PA 10 facts About Life Expectancy in Madagascar
Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is also one of the poorest countries in the world. A lacking healthcare system, malnutrition and prevalent diseases all lead to one question: how long do people live in Madagascar? Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Madagascar

  1. The latest WHO data reports the life expectancy in Madagascar to be 65.1 years for males and 68.2 for females, making the average life expectancy 66.6 years. Madagascar is currently ranked 175th in life expectancy out of 223 nations measured, according to the CIA.
  2. The life expectancy rate has increased exponentially from 1960 to today. The World Bank reports that in 1960, the average life expectancy was 39.96 years, and by 2016, it had grown to 65.93 years.
  3. According to Health Data, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and stroke are among the top causes of death in the country. The causes have persisted since the conduction of the study in 2007; however, there has been a change in the number of deaths for each cause.
  4. The Healthcare Access and Quality Index measures healthcare access and quality. In 1990, Madagascar received a score of 20.6 on the index, and in 2016, the country received a 29.6. Compared to leading nations like Iceland, with a score of 97.1, Madagascar’s performance on this index demonstrates the room for improvement.
  5. In 2015, a total of $78 per person was spent on health in Madagascar. The breakdown of the expenses is as follows: $5 from prepaid private spending, $17 out-of-pocket spending, $33 government health spending and $22 development assistance for health. The country is expected to increase the per capita amount to $112 by 2040.
  6. Madagascar has introduced a number of initiatives to move towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically, the goal to reduce extreme poverty by half.  However, in 1993, 67.1 percent of the population was living below $1.25 per day, while in 2010, that number increased to 87.67 percent.
  7. One such initiative working to reach the MDGs was approved by the World Bank in June 2017. The new Country Partnership Framework aims to improve governance and strengthen finances, as well as reduce poverty, particularly in rural areas. Living in poverty is linked to a variety of issues, but studies have shown that those living in poverty are more likely to have a lower life expectancy.
  8. Due to the new Country Partnership Framework, improvements in the country can be seen in areas of health, education and private sector development. Preventative treatment for tropical diseases such as bilharzia and intestinal worms has been distributed to 1.8 million school-aged children over the past few years (with Bilharzia receiving 100 percent coverage in the country).
  9. In 2017, 6.85 million people received treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a decrease compared to the 8.73 million people who received treatment in 2016. Madagascar ranks 37th out of the 49 countries when it comes to treatment. There are some diseases that receive 0 percent coverage, such as elephantiasis, while other diseases receive partial coverage, such as intestinal worms.
  10. UNICEF is working to improve healthcare access in Madagascar, and it has been expanding integrated health services with a focus on newborns. Due to their efforts, poliomyelitis was eradicated and 43 percent of the population (which includes 3.5 million children) experienced an improvement in their access to health services.

Madagascar’s lacking healthcare system is being tackled from a variety of angles, as illustrated by these 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar. The country is working to reduce poverty and better the lives of its citizens in every regard; however, there is room for progress.

Simone Edwards

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Madagascar
Since becoming an independent nation in 1960, Madagascar has struggled to find its footing and develop in the right way. The island nation’s economy and government have both historically proven to be fragile. Most recently, a coup d’etat, illegal and overt seizure of a state, temporarily transferred political power to military authority in 2009. This societal fragility has contributed to the rate of poverty in Madagascar, that is currently among the highest in the world.

However, Madagascar’s outlook has been looking up since 2013. The country held U.N.-sanctioned elections that led to a peaceful transfer of power. The economy immediately responded with modest, but increasingly promising growth. Madagascar’s GDP was projected to grow by 5 percent in 2018.

Unfortunately, poverty rates have held relatively steady despite these economic gains. In 2017, more than three out of every four citizens of the country lived on less than $1.90 a day. With numbers of poverty being this high, raising people out of poverty has to be the main goal of Madagascar’s government and the international community.

Problems related to Poverty in Madagascar

Poverty in Madagascar is complex and entrenched. Rates of poverty are high throughout the country, but they are worst in rural areas. The country’s poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities is most inconsistent in these areas, where only 35 percent of the population has improved access to clean water.

Electricity, food, and schooling are all hard to come by for the country’s poorest as well. Only 15 percent of the country’s population had access to electric power in 2015 and nearly half of Malagasy children are severely malnourished. These and other societal factors influence the low rate of children enrolled in primary education, which was under 70 percent in 2012.

