Madagascar: “The world cannot look away” as 1.3 million people face severe hunger

The impacts of the most acute drought in over 40 years, combined with sandstorms and pests, have made it nearly impossible for people in the Deep South to grow their own food for at least three years now.

“The world cannot look away. People in Madagascar need our support now and in the future ”,noted Issa Sanogo, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the country.

Funding Needed Now

The World Food Program (PAM) recently warned that the situation in southern Madagascar could become the first-ever famine caused by climate change.

The United Nations and its partners have launched a flash appeal of $ 231 million this year to cover operations until May 2022.

Although nearly $ 120 million has been received so far, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said more funding is urgently needed to provide life-saving food, water, health services and nutritional treatment in the months to come.

Mr. Sanogo visited the Great South where he saw “The human face of the global climate crisis”.

Eat cacti and grasshoppers

The drought has left more than 1.3 million people facing severe famine, including some 30,000 people in life-threatening famine conditions.

“Women, children and families are eating cacti or locusts to survive this drought and more than half a million children are acutely malnourished,” he said. “This is happening in a country and region that has contributed the least to climate change. ”

The crisis has forced families to withdraw their children from school so that they can help with tasks such as finding food and water.

Gender-based violence and child abuse have increased and people have been displaced from rural areas to urban centers in search of livelihoods and services.

Prevent disasters, promote resilience

“I have met families who have told me that they have to sell all their personal belongings, down to their pots and pans, to buy small amounts of food that will not keep them going for long. Mr Sanogo said. “It is imperative that the world act now to help these families. ”

Aid agencies have significantly expanded their operations in Madagascar this year, reaching over 900,000 people with life-saving assistance, in tandem with government efforts.

However, with the peak of the lean season, which runs from January to April, quickly approaching, they underscored the critical need to step up the response now.

“I call on the international community to show solidarity with the communities of the Great South, which are suffering the full brunt of the climate crisis, and to put forward the necessary funding to both avoid a humanitarian disaster today, and allow for people to become more resilient tomorrow, ”said Mr. Sanogo.

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