The World Bank has allocated Madagascar US $100 million to support efforts to combat famine, as the south of the island nation suffers its worst drought in four decades and an upsurge in locusts threatens farm produce.
Stephen D’Alessandro, a senior agriculture economist at the World Bank said confirmed the report and said the funds are set to benefit about one million people which will support activities, such as upgrading water points and anti-locust surveillance that will be implemented over a period of six to 48 months.
Over the past six years, the nation’s semi-arid southern region has seen higher temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall, adversely affecting harvests and livestock. Food production from the 2020-21 farming season declined by 40% of the five-year average in some areas. More than one million people in southern Madagascar are struggling to get enough to eat and 28,000 will experience famine conditions by the end of the year, the World Bank said.
A recent upsurge of the migratory locusts is expected to affect the world’s largest vanilla producer’s agricultural produce for the November through March season, worsening an existing food crisis. About 400,000 hectares of land will need to be treated, D’Alessandro said.
Crops under threat include maize, millet, sorghum, and groundnuts, D’Alessandro, who also co-leads the Support for resilient livelihoods in the South of Madagascar project, said. “The rural population exposed to the locust risk is estimated at 4.25 million people or 15% of the Malagasy population.”