Description of the disaster
On 14 November 2020, the President of the Republic, following an alarming increase of IPC 3 and 4 areas in Madagascar, called for an international appeal to all humanitarian actors to join the Government efforts in assisting the affected population in the Great South1 of Madagascar, comprised of Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana with a population of 3,535,783 million people to prevent the situation from deteriorating. Indeed, FewsNet, in its October 2020 to January 2021 Food Security Outlook (see map on right), anticipates an atypically severe upcoming lean season in the Great South. Please refer to the adjacent FEWS NET map IPC 3 (Yellow) and 4 areas (Orange).
In October 2020, MRCS and Malagasy Government, conducted an assessment of the situation, which highlighted that an overall 725,620 people are currently affected by the drought and food insecurity in 10 most impacted districts of the Great South as highlighted in the table below by the Nutrition Cluster of this assessment mission.
During the above-mentioned mission, it was also found that the Commune of Ambatoabo, located in district of Taolagnaro in Anosy Region, with its 10,000 inhabitants (2,000 households) is one of the most affected districts classified as being in emergency phase. Indeed, according to the humanitarian coordination, the commune of Ambatoabo remains among those which have not received any assistance so far, which has worsened its situation since from being under control in 2018 to an emergency in 2020 as seen in below images from the assessment report (see red arrows).
According to the Global Hunger Index 2020, published in October 2020, Madagascar ranks 105th out of 107 countries, with a score of 36.0 out of 50, indicating the country is in an alarming food security situation. Indeed, Madagascar has been facing recurrent drought for several years, with a devastating impact on access to food for communities. This situation in the Great South has continued to worsen, leading to a period of prolonged and exceptional drought, which is the most severe in decades. This is also a direct consequence of the El Niño phenomenon, which has caused a rainfall deficit, leading to a reduction in agricultural productivity, loss of seeds and the deterioration of crops. In a country where 80% of the population are dependent on agriculture, this exerts additional pressure on the very lean resources available and has led to a deterioration in the nutritional situation, especially for the most vulnerable such as pregnant and lactating women, children under 5 years old, members of female-headed houses with limited resources and the elderl The chronic crisis deteriorated from September 2020 into an acute crisis in the southern districts of the Anosy province which was also classified as being in alert but some districts and communes were already in emergency phase.
Echoing the call from Head of State, WFP on 18 November 2020, alerted in an analysis that approximately 1.5 million people in southern Madagascar are in dire need of emergency food and nutrition assistance, including 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. This is in addition to the population facing the compounding effects of COVID-19 Pandemic, which coincides with an early dry season and the Croplands Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) reporting below normal cumulative rainfall average with the deficit potentially reaching up to 34% in several places. COVID-19 preventive measures also led to the reduction of daily activity and prohibition of intra-regional movements. As such, people could not move to other regions to get jobs and the prolonged drought has dried most plants. It has been observed in many areas that the population has been eating and drinking water from cactus leaves because it is the only plant resistant to the drought