The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP,) has said that people in southern Madagascar have been reduced to eating wild leaves and locusts to stave off starvation after consecutive drought and sandstorms ruined harvests, leaving hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine.
According to a statement on Friday by Amer Daoudi, senior director of global WFP operations, the lives of Malagasy children are in danger, especially those under five years old whose malnutrition rates have reached alarming levels.
In a telephone interview from Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, Daoudi told a UN briefing in Geneva that he had visited villages where people have had to resort to desperate survival measures, such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves.
He also said that famine looms in southern Madagascar as communities witness an almost total disappearance of food sources which has created a full-blown nutrition emergency.
According to report, Madagascar is one of Africa’s poorest countries. A lack of basic services – from health and education to employment opportunities – as well as poverty and climate change have exposed many of its 26 million people to natural disasters.
Malnutrition among children under five has almost doubled to 16 percent from nine percent in the four months to March 2021 following five consecutive years of drought, exacerbated this year by sandstorms and late rains.
At least 1.35 million people need food assistance in the region, but the WFP is only reaching 750,000 with half-rations due to financial constraints.
WFP says it , seeks $75m to cover emergency needs through September.