Madagascar

Madagascar

In Madagascar, almost 80 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture. However, frequent natural disasters – cyclones, tropical storms, flooding and drought – and locust threats negatively impact households’ livelihoods, pushing them into poverty and hunger. During the first half of 2018, the country was hit by two cyclones, affecting more than 200 000 people, including 70 000 people displaced. FAO is working to strengthen the livelihoods and resilience of vulnerable households in order to improve their food security and allow them to recover from recurrent crises.

Threats to food security

In addition to the cyclones, Madagascar has recently experienced polio and measles outbreaks, with the latter having now spread to all 22 regions, as well as the recurrent plague. Moreover, the El Niño-induced phenomenon has exacerbated chronic drought. The Great South has been particularly hit by the severe rainfall deficit during important stages of the cropping cycle, affecting the harvests of major foodstuffs (cassava, maize and rice) and causing declines of about 60 percent compared with five-year averages. As a result, 1.3 million people are projected to be severely food insecure during November 2018–March 2019 (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC] analysis, October 2018), of whom more than 366 000 classified as emergency (IPC Phase 4), and 24 700 children are acutely malnourished.

One of the poorest countries in the world, the complex political situation in Madagascar is aggravated by rapid urbanization and unemployment, which prevents rural families from accessing economic opportunities. Staple food prices are above normal, particularly in southern Madagascar. In Tsihombe district in mid-January 2019, 1 kg of maize was 78 percent more expensive than in December 2018 and almost triple the price from January 2018. High prices in southern Madagascar limit vulnerable households’ access to food who are forced to adopt negative coping mechanisms, which in turn contribute to deforestation and environmental degradation. As rural populations are still extremely vulnerable to shocks and natural hazards, immediate support to protect their livelihoods and strengthen their resilience is essential.

Strengthening households’ resilience

In southern Madagascar, although farmers expanded cropped areas after heavy rains in December and January, many vulnerable farmers lacked the means to buy seeds and other inputs. Meanwhile, western Madagascar received below-average rains for the third consecutive year, leading to significant losses in rice production. FAO is working to safeguard agriculture-based livelihoods by providing vulnerable rural families with agropastoral support to increase their productivity in farming systems, and improve market linkages and their incomes.

FAO is also strengthening national capacities in collecting, analysing (seed security and livestock needs assessments, early warning and vulnerability mapping), and disseminating data and information on food security and agro-weather conditions to help farmers and other stakeholders in decision making to prepare for and respond to recurrent crises. Furthermore, FAO is supporting government efforts to integrate nutritional awareness programmes into educational systems and to strengthen the sustainable management of natural resources. This is to put in place adequate measures to mitigate the impact of locust invasions, floods, cyclones, droughts and other shocks.

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