Climate and Hunger in Madagascar
Life is becoming ever more difficult for poor communities across southern Madagascar as droughts become more frequent – and more severe.
Serious droughts used to strike the region every ten years. Then it was every five years. Now it is every three. And some areas have suffered even greater hardship – with three dry years out of the past five.
Global warming and widespread local deforestation – partly due to illegal charcoal production – have contributed to a 10 percent rise in temperature and a 10 percent decrease in rainfall over the past 50 years.
A record 45 southern districts will face severe food shortages until April 2010, leaving tens of thousands of children wondering where their next meal is coming from
Hunger is forcing desperate families to break ancient taboos and eat lemurs as well as other bushmeat – pushing some of Madagascar’s flagship species to the brink of extinction.
Vola and the youngest of her eight children benefit from WFP’s supplementary feeding programme, which will provide additional nutrition to all 75,000 pregnant & lactating women and children under 2 in the worst affected districts.
With forests being cut down for fuel wood at a rapid rate, WFP is teaming up with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) on a number of projects to help communities enhance the local environment.
WFP has also expanded its school meals programme in the drought-affected south to reach 170,000 children – providing them with vital nutrition and a daily incentive to stay in school.
WFP’s food-for-work projects feed around 80,000 people and create crucial assets – such as this water basin in the village of Anjado – that will help vulnerable communities to cope better with the changing climate.
Along with the latest natural disaster, a political crisis has paralysed many government services and cut off much international development aid. But humanitarian assistance is still getting through – helping families to survive the current drought and to adapt to a drier, harsher future.