Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. The combined effects of drought, low agricultural productivity, the impact of COVID-19 and a lack of essential food staples 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.
Recent assessments show that 1.14 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity during the period April-September 2021. Out of these, 14,000 people are already grappling with dire levels of food insecurity with no more capacity to cope. Low yields mean that some 1.35 million people are likely to be acutely food insecure between October-December 2021. The most affected district is that of Amboasary Atsimo, where 75% of the population is struggling with crisis/emergency levels of food insecurity.
The number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition in the southern and south-western regions, known as the Grand Sud, during the first quarter of 2021 was 4 times the 5-year average. In total, at least 70,595 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, with more than 11,000 facing severe acute malnutrition.
In 2021, Madagascar recorded a massive migration influx from the south to the north of the country, in search of food and basic services. Child abuse and gender-based violence are increasing, and school dropout rates are on the rise.
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 2021, the EU allocated €12 million in humanitarian funding to Madagascar, including €5 million of additional funding for addressing food insecurity.
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 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.
The European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €8 million out of this funding is supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region. Of this funding, Madagascar will receive €1 million.