Madagascar is on the verge of famine due to climate change

madagascar famine
The United Nations warns that Madagascar is on the brink of experiencing what could be the world’s first “climate change famine,” with tens of thousands already suffering from levels of hunger and food insecurity considered catastrophic.
The drought, the worst in four decades, has devastated isolated communities in the south of the country. Families are left to forage for insects just to survive.
Shelley Thakral of the UN World Food Programme said that “These are famine-like conditions and they’re being driven by climate not conflict.”
The UN estimates that 30,000 people are currently experiencing the highest internationally recognised level of food insecurity – Level 5.
The concern is that this number could rise sharply as Madagascar enters its traditional “lean season” before harvest time in September and October with many families counting on these harvests for their survival during difficult economic circumstances caused by drought or other factors beyond human control like frequent natural disasters which have been occurring more often lately due to climate change.
Ms Thakral said that “This is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don’t burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change.”
Families in the isolated village of Fandiova, in the Amboasary district, recently showed the locusts they were eating to a visiting WFP team. Crop failure has forced people to rely on insects and cactus leaves for survival.
Tamaria, a mother of four, said “I clean the insects as best I can but there’s almost no water.”
She added “My children and I have been eating this every day now for eight months because we have nothing else to eat and no rain to allow us to harvest what we have sown.”
Bole, a mother of three, remarked as she sat on the dry ground “Today we have absolutely nothing to eat except cactus leaves.” She claimed that her husband and a neighbor had lately died of starvation, leaving her with two additional children to feed.
Despite the fact that Madagascar is prone to droughts and is frequently hit by El Niño related weather patterns, researchers believe climate change is to blame for the current situation.
Dr Rondro Barimalala, a Madagascan scientist working at the University of Cape Town in South Africa said that “In many ways this can be seen as a very powerful argument for people to change their ways.”
Chris Funk, head of the Climate Hazards Center at Santa Barbara University in California, verified the relationship with “warming in the atmosphere” and said the Madagascan government needed to concentrate on improving water management.
He also said “We think there’s a lot that can be done in the short term. We can often forecast when there’s going to be above normal rains and farmers can use that information to increase their crop production. We’re not powerless in the face of climate change.”
The effects of the present drought are already being felt in major cities in southern Madagascar, with many children forced to beg for food on the streets.
Tsina Endor, who works for a charity, Seed, in Tolanaro said “The prices in the market are going up – three or four times. People are selling their land to get some money to buy food.”
Lomba Hasoavana, her colleague, said he and others had taken to sleeping in their cassava fields to safeguard their crops from hungry people, but that this had become too risky.
He added “You could risk your life. I find it really, really hard because every day I have to think about feeding myself and my family.” “Everything is so unpredictable about the weather now. It’s a huge, huge question mark – what will happen tomorrow?”

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Source –BBC News

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