People in Madagascar Eat Cactus and Wild Leaves Due to Severe Drought

Madagascar is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Agricultural lands turned into deserts. Eighty percent of the population in Southern Madagascar is forced to eat extreme foods to survive, such as grasshoppers, raw red cactus fruit, and wild leaves.

malnutrition in Madagascar
Illustration. The number of cases of malnutrition in Madagascar continues to increase. (United Nations/ Viviane Rakotoarivony)

ACTNews, Madagascar – Drought is still a frightening specter in the southern part of Madagascar, where the drought is worse than in any other region. The drought has caused at least 1.35 million people there in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

The World Food Organization (WFP) states climate change is the driving force behind this food crisis. It’s seven times worse than it was just a year ago, and seven times more children are in trouble because of drought. They face the worst drought in over 40 years, and this is an area where people depend on their agriculture, homegrown school meals, and smallholder farmers.

Semi-arid conditions in southern Madagascar, combined with high levels of soil erosion, deforestation, and unprecedented drastic sandstorms, have covered croplands and pasture with sand and transformed arable land into wasteland across the region.

The 2021 harvest prospects are poor. The failure of the rains during the last planting season is indicating another failed harvest and a longer and tougher lean season (from October 2021 to March 2022). Food production in 2021 is expected to be less than 40 percent of the last five-year average, making it harder for communities on the brink of survival to feed themselves.

Consecutive years of drought in South Madagascar have left at least 1.35 million people in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance. The situation has been critical since September 2020, the start of the lean season when families had already depleted their food supplies and eaten their vital seed stocks, leaving nothing for the November/December 2020 planting season. Currently, up to 80% of the population in certain areas in South Madagascar is resorting to desperate survival measures such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits, or wild leaves.

Most districts in South Madagascar are in the grip of a nutrition emergency with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under five almost doubling over the last four months, touching an alarming 16.5 percent, as per a recent assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health. Worst affected is the district of Ambovombe where GAM has crossed 27 percent, putting the lives of many children at risk. Children with acute malnutrition are four times more likely to die than healthy children.

Considering the severe drought that has hit Madagascar, Global Qurban-Aksi Cepat Tanggap invites all Generous Benefactors to help end the food crisis in Madagascar. Qurbani meat from benefactors will be distributed to parts of Madagascar. Malnutrition that has been suffered by the children there for a long time can be overcome with quality Qurbani meat that is rich in nutrients.[]