COP 22- Madagascar: “We can avoid famine if we take preventive measures”
Sep19

COP 22- Madagascar: “We can avoid famine if we take preventive measures”

COP 22- Madagascar: “We can avoid famine if we take preventive measure” Opinion article By José Graziano da Silva*     In the past months a number of regions have been hit hard by the El Niño phenomenon, the effects of which are still posing a global threat to agricultural livelihoods.  The most affected include the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America’s Dry Corridor, Caribbean islands, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.   Scientists are now predicting the probable occurrence of the “opposite twin” phenomenon, La Niña. This could increase the chance of above-average rainfall and flooding in areas that have been affected by El Niño-associated drought.   For Madagascar, La Niña could have serious consequences, such as increasing the intensity of cyclones and tropical storms thus aggravating the food insecurity of the country’s rural population, whose capacity to face climate shocks is already fragile.   Madagascar has the potential to become the granary of the Small Island Development States of the Indian Ocean. However, it is also one of the 20 countries in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change – in Africa it is the fourth most vulnerable country in terms of recurrent cyclones and tropical storms.   The 2015-2016 agricultural season has seen a dramatic reduction in crop production in southern Madagascar mainly due to a severe drought. In particular, production of maize and cassava crops this year declined by up to 95 percent compared to the previous five-year average — last year it was over 80 percent. Vulnerable households, whose already-low purchasing power is eroded by prevailing high prices, have been forced to adopt multiple survival strategies, especially in Madagascar’s seven southern regions.   Currently available estimates indicate that the number of food insecure people in southern Madagascar exceeds 1.4 million in September 2016. Of these, 600,000 are considered as severely food insecure, which according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale represents the last stages before the famine phase.  They need immediate emergency assistance: hungry people can’t wait.   In the recent past, most of the attention of the international community has been given to the dramatic impact on food security caused by several conflicts. FAO has been highlighting the cases of countries such as South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and regions such as Lake Chad, where millions of people are in a severe food insecurity situation. Yet, this should not stop to pay attention to other crises that are not capturing the media attention.   The international community is urged to step up to prevent a repeat in Madagascar of the situation faced by Somalia in 2011, when 200,000 people died of...

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