Located off the Eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar is a notorious island that has garnered attention and a sense of mystique due to its plethora of exotic flora and fauna and expansive rainforests. The island alone hosts 5% of all known plant and animal species ranging from lemurs to breathtaking orchids. Additionally, many of these species are entirely unique to the island. However, despite its diverse geography and tropical animals and plants, the island is also known for its hunger and poverty.
According to the World Food Programme 92%, or roughly 20,240,000 million, of the 22 million people residing on the island, sustain themselves on only $2 per day. Furthermore, the Human Development Index has ranked the island as 151st out of the 186 countries in the world. Additionally, approximately 28% of households in Madagascar are affected by food insecurity; four million inhabitants suffer from hunger.
The prevalence of hunger in Madagascar is particularly alarming due to its impact on early development. For instance, approximately half of the island’s children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting, a phenomenon that occurs when children suffer from malnutrition and do not meet growth requirements for their age group.
One major contributor to Madagascar’s economic insecurity is the island’s vulnerablity to natural disasters, such as heavy flooding and severe drought. Additionally, as natural resources continue to be abused and mismanaged, the island’s plentiful ecosystem becomes increasingly more threatened. For instance, approximately 85% of Madagascar’s rainforests have been demolished in the name of capitalism and by inadequate agricultural techniques.
Another contributor to hunger in Madagascar is that the majority of the population lives in rural locales and practice subsistence agriculture for a living. However, with the population’s massive increase over the past few decades, less and less arable land is left for these farmers to produce enough food to feed their families.
To help combat hunger, the non-profit organization Freedom from Hunger works with the United Nations to collaborate with local organizations in Madagascar. The program so far has provided assistance to more than 8,000 families in Madagascar. The program continues to provide food and supplemental assistance to those in need.
– Phoebe Pradhan