Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, gained independence from France in 1960. Separated from the African mainland for 165 million years, it boasts a unique ecosystem, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. Despite its great potential, the country is one of just a handful to have experienced a stagnation in per capita income coupled with a rise in poverty in recent decades. More than 90 percent of its 23 million people live below the international poverty line. Madagascar is ranked 154th out of 188 countries on the 2015 Human Development Index.
Farming, fishing and forestry form the backbone of the Malagasy economy. Agriculture is dominated by rain-fed small-scale subsistence farming. Seven out of 10 smallholder farmers own no more than 1.2 hectares of land. Rice is a staple but, although it is the island’s main crop, Madagascar is a net rice importer. Agricultural production remains low due to a range of factors including limited access to agricultural inputs, credit and markets.
Recent political instability has undermined government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It has also reduced people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks.
Current issues in Madagascar
Madagascar is among the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. A quarter of the population – 5 million people – live in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate these risks while the increasing fragility of the ecosystem intensifies vulnerability to shocks and food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 85 percent of Madagascar’s rainforest has been lost to logging, charcoal-making and slash-and-burn agriculture.
The southern region suffers from recurrent drought, most recently aggravated by the global El Niño weather event. In September 2016, a joint assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP found that 1.2 million people from the south are food insecure, with 600,000 severely food insecure.
Madagascar has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, which affects almost half of all children under 5.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar
WFP assists vulnerable people in Madagascar’s southern and south-eastern regions, as well as in poor urban areas of the capital, Antananarivo, and in Tuléar. This is done through a development-oriented Country Programme and a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation.
The Country Programme targets 400,000 people and has three main aims:
- to provide school meals with the support of the Ministry of National Education. In addition, WFP is helping to develop a national school meals policy and a home-grown school meals programme linked to smallholder farmer production. WFP also provides nutritional education, promotes hygiene in schools and encourages the use of environmentally friendly stoves.
- to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups by working to prevent acute malnutrition, reduce stunting and extend nutritional support to people suffering from tuberculosis.
- to enhance smallholder farmers’ access to markets through local food purchase, and build the capacity of farmers’ associations to improve crop quality.
The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation provides:
- relief and early recovery assistance to vulnerable households affected by natural disasters, mainly cyclones and floods; and
- nutrition assistance to treat moderate acute malnutrition by pre-positioning food in remote and disaster-prone areas ahead of the cyclone season.
Due to the negative impacts of El Nino-amplified drought on the food and nutrition situation in the Deep South of Madagascar, WFP plans to provide relief assistance to 350,000 vulnerable people through food distributions and cash transfers during the prolonged 2016-2017 lean season.
WFP promotes resilience in three main ways: through an assessment of the country’s vulnerability to multiple shocks; facilitation and coordination of seasonal livelihood activities in the most vulnerable districts; and the implementation of community-level planning exercises.
Strengthening the capacity of Government institutions is one of WFP’s main objectives over coming years.
World Food Programme partners in Madagascar
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Madagascar:
• Care International
• Centre d'Appui aux Communes Avelontika
• Centre de Service Agricole Mandrare
• Fikambanan ny Tanora Mijoro (FITAMI)
• Fikambanana Mpanao Asa Soa Amborovy (FIASA)
• Hiara Hampandroso
• International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
• Lovasoa CCCC (L4C)
• Mahafaly Mandrodo (MMDS)
• Ministry of Agriculture
• Ministry of Economy and Planning
• Ministry of Education
• Ministry of Population, Social Protection and Promotion of Women
• National Office for Nutrition
• National Office for Disasters and Risk Management
• TAnora Mandray Andraikitra ho an’ny FAmpandrosoana (TAMAFA)
• United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Featured Madagascar publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Madagascar? Visit the Madagascar publications archive.