Most Malagasy people work in agriculture, often producing cash crops like coffee and vanilla. These jobs are far from stable, however. Madagascar’s location off the Southern Coast of Africa leaves the country vulnerable to natural disasters. These disasters not only immediately impact the people caught in their path but contribute to the difficulties in maintaining infrastructure in rural areas.

The Beginning of Progress

Despite all these difficulties, the development in the last five years gives several real reasons for hope. The first of these reasons is related to political stability Madagascar has enjoyed since the 2013 elections. The international community was reluctant to invest aid money in Madagascar during and around the crisis of 2009, but that reluctance seems to have passed. In 2016, the World Bank and the United National Development Programme dedicated $6.4 billion for the country’s infrastructure between 2017 and 2020.

The political stability also opened access to U.S. and European markets for Madagascar. These new markets helped drive the recent economic growth. The World Bank has consistently argued that Madagascar’s government will have to intentionally include the country’s poorest in order to have a real effect on their lives. The current government has shown a willingness to take initiative to address the problems affecting these citizens.

Government’s Role in Reducing Poverty in Madagascar

The government hopes to leverage the growing economy to develop a healthy tax base. With that added funding, the focus can shift to building up infrastructure, education and disaster relief around the country. Past relief efforts have been plagued by corruption, but the government has begun passing anti-corruption laws and encouraging greater judicial oversight of these cases.

Another government role in encouraging economic growth is providing business incentives and greater access to both physical and online banking services around the country. The government hopes that these initiatives will provide new jobs to the rapidly-growing population, provide more stability and diversity to the economy in general, and provide financial flexibility that could protect people from having their entire lives overturned by disasters.

Looking Forward

Progress has been slow, but positive trends are beginning to appear. Madagascar’s economy is hardly a world powerhouse, but it is slowly climbing up the ranks of the World Bank Doing Business ranking and the United Nations Development Program Human Development Indicator. Poverty in Madagascar is also expected to drop by two percent over the next two years.

Madagascar will have to pass a few more important markers before a long-term positive trend is certain. For example, another peaceful transition of power after the 2018 election, resolved in December, will mean a lot in a  long run for ensuring the stability of the country and for achieving the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty in Madagascar. That being said, Madagascar, as one of the most impoverished nations in the world, is finally making progress despite many difficulties. That’s something that should inspire hope in the country but in the international community as well.

– Joshua Henreckson
Photo: Flickr

How Politics Affect Poverty
In the last decade, there have been many studies regarding how politics and various government institutions shape poverty.

For the poorest and most vulnerable, the way in which their governments operate makes a profound difference in their lives. The incapacity of government institutions to prevent conflict, provide basic security or basic services can have detrimental consequences for their citizens, especially for the poor.

How Politics Affect Poverty

The instability of economic growth can make countries depend indefinitely on foreign aid. In countries where cultural or ethnic groups feel that there is economic, political and social inequality, wars are more likely to occur, causing a vicious cycle that leads to poverty.

In many instances the poor are marginalized and their voices are not heard. The poor, more than any other group, rely on basic public services.

These services work better for the poor when poor citizens participate in reforms of service delivery. In conflict-affected states, the supply of these services is very scarce.

Political instability, poor governance and corruption are a major phenomenon affecting poverty in the world today.

The Case of Haiti and Madagascar

For example, rudimentary to the prevalent problem of poverty in Haiti is the extensive history of political turmoil and the lack of governance.

Corruption and the misuse of public funds resulted in a reduction in the quality of all public services for the country. This includes the fundamental areas of traditional governmental responsibility, such as the police, the justice system and the provision of elemental infrastructure.

This makes Haiti the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world.

Madagascar is another example of how politics affects poverty. Madagascar was a country with a lot of economic potential before the big crisis of 2008.

Before the crisis, Madagascar had economic growth of 5 percent per year but economic growth became stagnant from 2008 up until 2013.

Since 2009, Madagascar has been in an intense political turmoil created by an unconstitutional change of government.

The political crisis and instability created uncertainty for private investment. Throughout these years of political upheaval, Madagascar’s social and economic growth became severely damaged.

Discriminatory Laws

Racial, gender and ethnic discrimination are directly related to how politics affects poverty in some countries of the world and it needs to be addressed if it is to successfully decrease inequality and poverty.

