Chad is a land-locked, low-income, food-deficit country, ranked163th out of 169 countries in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index (WFP). It ranks among the poorest nations in the world, with 55 percent of its 11.2 million citizens living below the poverty line and 36 percent living in extreme poverty (World Bank).

A substantial majority of the country’s population (80 percent) is dependent on subsistence farming and herding. Agricultural production, and thus food security, is regularly hampered by erratic rains, cyclical droughts, and pest infestations, as well as poor farming practices. Additionally, government-set price ceilings for cereals, animals, and transportation work to impede effective market functioning (FEWS NET). The Sahelian Zone (central and eastern Chad) is particularly hard hit by chronic food insecurity (WFP). While 2010-11 saw record cereal production, recorded at 85 percent above the country’s five-year average, current grain inventories are down to less than half their usual level due to the reluctance of traders to engage in trading activities (FEWS NET). A ban on imports from Libya and a disruption in oil supplies from that country have further driven up transportation costs and limited the availability of foodstuffs such as sugar, flour, and food pastes (FEWS NET).

In its 50 years of independence, Chad has experienced ethnic tension and political and economic instability that has exacerbated poverty and food insecurity within the country. Internal displacement, as well as surging refugee populations from nearby Sudan and the Central African Republic, has contributed to continuing food insecurity. Due to its economic instability and low agricultural productivity, Chad remains heavily dependent on external assistance to combat its chronic food shortages.