ROME, Oct 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Hunger is
expected to reach emergency levels by the end of the year in
drought-hit southern Madagascar, where many families have
already been forced to sell their homes or land, or migrate, the
World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
At least 1 million people need food and cash aid, and some
200,000 pregnant women and children under five need treatment
for acute hunger, the U.N. agency said.
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, according to preliminary results of a food
assessment carried by out by WFP and other agencies.
The survey also showed that three more districts could
follow unless swift action is taken.
The districts are currently in phase three of a five-point
scale used by food agencies, where five is famine.
"The situation is extremely worrying," WFP Executive
Director Ertharin Cousin said as she concluded a visit to the
Indian Ocean island nation this week.
"I met women who told me they had nothing to feed their
babies except the fruit of the red cactus growing by the
roadside," Cousin said in a statement.
"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," she 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 (250 miles) off
the coast of mainland Africa, but also across the wider southern
In southern Madagascar, one household in three has already
been forced into desperate measures such as selling their house
or land, begging or migrating, WFP said.
Four in 10 households have eaten their vital seed stocks,
leaving nothing for the November/December planting season, the
Overall, some 1.2 million people in the south are food
insecure, with 600,000 severely food insecure, according to an
assessment carried out last month by the ministry of
agriculture, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
FAO is supplying farmers with tools and drought-resistant
seeds to help them prepare for the upcoming growing season.
Even in relatively normal times, many Malagasy struggle to
eat enough food - and the right kind.
Nine in 10 people live on less than $3.10 a day, and the
country has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in
the world. Nearly half of children are stunted, and little
progress has been made over the past 20 years in reducing that.
(Reporting by Alex Whiting, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
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