Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 10 years. Its combined effects, together with low agricultural productivity, the impact of COVID-19, and a lack of essential food commodities in the market have resulted in a deteriorating food security situation. With one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, more than half of all children in the country suffer from chronic malnutrition. The EU continues its humanitarian assistance to Madagascar on food, nutrition, and disaster preparedness projects.
Over the past 6 years, southern Madagascar has experienced 5 below-average rainy seasons. This has led to a severe reduction in staple food production and the deterioration of livestock, both in numbers and condition. Poor households are selling more livestock and other productive assets to purchase food. Overall, low income coupled with high staple food prices fuels the food crisis in the country.
Recent food assessments project that over 1.35 million people (35% of the population) need emergency food assistance. Anosy, Androy and Atsimo Andrefana are the 3 worst-affected regions, accounting for over 1 million food insecure people. This year, for the first time, Madagascar has recorded a massive migration influx from the south to the north of the country in search for food and basic services.
The coronavirus pandemic has considerably exacerbated the worrying food security situation. According to the World Bank, COVID-19 has pushed 1.4 million people into extreme poverty due to job losses in key manufacturing and service sectors, as well as the sudden loss of income for informal workers affected by lockdowns in major cities.
In 2020, the EU allocated €6.2 million in humanitarian funding to Madagascar. The EU also supported humanitarian interventions in the greater southern Africa region, including Madagascar, with €64.7 million. A significant share of this funding addressed the impact of the spell of drought in the region. Most of the funding helped respond to the food and nutrition crisis.
In response to the current drought, the EU is helping address food and nutrition needs in the affected areas as well as helping small-scale farmers to restore their means to earn a living. The EU is also working with its partners to run nutrition programmes, targeting especially children, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
The EU is closely monitoring the ongoing food and nutrition crisis, especially in the southern and southwestern regions of the island, known as the Grand Sud. The EU’s humanitarian and development aid departments are also combining and coordinating their efforts, not only to respond to the emergency, but also to build the long-term resilience of the communities in the Grand Sud.
The EU prioritises the swift provision of humanitarian aid in the form of emergency cash transfers to vulnerable people affected by natural hazards. This saves people from having to sell their possessions when food runs out, a practice that makes them less able to cope with the next disaster.
The EU is also supporting local health systems to address preparedness and prevention of the coronavirus, in line with the national response plan. With this support, EU-funded partners in Madagascar are including in their projects activities linked to coronavirus prevention and control, information dissemination campaigns, distribution of personal protection equipment, promotion of access to water and hygiene, and organising hygiene awareness sessions for households.