The World Food Programme (WFP) says urgent action is required to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Madagascar as severe malnutrition rates continue to rise.
Some 1.35 million people are projected to be food insecure, and the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the hardship, causing seasonal employment to dry up.
The people projected to be food insecure make up 35 percent of the region’s population, and 135,000 children are severely or acutely malnourished, according to the UN agency.
Children are understood to be worst affected by the food crisis as most of them have dropped out of schools to beg for food in the streets.
A WFP assessment in Amboasary in October 2020 found that three out of four children were absent from school – mostly to help their parents search for food.
Also, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under five in the three most affected regions (Androy, Anôsy and Atsimo Andrefana) stands at 10.7 percent, according to WFP.
‘To survive, families are eating tamarind fruit mixed with clay’, said WFP’s Representative in Madagascar, Moumini Ouedraogo, according to a statement.
‘We cannot face another year like this. With no rain and a poor harvest, people will face starvation. No one should have to live like this’.
WFP says it urgently needs US$35 million to fund lifesaving food and cash distributions and malnutrition treatment programmes.
‘This also includes emergency school feeding for 150,000 children to ensure they can stay in school and build a more secure future’, the organisation noted.
Meanwhile, WFP noted that it provides food assistance for almost 500,000 severely food-insecure people in the nine hardest hit districts in the South.
Photo source: WFP