Hunger in MadagascarMadagascar is vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts. However, there is also a vulnerability to the issues of malnutrition and waterborne diseases, contributing factors of hunger in Madagascar.

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and boasts a diverse ecosystem. It has a population of 24 million; nearly 90 percent live in poverty and 25 percent of the areas where people live are exposed to natural disasters. In addition to the disasters listed before, they currently face issues related to climate change and environmental degradation. These factors play a role in the hunger in Madagascar.

Farming, fishing and forestry are the main industries that people depend on. Due to the fragile ecosystem, certain areas in Madagascar susceptible to shocks, which in turn impacts food insecurity. Madagascar is often defenseless against natural disasters, which interfere with the economy by disrupting the agriculture. As a result, citizens are unable to produce certain crops such as rice, a staple in the country’s diet.

The southern region of Madagascar has faced droughts and El Nino, which has left 1.2 million people food insecure and 600,000 severely food insecure. They’ve also faced tropical cyclone Haruna which destroyed homes and livelihoods. Each disaster has left the population open to diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Organizations like Action Against Hunger have stepped in to help the country by trying to work with residents to decontaminate drinking water wells and supply clean water. Action Against Hunger has taken strides to provide emergency response during disasters as well as helped to prevent waterborne diseases.

Furthermore, the World Food Programme has helped make a difference in Madagascar by helping farmers improve the quality, storage and handling of food. These organizations aim to better prepare local populations for these natural disasters and help to prevent further hunger in Madagascar.

Natural disasters have contributed to the issue of hunger in Madagascar. While there are organizations helping, there are still thousands that are in need of assistance in dealing with emergencies and problems like malnutrition and food insecurity. To help with issues such as malnutrition, waterborne diseases and hunger in Madagascar, consider making a donation to reputable organizations.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in MadagascarThe African island nation of Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world. The extreme poverty rate in Madagascar was nearly 78 percent of the population in 2012, and that high rate has likely continued into the following years. Around 19 million Malagasy live on less than $1.90 a day.

Due to the severely high poverty rate in Madagascar, improvements are a long, uphill battle. A recent report found obstacles to poverty reduction include a lack of infrastructure, poor access to markets, land degradation and volatile food prices.

Unproductive micro-enterprises are another barrier. Small businesses cannot grow and create more jobs because of a low demand for non-agricultural products. Widespread poverty constricts Madagascar’s consumer base.

The government of Madagascar is not idly standing by while millions suffer in poverty. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina made poverty reduction, infrastructure development and educational attainment national priorities following his election in 2014. The government is adhering to these goals through several national strategies and multiparty agreements.

In cooperation with the United Nations, Madagascar adopted a national biodiversity plan that includes the Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries Sectorial Program. This program should ensure economic growth through investments in agriculture and export sectors. It also resolves to reduce poverty by improving farm productivity and household income through crop diversification.

Another method through which the poverty rate can decrease is Madagascar’s work to improve education. One tactic Madagascar has implemented in this regard is building literacy centers for people to learn reading, writing and math necessary for further technical training.

The government is also trying to eliminate gender discrimination with land ownership law enforcement and awareness workshops concentrated in the most rural, impoverished regions. Dispelling customary notions that prevent women from inheriting land will allow more women to support themselves and their families.

In April, Madagascar outlined its poverty reduction strategy in an economic development report submitted to the International Monetary Fund. In it, the government vows to prioritize social and poverty-related spending in the federal budget. Contained within that promise is the continuation of integrating teachers into the civil service and distributing school kits. Those two practices will lessen the financial burden on families and local organizations that have to pay for children’s education.

Madagascar’s national strategy also calls for macroeconomic stability and a strong financial system. This would ensure a healthy reduction in inflation and stable prices that guarantee sound purchasing power for consumers.

Madagascar is not battling its high poverty rate alone. The African Development Bank, the World Bank Group and the United Nations Development Programme pledged $6.4 billion to Madagascar for its 2017-2020 development projects.

Madagascar’s economy is gradually improving. Its GDP growth rate was 3.3 percent in 2014 and is projected to reach 4.5 percent this year, which should stimulate job growth and pull people out of poverty.

The poverty rate in Madagascar can decrease if the government follows through on its many objectives to improve the lives of its people.

Kristen Reesor

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the poorest nations in the world. In fact, 70% of the people in Madagascar live below the poverty line, and the country has seen little progress. Those that live in rural Madagascar see poverty rates double that of urban Madagascar, and 80 percent of Madagascar’s population lives in rural areas. However, many discovered how to help people in Madagascar. Here are five organizations that are doing just that.

