Madagascar drought

Madagascar’s worst drought in 40 years has left over a million people at risk of starvation

Photo by Tsiory Andriantsoarana for WFP.

— 1 minute read — by Sam Feierabend

A million people are facing starvation due to widespread food shortages in the southern region of Madagascar, as the country faces its worst drought in 40 years.

The region has reached critical levels of food shortage following three consecutive years of drought. 1.14 million people in South Madagascar are facing serious shortages, with 14,000 of those in ‘catastrophe’ situations – the highest in the five-step scale of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). Children and women have been most affected by the drought, and families have been forced into extreme measures to survive, including selling their belongings and engaging in child labour.

Due to the lack of rain, the region will produce less than half its usual harvest in the coming months. Those most desperate people are turning to eating termites and foraging for plants that are considered dangerous to children and vulnerable adults. Most people in the southern part of the island rely on their harvest for food and income; this crop has been severely damaged by the drought and violent sandstorms in the past few months.

In a country that is already economically unstable, the fact that a large proportion of their population are at such risk is worrying. The frequency of the droughts is another reminder of the affect climate change is having on those who are most vulnerable.