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Madagascar: Acute Malnutrition analysis confirms critical situation in southern Madagascar with one district at risk of Famine

Overview

Three years of consecutive severe drought have wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food in Madagascar’s Grand South region. Following the release of the IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis in May 2021, which revealed a greatly deteriorated situation, an IPC Acute Malnutrition analysis was conducted in June 2021, which also revealed a deteriorating nutritional situation. A pilot analysis of the 'Risk of Famine' was then conducted, focusing on three districts with high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition - Amboasary Atsimo, Ambovombe-Androy and West Ampanihy - for the projection period from October to December 2021, which marks the beginning of the lean season. Consequently, Ambovombe-Androy district was flagged as being at risk of Famine in the worst-case scenario, due to the negative impacts of the drought on food security and a potential new wave of COVID-19 with additional restrictions on the movements of households dependent on casual labour. This pilot analysis also concluded, that even considering the worst-case scenario, the two districts of Amboasary Atsimo and West Ampanihy will not be at risk of Famine during the projection period.
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Actions Needed

  • Immediate and urgent humanitarian action is needed for populations experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) to save lives, reduce food gaps, and prevent a total collapse of livelihoods. Livelihood assistance should be provided to support the resumption of the next cropping seasons while access (physical/financial) to inputs (seeds, plant material, etc.) and agro-pastoral inputs (pest control, mass vaccination of livestock) should be facilitated. Early/anticipatory actions based on weather forecasts and other recognized warning mechanisms should be conducted to cope with shocks/ droughts, protect livelihoods (savings, financial inclusion, insurance) and reduce food consumption deficits.
  • Urgent nutrition interventions are required for acutely malnourished children under five, especially those severely malnourished. The health and nutrition system should be strengthened, in order to maintain the quality of primary care services. The coverage of the management of children acutely malnourished as well as of family protection rations should also be strengthened. New strategies for communication, sensitization and distribution of micronutrients and immunization should be identified, to improve nutrition practices in the community. WASH infrastructure should be improved.

Acute Malnutrition Situation

Over 500,000 children under the age of five are expected to be acutely malnourished through April 2022, of which over 110,000 are likely severely malnourished and require urgent life-saving treatment. Food insecurity is a major contributing factor to the nutrition situation, followed by poor access to sanitation facilities and improved drinking water sources due to drought. Amboasary Atsimo has Serious levels of acute malnutrition (IPC AMN Phase 3). The districts of Ambovombe, Ampanihy, Beloha, and Tsihombe are also classified in Emergency (IPC AFI Phase 4), with 55% to 60% of their population in need of urgent action to protect livelihoods, reduce food consumption deficits, and save lives. The districts of Ambovombe and Bekily have Critical levels of acute malnutrition (IPC AMN Phase 4), requiring urgent treatment to save the lives of the affected children. Amboasary, Beloha, Betioky, Toliara and Tsihombe have Serious levels of acute malnutrition (IPC AMN Phase 3) and also require action for treatment and prevention.
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Acute Food Insecurity Situation

Between April and September 2021, over 1.1 million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) due to insufficient rainfall, rising food prices, and sandstorms. The lean season is expected to begin earlier than usual for the current consumption year, as households will deplete their low food stocks due to minimal production. Amboasary Atsimo is the most affected district in terms of food insecurity. Classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), 75% of its population is in IPC Phase 3 or above, with nearly 14,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), requiring urgent action. These people have virtually exhausted their ability to use coping strategies to access food and income. This results in a highly inadequate level of food consumption. The districts of Ambovombe, Ampanihy, Beloha, and Tsihombe are also classified in Emergency (IPC AFI Phase 4), with 55% to 60% of their population in need of urgent action to protect livelihoods, reduce food consumption deficits, and save lives.
During the projected period from October to December 2021, corresponding to the lean season period, with insufficient food stocks, high prices of staples due to COVID-19 and related restrictions and poor employment opportunities, the food situation will likely worsen, bringing the number of people in IPC AFI Phase 3 or above to 1.31 million. The population in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) will likely double, and the number of people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse, will likely exceed 510,000. The district of Betioky will be added to the list of districts in IPC Phase 3 (including Betroka, Bekily, and the five communes of Taolagnaro).
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