Water Aid

WaterAid identified that the majority of Malagasy residents do not have access to proper sanitation. Additionally, 11.7 million people in Madagascar lack access to clean water. This resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,000 children each year. To combat this issue, WaterAid installs wells and latrines using different techniques depending on the area. WaterAid also played a role in developing a rice bank system where locals can take loans of rice or money and pay it back slowly over time. This led to the development of small businesses within the community and reduced the threat of a rice shortage. Donate here to support WaterAid’s mission.

SEED Madagascar

SEED Madagascar works directly with local partners to develop dynamic programs that help people in Madagascar. These programs include health education and school construction. Additionally, SEED Madagascar teaches residents technical skills and conducts environmental preservation research. Many projects are successful in enhancing the lives of thousands of Malagasy locals. Help fund these projects today!

Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an organization whose main goal is to make the fishing industry in Madagascar more sustainable. Due to their efforts, the marine environment became more secure, and local fisheries are more efficiently managed. Other focus areas include education, family planning and health services. Support Blue Ventures by becoming a sponsor or a volunteer.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is an organization that works to provide food security to people in almost 50 countries. The group and helps prevent undernourishment. It also collects and distributes data about it. The organization supports food security, emergency relief, sanitation and clean water access. Action Against Hunger reports that in 2016, “18,270 people gained economic self-sufficiency, 15,998 people received nutritional support, and 10,421 people accessed safe water and sanitation” in Madagascar alone. This organization knows how to help people in Madagascar! Assist in making a difference now.

Feedback Madagascar

Feedback Madagascar is a multi-faceted organization that teaches Malagasy residents that health and environmental qualities are interrelated. For example, the organization aids outhouse construction, gardening, community nutrition training and promoting the sale of contraceptives and “water-treatment products.” Take part in something bigger than yourself!

Organizations that learned how to help people in Madagascar are indispensable. Lives are changed and hope is imparted in the hearts of hundreds of Malagasy residents who may not have survived without assistance. With a little help from others, every person in Madagascar has the ability to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

During a presidential tour of Madagascar on Jan. 25, 2017, Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan addressed the need for increased educational opportunities for women and girls. Erdoğan’s inauguration of the Women’s Education Center in Madagascar was just one of the facets of her visit to the country. Erdoğan and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Madagascar as part of a campaign to strengthen ties between the two countries and encourage Turkish investment in Madagascar’s economy.

More than half of the 17 million people living in Madagascar are children. What’s more, half of Madagascar’s population subsists on less than $1 a day. This makes the subject of education all the more critical to the country’s development. While Madagascar’s education system has steadily improved over the past 10 years, some regions must work hard to ensure gender parity for their students, particularly in lower secondary education.

Following a coup d’état in 2009, much of Madagascar’s foreign aid was withdrawn, and the economy has since been slow to recover. Poverty increased sharply, infrastructure deteriorated and educational funding was slashed. The Turkish first lady’s inauguration of the Women’s Education Center in Madagascar comes at a time when increased focus on education is a necessity: UNICEF estimates that while 75 percent of children at the primary level are enrolled, roughly 1.5 million are still out of school, and gender parity remains a concern.

The goal of the Women’s Education Center in Madagascar is to empower women and support African development. It offers courses to roughly 100 women in fields such as horticulture, technology, cooking and textile work. In addition, the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House in Ankara, Turkey, will sell crafts produced by women at the center. All proceeds will go back to Madagascar.

The center is a highlight of the work done by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). TIKA provided $3.9 billion in development aid in 2015, and is active in 140 countries. Further, during his tour, President Erdoğan encouraged his country’s investors and entrepreneurs to become involved with Madagascar’s National Development Project. The project aims to increase funding and revenue from areas such as tourism, agriculture and construction.

The Turkish first lady’s inauguration of the Women’s Education Center in Madagascar illustrates a step forward for education in the country. It is especially important for women who support struggling communities. The school serves as a symbol of resilience and stimulation for the minds of young women, the economy and society.

Emily Marshall

Photo: Flickr


Quality in Madagascar
Many who hear the word ‘Madagascar‘, think of the family-friendly animated movie with dancing lions, lemurs, and other wild animals. This association overlooks the 22.9 million people who lack access to safe water in the country ranked fourth-worst in water quality in Africa.

Water is a basic necessity for survival, and 88 percent of people in Madagascar do not have access to improved sanitation. Over 2,100 children a year die from diarrhea because of unsafe and poor water quality in Madagascar.

