UN says famine is looming in southern Madagascar

People eating locusts, leaves out of hunger

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UN says famine is looming in southern Madagascar www.africanpolicy.com

An unrelenting drought in southern Madagascar has severely affected the area, with up to 80% of residents in some areas eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits, or wild leaves to survive, according to the UN.

“The scale of the catastrophe is beyond belief. If we don’t reverse this crisis, if we don’t get food to the people in the south of Madagascar, families will starve and lives will be lost,” Amer Daoudi, senior director of operations at the World Food Programme (WFP), was quoted as saying in its report.

On Thursday, Daoudi visited one of the worst affected areas, the town of Sihanamaro, accompanied by a high-level delegation of ambassadors and senior government officials.

“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,” he added.

The WFP announced that it needs $74 million for the next six months in order to “save the lives in southern Madagascar and prevent a catastrophe.”

“Following alarm calls received from Amboasary district on the severity of the food crisis, WFP has been progressively assisting up to 750,000 people through food and cash distributions each month,” it said.

“Consecutive years of drought in the south 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,” said the WFP’s report.

The UN program explained that croplands and pasture in southern Madagascar have been covered with sand and arable land transformed into wasteland across the region due to semi-arid conditions as well as high levels of soil erosion, deforestation, and unprecedented drastic sandstorms.

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