South of Madagascar: the government and the UN warn about the risk of famine and urge urgent action – Madagascar
Vital need to increase food aid and strengthen agricultural livelihoods to avoid disaster scenario
Antananarivo, Madagascar – With each passing day, more lives are at stake as hunger tightens its grip in southern Madagascar. This is a grim warning from two UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which seeks to gain the attention of the community. international conference on a humanitarian crisis that risks remaining invisible. Almost 1.14 million people in southern Madagascar face high levels of acute food insecurity, including nearly 14,000 in ‘Disaster’ situations (phase 5 – the highest of the five phases of the Integrated Classification Framework of food security – IPC).
This is the first time that people have been registered in Phase 5 in Madagascar since the IPC methodology in 2016. Unless urgent action is taken now, the number of people in “disaster” situations is expected to double over the course of this year. the next lean period, from October 2021.
Drought, sandstorms, pests and diseases of animals and plants, as well as the impact of COVID-19, have pushed up to three quarters of the population of the worst affected district of Amboasary Atsimo to face dire consequences, with global acute malnutrition rising to an alarming 27%, causing irreversible damage to children.
“The problem is no longer how bad it is – it’s extremely bad. The children are starving, some are dying. I met a mother with an eight month old child who was only two months old. She had already lost her oldest child, ”said WFP Senior Director of Operations Amer Daoudi, who recently visited one of the worst affected areas, Sihanamaro. “We are already witnessing the abandonment of entire villages and migration to urban centers. This encountered additional pressure on an already fragile situation. “
The worst drought in four years, and for a third consecutive year, wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food. Erosion and deforestation have devastated the environment, and unprecedented sandstorms have turned large tracts of fertile land into fallow.
The 2019/20 agricultural season saw a dramatic drop in food production. This situation was then made worse by another year of reduction in 2020/2021, the fifth year when the rains are below average in the semi-arid part of the island, to the south.
The 2021 harvest is expected to be half the five-year average, heralding a prolonged and severe lean season, starting in October 2021.
“A paradoxical fact is that 95% of people facing acute hunger in southern Madagascar make a living from agriculture, breeding and fishing. Years of poor harvests, drought into drought, pushes to the brink. We must take urgent action to keep livestock alive and provide seeds, irrigation, tools and fishing gear to rapidly boost production and availability of local resources – without neglecting the need to create agricultural livelihoods. longer term climate resilient, ”said FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Dominique Burgeon.
Given the significant loss of livelihoods and the reduced access to food of vulnerable households, providing farming communities with seeds, tools and other essential inputs is vital to revive local food production, generate income and strengthen resilience. This support for agriculture and rural livelihoods comprehensive emergency food assistance, and identifies families to sell their means of production such as farm equipment or even kitchen utensils to survive.
Resources urgently needed to save lives
Humanitarian food stocks in Madagascar are running out. WFP is delivering supplies, but access to the most affected areas is hampered by a lack of infrastructure and a poor road network. COVID-19 restrictions have halted all flights to the island nation, meaning critical humanitarian cargoes are limited to access by boat, and the timelines for turning donations into humanitarian aid have risen sharply.
Since October 2020, the government and WFP have assisted nearly 750,000 people through food distributions, combined with the distribution of food supplements for the prevention of moderate acute malnutrition. But the food crisis is growing rapidly and the funding received so far is not sufficient to offset the impact and risk of famine. WFP urgently needs US $ 74 million over the next six months to avert a disaster in southern Madagascar.
At the same time, the government and FAO supported the livelihoods of around 20,000 farming families (around 160,000 people received fast-growing vegetable seeds, as well as training in drought-tolerant and drought-resistant farming strategies. reducing post-harvest losses At the same time, FAO has distributed food and health kits to keep poultry, goats and sheep alive for families at risk, and this support needs to be stepped up.
FAO urgently needs US $ 40 million to provide life-saving assistance to an additional 225,000 farming households during the coming lean season and through to the end of the year.
The FAO and WFP warning follows international concern over escalating acute food insecurity, with the recent Global Report on Food Crises reinforcing the sense of urgency. In response to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres’ call for international solidarity to fight famine (#FightFamine in 2021) this year, FAO and WFP have called for urgent funding of $ 5.5 billion. dollars for humanitarian food aid and livelihood support.
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For more information, please contact:
Volantiana Raharinaivo, FAO / Antananarivo,
+261 32 04 708 19
Zoie Jones, FAO / Regional Office for Africa,
+39 331 431 0003
Aina Andrianalizaha, PAM / Antananarivo,
+261 32 23 605 82
Shelley Thakral, PAM / Johannesburg,
Isheeta Sumra, PAM / Rome,