UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.
Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.
The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.
In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.
Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.
The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months
WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”
She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”