The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar boasts a unique ecosystem, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. Despite its great potential, in recent decades the country has experienced a stagnation in per capita income and a rise in absolute poverty. Recent political instability has undermined government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It has also reduced people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks.
Over 78 percent of Madagascar's population lives on less than US$ 1,90 per day. Affecting almost half of all children under 5 - the world’s fourth highest rate - chronicmalnutrition is considered a major public health concern in Madagascar.
Farming, fishing and forestry form the backbone of the Malagasy economy. Agriculture is dominated by rain-fed small-scale subsistence farming: seven out of 10 smallholder farmers own no more than 1.2 hectares of land. Rice is the main staple food and the island’s main crop, but not enough is produced to satisfy the national demand. Agricultural production remains low due to factors including limited access to agricultural productive assets, credit and markets; gender inequality limiting women and girls’ access to land; poor post-harvest techniques; inadequate natural resources management; and lack of adequate access to markets for smallholder farmers.
Madagascar is among the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disastersand is considered as the most cyclone-exposed country in Africa. A quarter of the population lives in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate these risks while the increasing fragility of the ecosystem intensifies vulnerability to shocks and food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 90 percent of Madagascar’s original rainforests have been lost to logging, charcoal-making and slash-and-burn agriculture.
The Grand Sud region of Madagascar suffered several consecutive years of rain shortfalls which was further aggravated by the global El Niño weather event in 2016 and 2017. Although humanitarian assistance by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other agencies contributed to halving the number of severely food insecure people by the end of the 2016-2017 lean season, the food security situation in the region remains fragile, with 1.6 million people estimated to be severely food insecure – and 393, 145 of them in an ‘emergency condition’ – as of October 2017.
In Madagascar, WFP addresses the immediate food needs and helps strengthen the resilience of disaster affected vulnerable populations through unconditional food assistance and Food Assistance for Assets programmes. WFP also provides nutritional support to children, pregnant women and girls and nursing mothers for the prevention of undernutrition, supports the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and contributes to education indicators through the school meals programme.
To ensure the sustainability of its interventions, WFP strengthens the capacities of the Government of Madagascar through the provision of material and technical assistance and joint assessments and evaluations in the areas of food security and nutrition as well as Disaster Risk Reduction.
WFP’s work is concentrated in the southern, south-western and south-eastern regions, as well as in poor urban areas of the capital, Antananarivo, Toamasina (Tamatave) and Tuléar.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar
NutritionWFP works to prevent acute malnutrition, reduce stunting (low height for age) and extend nutritional support to people suffering from tuberculosis. Ahead of the cyclone season, WFP pre-positions food in remote and disaster-prone areas.
Food assistanceDue to the negative impacts of El Niño-amplified drought on the food and nutrition situation in the south of Madagascar, WFP plans to provide relief assistance to 350,000 vulnerable people through food distributions and cash transfers during the prolonged 2016-2017 lean season.
School mealsWFP provides school meals with the support of the Ministry of National Education, and is helping to develop a national school meals policy and a home-grown school meals programme linked to smallholder farmer production. WFP also provides nutritional education, promotes hygiene in schools and encourages the use of environmentally friendly stoves.
Support to smallholder farmersTo enhance smallholder farmers’ access to markets, WFP encourages local food purchase and builds the capacity of farmers’ associations to improve crop quality.
Resilience buildingWFP promotes resilience in three main ways: assessing the country’s vulnerability to multiple shocks; facilitating and coordinating seasonal livelihood activities in the most vulnerable districts; and implementing community-level planning.
Partners and DonorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Madagascar is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
- Germany (multilateral)Global Partnership for Education (through World Bank)FEED Projects