Madagascar faces a number of humanitarian challenges, including recurring natural disasters, disease outbreaks, pest infestations and acute food insecurity. Ninety percent of the population lives below the international poverty line and nearly 50 percent of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished, according to the UN.
• To date in 2019, three cyclones have caused heavy rainfall in parts of Madagascar, flooding fields and rendering roads inaccessible. Weak agricultural production and heavy dependence on poorly supplied markets in southern Madagascar will likely lead to Crisis (IPC 3) and Stressed (IPC 2) levels of acute food insecurity for poor households through May, with humanitarian assistance preventing further deterioration of food security for many households, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).*
• Food availability will likely improve following the March-to-May harvests, FEWS NET reports. However, many poor farmers lack the resources to buy agricultural inputs—such as seeds—resulting in roughly half of the available agricultural land in the southern areas of the country going unplanted in December and January.
• Humanitarian organizations continue to express concerns regarding the nutrition situation in southern Madagascar. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition is above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent in 22 communes within southern Madagascar. Additionally, 47 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition in Madagascar, representing the fourth highest chronic malnutrition prevalence in the world.
- The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5).
• USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to provide emergency food assistance and complementary nutrition activities to vulnerable households in southern Madagascar. ADRA also implements food-for-assets activities, in which families receive food assistance in exchange for a household member helping to construct water points for agricultural, household and livestock use. With FFP resources, CRS has also helped communities affected by natural disasters and crop failure due to Fall Army Worm infestations.
• Through the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), FFP provides emergency food assistance, sourced from local, regional and U.S. markets, as well as specialized nutritious foods for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition in children under the age of 5. WFP also implements early recovery activities and strengthens the capacity of national government systems to lead emergency response efforts through technical and logistical support.
• Additionally, FFP partners with CRS and ADRA to implement multi-year development activities, which build community resilience, protect and enhance livelihoods opportunities, and improve the food and nutrition security of vulnerable households. These activities aim to improve maternal and child health, strengthen resource management and increase household income to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition.