The Society and Environment

Chad Table of Contents

GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION, ETHNIC and linguistic diversity, and religious differences have presented serious obstacles to nation building in Chad. A range of environments has contributed to the evolution of a variety of life-styles and social structures, including nomadic societies in the Sahara Desert in the north, seminomadic (or semisedentary) peoples in the Sahel in the center, and agricultural communities in the soudanian south. With three of Africa's four major language families represented within its borders, Chad's peoples do not share broad cultural characteristics, as do, for example, the Bantu peoples of countries in central, eastern, and southern Africa. Religion also divides Chad's people among followers of classical African religions, Islam, and Christianity. Ethnic differences often overlay and intensify these divisions.

Preoccupied with assuring the country's survival, successive Chadian governments have had little motivation or resources to deal with urgent social and economic problems. Up-to-date population data--necessary for reliable development planning--are lacking; however, a census scheduled for 1989 promised to remedy this problem partially.

Other challenges include providing adequate education and health care. Starting in the mid-1960s, civil strife has undermined the Chadian goal of universal primary school education. It has also brought the exile of much of the country's intellectual community and the flight of foreign personnel who had staffed institutions of higher learning. Health care has fared even more poorly than has education. Although the number of medical facilities of all kinds seems to have grown between the early 1970s and the early 1980s, the number of trained personnel has not kept pace. And once again, the violence of war and discontent with the government in rural areas have provoked the closing of many facilities and the flight of their staffs.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress