The Grip on Hunger in Chad
Originally posted at: https://anglicanfrontiers.com/the-grip-on-hunger-in-chad/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-grip-on-hunger-in-chad
by Tad de Bordenave
The people, the influences, and the dire human conditions in Chad exist in far too many other places. By giving a close look at what holds a tight grip on hunger there, we will see the wider boundaries of this food crisis. And in all those places are found God’s other children, brothers and sisters who live and die without enough food.
What follows are some of the major causes that hold food scarcity in Chad and leave over 85% of their 15 million people in hunger.
Climate Change. This land lies in the deserts of Sub-Sahara Africa and the Sahel. The dangers of climate change are particularly alarming for Chad. The trend is rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall—this in a land dependent on arable lands for farming and pastures for herding. Because of poverty, conflicts, and droughts, Chad has been rated the country most in peril from climate change.
A stunning illustration of this looming threat is the story of Lake Chad, a huge area that has spanned several nations in the area. Since 1963 Lake Chad has continuously shrunk to where it has lost 90 of its original size. This loss directly affects subsistence livelihood in its many forms.
Conflicts and Refugees. Since its independence in 1960 Chad has had no less than 35 years of internal conflict. Additionally, conflicts in northern Nigeria, Darfur in Sudan, and the continuing war in the Central African Republic have driven millions of refugees into Chad. From its own warfare and these external conflicts, Chad has over 930 million refugees and displaced persons.
Many refugees are in camps, as in the picture above. But for the “displaced persons,” their situation is different. These are Chadian families and individuals who have been uprooted from their property, villages, and communities. They do not disappear but wander often in droves hoping to find food and shelter in unfamiliar places.
Corruption. Not unlike many other countries, Chad has an interlocking labyrinth of corrupt people and procedures. These bring to a halt efforts to help the hungry. Corruption appears in the judiciary, the police, the commerce, and the media. The police often are complicit in crimes and protect themselves. The judiciary and the executive are tightly connected. The media serves the system through secrecy and censorship. The business procedures are laced with bribes and lengthy efforts defending contracts. Prosecutions in recent years have declined and in one recent year there were no convictions.
These are the channels through which outside aid needs to travel, food be distributed, businesses established, and justice delivered for the ones whose rights and needs are regularly trodden upon.
Behind the terms used for hunger are consequences in families and society. Though these are indirectly related to hunger, the devastation they cause exacerbates the crisis.
Especially is this true for women. Women can be forced into marriages beginning around age 8. The physical harm to them from pre-puberty pregnancies is neglected or unknown. Over 65% of women have undergone the barbaric operation of Female Genital Mutilation. Over 80% of those who undergo this were between the ages of 5 and 14.
In Islam men have the right to marry up to four wives, so many women find themselves in families where they are treated as slightly above slaves. When a young wife has a child, she is forced to quit school, leaving her without the opportunity to find how to live a better life in a better society.
Sadly grim solutions to hunger bring grim circumstances for the young and the vulnerable. Often, to raise money for food many deals are made with “friends” and “relatives.” The deals result in selling children and other family members to slavery, prostitution, and trafficking. Hunger has dire consequences beyond the food table.
Several of the reports on Chad mention progress in some areas. There are laws of anti-corruption on the books and projects for increasing the yield of crops. Progress will take time since many obstacles remain in place. Nevertheless, compassionate, patient, wise, and determined people want to enlarge the paths to better living conditions. May God sustain them with hope and small steps of success!
Yes, it is naughty of me to inject into Thanksgiving this bleak profile of hunger in Chad. But God’s world joins us at the table. That leads to our two questions:
What can we do that will make a difference? That begins with caring about these people tucked away under the Sahara. Learn about them. Get inside their lives. See them as our brothers and sisters. That should make prayer easier. And donate, of course. The options are many.
What can they give us? Remembering these children of God can balance the appreciation of what we have by a remembrance of what they have. With that in place, our grace at Thanksgiving and afterward will include these brothers and sisters.