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Southern Madagascar risk famine over its worst drought

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Laetitia Bezain/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Madagascar’s south is facing its worst drought in a decade, the World Food Program said Tuesday. It comes after 3 straight years of drought and deep recession brought forth by the pandemic.

The UN agency said that the year 2020 harvest had been the worst in five years.

"We still have some of these leaves. When I can't go begging in the neighboring village, we have to dig under this sand without being sure we'll find anything. Yesterday and today I couldn't go because I feel very weak. When we don't find anything under the sand, we drink seawater. It is bad for our health, but we have no choice because otherwise we would have nothing in our tummy", an elderly resident said.

Food parcels continue to be delivered by the World Food Program in the south of the island nation. It is currently supporting half a million people living without food supplies in nine southern districts.

"What we are saying here is that the situation we’re facing in southern Madagascar is not normal. It’s very different to any normal year of crisis and that we really need to act immediately; 300,000 people need at the moment safe-living support", Lola Castro, World Food Programme (WFP) head of Southern Africa and Indian Ocean islands said.

Malnutrition rates in the region have risen, as children are forced to beg so they can help their families buy food supplies.

The agency has appealed for emergency aid of $35 million to fight hunger in the south of the country.

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