Child mortality rates are 10 times higher in Madagascar than in the U.K. Sixty-six percent of people who live in urban areas have access to safe drinking water, but less than 15 percent of people in the rural area have access to such a luxury, only intensifying poverty in Madagascar.

Families who live in isolated villages do not have access to clean drinking water. Wells are contaminated with bacteria and viruses, and those who drink that water are exposing themselves to diseases. Most have no alternative to drinking the contaminated water.

Malalatiana Rasoanisina, a young Madagascar resident, explains that, “Twice a day I have to [collect water], it gave me a stomach ache as that water was yellow. I couldn’t go to school and had to go to the doctor.”

Organizations Working to Improve Water Quality

Madagascar receives about 449 billion m3 of water per year. So why is the water quality in Madagascar so unsanitary?

Madagascar’s government was not formally set up until a few years ago, which means that the nation was lacking the political or economic basis to provide solutions to the water problems. The nation has been relying on help from international organizations such as the International Development Association (IDA) and the Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP).

Even with the recent establishment of a formal government, people still face poor water quality in Madagascar. The public water and electricity company in the nation, JIRAMA (Jiro Sy Rano Malagasy), only covers a few areas of the nation, and JIRAMA faces an estimated debt of $27 million due to low water tariffs.

All people in Madagascar deserve clean water. Organizations such as the WSUP have been doing great work to help keep supply clean. They’ve helped improve water quality for over 700,000 people, improve sanitation services for over 180,000 people, and helped to improve hygiene practices for over 2.7 million.

Although many productive advancements have occurred in Madagascar, there remains a great deal of work ahead for the nation’s people. Many still need help and support, both inside and outside of the nation. Developed countries with safe, established water sanitation systems need to help Madagascar provide sanitary water to its people.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Madagascar
While Madagascar was made famous by the 2005 DreamWorks animated movie about talking zoo animals, it is also one of the world’s poorest nations, with four million people suffering from lack of food access.

Drought, cyclones, floods and locust infestation worsen the case of hunger in Madagascar. Natural disasters are likely to grow worse with the continuation of climate change. Madagascar is one of the 10 nations most vulnerable to natural disasters affecting food security and nutrition.

Those who live in southern Madagascar are most likely to suffer from hunger because the lean season takes up a much longer portion of the year. The lean season is the period of time in between the harvest and the first plant of the next season. During this time, poor farmers and their families have little food or income on which to survive.

In 2016, a drought worsened by El Niño, an irregular and complex series of climatic changes, left 1.4 million people in Madagascar desperately short on food. These people are expected to face food shortages through 2017.

Crop failure causes people to take desperate measures to survive, such as selling their livestock and farming tools and moving into the wild to forage. Over 90% of Malagasies live below the poverty line.

Chronic malnutrition affects nearly half of all the children in Madagascar under five. Hunger in Madagascar also results in stunted growth in children and high mortality rates. Anemia is one of the biggest health issues in Malagasies facing hunger, with one-third of children under five and women suffering from iron deficiency.

More than six percent of children die before they reach five years old, and 500 out of every 100,000 live births result in the mother’s death. High levels of anemia lead to this high maternal mortality rate.

Collaborative Efforts Against Madagascar’s Hunger

Despite the bleak outlook caused by hunger in Madagascar, not all hope is lost. The World Food Program (WFP) works in conjunction with 30 other organizations to relieve Madagascar’s most vulnerable regions, including the South and poor urban areas.

This is done through:

  • Providing meals, nutritional information and promoting hygiene for children in schools;
  • Empowering smallholder farmers, who own small plots of land and harvest only a few cash crops, through increasing access to markets and supporting farmers’ associations;
  • Providing relief and early recovery assistance to households affected by natural disasters;
  • Placing food in remote and disaster-prone areas before incidents are expected to occur to prevent malnutrition;
  • Distributing cash assistance and food during the 2016-2017 prolonged lean season;
  • Assessing Madagascar’s vulnerability to shocks, coordinating livelihood activities and implementing community planning exercises.

To help relieve hunger in Madagascar, you can make a donation to the WFP.

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MadagascarAs the weather changes from the 2015–2016 El Niño, its impact is still felt around the globe. For already drought-prone Madagascar, this means continued crop failure and a widespread need for emergency food aid. As rain has failed and market prices have risen, 1.1 million Malagasy have lost their food source, compounding the hardships already felt by many as a result of enduring poverty in Madagascar.

While residents of Madagascar have faced significant periods of drought over the years, failing crops and widespread malnutrition, accompany one of their worst droughts in recent history. By some estimates, over 80 percent of the country has lost a source of steady food supply as a result of those crop failures. The subsequent rising of market prices has compounded the problem.

