Panafrican News Agency

OCHA reports worsening humanitarian situation in Madagascar’s Grand Sud region

Antananarivo, Madagascar (PANA) - The humanitarian situation in the Grand Sud of Madagascar continues to deteriorate, as people endure the most acute drought the region has seen in 40 years, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Friday.

The agency said that an outbreak of migratory locusts has infested more than 48,000 hectares of land in the Grand Sud, which has impacted both the off-season crops planted in March 2021, and is likely to hamper the upcoming main planting season which is due to begin in October.

The destructive impacts of the locust outbreak have compounded two back-to-back droughts, sandstorms, and a fall armyworm outbreak that, in the hardest-hit areas, have caused up to 60 per cent of crop losses.

Over 1.14 million people are now severely food insecure—almost double the number in the same period of 2020— and the number of people living in famine-like conditions (IPC 5) will double from 14,000 to at least 28,000 at the start of the next lean season in October, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.

The number of people in Emergency food insecurity (IPC 4) will increase from the current 392,000 people to 510,000 people in the months ahead, with at least 5 of the Grand Sud’s 10 districts classified in Emergency.

In a worst-case scenario, Ambovombe-Androy District will be at risk of famine from October, according to an IPC analysis carried out in June 2021. In the hardest-hit areas, people have been forced to resort to desperate survival measures, such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves.

Malnutrition rates have risen sharply in the Grand Sud and, in some regions, admissions for severe acute malnutrition reached almost the quadruple of the five-year average.

In Ambovombe, acute malnutrition is affecting over 27 per cent of children under age 5, compared to 8.5 per cent in November 2020. In Bekily, malnutrition nearly doubled from November 2020, reaching 16 per cent in May.

Reports indicated that the situation is also critical in other districts, particularly Amboasary, where 14 per cent of children are acutely malnourished, and Betioky, with 12 per cent of children acutely malnourished, up from just over 3 per cent six months ago.

“The dire humanitarian situation in the Grand Sud is leading to increasing school dropouts, a rise in gender-based violence and child abuse, and displacement from rural to urban areas in a context where access to water and basic services is extremely limited, “ OCHA said.

The UN agency noted that many people have been forced to sell all of their household belongings—including pots and pans—as a result of severe debt, leaving them unable to cook food or feed their families.

The crisis has had a severe impact on the health of communities in the Grand Sud, with water shortages—and increases in water prices of about 10 to 15 times the average— forcing families to drink and cook with unsafe water, exposing them to disease outbreaks

-0- PANA AR 27Aug2021