Food crisis looms in ‘breadbasket’ of Madagascar

Kalea has to wake up at 3 AM to fetch water. But the dry spells have turned the Laniry River into a vast desert.

 Five years of drought have bludgeoned a “breadbasket” region of Madagascar and, along with the coronavirus, have disrupted local labour patterns in the south, resulting in a looming food crisis.

Lola Castro, the regional head of the United Nations World Food Programme, told journalists based at the UN in Geneva on Tuesday that the situation in the country’s south has gradually deteriorated over the past month. Added to the drought, Covid-19 has resulted in famine-like conditions in the area.

“We have seen a doubling of the numbers of food insecure between the data we have in July 2020 and November 2020,” Castro said in a virtual news conference.

“We move from 700,000 people made insecure in the south… of Madagascar to 1.3 million people,” she added. Castro is the WFP’s director for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

“In September 2020, WFP was called to action to go to areas where we have never been, providing food assistance, [in an area which had been] the breadbasket of the grand South,” said Castro.

There had not been a “real, proper harvest” as a result of the five-year drought.

“We were called in because people were dying. And there were such numbers, of severe, acute malnutrition among children, that we had to intervene.” Read more…

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