For example, in Bangladesh, discriminatory family laws on marriage, separation and divorce push some women further into poverty.

In 20 years, Bangladesh has made great progress in its life expectancy and raised it by 10 years and has reduced infant mortality by more than half.

According to recent studies, both the rich and the poor are benefiting from these improvements.

However, according to the Human Rights Watch, women in the country do not benefit from these gains due to discriminatory family laws that push them deeper into poverty.

Migration is another aspect related to how politics affects poverty.

Migrant workers usually do not engage in political action about wages and conditions and they also lack the rights associated with citizenship and residency.

The laws governing immigration also often deprive these workers of labor or welfare protection, compel their ability to seek adequate working conditions.

Nongovernmental organizations’ Role

Nongovernmental organizations are an important part in helping alleviate poverty in many underdeveloped and third world countries.

For example, these organizations complement government in mobilizing additional resources in benefiting the greater number of people in need and enhancing program results through their participation in project management, monitoring and evaluation.

Typically, people fall into four categories of poverty that require different approaches.

The first category is made of people who are temporarily incapable of work, the second category consists of those who have some resources but lack business skills or efficiency.

The third category is made up of those who are capable of work but external conditions or resources like jobs are poor and the fourth category comprises those who are permanently incapacitated, such as the severely disabled.

Nongovernmental organizations can provide huge help for the first and the second category.

Unlike some development players, nongovernmental organizations are more willing to help and provide innovative solutions to the people’s problems allowing them to gain support sooner.

Policymakers must use conscientious new approaches to generate productive jobs, increase the minimum wage, ensure investment in low-income communities, improve education and training and create more opportunities for everyone to apply their talents.

In conclusion, it is important that all governmental institutions become aware of the problem that poverty brings to societies and the impact that it has in the economic growth and development of a nation.

By becoming fully aware and not ignoring it anymore, policymakers have the responsibility to create laws that will help alleviate poverty in their communities.

It is important to tackle it and not to continue blaming the individual citizen for his misfortune but to provide guidance and opportunities for poor people to step out of the hole they’re in.
Photo: Unsplash

How the Media Misrepresents Madagascar
The perpetual stereotype that surrounds Madagascar is that its population consists of very few people, an enormous number of animals and an increasing rate of poverty. In fact, the first page of a ‘Google Image’ search of Madagascar provides half a dozen photos of people and dozens of photos of lemurs and other animals. The ways the media misrepresents Madagascar creates a skewed image of this African country as a place populated mostly by animals and an increasing rate of poverty.

Pivot

Several organizations advocate for the population of Madagascar. One such organization, Pivot, has created a district in Madagascar called the Ifanadiana District, which focuses on providing health care benefits for Malagasy people. Its population is now 200,000.

The organization aims to transform Madagascar’s health system through rights-based care delivery, strengthened public systems and a new era of science guided by the needs of the poor. Before this organization was located in the Ifanadiana District, one in seven children died before age five. Patients also had to find and pay for all medicines and supplies before treatment.

However, there was a 19 percent decrease of under-five mortality after Pivot intervened. Pivot has built hospitals and provided vaccines and health care to enlighten the people of this impoverished country. Pivot has made an extraordinary difference to the country of Madagascar and will continue to do so until it’s health system has been completely transformed.

Halt Poverty

Halt Poverty is another organization working to reduce poverty in Madagascar. The group’s current crowdfunding campaign is to support the building of a provision of safe water in vulnerable households surrounding areas of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. The endeavor will only cost $2,945 to serve 200 people safe water, or $14.98 per person.

Halt Poverty uses adventure tourism to advocate for the support of poverty reduction in Madagascar. By exploring the natural landscapes and villages of this country, people are able to see the nation as it truly is. These tourists will support the local economy, protect the environment, respect the local culture and participate in poverty reduction.

These programs offer a deeper cultural insight than the one offered by tourism. Over the course of the trip, tourists will get a deeper intercultural understanding of Madagascar and gain exposure to volunteer opportunities that reduce poverty.

Reality of Madagascar

The media misrepresents Madagascar by portraying the nation as an impoverished country lacking in aid from poverty-reduction organizations, but this is not the reality. Although Madagascar experiences immense poverty, the poverty rate has actually decreased in the past couple of years.

