Floods ravage the country and affect close to 190,000 people
This year’s rainy season saw record-high rainfall in Chad, and in the Sahel as a whole, and it is not over yet. The month of August 2020 in particular saw numerous floods across most of the national territory: in the central regions, the south, the east, the Lac province and in the capital N’Djamena. Government statistics indicate that floods have affected nearly 190,000 people. Floods create several problems for the population, giving rise to immediate needs but also medium term ones: destroyed homes, flooded fields, damaged harvests, and immediate food needs, among others.
Country-wide, close to 38,000 households have been affected by floods
An analysis by the United Nations Institute on Training and Research (UNITAR) comparing rainfalls between the years 2015, 2019 and 2020, for the months of May, June and July showed a deterioration and a sharp increase in rainfall for each month observed and from one year to another.
The map below illustrates the aggregated floods in southern Chad between 20 and 26 August 2020: the most exposed prefectures are mainly located in the provinces of Salamat, Tandjile and Batha, in the center, south and east of the country. In the area covered by the analysis - of about 540,000 km², a total of approximately 19,000 km² of land have been flooded. Based on demographic data from Worldpop and detected surface waters, 450,000 people could either be affected or living close to flooded areas. This is a preliminary study which has not been validated in the field yet.
Despite considerable access constraints posed by damaged or flooded roads, multisectoral evaluations with local authorities are currently underway in affected areas in order to fine-tune the figures and support the response. Some provinces that have geographical specificities have been affected in different ways. Tandjile province, for example, depends on water from floods to cultivate rice.
A rapid response from the Government
The Chadian Government has already initiated a coordinated response involving several ministries: The Ministry of Health and National Solidarity, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development and International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Women. The government response, primarily through the National Office of Food Security (ONASA), which includes the distribution of food and non-food items (NFIs), is ongoing.
Following a recent meeting between the Government and the Humanitarian Country Team, the Government decided to create a Crisis committee for the floods, in which international actors are now invited to participate. Humanitarian actors are trying to support the response of the Government to ensure the best possible use of limited resources. As the situation is evolving, regular updates on the impact of floods, as well as on the response provided, remains important. Humanitarian partners are committed to collecting the most up-to-date data from the field.
In the Lac province, floods cause displacements and raise food security issues
Following intense floods caused by torrential rains in the Lac province, some 6,000 people from the Ngouboua, Liwa and Baga Sola districts have moved to Kousserie, Diamerom, Ngolio and Fourkoulom between 3 and 15 August. In total, more than 30,000 people affected by floods have been hosted in displacement sites in the Lac province. These newly displaced are in need of food, shelter and potable water. State authorities have reported that 7,925 hectares of corn fields - more than half of the total fields that have been planted - are flooded in Baga Sola and Ngouboua. In addition, 175 hectares of okra have been flooded in the same areas. In total, 42,800 farmers have been affected, according to the preliminary assessment.
Since the beginning of the rainy season in June, the Lac province has recorded a rainfall that could seriously affect this year’s harvest. More than 14,000 hectares of fields, owned by more than 55,000 people, have been destroyed by heavy rains. This could affect the food capacity and livelihoods of families in the Lac province. Today, rains continue, and rising water has not yet reached its peak which usually occurs in September/October. This situation may lead to a very poor agricultural harvest, which will require additional support in food and seeds to mitigate the impact.
Some 4.5 million USD from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for rapid response has been allocated to Chad to finance assistance for the newly-displaced people in the Lac province. These funds have been allocated to four agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM and WFP) for their interventions in shelter, WASH, food and protection. Although these funds have been allocated to meet the needs of the conflict-related newly-displaced following recent attacks, those affected by floods are now hosted on the same sites.
Assistance is underway for people displaced by floods in the Lac province, in terms of WASH (ACF, UNHCR), food for 12,000 people (WFP), shelter/NFIs, hygiene (Concern, UNICEF, UNFPA, Oxfam). However, besides the resources of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which has limited capacity, there are no other flexible response capacities that can be redirected to the new displaced sites.
18,000 affected in the center, more than 10,000 in the east
On 9 August, floods were reported in the province of Batha, in the center of the country: 17 neighborhoods of the city of Oum-Hadjer (eastern Batha) were impacted, affecting 1,157 households of 10,390 people, destroying 1,275 houses and 552 huts, and damaging 4,154 bags of cereal. In total, during the month of August, 3,113 households (more than 18,000 people) have been affected in the city of Oum-Hadjer following torrential rains and the level of the river rising. Other villages in the province of Batha have been flooded: 2,063 households have been affected.
