Madagascar devastated amid hunger, drought, COVID-19
Urgent action is required to prevent a humanitarian crisis in southern Madagascar as a third of the region's population is "struggling to put food on the table," the World Food Programme (WFP) warned Tuesday.
"With drought conditions persisting into 2021 and a poor last harvest, weary communities have few resources to fall back on and many have had to leave their homes in search of food and work," the WFP said.
The WFP went on to warn that 1.35 million people -- 35% of the region's population -- are expected to be food insecure.
"The figure is nearly double what it was in the same period last year," it said.
The novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the WFP, has added to the hardship in the region "causing seasonal employment to dry up."
"Many families relied on this income to get through the lean season, which peaks between January and April."
"To survive, families are eating tamarind fruit mixed with clay," Moumini Ouedraogo, the WFP's Representative in Madagascar, was quoted as saying in the report.
"We can't face another year like this. With no rain and a poor harvest, people will face starvation. No one should have to live like this," Ouedraogo added.
Among children, who have been affected worst by the crisis, three of four are absent from their school over the food crisis "mostly to help their parents forage for food," according to WPF estimates.
"The WFP urgently needs US$35 million to fund lifesaving food and cash distributions and malnutrition treatment programmes," the UN agency appealed.
"This also includes emergency school feeding for 150,000 children to ensure they can stay in school and build a more secure future," it said.