In fact, the poverty rate decreased from 77.6 percent to 72 percent between 2012 and 2018. The World Bank reported that the Malagasy economy has been gradually improving ever since the return to legal order in 2014. Since 2016, the economic growth rate in the nation exceeded 4 percent. With trends such as these, one can see that Madagascar is improving in terms of its economy and poverty at a fairly quick rate.

On the Horizon

Although Madagascar is misrepresented in the media, there is, in fact, a great deal being done to give Malagasy people a better life. However, the misrepresentation of this country in the media has caused its issues to remain predominantly unknown.

The combined efforts of organizations like Pivot and Halt Poverty suggest improvements in tourism, health systems, poverty reduction and ultimately, a brighter future for Madagascar, are on the horizon.

– Megan Maxwell
Photo: Pixabay

Girls' Education in MadagascarIn the island nation of Madagascar, access to education varies depending on the gender of the student. There is an equal amount of male and female civilians in Madagascar’s population of 25 million people. However, girls’ education in Madagascar is not the same as boys’, contributing to how girls are not given the same opportunities.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “far too many girls are still denied schooling, leave prematurely or complete school with few skills and fewer opportunities.” Malagasy school district records show that 78 percent of school districts show a lower enrollment for girls than boys. To change inequality for girls’ education in Madagascar, many international organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, have implemented programs to help increase female enrollment and advancement in Madagascar’s schools.

The Global Partnership for Education

In 2005, UNICEF Madagascar, the Ministry of National Education and the World Bank managed the Global Partnership for Education project to address the barriers the Madagascar youth had to access decent education. The Global Partnership for Education works to “ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility and conflict.” It focuses on two major goals to improve youth involvement in education:

1. To facilitate access to and retention in primary education by reducing the costs of schooling borne by families.

2. To support the learning process by improving the teaching and learning environment.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the Global Partnership for Education distributed 1.95 million school kits, subsidized 21,000 community teachers’ salaries, and constructed 120 new classrooms. This contribution gave young students the opportunity for education in Madagascar. By September 2016, a new shipment of school kits was en route to arrive for the 2016-2017 school year.

Post-primary Education for Girls

In 2008, UNICEF started the Post-primary Education for Girls project in Vangaindrano school district to increase the number of girls enrolled in school and continuing their education by providing scholarships and changing gender priority mindsets.

One adolescent Malagasy girl, Fabiola, was told by her parents that she would need to drop out of school, so her parents could support her little brother’s education instead. The alternative for Fabiola was getting married because girls’ education in Madagascar stopped the moment she could not pay the fees. At 14 years old, Fabiola’s bright future was destroyed because her parents believed supporting her brother took priority. However, thanks to the project’s scholarship, Fabiola was able to continue her education.

Stories like Fabiola’s are common in Madagascar. The rural population makes up 64 percent of the country’s total population, leaving a majority of the population living in poverty and unable to provide basic needs, such as food and shelter. This leads to families being unable to finance and support their youths throughout primary and secondary education, and prioritizing boys’ education over girls’.

The National Movement for Education for All in Madagascar

In 2011, the National Movement for Education for All in Madagascar (NMEAM) launched a campaign to promote girls’ education in Madagascar. The priorities of this campaign are girls, parents, and the government. The focus on parents and the government is because change cannot have a successful implementation when there are communities and government agencies that oppose it.

NMEAM’s campaign awarded 20,000 girls in Analanjurofo, a rural region in northeastern Madagascar, with scholarships to complete their education. Girls’ education in Madagascar relies heavily on these scholarships because impoverished families cannot provide an education for their daughters.

NMEAM also introduced the Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol’s Article 14 to Madagascar’s state parties. This protocol promotes “equal access to and retention in primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational and non-formal education in accordance with the Protocol on Education and Training and the Millennium Development Goals”. By lobbying Madagascar’s political authorities, NMEAM reinforced the efforts to allow education for girls and women of Madagascar.

With the implementation of these programs, the literacy rate of adults (15 and older) in Madagascar’s total population rose from 64.48 percent in 2009 to 71.57 percent in 2012. These programs and projects recognize the importance of education and having constant access to it for young minds because education is one way out of poverty. By providing and facilitating advancements in girls’ education in Madagascar, the future of youth is going to be better than the rampant poverty they are struggling with. By investing in the education of girls, nations will be able to achieve development of their civilian population while also breaking the discrimination of gender in opportunities.

