NewsFamine and desperation: Drought in Madagascar is life-threatening

Famine and desperation: Drought in Madagascar is life-threatening

After four years of drought, the East African island state of Madagascar is facing a dramatic hunger crisis. Without support, 28,000 people face death.

Antananarivo – Amid the worst drought in more than 30 years, hundreds of thousands of people living on the island nation of Madagascar are facing a life-threatening situation. There is hardly any food left on the East African island, and there is also a lack of clean drinking water. For months now, the people of Madagascar have had no choice but to eat cactus fruits, clay mixed with tamarind juice, grasshoppers and leaves.

The reason for this is the lack of rain in the region for four years. Since 2017 there has been almost no precipitation, the next rainy periods are expected in May 2022 at the earliest. Rivers and lakes have dried up, the areas formerly used for agriculture are dusty and barren. Most of the farm animals have already died due to the prevailing circumstances. The situation has brought relief organizations to the scene, which speak of “catastrophic” living conditions.

Zahlreiche Menschen auf Madagaskar sind auf die Unterstützung von Hilfsorganisationen angewiesen

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Many people in Madagascar depend on the support of aid organizations. Many are waiting for treatment from Doctors Without Borders.

Over 135,000 children in Madagascar are malnourished and 28,000 people are at risk of starvation

According to the World Food Program (WFP), 1.14 million people in Madagascar, including 135,500 acutely malnourished children, need emergency food aid – the numbers are rising rapidly. “If the trend continues, 28,000 people face starvation,” said WFP Madagascar spokeswoman Alice Rahmoun of the German press agency. The current situation is driving numerous other people to suicide. And because farmers sometimes see no other solution than to feed on their seeds for the next year, the disaster threatens to continue in 2022 – regardless of the weather.

But not only Madagascar is affected by an unusually severe drought. In many other parts of the world, more people are going hungry this year than usual. According to the United Nations, 41 million people are currently at risk of famine in 43 countries – a drastic increase compared to 27 million two years ago. Most at risk are 584,000 people in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, according to the UN. Hunger is also great in Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria.

country Republic of Madagascar
capital city Antananarivo
Official language Malagasy, French
Head of state Andry Rajoelina (President), Christian Ntsay (Prime Minister)
size 587,295 km²
resident 27 million (estimate, as of 2019)

Famine in Madagascar: Food production collapses by 70 percent

The catastrophic situation is triggered by various factors, some of which are mutually reinforcing: protracted armed conflicts, climate change, sandstorms, floods, the corona pandemic and economic downturns. There are also structural problems such as widespread poverty, high unemployment, poor governance, weak education systems and the deforestation of forested areas.

In southern Madagascar, where the famine is particularly acute, many people have already sold their belongings to buy the little food that is left on the markets. But prices have skyrocketed, and most goods are unaffordable. Aid organizations estimate that this year’s food production is up to 70 percent below the already low average of the last five years. The medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports masses of “completely destitute people”. “Some had to sell their cooking utensils and don’t even have containers to fetch water,” says MSF Madagascar mission coordinator Julie Reversé. (ska / dpa)

Category image: © Rijasolo/AFP

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