needs to continue a couple more weeks so as to ensure
completion of the growing cycle for most of the rainfed
crops.



4. At odds with the food security assessment of most
informed observers, the August 24 AFP story portrayed the
country as on the brink of famine. The source for most of
the information and for the quotes which appear in the
article is a minor technocrat in the agriculture ministry
(vice the health ministry as erroneously reported by AFP).
When provided an opportunity to defend himself during an
August 31 session of the GOC/donor food security technical
committee, this individual asserted that he had been
misquoted. The committee concluded that the article was
replete with disinformation and that prospects for the
2005/06 harvest are currently good.



5. Embassy relies heavily on the USAID-funded FEWS Net
office in Chad to keep it apprised of potential and actual
food security issues. The project personnel have been
responsive to our requests for specific information and have
provided useful, structured briefings as needed to Embassy
officers and TDYers on food security and refugee-related
matters. To date, their assessments have proven about as
accurate as can be expected in a very inexact discipline, and
we trust they will continue.
TAMLYN


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