Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
At 587,000 km2, Madagascar is the world’s fifth largest island. 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 vast potential, the country is one of just a handful to have experienced, over the past decades, a stagnation in per capita income coupled with a rise in poverty: 92 percent of its estimated 23 million people live below the international poverty line. Low income and food-deficient, Madagascar is ranked 154th on the 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 hectare of land. Rice is a staple; although it is the Madagascar’s main crop, the country is a net rice importer. Agricultural production remains low due to limited access to agricultural inputs, as well as to credit and technical support services; limited access to markets and market information; obsolete farming and post-harvest techniques; and gender inequality.
Madagascar has experienced political instability since independence in 1960. The latest crisis, in 2009-13, negatively affected government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It also reduced vulnerable people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks.
Current issues in Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. A quarter of the population – some five million people – live in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate these risks. Added to this, the increasing fragility of the ecosystem intensifies vulnerability to shocks and related food insecurity. Deforestation in particular has become a major concern: 85 percent of Madagascar’s rain forest has been lost to logging and coal-making for household use, slash-and-burn agricultural practices, and illegal exploitation.
In 2015, a joint assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP in eight disaster-prone areas found 1.9 million people to be food insecure, more than half of them in the semi-arid southern regions; 665,000 people were severely food insecure (with the deep southern regions of Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana scoring worst). Madagascar has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, which affects almost half of all children under five. Drought in the south is aggravated by El Niño: this may put the May/June 2016 crop at risk, with severe consequences further down the line.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar
In 2016, WFP aims to assist 700,000 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 has three components:
• We work to support the Ministry of National Education by offering school feeding. Aside from food assistance, we are helping develop a national school feeding policy and a home-grown school feeding programme linked to smallholder farmer production. We continue to provide nutritional education, to promote hygiene in schools, and to encourage the use of environmentally friendly stoves.
• We seek to improve the nutritional situation of vulnerable groups by working to prevent acute malnutrition, reduce stunting, and extend nutritional support to people suffering from tuberculosis.
• We help enhance access to markets for smallholder farmers through local food purchases, and build the capacity of farmers’ associations to improve the quality of their crops.
The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation aims to provide relief and early recovery assistance to vulnerable households affected by natural disasters, mainly cyclones and floods; and nutritional assistance to treat moderate acute malnutrition in case of a nutritional emergency. This is done by pre-positioning food in the country’s remote and disaster-prone areas ahead of the cyclone season.
The resilience component is being implement through a three-pronged approach. This involves assessing the country’s vulnerability to multiple shocks; facilitating and coordinating seasonal livelihood activities in the most vulnerable districts; and conducting participatory planning exercises, in which the community is helped to identify what activities are suitable in each area.
Strengthening the capacity of Government institutions is one of WFP’s main objectives for the 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.