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The Story of Achta: A Strong Woman Fighting To Keep Her Family Healthy

Only three years ago, Achta lived with her husband and their nine children in the small rural village of Dadabaye, in northern Chad. The family had a good life and Achta’s husband was a successful farmer. “He raised goats, sheep, some camels and we even had our own cattle,” she remembers with a smile.

When drought came to the region, Achta understood that her family would have to move. “It killed all our animals and everyone in the village started to leave. Some families fled to the western part of the country, others, like us, escaped to the east.”

After a long journey, the family found refuge in Arada, a small town not far from Abéché. “But, unfortunately, poverty followed us there,” Achta says. To help his family survive, Achta’s husband decided to go to Libya to find work. “It’s one and a half years ago. I have not heard from him since,” she says quietly.

When her husband left, Achta was pregnant and soon gave birth to Zara, their tenth child. Today, Achta is a single mother and the only provider for her big family.

Whenever she can, Achta works in the homes of her neighbours to earn money to feed her family. “But when I am out of the house, the kids often sneak in and take what little food is left.”

Thanks to WFP and the EU, Achta now receives €29 each month during the three months of the lean season, the period before the harvest, when food is scarce and prices rise. With this money, she can buy food at the local market and prepare a real family meal. “This is a godsend for my family. (…) Food is our priority, even if we have other needs. For example, I can only afford to send three of my children to school. With this money I can feed my family and save €8 per month for the unexpected,” she says.


  • © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta’s big family lives together with their neighbours in a so-called ‘Kouzi’, made from millet stalks and straw.
    Achta’s big family lives together with their neighbours in a so-called ‘Kouzi’, made from millet stalks and straw.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • A year and a half ago, Achta’s husband went to Libya to find work. He does not know about their youngest child, Zara, born after he left.
    A year and a half ago, Achta’s husband went to Libya to find work. He does not know about their youngest child, Zara, born after he left.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta and other women wait in the shade for the cash grant distribution to begin.
    Achta and other women wait in the shade for the cash grant distribution to begin.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • At a WFP distribution centre, Achta registers to receive cash, which she uses to buy the food her ten children need. Cash and vouchers are particularly useful where food is available, but people like Achta do not have enough money to buy it.
    At a WFP distribution centre, Achta registers to receive cash, which she uses to buy the food her ten children need. Cash and vouchers are particularly useful where food is available, but people like Achta do not have enough money to buy it.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • The €29 allows Achta to shop at the village market. This money also helps local markets and smallholder farmers survive in difficult times.
    The €29 allows Achta to shop at the village market. This money also helps local markets and smallholder farmers survive in difficult times.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta buys sorghum, which she gets ground into flour at the local market.
    Achta buys sorghum, which she gets ground into flour at the local market.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • The mother of ten knows she must  use all ingredients sparingly, without wasting a single seed, so as to feed her whole family.
    The mother of ten knows she must use all ingredients sparingly, without wasting a single seed, so as to feed her whole family.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta prepares ’Ech bbe mula kawal’, a traditional Chadian dish consisting of couscous and sorghum flour, served with gumbo sauce.
    Achta prepares ’Ech bbe mula kawal’, a traditional Chadian dish consisting of couscous and sorghum flour, served with gumbo sauce.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta’s oldest daughter, Fatime, knows that her mother needs all the help she can get to bring the whole family through this difficult period.
    Achta’s oldest daughter, Fatime, knows that her mother needs all the help she can get to bring the whole family through this difficult period.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Fatime helps prepare the family meal by pounding gumbo into a fine powder before it is added to the pan.
    Fatime helps prepare the family meal by pounding gumbo into a fine powder before it is added to the pan.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Achta explains: “We always have a meal as a family. I eat with my four girls and the smallest of my boys.”
    Achta explains: “We always have a meal as a family. I eat with my four girls and the smallest of my boys.”
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • “The bigger boys eat from their own plate. Sometimes my parents come to share a meal with us. Thank God that in our community, when a person has lost everything, people help, especially when it comes to food.”
    “The bigger boys eat from their own plate. Sometimes my parents come to share a meal with us. Thank God that in our community, when a person has lost everything, people help, especially when it comes to food.”
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
Our cooperation in Chad

Chad is an arid and low-income country which suffers chronic food insecurity. Since its independence in 1960, Chad has been afflicted by political instability and conflict, which left the country in dire straits.

Today, more than three million rural Chadians need humanitarian assistance, while around 790,000 people require emergency food support. This is why WFP and the EU provide food and voucher-based assistance to the most vulnerable, who struggle to feed their families.

In response to growing numbers of malnourished children, WFP and the EU also teamed up to reduce acute malnutrition among children under five as well as among pregnant and breastfeeding women. This is especially important, because improving the nutritional status of children and women during the crucial 1,000-day window represents a direct investment in the country’s future.

Moreover, current conflicts in neighbouring states put additional pressure on Chad’s already limited resources, with the country now hosting an estimated 450,000 refugees, primarily from the Central African Republic and Sudan. Thanks to EU humanitarian aid funding, WFP also provides food assistance to these refugees.