Food scarcity and market fluctuations in Madagascar mean increased hunger for one of the most impoverished nations in the world. Already, 70 percent of Malagasy people suffer from malnutrition, and the average inhabitant earns $1 a day.

Of those Malagasy people suffering from malnutrition, approximately one million are children. Children under the age of five are quite vulnerable to stunted growth as a result. Due to poverty in Madagascar, such stunting occurs there at one of the five highest rates in the world.

Compounding the many issues related to poverty in Madagascar is the lack of aid they receive. Its isolation as an island nation causes some to argue that inhabitants’ needs are frequently overlooked. The urgency of the crisis can also cause the aid which does arrive to be less effective. For example, for the starving residents of one Southern Madagascar town, when their crops failed they were sent seeds from USAID and the World Food Programme. However, their situation had been rendered so desperate that they were unable to wait to plant and harvest the crops, and instead ate the seeds themselves.

The crisis has been ongoing, with the past three years being marked by rising temperatures and irregular rainfall. Harvest projections predict continued food scarcity through September 2016, and potential crisis exacerbation through to March 2017.

In the face of augmented urgency in Madagascar, the need for emergency food aid is increasingly dire. Dina Esposito, Deputy Assistant Adminstrator to the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID) has announced that the U.S. will provide $8 million in aid to Madagascar as they face the current crisis and disconcerting projections of upcoming harvests.

The current 2016 rainy season has been the worst in the past 35 years in Madagascar, leading to the declaration of a national disaster in the country. However, despite the dire circumstances, hope for aid continues. For some inhabitants in especially hard-hit areas, relief comes in the form of a single daily meal, prepared and offered by nuns.

More broadly, relief and hope are drawn from international aid like that announced by USAID, as well as that already received from the United Nations World Food Programme and other organizations. Through contributions from organizations like these, Madagascar receives food aid, help with cultivation efforts and the opportunity to trade services for food.

Charlotte Bellomy
Photo: World Food Programme

Top Diseases in MadagascarMadagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world and has a population of nearly 24 million people. Madagascar also has a majority rural population of 16 million. Due to remoteness, many people become isolated during flooding seasons and can lose all contact with health facilities, thus the top diseases in Madagascar are more deadly than they may ordinarily be.

Here is an in-depth look at four of the most deadly diseases in Madagascar.

Bacterial Diarrhea

Diarrhea often hits tourists while visiting new places around the globe. Yet, most travelers do not fear for their lives when they are afflicted. Unfortunately, diarrhea is a much more serious issue for those who live without clean water or proper sanitation. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea is the second leading killer of children under the age of five globally.

For those in Madagascar, lack of clean water and proper sanitation is a major cause of diarrhea, but there are cultural factors at work as well. Often, the Malagasy have been taught to believe that using an outhouse can cause miscarriages and that fecal matter does not belong in the ground where ancestors are buried. These beliefs only further instances of diarrhea-related death.

In order to dispel these myths, locals are being educated about the advantages of proper hygiene. This can even be done in the form of puppet shows for illiterate communities in Madagascar.

Lower Respiratory Infections

There are multiple causes of lower respiratory infections, but the WHO estimates that indoor and outdoor pollution is responsible for 18,700 deaths in Madagascar annually.

Indoor pollution is especially dangerous in Madagascar because many households still rely on solid fuel such as coal and wood for cooking and heating. In addition to the use of solid fuel, many houses in Madagascar are small and have poor ventilation which leads to higher exposure to pollutants.

The solution to this problem is to move away from solid fuels and increase education about the dangers of poor ventilation and inhaling pollutants.

Perinatal Conditions

Perinatal conditions are a killer in developing countries worldwide. These conditions occur just before or after birth and can affect both mothers and children. Low birth weight, prematurity, neonatal diseases, birth trauma and birth asphyxia are all perinatal causes of death and contribute to one of the top diseases in Madagascar.

Death from perinatal conditions tends to be easily avoidable, but many in developing countries lack the knowledge and resources necessary for prevention. In fact, according to UNICEF, 90% of the population of Madagascar lives on less than two dollars a day. This type of poverty often leads to malnutrition and most of the conditions mentioned above.

Potential solutions may include increased education of perinatal care, food aid and increasing the amount of neonatal care and supplies available.

Non-communicable Disease

In other words: cancer. Cancer is the most prevalent of the top diseases in Madagascar, and the most deadly. Of the types of cancer affecting Malagasies, cervical cancer is predominant.

