CHAD: A COUNTRY PARCHED…
5th largest country in Africa, Chad is a country with many resources. A competitive producer of cotton and gum Arabic, Chad has been an oil exporter since 2003. The country has extraordinary biological diversity thanks to its national parks, including Zakouma National Park in the Southeast, a dozen classified forests and wildlife and biosphere reserves unique in the world.
However, the development of this country rich in multiple natural resources is struggling to take off. Despite investments by the Chadian government in major infrastructure projects such as schools, universities, specialized medical facilities, hospitals, health centers, access to care remains very difficult. How can we explain this situation in a country where black gold is flowing?
Tity Agbahey, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Campaign Officer, tells us about his mission at the Bebedjia Health Centre in Bebedjia, a town in the Eastern Logone region south of Chad, in an op-ed for “Young Africa” paper of July 23rd, 2018. Speaking at this health facility, without running water and electricity, she describes the conditions under which the medical team must proceed for baby deliveries: Answer from a nurse that the question seems surprising: «We use our telephone». Joining the gesture to the word, in front of our astonished looks, he explains we must light the torch on the phone, hold the phone in the mouth to free the hands and proceed with the delivery.
Despite these conditions, nearly a dozen women, most of whom travelled more than 15 kilometers on foot, come to this health center every day for treatment. For some of them it is the first visit, at more than 5 months of pregnancy. Access to drinking water is also one of the center’s problems. Because in a country where the climate is dry and arid, getting water requires an organization of every moment.
Because of its climate and the gradual drying out of Lake Chad, the country’s main water source, Chad does not benefit from geolocation and a climate conducive to the spread of rivers. Access to water is vital for the country’s 14.65 million inhabitants. In the largest Chadian cities, only 40% of the inhabitants have access to this resource in a sustainable way. In the countryside, only 32% of the population can drink enough to satisfy their thirst. The lack of drinking water leads to unfavorable hygiene conditions which are the main causes of diseases that drag the Chadian population every day. The main diseases that affect children under 5 years of age are malaria (49%), diarrhea (44%), measles (25%), whooping cough (12%), cholera (5%) and multiple infections in adults, especially in women who are giving birth. Creating a dramatic vicious circle, these diseases lead to a decline in productivity and the number of days worked (thus potential income) as well as a significant reduction in life expectancy, which in Chad amounts to 51 years old.
In a country where 44.2% of the population is under 15 years of age, 52.8% between 15 and 74 years of age, or the median age is 18.4 years for women with a fertility rate of 7.04 children per woman, 81% of them from rural areas often walk more than 20 km to supply their villages with water. To survive, Chad can count on the support of several associations working towards a common goal: the survival of the population. Since 2012, World For Tchad has built 26 wells in Chad, giving 26,000 rural residents access to clean water. However, that is not enough. Our goal is to build 208 wells by 2020. We need you now more than ever to give more than 200,000 Chadians access to water on a sustainable basis.
This is the first stage of a major project to fight against diseases linked to poor living conditions, to fight against childhood diseases, to rid Chadians of the burden of water collection, to enable young people to benefit from their right to education and to promote the economic development of rural areas. Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General) said, “The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful collective future on a healthy planet.”
So, let’s start now. Let’s unite for Chad!
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