Three consecutive years of severe drought, widespread crop failure and water shortages have driven Madagascar to the brink of utter “catastrophe,” United Nations agencies stated.
More than half of the population in southern Madagascar, or around 850,000 people, are now experiencing “alarming” levels of hunger, according to the agencies. At least 20 percent of households in the region are on the verge of famine.
“These are people living on the very brink,” Chris Nikoi, regional director of the U.N.’s World Food Programme, said Thursday in a statement. “Many have nothing but wild fruits to eat. We must act together now to save lives.”
The stories out of southern Madagascar are bleak: Children are being pulled out of school to look for food and water; 1 in 3 families has turned to “desperate measures” like begging and selling land to survive; and 4 in 10 households have eaten their vital seed stocks in desperation, leaving nothing for the upcoming planting season.
“I have never experienced this kind of hunger,” Rasoanandeasana Emillienne, a local farmer with four children, told the news outlet in June. “We are taking one day at a time because who knows what will happen if the rains do not return.”