A resurgence of migratory locusts had infested more than 48,000 hectares in the Grand Sud of Madagascar by the end of June, particularly affecting the Androy and Anosy Regions. The locust infestation impacted the off-season crops planted in March 2021 and is likely to hamper the upcoming main planting season, which is due to begin in October. The destructive impacts of the locust outbreak have compounded two back-to-back droughts, sandstorms, and a fall armyworm outbreak that, in the hardest-hit areas, have caused crop losses. Dried cassava production is expected to be 60 to 90 per cent below the five-year average, with Ampanihy and Ambovombe, expected to be 75-90 per cent below average, according to FEWSNET.
Over 1.14 million people are now severely food insecure—almost double the number in the same period of 2020— and the number of people living in famine-like conditions (IPC 5) will double from 14,000 to at least 28,000 at the start of the next lean season in October, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. The number of people in Emergency food insecurity (IPC 4) will increase from the current 392,000 people to 510,000 people in the months ahead, with at least 5 of the Grand Sud’s 10 districts classified in Emergency. In a worst-case scenario, Ambovombe-Androy District will be at risk of famine from October, according to an IPC analysis carried out in June 2021. In the hardest-hit areas, people have been forced to resort to desperate survival measures, such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves.
Over 500,000 children under five years are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2021, including 110,000 who are likely facing severe malnutrition and require urgent life-saving treatment, according to IPC Acute Malnutrition Phase Classification analysis in April 2021. This represents a five-fold increase from 2020, when an estimated 100,000 children faced acute malnutrition. In Ambovombe, acute malnutrition is affecting over 27 per cent of children under age 5, compared to 8.5 per cent in November 2020. In Bekily, malnutrition nearly doubled from November 2020 (8.2 per cent) to May 2021 (16 per cent).
The humanitarian Flash Appeal, which initially ran from January to May 2021, was revised and extended to May 2022 in recognition of the escalating crisis in the Grand Sud. Under the revised appeal, the number of people in need rose from 1.3 million to 1.6 million following the failure of the 2020/2021 harvest, while the number of people targeted with humanitarian assistance increased from 1.1 million to 1.3 million.
By the end of July 2021, humanitarians had provided life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to more than 879,400 people in the Grand Sud. Over 867,100 people received food security and livelihoods support, including 780,450 reached with food assistance, nearly 410,000 assisted with cash transfers and 87,500 reached with agricultural support. More than 251,100 people were assisted to access safe water, while more than 51,000 were supported to access improved sanitation. Around 175,900 children under five years old and pregnant women received nutritional support and/or treatment. More than 79,360 children were vaccinated against preventable diseases, while more than 93,300 children received school kits and 18,200 were treated against deadly diseases. Some 35,200 people were reached with awareness-raising campaigns to prevent gender-based violence and increase knowledge of reproductive health issues, and more than 14,050 pregnant women received antenatal care.
More funding, however, is urgently needed to ensure aid organizations can respond to the increasing needs. Of the $231 million required between January 2021 and May 2022, some $91.1 had been received by the end of July. A further US$139.6 million is urgently required for life-saving and life-sustaining actions in the coming months.