Despite vast potential, Madagascar has experienced a stagnation in per capita income coupled with a rise in poverty over the past few decades. Ninety-two percent of its estimated 23 million people now lives below the poverty line.
Madagascar has experienced several political crises since independence in 1960. The latest—between 2009 and 2013—negatively affected government institutional capacity, economic growth and social development efforts. It also reduced vulnerable people’s access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks.
Madagascar is one of the 10 countries most vulnerable to natural disasters that impact communities’ food and nutrition security. Five million people live in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. These risks are exacerbated by climate change and this year’s historic El Niño phenomenon.
In January 2016, the food security assessment mission indicated that 80 percent of the population—665,000 people—in the seven most affected districts are severely food-insecure. Fourteen percent of the population in the most affected districts have moderate acute malnutrition. Most households have exhausted their food stocks and are dedicating their remaining resources exclusively to procuring food.
World Food Programme's Work
WFP in Madagascar addresses food security and malnutrition challenges through both development programs and an emergency operation:
- School meals: WFP supports 296,000 children with meals in the classroom, which is particularly significant for kids coming from food-insecure families impacted by drought or the lean season. The UN agency supports the Government in piloting a homegrown school meals program, linking schools to the harvest of smallholder farmers. The Ministry of Education now provides meals to 20,000 children from 60 primary schools in the south that were previously assisted by WFP. The Government is developing a national school meals policy based on the homegrown model—with technical assistance from WFP—which will be finalized in 2016. This will pave the way for a handover of the entire school meals program to the Government.
- Nutrition: WFP provides supplementary food for moderate acute malnutrition prevention to 20,500 children under age two and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as treatment for 15,000 children under age five and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the south.
- Market access for smallholder farmers: Based on WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, the UN agency continues to support farmers—along with the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization—so they can get access to agricultural markets. Farmer organizations receive technical assistance and are provided with high-quality seeds, enabling them to sell production surplus to WFP. Four thousand farmers in the south benefit from P4P in Madagascar.
- Emergency operation: WFP is largely present in the drought-affected southern part of the country. It aims to provide relief assistance to disaster-affected and food-insecure communities, increase their resilience to shocks and strengthen national capacity for disaster preparedness and response. WFP also provides cash-for-training programs for 7,800 vulnerable young people in the food-insecure areas of Antananarivo, Ambovombe and Tuléar. WFP provides such assistance when markets are functioning and food is available but not accessible for the communities.
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