Food & Daily life

A tough life

The majority of people in Chad still live in rural areas, with less than a third of the population having migrated to the towns or cities.

A poor nation

Whether Chadians are settled or nomadic, life is extremely tough. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world – see Poverty & Healthcare. Many people struggle to produce enough food for their families from year to year.

Village houses are often made traditionally, with walls constructed of mud bricks and thatch roofs. However, the use of modern building materials is becoming more common.

Rural dwellers tend to lead traditional lives, cultivating the land (in the wetter south) or raising livestock. Some communities are nomadic, wandering over large areas to find grazing land for their animals – see Pastoralism.

Staple foods

In the drier regions of the north and east, dairy products and millet are the most common ingredients in dishes. A typical northern dish is esh, cooked millet flour served with a sauce.

  • A mother chopping onions
  • Girls cleaning vegetables in preparation

Boule varieties

Boule can also be made from other crops grown locally, such as cassava/manioc and even from peanuts/groundnuts. A sweetened millet and peanut porridge flavoured with lemon is known as bouillie.

In southern agricultural areas, farmers grow sorghum, millet and maize. These are ground into flour to make the main food staple, a thick grainy porridge called boule.

This staple is often rolled into a ball and served with spicy sauces of vegetables such as onions and tomatoes, beans, meat and fish.

Fetching water at a refugee campRefugees

There are an estimated 360,000 foreign refugees living in camps along the border regions. These people have fled the Central African Republic and conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In a country which already struggles to cope with feeding its own people, the refugees are assisted with food, shelter and services by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

UNHCR also helps people who have been internally displaced by conflict within Chad. The poorest eastern regions of the country have particularly suffered from decades of insecurity – see Child Soldiers.