Semi-arid conditions in southern Madagascar, combined with high levels of soil erosion, deforestation, and unprecedented drastic sandstorms, have covered croplands and pasture with sand and transformed arable land into wasteland across the region, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
“The scale of the catastrophe is beyond belief. If we don’t reverse this crisis, if we don’t get food to the people in the south of Madagascar, families will starve and lives will be lost,” said WFP’s Senior Director of Operations, Amer Daoudi who today visited one of the worst affected areas, Sihanamaro, accompanied by a high-level delegation of ambassadors and senior government officials.
WFP needs US$74 million for the next six months to save the lives in southern Madagascar and prevent a catastrophe. Following alarm calls received from the Amboasary district on the severity of the food crisis, WFP has been progressively assisting up to 750,000 people through food and cash distributions each month.
Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are among the hardest-hit Southern Africa.
The crisis is impacting 45 million people — many of whom are women and children. The region has been hit hard by repeated droughts, widespread flooding, and economic hardship. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is urgently appealing for international support to help 1.1 million people in desperate need of life-saving assistance. OCHA spokesman, Jens Laerke, says they face huge and potentially life-threatening needs for food, nutrition, water and sanitation, and medical care. If funded, the U.N. will have money to improve food security for more than a million people and provide safe water and health care services for hundreds of thousands of people as well as life-saving nutritional support for 300,000 malnourished young children.