Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
At least 400,000 people in southern Madagascar are facing extreme risk of starvation, as a devastating drought has dried up water sources and wreaked havoc on regional food security.
According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 400,000 people in the region are “marching toward starvation” and some 14,000 are already suffering from famine-like conditions officially categorized as catastrophic.
The WFP reported in May that around 1.14 million people in southern Madagascar are facing high levels of acute food insecurity.
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The heavily agricultural dependent region of southern Madagascar has suffered from four years of horrific drought, the likes of which the island nation has not seen for decades. 95 percent of those suffering from acute food insecurity in the region live off agriculture, livestock, and fishing.
Consistently poor harvests and widespread water shortages have ravaged food systems and stability throughout the region, damaging livelihoods, putting millions of lives at risk, and causing a drastic rise in irreversible malnutrition- especially in children.
“The situation is dire and there is an immediate need for coordinated regional and global action to help avert what could easily become a human catastrophe,” said Amnesty International’s Madagascar Programme Advisor, Tamara Léger, in late May.
The continent that has been the most disproportionately impacted by the detrimental effects of climate change, Africa has been subject to horrific droughts in recent years. Despite contributing very little to climate change, African nations such as Madagascar are consistently paying the highest price.
WFP Chief David Beasely explained that “what’s happening in southern Madagascar is horrific” and it “is not because of war or conflict, this is because of climate change.”
If serious action is not taken soon, the World Food Programme predicts that the number of people facing phase 5 catastrophic food insecurity in southern Madagascar will double from 14,000 to 28,000 by October and a major famine will become increasingly likely.
“We’ve got to come in and do what we can to help in the short-term, but we need long-term resilience programs so these people can take care of themselves… so they can get their lives back together and get back on their feet,” said WFP Chief David Beasely in a social media video from southern Madagascar posted Thursday.