Madagascar is facing multiple severe humanitarian crises affecting nearly 10 million people. The consequences of climate change are acutely felt on the island, particularly through increasingly unmanageable natural disasters.
Failed rains and prolonged drought in the south of the island have left nearly 1.5 million people food insecure. In 2022, an estimated 500,000 children under 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition, and 110,000 will be severely malnourished. Urgent action is needed to address the nutrition crisis.
Beyond the drought, Madagascar remains vulnerable to other natural disasters, including cyclones, flooding, as well as disease outbreaks. The socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be felt in 2022, affecting Madagascar's fragile economy and extreme poverty rates.
In 2022, UNICEF's response will be multi-pronged and incorporate nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, social protection, education, child protection, gender-based violence (GBV) and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA).
UNICEF is requesting US$40 million in 2022 to reach 2.5 million people, including 1.2 million children, and deliver life-saving assistance.
KEY PLANNED TARGETS
110,000 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition
500,000 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
13,000 children/caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
29,000 household reached with cash transfers through government system with UNICEF support
500,000 children in need nutrition assistance service
700,000 people in need of health assistance
6.4 million people lack access to safe water and dignified sanitation
148,000 children in need of protection services
1.7 million people in need of humanitarian cash transfers
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
In 2021, the chronic drought in the south of the island became an acute one, as rains failed, an entire growing season was decimated, and populations starved. This situation will continue into 2022. The diminishing possibility for human habitation in southern regions is a direct consequence of climate change. 1.3 million people were left food insecure. An estimated 500,000 children under 5 years of age will suffer from acute malnutrition between May 2021 and April 2022. Of these, 110,000 will be severely malnourished.
Water scarcity and prices have increased in drought-affected regions and in Antananarivo. In the worst case, people from poorer rural areas can be charged 8 times more than those from urban areas for a 20-litre jerrycan. Deterioration of water quality is anticipated due to low aquifer reserves and recharges. Marginalized children and their families’ access to WASH services will be further limited. Urban populations are also at risk of potential shortages of potable water.
Access to healthcare services remains limited due to an overstretched system and disrupted services during COVID-19. Less than 1 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, so Madagascar will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic in 2022. Plague, malaria outbreaks, and dengue fever are also prevalent. The socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 means that the number of people living in poverty has increased by 2.3 million, including 1.3 million children.
Access to education was once again interrupted in 2021 due to a second wave of COVID-19. An estimated 7.2 million children missed out on learning opportunities when schools closed between March and June. Numbers of children out of school are already high, with 24 per cent of primary-age children and 73 per cent of secondary-age children not in school. The pandemic and related socioeconomic challenges have likely worsened this situation.
Increased economic pressures, domestic stress, poverty and food insecurity have contributed to decreasing households' resilience and exposing children and women to violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF expects that incidences of child marriage, child labor and various forms of gender-based violence (GBV) have increased.
The humanitarian crisis has at once reduced households’ resilience and potentially pushed them to resort to negative coping strategies mainly affecting women and children, while also exacerbating the chronic weaknesses of systems for monitoring, preventing and responding to violence, including GBV.