Chad--one of the world's poorest countries--is now seeing an economic revival after more than twelve years of internal wars and a five-year devastating drought from 1972 to 1977 which caused soil erosion, failed harvests and threatened livestock.
Chad--one of the world's poorest countries--is now seeing an economic revival after more than twelve years of internal wars and a five-year devastating drought from 1972 to 1977 which caused soil erosion, failed harvests and threatened livestock. The effect on the national economy was crippling, but now foreign aid is boosting the meagre food supplies.
SYNOPSIS: One of the first signs of life returning to normal has been the resumption of cattle exports. During the long drought, about four million cattle died and nearly as many sheep and goats. Even the traditional desert animal, the camel, was threatened with extermination. But drought is not a new phenomenon to the people of Chad who--like their cattle--depend on the rains which turn the desert briefly into lush pasture. In the dry season, they are forced to tighten their belts.
The export of cattle is, however, a hazardous affair. There are few roads or vehicles and no trains. For the most part, the country consists of desert sparsely populated by nomadic Arab tribes. The southern part of the country, though still sandy, is well watered by the tributary rivers of Lake Chad. Ironically, it is these rivers that pose the greatest problem on the journey. Cattle being exported to Nigeria must first be herded across hundreds of kilometres of desert land before braving the largest river--Chari.
At the river, the drovers deliver their cattle into the hands of locals, familiar with the perils of the crossing. The cattle are tied to a boat and expected to swim across the water, but this is no easy feat. The animals are often tired, and if water enterers their nostrils, they founder and risk bringing downed the rest of the herd with them--not to mention possibly capsizing the boat.