222 views | Akanimo Sampson | January 13, 2021
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently in need of $35 million to fund lifesaving food, cash distributions and malnutrition treatment programmes in Madagascar.
The amount will also cover emergency school feeding for 150,000 children to ensure they can stay in school and build a more secure future.
Sources say around 10 million people in Southern Madagascar are currently struggling to put food on the table as a result of three consecutive years of drought coupled with a sharp recession ignited by the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Madagascar is the largest African island situated in the Indian Ocean, about 450 km (280 mi) east of the coast of Mozambique.It is the fourth largest island in the world, and has been isolated for about 88 million years and many of its plants and animals are unique to the island.
The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass from the Africa-South America landmass around 135 million years ago.
Madagascar later split from India about 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in relative isolation.With an area of 587,041 km², the island is slightly larger than France, or almost twice the size of the US state of Arizona.Geographically, Madagascar is relatively close to: the Comoros, Mauritius, Mozambique, Réunion, and South Africa.
The current population of Madagascar is 28,064,024 as of Tuesday, January 12, 2021, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
Last year, Madagascar population was estimated at 27,691,018 people at mid-year according to UN data.
Madagascar population is equivalent to 0.36% of the total world population of 7.8 billion.
With severe malnutrition rates continuing to spiral and many children forced to beg in order to help their families eat, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says urgent action is required to prevent a severe humanitarian crisis.
With drought conditions persisting into this year and a poor last harvest, weary communities have few resources to fall back on and many have had to leave their homes in search of food and work.
Already, some 1.35 million people are projected to be food insecure – 35% of the region’s population. The figure is nearly double what it was in the same period last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the hardship, causing seasonal employment to dry up. Many families relied on this income to get through the lean season, which peaks between January and April.
WFP’s Representative in Madagascar, Moumini Ouedraogo, says “to survive, families are eating tamarind fruit mixed with clay. We can’t face another year like this. With no rain and a poor harvest, people will face starvation. No one should have to live like this.”
Children are worst affected by the food crisis and most of them have dropped out of schools to beg for food in the streets. A WFP assessment in Amboasary last October found that three out of four children are absent from school – mostly to help their parents forage for food.
The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under 5 in the three most affected regions (Androy, Anôsy and Atsimo Andrefana) stands at 10.7%.
This is the second highest rate in the East and Southern Africa region. The most recent projections put the number of children likely to suffer from acute malnutrition at more than 135,000, with more than 27,000 of these being classified as severe.
WFP currently provides food assistance for almost 500,000 severely food-insecure people in the nine hardest hit districts in the South.
Given the rapidly deteriorating situation, by June 2021, WFP intends to scale up its assistance to reach almost 900,000 of those most vulnerable. However, support will be needed for struggling families well beyond the current lean season.
Meanwhile, WFP is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.