Yesterday, in a discussion with an emissary of the Ministry of the Environment in Moundou, ENVODEV National Coordinator Loubaramadji Dadje Aquilas was informed that rice crops in the central region of Bongor have been devastated. The Logone River, which flows south to north, rose and swelled so much that the flat plains have been completely submerged. The Chari River, of which the Logone is a tributary, consequently swelled as well. The Logone water level is so high that the vast rice plantations are in some areas completely submerged, and rice grains have rotted. Dozens of villages have been abandoned, and the only road from N’Djamena to Moundou has become the place to relocate due to its elevated surface. Families are living on the paved road in makeshift shelters while violent rains, though progressively diminishing in frequency this week, still sweep across the plain.
The charcoal project to be launched and expanded this fall will not suffer since ENVODEV is working in southern Chad, where the rice crops have been affected to a lesser degree. The yields are expected to be mediocre, exposing Chad to a much more severe food crisis at the beginning of next year compared to the food crisis this year due to the drought in 2011. ENVODEV Administrator Rodoumbaye Ghislain announced that ENVODEV’s charcoal project has received unprecedented support from Laokein Kourayo Medare, the Mayor of Moundou. More meetings with the Mayor are to be held in view of establishing a project in an effort to mitigate the environmental stress due to deforestation, a result of wood-charcoal consumption.
Deforestation is the leading cause of desertification in Chad. Because of the lack of protection from trees, the topsoil is exposed to the elements. The soil is baked in 45°+C weather for several months, then blown away by winds; this makes the ground incapable of absorbing the torrential rains during the wet season, particularly when the rains last five months instead of three as they did this year. This phenomenon has affected countries well beyond Chad.
The other result of excessive water is the increase in disease epidemics. Water is synonymous with typhoid fever and malaria and many other crippling diseases that chronically affect the country. Only time will show the extent to which these diseases will affect the Chadian population this year. Outbreaks of cholera are yet to be reported.