MADAGASCAR: Over One Million People Face Starvation, Food Agency Warns

ANTANANARIVO OCTOBER 7, 2016 (CISA) – At least one million people need food and cash aid in drought-hit southern Madagascar, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

According to the UN agency about 200,000 pregnant women and children under five need treatment for acute hunger which is expected to reach emergency levels by the end of the year.

“The hunger and malnutrition we’re seeing is the result of three years of ruined harvests. We must receive the necessary funding to respond before it’s too late,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin as she concluded a visit to the Indian Ocean island nation this week.

Preliminary results of a food assessment carried by out by WFP and other agencies indicate that four out of nine districts in the southern tip of the country are likely to fall to emergency hunger levels by the end of the year.

The survey also showed that three more districts could follow unless swift action is taken, as they are currently in phase three of a five-point scale used by food agencies, where five is famine.

“The situation is extremely worrying,” said Cousin adding that many families have already been forced to sell their homes or land, or migrate.

“I met women who told me they had nothing to feed their babies except the fruit of the red cactus

growing by the roadside,” he said in a statement.

Four in 10 households have eaten their vital seed stocks, leaving nothing for the November/December planting season, the agency said.

El Nino, a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, has aggravated dry conditions and a worsening food crisis not only in Madagascar, an island 400 km off the coast of mainland Africa, but also across the wider southern African region.

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