Unfortunately, options for cancer treatment in Madagascar are limited. Very few hospitals have cancer wards and many farmers and unemployed citizens cannot afford the costly treatment for cancer.

One measure to fight cervical cancer in Madagascar has been taken. In 2008, the University of Washington School of Medicine put forth an education and screening program. This program was an effort to increase early detection so that there was a greater possibility of getting help.

As is the case with the top diseases in Madagascar, developing countries tend to be more susceptible because they may lack resources to fight them. Often, providing simple education or inexpensive medications can make a huge difference for those who have very little.

Weston Northrop
Photo: Flickr

madagascar's first school meal program
Many classrooms in Madagascar are overcrowded, led by under qualified teachers and lack basic resources. The country also has a high drop out rate in primary schools.

The government is helping to improve the education system and keep more children in school by providing food for students. The Ministry of Education, in partnership with the World Food Programme, the World Bank and the Partnership for Child Development, is currently working to develop a school meal program that serves all public schools.

Nationwide, only 60 percent of students complete their primary education. The secondary school completion rate is below 25 percent. And while enrollment has increased in recent years, access to education remains a critical problem in poorer regions.

The southern districts of Madagascar have the lowest enrollment rates and the highest levels of poverty in the nation. For this reason, the initiative focuses primarily on schools in the Southern part of the country. Offering both breakfast and lunch will help to ensure that children do not go hungry, which will also enable them to concentrate better during class.

Thanks to cooperation between government and NGOs, Madagascar’s first school meal program has begun. The WFP has implemented the school-feeding program for over 220,000 children from the southern part of the country. The World Bank is also helping the government by funding meals to more than 107,000 students throughout the country. However, Madagascar still needs about $3.5 million in additional funds to feed the remaining 113,000 school children.

School meals are critical to improving the education system.

The program will incentivize parents to keep their children in school. Often, boys and girls from poor homes must drop out of school so they can work to support their families. Providing food at schools lessens the financial burden on families and increases food security since parents know that their children will have a reliable source of food.

The Ministry of Education also aims to purchase the food for the school meals from local farmers and markets. This will help the national economy, aid small farmers and make the program more self-sufficient.

With children receiving proper nutrition and an education, Madagascar’s school meal program will help to break the cycle of poverty in poor regions of the country. The food provides children with proteins and vitamins to foster cognitive and physical development, allowing children to properly receive educations and better their lives.

While the education system in Madagascar faces many problems, the government’s commitment to implementing a school meal program is a significant improvement. Supplying breakfast and lunch at school is beneficial for poor children, who might otherwise go hungry. The meals help to increase both primary and secondary completion rates and ensure a brighter future for Madagascar’s youth.

– Kathleen Egan

Sources: World Food Programme, World Bank, UNICEF
Photo: World Food Programme

It is amazing that in the year 2013, the Bubonic Plague still exists on this planet. The disease that is known as the Black Death that caused at least 25 million deaths in the 14th century has this week been linked the death of at least 20 people in Madagascar, and may still infect more in the weeks to come.

This announcement is one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in years, and there is concern that it could spread to more towns and cities in the region. The Bubonic Plague is a disease that is transmitted through animals, usually through rats that hold infected flees which then infect humans, which has a high mortality rate if not immediately treated. This disease has mainly been eradicated from most areas of the world, but has been known to appear in developing nations such as Madagascar, where there are low hygiene levels, high levels of population and low resources to prevent the disease.

There was warning from the International Committee of the Red Cross in October that the nation of the East Coast of Mainland Africa was at high risk of an epidemic, but the warnings went mostly unheeded by the locals in the region. It is not that the locals were negligent in preventing the spread of this disease, but there are higher systemic problems that are harder to overcome for the locals.

Madagascar harbored this plague for many reasons. Locals in the region have low literacy rates, which makes it hard to share live saving information that prevents exposure to diseases. The country of Madagascar does not support a strong democratic government with a low corruption rate. When corruption is prevalent through all levels of government, funds that can be applied towards improving the nation often end up in the pockets of the few that are in power, adding to the national poverty.

The nation is one that is often prone to civil unrest, which many violent outbreaks has increase the use of military force on the people. The frequency of civil unrest has suppressed desire for foreign tourism which has decreased revenue for the national economy.

Madagascar is just an example of how poverty in a region can encourage the spread of life threatening diseases. Nations that have low standards of living, high levels of populations, weak central governments and low levels of hygiene are danger zones for disease. It is discouraging for a disease that has largely been eradicated from the face of the world to still exist in this poor region of the world.

Travis Whinery

Sources: Time, Daily Mail, BBC, Reuters UK
Photo: Wikimedia