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The socio-economic impact of the international community’s presence in Abéché
Mahamat Mustapha Absakine Yerima

In order to respond to the situation in Eastern Chad, most humanitarian agencies have set up offices in Abéché. The large number of humanitarian and military actors who have moved into the city since 2006 have had a significant socio-economic impact, further deterioring the living conditions of a large proportion of the population. The fact that they do not benefit from any of the humanitarian operations being run makes this situation all the more frustrating for them.

Since 2003, the presence of the international community has transformed Abéché. A great number of people from all over Chad have come to the city to find work with humanitarian organisations. As a result, the population has grown 600% in 6 years, from 50 000 before 2003 to 300 000 in 2009 [1].
The arrival of these two groups has generated a situation where demand far outweighs supply. This has caused numerous socio-economic problems such as access to housing, employment, healthcare, energy and clean drinking water as well as environmental damage, the explosion of the price of basic goods and security problems.

 Nature and objectives of the humanitarian presence in Abéché

In 2003, the crisis in Darfur led to the arrival of large numbers of Sudanese refugees in Eastern Chad. Humanitarian organisations moved to Abéché in order to gain access to the refugee camps in Bahai (in the North) and Koukou Angarana (in the South). The humanitarian presence grew again in 2006 to respond to the needs of 180 000 Chadian IDPs in the same region.
In Abéché today, there are around 60 humanitarian NGOs, 10 United Nations agencies, a major deployment of soldiers from the United Nations Mission for the CAR and Chad (MIINURCAT) and a number of international businesses. The city is used as a base for logistical and coordination activities as the vast majority of humanitarian programmes are run in camps, sites and villages situated further to the East. As a result, the residents of Abéché suffer the consequences of this presence without directly benefitting from any aid programmes

[1] According to the Governor of Ouaddai, the mayor of Abéché and the head of STEE (water and electricity company) in Abéché.