– Jenny Sang Park
Photo: Flickr

Access to Credit in MadagascarAccessing one’s credit can be a difficult task when there is not much information provided on how to do so. Madagascar has a plethora of farmers due to its vast landscape, and agricultural production could be greatly altered in a positive way if the MFI, or Microfinance Institution, was able to offer accommodating microfinance loans.

According to a report from the University of Göttingen, “agricultural firms with flexible microfinance loans have significantly higher credit access probabilities than non-agricultural firms and agricultural firms with standard microfinance loans.” Access to credit in Madagascar can be greatly improved by supplying the population with particular loans that allow them to enhance their financial stabilities.

Access to microcredit has a profound impact on Malagasy people. As The Guardian writes, “Microfinance is seen as a vehicle to help Madagascar attain some of its millennium development goals, particularly on eradicating extreme poverty.” Approximately 85 percent of the nation’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Credit availability in Madagascar has been able to create severe advancements for small businesses and provide a higher income for the average Malagasy family.

Since most individuals are without access to credit in Madagascar due to their financial status, providing goods for the family and bringing in a steady income can be very difficult. Many rely on informal moneylenders who charge annual interest rates anywhere from 120 to 400 percent for unsecured loans.  These numbers are astronomical compared with the MFI’s average rate of 36 percent for the same period, equating to two to four percent a month.

Extremely high interest rates can be very dangerous for people who do not make enough money to continually make payments every month. Supplying the Malagasy citizens with microfinance loans would give them the opportunity to discontinue their relationships with informal moneylenders and ultimately save additional money for other necessary goods.

However, a country that mainly relies on farming can be slightly strenuous for the MFI. It can provide the people with loans to help supply their agricultural needs, but when the weather does not cooperate with the proper farming conditions, these loans can then be used for other purposes. This is what the institutions do not want to happen. According to Serge Rajaonarison, Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse d’Epargne et de Crédit Agricole Mutuels de Madagascar, by accurately determining the “areas and farmers affected by hailstorms, for example, we can subsequently compensate according to the losses caused.”

The prime concern for the MFI is for its loans to be paid back by the people of Madagascar. Even after the country is devastated by severe weather events, the MFI continues to obtain its money back from those who were given loans. Continued payments by the people and being able to provide a better life and workplace for the community will allow the MFI to implement a strategy that will give everyone access to credit in Madagascar.

– Matthew McGee

Photo: Flickr

French Foreign Aid in Africa
France’s intimate relationship with Africa began in the 17th Century and, like other major European nations, ended after two consecutive World Wars. However, France stubbornly held on to territory in Morocco for years after the end of the wars; it was not until 1964, after a war nearly a decade long, that France relinquished its claim to the North African territory.

France’s Goals in Africa

Now, like other formal colonial powers, France has changed its goals in Africa. French foreign aid in Africa is now meant to help develop the world it left behind. In 2015, a representative from Oxfam France defended France’s bias to helping its former colonies “because the former French colonies in Africa are de facto the poorest countries in the world. There is a consistency in that decision.”

In 2009, France was the second largest donor of foreign aid in the world, only behind the United States. French foreign aid during these years was focused to two main areas — the Mediterranean Basin and Sub-Saharan Africa. French foreign aid in Africa was focused in five sectors: health, education, sustainable development, food security, and economic growth. In 2010, France was the third largest foreign aid donor.

It is also important to note that unlike other nations, France does not have one departement or governmental agency dedicated to the distribution of foreign aid; it instead relies on a multi-agency board to oversee its distribution.

Online Foreign Aid Resources

Due to the lack of a central agency to track French foreign aid in Africa, France launched a website to help citizens track projects. The website separates aid into eight different areas: environment and natural resources, agriculture and food security, outside sectors CICID, water and sanitation, education, productive sector, health and the fight against AIDS, infrastructure and urban development.

There is also an interactive map that allows anybody curious enough to look at projects in each of the 16 priority nations: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros Islands, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

French Agency for Development and Africa

An example of French foreign aid in Africa at work is the aid project currently underway in Madagascar. The French Agency for Development (AFD) has worked since 2013 in Madagascar to help locals live in harmony with the environment.

