The challenges and our response
International Medical Corps has provided emergency relief and health care in Chad since 2004 when hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan’s embattled Darfur Region poured into the eastern part of the country. Nearly a decade later, increased conflict in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) caused thousands more refugees to flee to southern Chad.
More recently, an ongoing conflict in the Lake Chad Basin region (comprising Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon) has added to these challenges, creating internal displacement and an influx of still more refugees seeking safety from the violence. Despite these issues, Chad has emerged from decades of instability in recent years to become an increasingly important stabilising player in one of Africa’s most troubled regions.
Chad today struggles with drought and food insecurity that is affecting the entire Sahel, a vast semiarid region of western and north-central Africa that extends from Senegal on Africa’s west coast across the continent thousands of miles east to Sudan and the Red Sea. In response, International Medical Corps is implementing health, nutrition and food security activities in the Lac, Wadi Fira and Ouaddaï regions of Chad.
In the face of scarce resources and regional instability, people in Chad struggle to protect and rebuild their lives. Since the start of our work in Chad in 2004, International Medical Corps’ services have reached an estimated 180,000 beneficiaries a year, including internally displaced people, Sudanese and Central African Republic refugees, and host community members. Through a network of health centres, mobile medical units and a hospital in the Lake Region, we deliver essential services, including secondary and primary health care, nutritional support, and maternal and child health services. Throughout all of our programs, International Medical Corps partners with local communities and emphasizes training to develop the capacity needed for long-term recovery.
In addition to supporting the government in annual vaccination campaigns against polio, measles and meningitis, International Medical Corps has trained hundreds of health workers to build a level of self-reliance that will enable us to transition the responsibility for health care to local communities when emergencies decline.
Nutrition and Food Security
Malnutrition remains the primary cause of morbidity and mortality for the most vulnerable populations of pregnant women, new mothers and children under five. The nutrition crisis is especially worrisome. In late 2018 UNICEF reported preliminary results of a national nutrition survey showed that 4% of all children under 5 suffered from several acute malnutrition (SAM). International Medical Corps integrates malnutrition screening and treatment services into its primary and secondary health care activities. Program activities also focus on prevention and early identification of malnutrition through community-based mechanisms, such as training local mothers in nutrition screening, and mother support groups for infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counselling.
In the Lake Region, International Medical Corps is assisting women’s agricultural groups in vegetable gardening through the provision of seeds, tools and training. The planting of vegetable crops is contributing to household food diversity, especially important for young children and pregnant and lactating women, and generate supplemental income to meet household needs.
Our impact and work
Fleeing Boko Haram over Lake Chad
Some of the Nigerians who fled a recent attack by Boko Haram militants on the town of Baga made their escape over Lake Chad, as Thomas Fessy reports.