Portrait of a two children, taken during a disability awareness session in Madagascar, 2008. | © S. Bonnet / HI – Archives
Over 1 million people face starvation in Madagascar. HI launches aid program in support of families and malnourished children at risk.
Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, putting over 1.35 million people at risk of starvation and malnutrition. In the south of Madagascar, and particularly the Atsimo-Andrefana region, families are facing major food insecurity that threatens their lives and wellbeing. This is especially true for children, women and people with disabilities, who are most affected in times of crisis.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), over a million people are in a food security “crisis,” nearly 300 000 are in “urgent” need of aid, and 14,000 people have reached the final “catastrophe” phase of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)1. The number of people in this final phase is expected to double if sufficient aid is not provided urgently.
“The famine is everywhere, and it affects the majority of the population” says Vincent DALONNEAU, HI’s Operations Manager for Madagascar. “The death rates are high and household incomes are decreasing because people are too hungry to work. Health and social services are overloaded, children are at risk, and people with disabilities are further isolated and stigmatized.”
The potential consequences are particularly alarming for young children, as malnutrition and undernutrition can disrupt proper development and put them at a higher risk for developing both short and long-term disabilities. At this time, HI has already identified around 800 malnourished children in need of support. Children are also likely to miss school or have difficulties learning due to symptoms of extreme hunger.
HI is launching an intervention project aimed at providing emergency food aid to people with disabilities and their families (around 5,000 people), and reducing the risk of disability in children between the ages of 0 and 5 years due to malnutrition or undernutrition. HI physiotherapy specialists will provide stimulation therapy and early physical therapy to vulnerable children, enabling them to maintain normal weight gain, growth patterns and cognitive development through functional exercises and by playing.
The project also aims to train physiotherapists and occupational therapists in early childhood physiotherapy, as well as conduct activities with community providers to raise awareness on disability development and the link between nutrition and disability. HI will support medical services linked to disability, and partner organizations plan to ensure long-term nutrition-specific support for identified children. Overall, around 115,000 people are expected to benefit from these objectives.
Families will receive food security assistance from HI in the form of food vouchers, cash transfer and food packages including standard items such as rice, peas, oil and salt, among others, and depending on family size.
In Malagasy, the project officially titled “TIALONGO: Tosika Iarahana Aby LONGO,” translates to “Supporting all families together.”
1 Southern Madagascar: Government and UN sound the alarm on famine risk, urge action | World Food Programme. (2021, 11 mai). World Food Programme.https://www.wfp.org/news/southern-madagascar-government-and-un-sound-alarm-famine-risk-urge-action