Despite heavy rains as a result of tropical weather systems in January and February 2022, the drought situation in the Grand Sud of Madagascar remained precarious. The planting of crops was delayed by a poor start to the season and, although crops were eventually planted following the rains brought by cyclones and storms, the overall outlook remained unclear. By the end of February, more than 61 per cent of the Grand Sud’s territory remained affected by extreme or emergency drought, according to UNICEF.
Humanitarians reached around 1.1 million people in the Grand Sud with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance between January 2021 and March 2022, including 748,300 in 2022 alone. At least 1 million people received food assistance from January 2021 to March 2022, while 589,700 people were provided with cash transfers. More than 439,000 people were assisted to access safe water, while more than 51,000 were provided with access to sanitation services. Children remained a major focus of the response, with more than 108,000 provided with school kits and refresher courses, 83,970 vaccinated against preventable diseases, more than 62,900 treated for acute malnutrition, and 18,400 treated against deadly diseases. Some 37,100 people were reached with awareness-raising campaigns to prevent gender-based violence and increase knowledge of reproductive health issues, and more than 14,200 pregnant women received antenatal care. In order to reinforce resilience, 116,100 received agricultural support by using resistant seeds, and 64 new water points were built and 52 others rehabilitated.
The significant scale-up in humanitarian action in the Grand Sud in 2021 resulted in improvements in the humanitarian situation in early-2022. Over the course of 2021, humanitarian partners deployed 453 additional staff, resources and supplies to ramp-up life-saving and life-sustaining activities in the Grand Sud. Four humanitarian clusters were activated in November 2021—Food Security and Livelihoods, Nutrition, Health and WASH—to bolster the humanitarian response. In addition, a cargo helicopter was deployed to the south in April January 2022 to deliver humanitarian assistance in hard-to-reach areas and assess the needs of the most vulnerable people. In the first quarter of 2022, global acute malnutrition (GAM) in the most drought-affected districts decreased to 8.4 per cent (a reduction of 0.8 per cent compared from September 2021), and severe acute malnutrition was 0.7 per cent. No district was classified in nutritional Emergency (whereas five districts were in emergency at the same time in 2021), although nearly 24 communes had emergency GAM rates.
Donors’ timely and generous contributions enabled humanitarian partners to increase and expand their activities in recent months, making a critical difference in the Grand Sud. Out of the $231 million required between January 2021 and May 2022 in the revised Flash Appeal, $196.2 million had been received by the end of February 2022. However, more funding is needed to ensure that humanitarian response can continue in order to maintain the improvement in the situation and deliver emergency assistance to all people in need.