Madagascar – AFP
The World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than half a million children are at risk of severe malnutrition in southern Madagascar, where a drought is hitting, affecting their development irreversibly.
More than 1.14 million people are currently food insecure in southern Madagascar, and the number of people living in “catastrophic” conditions risks doubling to 28,000 by October, according to the two international agencies. In a statement, they warned, the number of severely malnourished children is likely to increase fourfold compared to the last assessment in October 2020.
Low rainfall for five consecutive years has wiped out crops and deprived many in the area of access to food, while the situation is expected to worsen with the approach of the dry season.
“What is currently happening in southern Madagascar is heartbreaking,” said Momeni Ouedraogo of the World Food Program in Madagascar. We cannot ignore these children whose lives are at stake.” He called for “doubling efforts” to raise the necessary funds.
Severe malnutrition rates are rising in the most affected Ambovombe-Androe region, with more than three quarters of the population affected by a catastrophic combination of drought and COVID-19 infections, in a situation exacerbated by the poor health and sanitation conditions in the absence of safe water.
Michel Saint-Lot of UNICEF in Madagascar said there was an urgent need to act to prevent a “more dangerous” situation. Most of the population of southern Madagascar depends on agriculture, livestock and hunting. Food production has declined significantly since 2019. The scarcity of basic foodstuffs in the markets is also leading to an increase in prices, according to the two UN agencies. Noting that they have been working with the government since last year to address the famine crisis.
Madagascar – AFP