The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that drought in southern Madagascar is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine.
Urgent action, according to the UN agency, is required to address this unfolding humanitarian crisis as acute malnutrition rates continue to rise.
The country’s Ministry of Health, in a recent assessment, noted that Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under five nearly doubled over the last four months, touching an alarming 16.5 percent.
According to the assessment, worst affected is the district of Ambovombe where GAM has crossed 27 percent, putting the lives of many children at risk.
‘The scale of the catastrophe is beyond belief. If we [do not] reverse this crisis, if we [do not] get food to the people in the south of Madagascar, families will starve and lives will be lost’, WFP quoted its Senior Director of Operations, Amer Daoudi, as saying after visiting one of the worst affected areas, Sihanamaro.
WFP said it needed $74 million for the next six months to save the lives in southern Madagascar and prevent a catastrophe.
It is understood that consecutive years of drought in southern Madagascar have left at least 1.35 million people in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.
The situation has been critical since September 2020, the start of the lean season when families had already depleted their food supplies and eaten their vital seed stocks, leaving nothing for the November/December 2020 planting season.
Currently, up to 80 percent of the population in certain areas in the south is resorting to desperate survival measures such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves.
‘We have witnessed heart-breaking scenes of severely malnourished children and starving families. We need the money and resources now to help the people of Madagascar’, Daoudi said.
WFP noted that food production in 2021 is expected to be less than 40 percent of the last five-year average, making it harder for communities on the brink of survival to feed themselves.
Photo source: WFP/Fenoarisoa Ralaiharinony