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Madagascar Key Message Update: Poor production continues to drive high prices across the south, July 2021

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Key Messages

FEWS NET recently received information on humanitarian food assistance deliveries which have been ongoing since late July and which are planned through October. These data indicate that an estimated 20 to 70 percent of the population in ten districts across the south are either currently or are expected to receive humanitarian food assistance through October. As such, there is the potential for food security outcomes to improve during the July to September mapping period relative to current projections. Further analysis of these data, including the degree to which populations of greatest concern were reached, will be provided in the August FSOU.

The October 2020 to March 2021 rainfall deficit resulted in below-average rice, maize, and pulse production in the main producing areas of the highlands as well as across eastern and southern Madagascar. As a result, prices atypically increased by five to 30 percent in the main urban areas between May and June. Considering the remaining negative impacts of COVID-19 on economy in terms of income earning (petty trade, self-employment, tourism, and cash crops), poorest households in Tana, Tamatave and along the eastern coast depending on those sectors are unable to meet their kilocalories needs without adopting negative coping strategies like selling assets or reducing essential expenses. They will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes from October 2021 to January 2022.

The cassava cropping season was also severely impacted by the 2020/21 rainfall deficit especially in Ambalavao, Ihosy, Toliara II, Betroka, and Morombe. In those areas, dried cassava production will likely be 30-50 percent below average. Across the big south, the decrease will be more significant, 60 to 90 percent below the five-year-average due to the two successive droughts in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Subsequently, food availability in the big south will be below average and food prices will significantly and atypically increase in September while income earning from agricultural labor, mining, remittances, as well as wild food, livestock, and charcoal sales will be below average.

Preliminary results of the Ministry of Health/UNICEF malnutrition mass screening for the second quarter of 2021 show a slight improvement from quarter one results, though GAM prevalence (measured by MUAC) remains high, between 16 and 20.6 percent in Beloha, Ambovombe, Tsihombe, and Amboasary districts, indicating Emergency levels of malnutrition. Additionally, results of the July 2021 WFP mVAM analysis indicate high food gaps and widespread practice of Crisis and Emergency coping strategies across the big south. Moreover, because of the below-normal cereal, pulse, and tubers production, several areas in the big south including MG23, MG24, MG25, and MG26 will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes through September.

During the lean period (October 2021-January 2022), food stocks from below-average harvests will run out and food prices will be above average considering the dried cassava shortfall at national level. As a result, in Ampanihy and Ambovombe, where cassava production is expected to be 75-90 percent below the average will likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. With relatively better income earning opportunities, Bekily, Tsihombe, Beloha, Betioky, and southern Taolagnaro will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes. The forecast for the for the start of the 2021/22 rainy season is being closely monitored given concerns about a possible late start of rainfall, which would have further negative effects on agricultural labor opportunities, wild food availability, production, and prices in 2022.