Madagascar: Surge in malnutrition due to climate crisis

‘Children will die if we do not take them into our care,’ says global humanitarian group

Rodrigue Forku   | 10.03.2021
Madagascar: Surge in malnutrition due to climate crisis Photo credit: Action Against Hunger

YAOUNDE, Cameroon

Three consecutive years of drought in Madagascar's Grand Sud region has led to widespread food insecurity and malnutrition, a global humanitarian group said on Wednesday.

"This is a humanitarian emergency where children will die if we do not take them into our care, and we are currently one of the few actors present on the ground to support local health authorities," Valerie Ceylon, Action Against Hunger’s regional operations director for Southern Africa, said in a statement.

The group treated 4,000 children under age five years old for severe malnutrition in January and February, double the number of children treated during the same period last year, the statement said.

"Southern Madagascar faces a difficult hunger season every year, but the current situation is far more serious than in other years," Ceylon said.

Deforestation and slash-and-burn farming expose the soil to the risk of erosion, which in turn results in sandstorms when strong trade winds are present, the statement said, adding the phenomenon has reached a new intensity levels over a longer duration in 2021.

Ceylon said sandstorms are engulfing farmland and destroying livelihoods among in the Indian Ocean Island already vulnerable to climatic hazards.

"In the Androy region, where more than 95% of the population lives below the poverty line and depends exclusively on agriculture, this is having devastating effects," she added.

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