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The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar boasts a unique ecosystem, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. However, the country has faced challenges in its socio-economic development and in recent decades it has experienced a stagnation in per capita income and a rise in absolute poverty. Political instability undermines government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It also reduces people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks such as climate-related disasters. 

With a gross domestic product per capita of US$422, the country is ranked 164 out of 189 according to the 2020 Human Development Index. Affecting almost half of all children under 5 – the world’s tenth highest rate – chronic malnutrition is considered as one of major public health concern in Madagascar. The costs associated with child undernutrition represent 14.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

The Grand Sud region has been struck by back-to-back droughts during the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 rainy seasons. This has had a disastrous impact on agriculture and forced people to resort to desperate survival measures, such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves.  The food security analysis (IPC) conducted in December 2021 revealed that 1.47 million people in the region need urgent assistance (IPC Phase 3 or above).

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 such as: 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 disasters and is considered to be 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.

In 2022, several tropical cyclones hit Madagascar, claiming scores of lives, destroying houses and essential infrastructure, displacing people and inundating croplands just weeks away from harvest. Those storms are threatening the food security of the populations and bringing a risk of inflation of food staples.

In Madagascar, the World Food Programme (WFP) addresses the immediate food needs of disaster-affected vulnerable populations through unconditional food assistance.  WFP also strengthens communities’ resilience through conditional assistance, distributing food for community assets creation or rehabilitation and supporting the access of smallholder farmers to markets. We provide nutritional support to children, pregnant women and girls and nursing mothers for the prevention of acute malnutrition, while also supporting the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and improving educational outcomes by ensuring child have access to nutritious food through its 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 disaster-affected southern, south-western and south-eastern regions.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar

Disaster preparedness and response
Ahead of cyclones, WFP prepositioned food in strategics areas for a faster response as needed. After the hit, WFP raced to reach people affected by cyclones distributing food and cash assistance, offering logistics support to the emergency response and liaising with humanitarian and governmental partners. WFP also reinforced its UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) to conduct assessment, access to communities and deliver cargo to hard-to-reach areas while helping farming families to build their resilience and adapt to climate extremes.
Food assistance
In the Grand Sud region, where food insecurity levels are highest, WFP is targeting to reach a million vulnerable people with emergency food assistance, combined with supplementary food to prevent malnutrition and malnutrition treatment for children under 5.
WFP provides support for the prevention of malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies among women, men, boys and girls. It also supports the Government’s efforts to increase the availability of high-quality fortified foods, in line with national commitments under the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative.
School feeding
WFP provides school meals with the support of the Ministry of National Education and is helping to develop a national school feeding policy and a home-grown school feeding programme linked to smallholder farm production. This will help diversify food consumption, increase school retention rate and improve children’s ability to learn.
Support to smallholder farmers and resilience building
WFP works with the Government to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and resilience to climate shocks by strengthening their skills and ability to access and use productive assets, climate information, financial services and markets. WFP will focus on understanding and addressing the challenges faced by women in rural communities, who are often cut out from owning land and agricultural assets, and face discriminatory customary practices.
Emergency preparedness and response
WFP supports the National Disaster Management Authority and the national institute of statistics in integrating the food security, vulnerability and nutrition assessments of different agencies into a single process that operates from the village to the national level. Backed by climate early warning, seasonal forecasts and seasonal agricultural data, this approach will enable government, humanitarian and development actors to implement preparedness and early response actions as part of a comprehensive, shock and gender-responsive social protection system.

Partners and Donors

Achieving 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:
Australia Bangladesh Belgium (multilateral) Canada Denmark (multilateral)



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