- Faced with continuing drought, destructive cyclones and a shortfall in donor support, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has extended its emergency appeal for food aid to Madagascar until the end of the year.
- We are thankful to donors who responded to our appeal but there are tens of thousands of people who urgently need assistance and will continue to do so unless they're given a chance to restore their livelihoods, Bodo Henze, WFP Country Director for Madagascar, said today in the capital Antananarivo.
Last November, WFP launched an emergency appeal for US$ 8.2 million to provide about 18,400 tons of food to about 400,000 people affected by drought and cyclones, but the appeal has only been 57 percent funded and many vulnerable people are not receiving the assistance they so desperately need, the agency said.
- It seems like Madagascar's food crisis has been forgotten, Mr Henze said. "Different parts of Madagascar are exposed to different types of natural disasters at different times of the year. From this perspective, it's difficult to sensitise donors to the plight of people affected by drought when another part of the population has just been struck by a cyclone."
In the south of the country, the consequences of the worst drought in 10 years are still prevailing. There has not been a proper harvest in the past two years and the number of severely malnourished children arriving at government-run nutrition centres in the south has increased.
Furthermore, the most recent cyclone to hit the country, tropical storm Manou, killed more than 70 people in May, severed roads and bridges and caused extensive damage to agricultural land.
- Despite an increased level of food supply in the local markets, food prices remain high and inaccessible for the majority of people, WFP said in its last "Emergency Report" covering Madagascar.
Health workers had not yet reported any hunger related deaths, however many people, mainly children, were believed to be at risk due to a combination of disease, inadequate diet and unsafe drinking water which prevailed in the drought-affected areas of southern Madagascar.
Staff working at the nutrition centre in Amboasary further had reported an eight percent mortality rate among children during March and May, the WFP report said. Aid workers in the south had also noticed an increase in deforestation as trees were being cut down in order to produce charcoal for sale in the local market.
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