Madagascar skirted famine – barely. Now, it’s boosting resilience before drought returns.
Now, it’s boosting resilience before drought returns.. First, they sold their goats.
Spotting the crisis If famine was averted this time round, it was partly because scattered rain has fallen on the parched fields in recent months – just enough for some farmers to gather small harvests of corn or cassava.
But it was also largely because international aid agencies had long been present in Madagascar, one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.
Quickly, the agency expanded its nutrition programs to all 193 town and village health centers in the south, screening every child under 5 and making sure the worst-malnourished were given high-nutrition, peanut-based food supplements.
That meant, for example, that UNICEF could not use some donors’ cash to treat moderately malnourished children, says UNICEF’s Ms. Wisch.
“We got a good response from emergency aid donors,” says Wisch.
Ms. Soavenira is one of 55,000 mothers whose malnourished children make them eligible for a $10 monthly cash handout from a local nongovernmental organization.
And I was very frightened for my children.” Soavenira had sold all her kitchen utensils except one pot and a spoon.
It also means he will be able to carry his family through the dreaded kere, the lean season between harvests when there is normally nothing to eat.
“We all saw our crops increase and now everyone wants to plant this type,” he says, though it will be a year until the 100,000 farmers now using the improved seeds will have harvested enough to spread the variety throughout the drought-stricken south.