Evatana is a municipality of 12,000 inhabitants located in the southeastern district of Manakara. This part of Madagascar is regularly hit by cyclones and floods which cause significant damage to road infrastructure and to crops, particularly rice and manioc.
In this isolated area, life has never been easy. Three meals a day are an unheard of luxury for most poor families. And the lack of decent roads makes it difficult to transport and sell crops in the district market.
"We might have to walk half an hour to neighboring villages just to sell or buy manioc", says 50 year old Eliniamba, an inhabitant of Evatana and mother of two children. "And flooding has made an already difficult situation worse”.
Eliniamba’s rice field has become silted up, like the fields of many of her neighbours.
In Evatana, WFP – in collaboration with its partner, Inter Aide – undertakes food-for-work activities which involve building a dam for water conservation and an irrigation canal on 300 hectares of rice fields. WFP provides food in exchange for the labour of 520 community members.
Eliniamba hopes these projects will improve the rice harvest which is due in August.
WFP’s food-for-work programmes, which also include road rehabilitation, helps the most vulnerable households to prepare for any future natural disasters.
Meanwhile, the food rations contribute to mitigating the effects of the lean season and ensure acceptable food consumption among targeted beneficiaries. The aim is to give communities livelihoods so they can support themselves.
“Some regions in southeastern Madagascar are facing an overpopulation problem that is aggravated by the hilly terrain”, says Inter Aide agricultural technician Jeans Randriamanantsoa. “Arable land is limited. As a result, food shortages and food insecurity persist throughout the year. Our support enables the most vulnerable communities to eat regularly”.
Thanks to contributions from its donors, WFP supports 146,000 people through food-for-work activities in the southeastern and eastern parts of Madagascar.
An in-depth assessment of food security conducted by the UN Agencies and their Humanitarian Partners under the coordination of the National Disaster Management Authorities in late March revealed that some 400,000 people in these areas would face severe food insecurity in the subsequent two months. These inlcude households whose income-generating activities were disrupted or destroyed by the floods.