Madagascar On the Brink of Climate Change-Induced Famine

Madagascar On the Brink of Climate Change-Induced Famine

With four consecutive years without rains that have left tens of thousands of people to suffer “catastrophic” hunger, Madagascar is on the verge of the first “climate change famine,” according to the United Nations.

The worst drought in four decades, inciting two consecutive crop failures, has left people starving and scavenging on insects to survive.

The isolated farming communities in southern Madagascar are the worst affected, with an estimated 1.14 million people food insecure, according to Food Programme (WFP). 14,000 out of them are in a catastrophic state, and this number will rise to 28000 by October.

The drought and the subsequent crop failure are direct outcomes of climate change.

“This is what the real consequences of climate change look like, and the people here have done nothing to deserve this,” Issa Sanogo, the UN Resident Coordinator in Madagascar, wrote in her blog expressing concern for the sorry state of Madagascar.

According to United Nations, about 30,000 people in Madagascar are suffering from a level 5 famine. This is the worst and highest level of food insecurity recognized internationally.

Children under five years are worst affected, with the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) level risen to a daunting 16.5%.

The condition is expected to deteriorate further and put more people into starvation as they are about to witness the lean season that proceeds harvest. The food inventory reduces further during the lean season, and it is common for low-income families to skip meals during this period.

People in southern Madagascar are surviving on locusts, raw cactus, and wild leaves. With almost no water, it is difficult to clean the locusts and leaves. With absolutely nothing to eat, the habitats of Madagascar are left searching for cactus, wild leaves, and locusts again and again to kill hunger.

People are dying of hunger. Children are severely malnourished, and families are devastated. People are even selling land to buy food.

Expressing sadness over the plight of Madagascar people, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Shelley Thakral said, “this is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don’t burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change,”

The WFP are trying to extend emergency aid with food supply and distribution and medical aid for critically malnourished people. WFP is also helping farmers with land procurement and guidance on what crop to grow, but the condition of extreme drought is rendering everything almost impossible.

How has climate change incited the famine in Madagascar

Madagascar witnesses droughts frequently. While northeast Madagascar has a rainforest cover protecting it from climate changes, southern Madagascar is at risk due to the arid climate.

Southern Madagascar has been stuck by severe climate changes- warming in the atmosphere and subsequent aridity. The El Nino effect led to changes in weather patterns, causing a 75 percent decline in rainfall in 2016. Such a dip in rains causes a massive loss of harvest. Climate change has also brought sandstorms. The agricultural land are now filled with sand rendering it infertile.

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