The World Bank has allocated Madagascar $100 million to support efforts to combat a famine, as the south of the island nation suffers it worst drought in four decades and an upsurge in locusts threaten farm produce.
About one million people stand to benefit from the funding that will support activities, such as upgrading water points and anti-locust surveillance that will be implemented over a period of six to 48 months, Stephen D’Alessandro, a senior agriculture economist at the World Bank said in an e-mailed response to queries on Friday.
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 migratory locust 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.”
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