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Promotion of proactive and innovative actions for food crises prevention | Madagascar

Strengthening and securing the livelihoods of vulnerable households and communities and the resilience of agrifood systems in the face of climate hazards in the Great South

This Learning Brief aims to share some of the achievements and lessons learned from the country investment conducted in Madagascar in the framework of the European Union-FAO Global Network Against Food Crises partnership programme, within the Pro-Resilience Action Project (PRO-ACT) "Promotion of proactive and innovative actions in food crisis prevention in the Great South of Madagascar" implemented by FAO and its partners from October 2018 to January 2022The intervention was implemented in three regions of the Great South of Madagascar, which constitutes the area most exposed to extreme weather events such ascyclones, floods and droughts. These have increased over the last two decades and severely affect productive systems by reducing crop yields and causing animal losses. Food insecurity is chronic, widespread and on the rise due to the deterioration of the food crisis resulting from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic droughts that occurred between 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, rising temperatures and increased risks of water resources shortageexacerbate soil aridity, degradation of pastures combined with an alarming reduction in forest cover, and make agricultural and livestock activities difficult. Crop systems adopted by smallholder farmers as well as their agricultural livelihoods in general are not very resilient to climatic variabilities. 

The project aimed to improve the resilience of vulnerable communities and households by strengthening and securing their livelihoods as well as preventing and mitigating the effects of hazards on their food security and nutrition, through the following interventions: 

  • Diversification of livelihoods and strengthening of ttargeted households’ adaptation capacity to the effects of climatic hazards and predictable shocks in the agricultural sectorSupport was provided through farmer field schools to strengthen and diversify agricultural production through a climate-smart, nutrition-sensitive approach and the provision of adapted kits, seeds, inputs, capacity developmentextension and technical support for the application of improved agricultural practices. Additional support and training were provided to diversify income sources, enhance market opportunities and establish village savings and loans associations.
  • Strengthening of early warning systems to prevent and/or mitigate the effects of hazards: Capacities at all levels were developed to identify and monitor indicators and alert thresholds and provide agricultural and food producers with adequate information through early warning systems, with the aim to take the necessary anticipatory actions and protective measures (cf. crisis modifier as an adaptive management approach) to safeguard productive assets against the adverse effects of climatic hazards.  

  • Documentation and dissemination of good agricultural practices and successful livelihoods diversification approaches contributing to the resilience of agrifood systems. 

 Some key takeways:

  • On impacts: One in two households supported by the project diversified their production and developed a second source of income, thus strengthening their livelihoods and their capacity to adapt to the effects of climatic hazards and foreseeable shocks. A 17 percent reduction in households with a poor dietary diversity score was observed, despite shocks and the alarming food insecurity situation.  


  • On climate action: The implementation of a climate-smart agriculture approach, which revolved around the distribution and multiplication ofquality seeds adapted to difficult climatic conditions, training on improved agricultural techniques, distribution of small improved-breed livestock, strengthening of irrigation devices, etc., contributed to improve the availability and accessibility of diversified food products with a higher nutritional value and greater market opportunities. This approach helpedpreserve food security and strengthen the resilienceof targeted households. 


  • On anticipatory action: The implementation of an early warning early action approach at community-level with pilot community-based committees, linked to ongoing collaboration between key stakeholders at the national and decentralized levels to define the Anticipatory Action plan, facilitated  the integration of relevant indicators and trigger thresholds for their monitoring in the Great South of Madagascar, thus contributing to strengthening the functionality of AA systems at all levels. 

  • On early warning information: The strengthening of targeted communities’ access to agrometeorological information and weather forecasts enabled them to take anticipatory actions to adapt their agricultural activities (for example, deciding on the right timing to plant seeds to reduce loss and increase yield) while protecting their livelihoods against the impacts of foreseen climate-related shocks or stresses.  


  • On the crisis modifier approach: The crisis modifier was designed as a pilot adaptive management initiative to support households from shocks that may be occurring during the project’s implementation, in order to counter negative effects, save lives and secure project investments, in particular against the long dry spell which occurred in the intervention area. The fund was mobilized in February 2020, following a rapid assessment of the water stress effects on the agricultural sector and livelihoods of rural populations in southern Madagascar. In total, 1 300 households affected by the drought benefited from monetary transfers to preserve their food security. It is hence critical to actively advocate for and mobilize flexible funding mechanisms to anticipate and respond to situations of deterioration or prolongation of food crises exacerbated by extreme climate events.  


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