According to the World Food Programme (WFP) in a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, at least 1.35 million people are starving. In the southern part of Madagascar, cases of famine and malnutrition are taking a worrying turn. The reason for this relentless ordeal is the three consecutive years of drought, and the severe recession caused by the current pandemic. Many children are forced to beg every day for the survival of their families, so the warning is issued to avoid the worst.
According to data released by WFP Regional Director Lola Castro in charge of South Africa and the Indian Ocean States, “there has been a doubling of the number of people in food insecurity between July and November 2020. For example, from 700,000 to 1,350,000 people based in the far south of Madagascar…. During the rainy season from November to December, rain came in one day.”
This lack of rainfall combined with the destruction of crops by sandstorms is causing a deep food crisis. Lola Castro bitterly states that “people feed on what they find: cacti, roots, leaves, seeds. It doesn’t matter.” A cruel situation, especially since 75% of children were forced to drop out of school to beg for food.
The three most affected regions of the country, Androy, Anôsy and Atsimo Andrefana have a prevalence of global acute malnutrition among children under the age of 5, which amounts to 10.7%, the second highest rate in the region of East Africa and Southern Africa.Moreover, WFP forecasts indicate a certain concern, as the number of children likely to suffer from acute malnutrition will increase to 135,000, of which 27,000 cases will be considered serious.
International institutions are trying to support the most vulnerable. WFP assists more than 500,000 people in food insecurity in the nine most affected districts of Madagascar, The UN plans to help more than 900,000 people with a global budget estimated at $35 million in addition to the school program of 150,000 children.