Slash-and-burn agriculture is still the most prominent technique for clearing forest, and the goal of this project is to help people learn other farming techniques to preserve the rainforest since using slash-and-burn agriculture in a society with a large population is not sustainable. Since December 2017, over 1.9 million euros have been spent on this particular project.

By simply clicking the water and sanitation tab, a user can find information about all French aid projects under this category. Of the 148 water and sanitation projects underway or completed, just over 120 of these projects are located in sub-saharan Africa. Projects range from improving water- and sanitation-provision infrastructure, to building entirely new systems. Maintaining old infrastructure is important as well, since poorly-kept human waste management systems can taint clean drinking water.

The Website

French foreign aid in Africa and around the world can be traced on the website. The map differentiates between three French foreign aid agencies, or societies, as they are referred to on the website. The largest is the aforementioned French Agency for Development, who leads the majority of these projects around the world.

According to the website, this organization is involved in over 2,500 projects in 108 different countries around the world. In 2016, the AFD hit the milestone of effectively using $9 million euros on over 600 different aid projects.

Due to political and public pressure, though, France slowly began fall behind on the list of the world’s top donors. In an act of compromise, France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, has decided to once again increase France’s soft power footprint. In July of 2017, he announced that by 2022, .55 percent of the French GDP will be spent on foreign aid. This announcement was a U-turn on previous promises made by the President as a candidate.

GDP to Foreign Aid

OECD set a 0.7 percent of GDP goal for well-developed nations, and these countries are expected to reach this benchmark by 2030. According the the President, France is on the way to reach this goal. As more and more countries regain independent influence in the world, it will be important for France to show that it can compete if the nation wants to remain relevant on the international stage.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to MadagascarThe U.S. has been helping Madagascar through various forms of aid and agreements for more than 30 years. In 2016, USAID was able to supply $91 million to Madagascar. Madagascar takes part in the President’s Malaria Initiative, water, sanitation and hygiene program and biodiversity conservation. The United States is part of an agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which help frames trading and investments. Madagascar is one of the countries that can benefit massively from the agreement. The country is also eligible for even more trade benefits from the African Growth and Opportunity Act. However, this relationship is not one-sided; the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar in several ways.

According to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. imports from Madagascar include apparel, vanilla beans, precious stones and metals, perfumes and cosmetics. The U.S. exports machinery, rice, wheat, vegetable oil, aircraft and vehicles to Madagascar. Each item that the U.S. exports requires workers to make and package them, creating jobs in the U.S. to help Madagascar even more. Trading and exporting higher profit items such as vehicles further shows how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar.

In 2011, Bill Gates explained how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar and other countries as well. “The 1 percent we spend on aid for the poorest not only saves millions of lives, it has an enormous impact on developing economies – which means it has an impact on our economy.” Years later, this statement is still accurate.

In 2016, Madagascar imported $2.79 billion in products, a 1.68 percent increase from 2011. This shows that the economy is growing and foreign aid is helping. However, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar not just through import and exports; foreign aid helps contribute to the security of the United States and can work to keep relations with countries such as Madagascar on reasonable terms.

In Madagascar, the United States focuses on helping with food security, disaster assistance and health. Recently, the United States has been the most significant donor to this country. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar because, with all of this support, all that is left is progress. Progress related to the economy, healthcare systems and the continuation of development after natural disasters are all ongoing.

As Madagascar works to lower the 92 percent of people living on $2 a day, the U.S. will start to see benefits. For example, American businesses will benefit because as people who were once in poverty become wealthier, they will have money to purchase consumer goods. This example is critical to show how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Madagascar.

In sum, Madagascar is still struggling daily and needs foreign aid to help, especially with the number of natural disasters that occur every year. However, all of the progress that is being made shows how essential foreign aid is to improving the lives of Madagascar’s citizens and increasing trade opportunities for the U.S.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in MadagascarMadagascar is one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas, but only 10 percent of its original rainforests are intact. These remaining pockets of vegetation are highly fragmented due to local and small-scale destruction. Conservation must be combined with sustainable agriculture in Madagascar.

The Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group (MFG) has joined forces with Dr. Christof den Biggelaar, Associate Professor at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, to develop the MFG Ecoagriculture Project. The program works by teaching farmers agricultural techniques that encourage sustainable development and food security while conserving biodiversity. For instance, composting is an easy and effective method for combating the universal issue of soil infertility in Madagascar. Other MFG activities include research and the creation of new markets.