A joint mission, comprising the Chadian Red Cross, UNICEF, GIZ, OCHA, the health personnel of the Oum-Hadjer district and local authorities, has conducted a preliminary assessment. Affected people need food, NFIs and WASH assistance. So far, UNICEF has provided WASH assistance for Oum-Hadjer in the Batha province. However, there are major challenges to an immediate response since partners don’t have an existing stock of supplies and very few actors operate in the area. In the Salamat province, in eastern Chad, 3,294 households (more than 10,000 people) have been affected in the locality of Mouraye: 549 houses were destroyed and 23,000 hectares of crop field were flooded or destroyed. The priority needs of those affected are in food, NFIs and WASH, which have partly been covered by the Government, thanks to the contribution of the people of Salamat living in N’Djamena. However, needs remain urgent. In addition to this, the east of Chad has now been affected by a new outbreak of chikungunya for more than a month - a disease that spreads through mosquito bites: 15,694 cases reported as of 6 September.
Other damages have been reported in the provinces of Sila, Wadi Fira and Ennedi-Ouest, in eastern and northern Chad leaving hundreds of hectares destroyed and affected people in urgent need of food, NFIs and WASH.
Urgent needs in the south but few available resources
The south has also been affected by heavy rains which caused damages in the Mandoul, Tandjile and Mayo-Kebbi provinces, affecting 27,000, 80,000 and 62,000 people respectively. A joint assessment mission in Mandoul was conducted by humanitarian actors and local authorities on 27 and 28 August identifying priority needs in food security, shelter, NFIs, health, WASH and protection. Considering that cholera cases were reported last year in Mayo-Kebbi Est, the risk of the disease spreading within the current flood context is serious. UNICEF has cholera kits in stock to distribute should such cases be reported.
The results of this assessment confirm that the most significant impact has been on livelihoods because of damages caused to the agriculture sector where approximately 34,800.25 hectares of crops including 22,315.75 hectares of staple cereal (rice, mil, sorghum, corn) and 12,484.5 hectares of cash crops (cotton, peanut and sesame) have been damaged in the eight identified cantons.
Assistance in food (cereal) for the most affected people, as well as assistance in vegetable seeds to make up for crops destroyed by floods are the most pressing interventions to put in place in the short term. In the medium term, a broader assistance in developing income-generating activities will also be necessary. According to observations and information collected from this mission, 6,581 houses have been damaged (collapsed or cracked) for an estimating 13,743 affected people in four cantons: Bekamba, Nderguigui, Bebopen and Bedjondo. The most urgent needs are the distribution of food for 4,500 households, emergency assistance in livelihoods for 2,250 people, and the distribution of tarps and NFIs for 4,470 households whose houses have been severely damaged. Additionally, an assistance in medicine, especially antimalarial treatment, for health facilities is crucial during this time of the peak of malaria in southern parts of Chad. The mobilization of resources is ongoing, to make sure flood-affected people receive the necessary assistance.
Floods are also a major concern in the capital N’Djamena
The statistics from the Government report that nearly 32,000 people have been affected by floods in the capital. In N’Djamena, 7,122 households of 31,853 people have been affected by recent floods in 15 neighborhoods of the city. Floods have destroyed 5,250 houses and killed 10 people. Those affected have sought refuge in their own neighborhood or nearby ones; some are hosted by family members, but many remain homeless.
State authorities, with the help of humanitarian actors, have looked for sites to relocate them. During the assessment of three potentially viable sites, it was noted that most of those affected are hosted by families, except for those who are staying at the Walia high school, who need urgent assistance. The NGO MSF-Holland distributed NFIs comprising covers, mosquito nets and soap to 75 families at Walia high school on 29 August. Other humanitarian partners have been invited to intervene to provide multisectoral assistance to them.
In-depth assessments of these three sites took into consideration physical accessibility, security and protection conditions, and access to basic services, to ensure the sites are suitable to host those affected. The three relocation sites can host 800 households, with priority given to those who cannot be hosted by families.
As of 26 August, food assistance has been provided to some 6,848 affected households in N’Djamena through the government office ONASA and the Chadian Red Cross. UNICEF, WFP, UNDP and UNHCR have all identified stocks to distribute in N’Djamena. WFP confirmed the mobilization of food for 20,000 people in the capital. UNHCR can provide 6,000 blankets and 6,000 buckets to meet shelter and NFI needs. UNICEF will take part in the response on two sites that will be serviced for those affected by floods (Tradex and Basilique), namely by covering needs in WASH (water containers, mats and chlorine tablets) and in child protection ( tents for child-friendly spaces). The NGO Diakonie has committed with its local partner to build 25 emergency latrines and a borehole on the Basilique site. The NGO Oxfam will provide aid in WASH, through water treatment, building emergency latrines, water conservation material and NFIs. IOM is available to transport the displaced in N’Djamena to the designated relocation sites.
In the Chadian capital, a few businesses have been forced to shut down and others may follow suit. Because of floods, several artisans and other small trade professionals who cannot move around, are experiencing losses that will not appear in public books since most of them work in the informal sector.
Despite limited resources, the humanitarian community has already provided some response to this crisis, within the limit of available and feasible capacities, to meet priority needs of flood-affected people in the Lac province, in the east and in the city of N’Djamena. Other organizations and stakeholders continue looking for potential financial resources and mobilize stocks to respond to the most urgent needs.