More on Madagascar

What are the current issues in Madagascar

Madagascar is the fourth biggest island on earth and because of its relative geographical isolation off the east coast of Africa, much of its flora and fauna exists nowhere else on earth. It is defined as a low-income country, ranking 155th out of 187 countries in the 2014 Human Development Report (UNDP). Poverty in Madagascar has increased and today 72 percent of the country’s estimated 22 million people live below the national poverty line.

Madagascar is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones, flooding and drought. Nearly a quarter of the population – some five million people – lives in areas that are vulnerable to frequent natural disasters. Due to their impact on agriculture, these are a major threat to food insecurity. The increasing fragility of the ecosystem, due to deforestation and poor land management, is a major cause of increased vulnerability to shocks and related food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 85 percent of the rainforests have been lost due to the use of wood and charcoal for cooking and, slash and burn agricultural practices.

The 2014 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission found that 35.8 percent of the rural population in eight surveyed areas was food insecure. Stunting due to chronic malnutrition affects 47.3 percent of children under five years of age or nearly two million children (Millennium Development Goals National Survey 2012) while the average national global acute prevalence is 8.2 percent.

More than five years of political crises (2009 – 2013) and international sanctions have affected government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts, impacting on vulnerable people’s access to basic social services and their ability to prevent, adapt to and recover from recurrent shocks.

Farming, fishing and forestry form the backbone of Madagascar’s economy, accounting for 25 percent of its Gross Domestic Product and 77 percent of employment (National Statistical Institute 2013). Agriculture is dominated by rain-fed, small-scale subsistence farming and 70 percent of smallholder farmers are growing crops on 1.2 hectare parcels of land on average. Rice is the preferred staple and although it ranks first in national agricultural production, the country is a net rice importer. Agricultural production remains low due to the use of traditional techniques. Main barriers include limited access to agricultural inputs, credit and technical support services; gender inequality, poor farming and post-harvest techniques; lack of access of smallholder farmers to markets and market information.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar

WFP addresses food security and malnutrition challenges in Madagascar through a development-oriented Country Programme and a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation which provide responses to shocks and natural disasters. In 2015, WFP aims to assist 680,000 vulnerable people in the country’s southern and southeastern regions and poor urban areas.

The Country Programme has three components:

WFP implements a school feeding programme in support of the Ministry of National Education. Aside from food assistance, WFP supports the development and scale-up of a national school feeding policy. WFP also supports the Government of Madagascar in designing a Home Grown School Feeding programme linked to smallholder farmer production; and continues to implement other activities such as nutritional education, promotion of hygiene in schools and use of environmentally stoves.

The second component aims to improve nutritional situation for vulnerable groups through acute malnutrition prevention and treatment activities, stunting prevention and nutritional support to people suffering from tuberculosis.

Through component three, WFP helps enhance access to markets for smallholder farmers through local food purchases, building the capacity of farmers’ associations so they can improve the quality of their crops. This is made possible by a partnership with farmers’ associations, local non-governmental organisations, the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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 nutritional emergency. This is done by prepositioning food in the country’s remote and disaster-prone areas ahead of the cyclone season.

WFP will implement the resilience component through a so-called ‘Three-pronged approach’. This firstly involves the undertaking of a national assessment of the country’s vulnerability to multiple shocks. The second prong focuses on facilitating and coordinating the implementation of seasonal livelihoods activities in the most vulnerable districts. The final element involves participatory planning exercises identifying suitable food-for-assets activities with the community.

WFP will support the Government in re-establishing a food security early warning system and in putting in place emergency preparedness measures. WFP will use its technical expertise to support the establishment of a Vulnerability Assessment Committee in Madagascar and will develop national capacity to carry out emergency food security and nutrition assessments.

Strengthening the government institutions’ capacity by providing technical assistance and training is one of WFP’s main objectives for the coming years.

Featured Madagascar publications

Madagascar: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 379 KB)

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.