Human population growth in Madagascar has led to severe deforestation, largely due to the implementation of tavy, or slash-and-burn agriculture. Tavy is used primarily in the clearing of land for rice paddies and cattle grazing. It leads to erosion and productivity losses by exposing fragile soil. Runoff into the ocean is bad for fish health, which harms the local fishing industry. Deforestation also contributes to planet-wide climate change. Farmers understand the problem, but in their daily struggle for survival feel powerless to stop it.

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), or the Madagascar Method, has contributed to sustainable agriculture in Madagascar by increasing food security while decreasing environmental damage. For the last 25 years, Malagasy farmers have grown rice using intermittent wetting and drying of paddies rather than continuous flooding. Irrigating rice by flooding paddies suppresses weed growth, but at the expense of huge quantities of water. SRI uses less water, less land preparation and less fertilizer. With this method, young seedlings are planted individually with nutrients into wide rows of healthy, aerated soil. SRI results in rice with deeper roots that do not suffocate. These stronger roots create larger plants with heavier grains, thereby producing more grain per hectare while conserving water and reducing the environmental impact.

Madagascar is the world’s leading producer of vanilla, accounting for 80 percent of world production. Haagen-Dazs has partnered with General Mills to invest $125,000 over two years to encourage sustainable agriculture in Madagascar. General Mills buys most of the vanilla that goes into Haagen-Dazs ice cream from the Sava region. It has prioritized vanilla as one of the ten most important ingredients to source sustainably. Smallholder vanilla farmers have benefited from education and training aimed at the production of a more sustainable and higher quality crop. The resulting improvements in yield quantity and vanilla curing have increased the incomes of local farmers, which in turn has had a positive effect on entire communities.

The problems facing Madagascar are daunting, but the Malagasy people are becoming better equipped to tackle them. People around the world can contribute to sustainable agriculture in Madagascar by enjoying the nation’s famous shade-grown chocolate and vanilla.

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

bubonic plague in madagascarThe bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, was a pandemic that occurred in Europe in the 14th century. Europe’s case of the plague killed tens of millions of people, seeming to disappear from history after it struck.

However, the bubonic plague is, in fact, still around today, though it doesn’t kill on the same scale that it did thousands of years ago. In countries like Madagascar, the plague is actually an annual occurrence, taking the lives of hundreds each time it appears.

Thanks to modern technology and medical advancements, the plague is now treatable with antibiotics. The key is to be aware of where it hits, so that its spread can be monitored and an epidemic can be prevented.

From August to November 2017, there was a major outbreak of bubonic plague in Madagascar across major cities and nonendemic areas. This was different than previous years, as typically the plague outbreak happens in rural regions of the country.

The plague starts with a simple flea bite, after which the disease rapidly spreads from person-to-person. In the span of three months, the WHO estimated that over 2,000 became ill and 171 died. While this is still an unfortunate amount, it is a decrease from around 300 who died from the bubonic plague in Madagascar in 2016.

The quick and efficient handling of this outbreak can be attributed to a number of sources: U.K. Public Health Rapid Support Team, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Doctors Without Borders and Madagascar’s Ministry of Health. Together, these organizations developed a rapid response strategy in order to subdue and hopefully eliminate the bubonic plague in Madagascar, containing the bacteria’s spread within the urban area of its origin.

In order to accomplish this, the groups worked to adequately staff health centers so that those infected could get their antibiotics in a timely manner. Then, they conducted in-person interviews with patients to find out all of the people they were in contact with that could have gotten the disease. The health workers tracked down over 7,000 people that they believed may have been infected. The WHO states that 95 percent of the potentially infected have taken preventative antibiotics.

Very few people showed symptoms of the bubonic plague in Madagascar after these efforts, and those that did were treated with swift speed. From this case of bubonic plague in Madagascar, it is clear that treatment must be made accessible, travelers should be monitored in airports and countries must be given the necessary resource capacity and labor in order to avoid the disastrous effects of an outbreak.

Madagascar’s response to this plague outbreak was nothing short of timely and strategic. This is an unbelievable example of strategic planning and disaster mitigation. The steps that the organizations took together in order to reduce fatalities demonstrates the tremendous power of unification.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr