Chad: rural villages and life in the Sahel

February 23-25th, 2018 

The Sahel is a geo-climatic band separating deserts for humid regions, where the economy is mainly based on agriculture and where the life among rural villages in not always easy. We take the opportunity to explore the Sahel traveling from Sahara desert to N'Djamena in Chad.

Road in Chad
After so many days spent in the Sahara desert, traveling along tracks barely visible, we finally get back to the asphalted road that connects Abeche to N'Djamena, the capital of Chad. The transfer from Sahara Desert to N'Djamena requires about three days of travel and represents an interesting opportunity to learn more about life in the Sahel, among interesting landscapes and rural villages with an economy based mainly on farming.
Agricolture in Chad Agricolture in Sahel
The main crops in the Sahel, depending on the availability of water, are millet and sorghum. These cereals are resistant to drought, but where there is less water, millet is still preferred to sorghum. During the dry season, the fields show the residues of the crop cultivated during the previous humid season.
Cereal store in the Sahel Storing crops in Sahel
The cereals are stored in huge jars, sometimes covered with mats, which can be frequently seen among the houses of the rural villages. The jars are locally made using mainly raw clay.
Sahel rural village Houses in Sahel
Sahel village Village in Sahel
The rural villages of the Sahel in Chad consist of groups of small houses or huts made by bricks (generally from raw clay) or by straw and mats. Along the asphalted road connecting Abeche to N'Djamena in approximately 600 kilometers across the Sahel, we can see dozens of such small villages, where the life is simple and without most of the amenities we are used to. Rural villages of the Sahel in Chad have usually no running water, no electricity and no sewer system.
People of Chad People of Sahel
Life in Chad Living in Chad
Life in Sahel Living in Sahel
More than two millions of Chadians live in the Sahel, they usually move aboard of donkeys, dromedaries and carts pulled by horses, transporting the things they are trying to buy, sell or just exchange, like mats, wood, crops or even tanks of fresh water.
Donkey in the Sahel Cattles in the Sahel
Farming in the Sahel Farm animals in Sahel
Many families in the Sahel live on farm animals and coming across herds of cattle or donkeys, is very frequent in this part of Chad.
Very full bus in Africa
The buses that connect the various villages in the Sahel on longer distances are often just of private vehicles or even trucks, which accommodate every type of passenger even of the roof.
How to dry crops in Africa Straw bundles
Instead in these photos we can see the cereals left to dry over a kind of roof where animals can't get to. Subsequently, after having collected the seeds, the remaining stems are tied in bundles and stored somewhere, waiting to be used as a cover for roofs, house walls, or to protect storage jars.
Mosque in the Sahel
Most villages of Sahel have of course a Mosque.
Sahel dry river Washing clothes in the river
How to wash the clothes in the Sahel? The few streams of permanent water that are found along rivers even during the dry season, are a good opportunity to wash clothes, while the drier part of the river bed, rich of fine clay, is an excellent source to obtain raw materials used to make strong bricks.
Cereals left to dry in Africa Straw used for buildings
Drying crops in Sahel Sahel villages
A typical scene among rural villages in Chad during the dry season, with crops left to dry over roofs and remaining stems stored somewhere for future use.
Another typical scene of everyday life in the Sahel, with people sorting dry seeds or selling them along the main roads.
Silos for cereals Silos for crops
Chad rural villages Sahel rural villages
More photos of rural villages in Chad, among huts and jars used to store crops.
Although the Sahel in Chad is mainly a vast expanse of a flat and dusty land, occasionally there are also interesting landscapes, like these mountains made of naturally piled-up granite boulders.
Arabic gum acacia Arabic gum tree
These trees having a trunk of a beautiful red color, are a variety of acacia from which the people of Sahel extract the arabic gum, an excipient used mainly in the food industry.
Trees of mango Mango tree with fruits
Driving further south, progressively farther from Sahara desert and closer to the humid regions, the landscape slowly becomes more and more lush: we reach Mongo, a city so named for the many mango trees living in the area and producing particularly tasteful fruits.
Dry river bed Clothes exposed on sand to dry
Meanwhile, two women take advantage of the dry river bed to do the laundry, leaving the clothes to dry on the sand.
Field of onions
Instead, a farmer is taking care of his onion field.
Selling pottery in Chad
Mountain of granite Granite mountain in Chad
Granite in the Sahel
We come across another area with so beautiful granite mountains. The Sahel is really not only a flat land of dust.
Granite boulders

The oddly shaped granite mountains of the Sahel in Chad, looking like piles of boulders that seem to be created by a giant bulldozer, but really made only by nature.
Breakfast in the Sahel Savannah in Chad
Having a breakfast in the Sahel after a night spent in a tent...
Dead termite nest
A dead termite nest offers the possibility of observing the internal structure of this fantastic engineering work, all built by ants.
Boluders of granite piled up Mountains of granite
A final look at the beautiful granite mountains, before getting back N'Djamena where our expedition in Chad comes to an end.

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