Madagascar Has 1.1 Million People on Brink of Famine, UN Says

About 1.1 million people in the southern part of Madagascar face food insecurity as a prolonged drought and a sandstorm bring subsistence farming to a standstill, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Without rains since December 2019, an increasing number of people are being pushed into famine. The 14,000 people currently in that situation could double by September, Volantiana Raharinaivo, a communications officer for the Antananarivo-based FAO office, said in a phone interview.

The three regions threatened by famine are Anosy, Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana, an area almost the size of New York State. Agriculture, livestock breeding and fishing are the most common activities in the area, which is prone to droughts and suffers from inadequate health and education services.

“Food insecurity is still prevalent due to droughts, irregular rainfall and other impacts of climate change,” the World Bank said in a report describing the region as the Deep South. “Rainfall patterns have been changing since the 1930s, becoming more concentrated within the December to March period and much drier during planting seasons.”

The report highlighted “questionable new crop varieties” and a preference for maize, which requires more water, and the underdevelopment of crops such as sorghum.

“The FAO needs $40.4 million to achieve agricultural recovery and climate resilience for approximately 426,000 households,” Raharinaivo said.

The FAO has educated 20,000 households on how to survive, with a focus on diversification and spreading the harvest over the year to protect themselves from climate events and plagues.

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