The silent victims of humanitarian crises and livelihood (in)security: a case study among migrants in two Chadian towns

16 August 2013

Once a humanitarian disaster receives coverage in the global media, the international community usually mobilises to reduce the most severe consequences. However people in Chad are experiencing endemic crises that are detached from speci!c triggers, and they are not receiving any international assistance to help relieve the hardships they face. "is study involves 111 migrant households from central Chad that, as a result of war and drought, have lost everything and now have to live in squatter areas of N’Djamena and Mongo, facing uncertainty and threats while negotiating their livelihoods. Qualitative and quantitative methods have been combined in this study to reveal the intriguing story of their daily lives in the face of complex and endemic crises. Anthropometric and health data were generated to determine the nutritional status of mothers and their children under !ve. Life histories, in-depth interviews and participatory observation allowed the researchers to capture the negotiation strategies they use to access food and shelter, their experiences of food insecurity and sanitary vulnerability, and the consequences these have on daily life. Results indicate that 62% of households were female headed, there were high rates of acute (40-50%) and chronic (35-40%) malnutrition and 46% of the mothers were underweight and anaemic. Infant mortality rates were also high at 30%-42% and 97% of the children had had incomplete or no vaccinations. No households had access to clean water, sanitation or public-health services. Endemic corruption and abuse by the authorities were identi!ed as major sources of day-to-day insecurity. Theese migrants were not expecting any improvement in their livelihoods in the foreseeable future and saw these miserable conditions as normal.