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Integral Monitoring the Humanitarian Crisis in Madagascar

Five Integral Members with work in Madagascar recently met together to share information on their response to the growing humanitarian crisis there …

Photo © Medair 2021 
Children from remote villages enjoying free water from water point built by Medair

Madagascar is currently experiencing their worst drought for 40 years, with households affected by high prices of staple food items, and outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases. The World Food Programme (WFP) have reported that ‘in the Grand Sud of Madagascar, 500,000 people are now facing emergency or worse levels of food insecurity, 28,000 of which are already in famine-like conditions and an additional 800,000 people are in crisis levels.’ [Source here].

The region has been hit hard by successive years of severe drought, forcing families in rural communities to resort to desperate measures just to survive.  According to UNICEF, half a million children under the age of five in southern Madagascar could be acutely malnourished by early 2022, with 110,000 already in a critical state. While a direct link to climate change has not been confirmed, the climate emergency is understood to have made severe heatwaves much more likely, increasing the risk of droughts and flooding.  

Integral Member Medair is treating children for malnutrition and providing safe drinking water to some of the most affected communities. “Madagascar is one of the countries in the world most affected by hunger and malnutrition,” explains Evelyn Speich-Baer, Medair’s Madagascar Director. “Families have sold all their belongings, just to survive. They need to walk up to 40 kilometres to find water. We are also seeing an increase in common diseases and diarrhoea cases, as people’s immune systems weaken.

Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation, few humanitarian organisations are working in this region due to significant access difficulties and security concerns.  “The situation is catastrophic and will continue to worsen without immediate action,” warns Speich-Baer. “Human lives and livelihoods are at stake. There is no time to waste.”

Madagascar has appeared on CARE’s top 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises each year over the last three years (see here).  In order to curb the spread of COVID-19 international flights to Madagascar were suspended in March this year, only beginning to resume at the end of October.  Isabelle Duval, Project Manager with SEL France, says “Madagascar is not on anyone’s radar. It is quite forgotten. However, the needs are huge. It is good that we have been able to hear from other Integral Members what they are doing and planning. I hope that together we can bring more support to this desperate situation.”

Integral will continue to monitor this worsening crisis and highlight how Members are responding.