Madagascar: Food Insecurity - Final Report, DREF n° MDRMG017



Description of the disaster

The Government of Madagascar launched a flash appeal in November 2020, requesting support to address food insecurity in the great South of Madagascar, which includes the regions of Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana. Indeed, the area is characterized by poor rains, high food prices and unresolved economic instability. This is in addition to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various related restrictive measures which have a devastating effect on the food distributions and accentuated the effects of food insecurity on the population. According to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification for the period from October to December 2020, 1.06 million people identified or 27% of the population screened, including 204,000 people were in emergency situations (IPC Phase 4) and 859,000 in were in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

The Malagasy Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the Malagasy Government in October 2020 carried out an assessment to ascertain the specific localities most affected by food insecurity. The findings from the assessment mission revealed that the Commune of Ambatoabo, located in the district of Taolagnaro in Anosy Region, with its 10,000 inhabitants (2,000 households) was one of the most affected districts classified as being in emergency phase. In addition, per the humanitarian coordination, the commune of Ambatoabo had not received any assistance, which worsened its situation from being under control in 2018 to an emergency in 2020.

In response, MRCS with support from IFRC Disaster Emergency Fund (DREF) launched a CHF 249,900 DREF Operation in November 2020 to support the 2,000 households of the commune of Ambatoabo though cash for food as well as nutrition activities. In February 2021, an Operation Update was published, extending the timeframe of the operation by two months, for an overall timeframe of 5 months. This extension was justified by the delay in implementing the plan of action for which the timeframe was three months (from 29 November 2020 to 28 February 2021). Indeed, the procurement of the items (food supplement, sanitary napkins and panties for dignity kit, face masks, Aqua tabs for water purification and tools for nutritional monitoring) was launched according to the NS's procurement and financial procedures. Unfortunately, due to the end-of-year holidays and the deterioration of COVID-19 context, several of the calls for tender launched were unsuccessful and had to be relaunched, taking almost two months. This delay thus affected the implementation of some key activities, including the target registration, which is a key to any distribution activity, and even the care for moderately acutely malnourished children which was planned.

This DREF operation enabled the MRCS to provide basic needs for 1,961 households through cash, administer a community-based acute malnutrition management model (CMAM) to 6,800 people as well as train 7,725 people on good water, sanitation and hygiene practices to reduce their vulnerability and risk of disease. The operation also helped conduct a market assessment, trained 22 volunteers on the principles and promotion of humanitarian values and reached 62.23% of the target population (10,000) through these principles and humanitarian values promotion sessions. A total of eleven (11) CEA committees were established and a CEA training of 33 community members was held. To note, the distribution of WASH and dignity kits was canceled due to the lack of quality and the high cost on the market compared to the planned items.

The French Red Cross/PIROI and the Operational Command Centre (CCO-K) /Government contributed to this operation and supported the implementation of operation DREF. To link the emergency and medium -term needs identified in the target area, the activities started in this operation will continue thanks to funds received from the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation via IFRC. The German Red Cross are also supporting MRCS by complementing to this operation an assistance through cash for emergency and construction of water points.

Summary of response

Overview of Operating National Society Response

The MRCS deployed efforts in response to the government's appeal via the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) on 29 November 2020. IFRC supported the NS to respond to the urgent needs of the population in Ambatoabo commune based on the activities set in the EPoA. A team was setup jointly by IFRC Cluster Delegation and MRCS, which included staff and NRDT members, to ensure planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities and coordination with partners in the field. The Ministry of Population remained the lead in response activities for the overall food insecurity intervention.

To ensure an efficient response, the National Society mobilized 49 volunteers, trained on the following topics:

  • CEA activities (22 volunteers) - total of 11 CEA committees were set up to better manage assignment and implementation of activities

  • WASH activities (49 volunteers)

  • Nutrition activities (22 volunteers)

  • Distribution activities (49 volunteers).

These volunteers were also involved in assessments conducted from 1st to 5 th December 2020 with the Ministry of Health (MoH) prior to the DREF operation with funding from MoH. This assessment enabled MRCS to refine the EPoA according to the identified needs based on data collected. In addition to this assessment, volunteers conducted the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement in Ifotaka commune and carried out food distributions for 500 households of the commune of Behara, still with MoH funding.

In partnership with the Operational Commandment Centre - Kere (CCO-K), the MRCS was able to carry out the registration of beneficiaries to determine the target households in the zone of intervention. The distribution of cash for food/basic needs and of NFIs were based on this registration. It has to be reminded that all the community households present in the zone of intervention were considered.

Under this DREF operation, the Malagasy Red Cross Society implemented the distribution of non-food items (kitchen kit, reusable masks and water treatment products) and cash for food and basic needs, as well as supplement food for malnourished children under five years after being screened.

Overview of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the country

The French Red Cross planned to support the NS by providing non-food items including WASH kits and kitchen kits. Unfortunately, the WASH kits were finally not provided because they were not available in stock. The dignity kits planned and covered by the DREF operation were equally not distributed because the required quality of sanitary pads and underwear were not available and the lower quality ones available were very expensive (compared to the available budget). Through the DREF, the 9,670 reusable face masks and a total of 5,802 tablets for 1,933HH in 90 days water treatment product (Aqua tabs), were locally procured and distributed together with the kitchen kits provided by PIROI.

The IFRC has closely technically supported the NS at the field level through the permanent mobilization of a surge staff deployed in the field as an operations manager.

Overview of actors’ actions in the country

The Government has set up a programme called "Caravane du Sud”, through which 1,160 tons of rice, 28,800 litres of oil, 700 tons of vegetables and water were distributed to 60,000 families.

The Ministry of Population, Social Protection and Promotion of Women and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the Catholics Relief Services (CRS) also set up a programme called "Maharo", to provide 3,000,000 Ariary (Malagasy currency), approx. CHF 700, to each of 55,880 households for 5 years as a means to boost their income-generating activities.

A post-drought cash transfer assistance programme called "Toseke Vonje Aigne" funded by the World Bank (up to 13,3 million dollars) and implemented by the Development Intervention Fund (FID), under the coordination of the Ministry of Population and the BNGRC, was relaunched on 22 January 2021, aiming at providing cash to 70,000 vulnerable households for five months at a rate of 80,000 Ariary (approx. CHF 20) per month.

The Emergency Prevention and Management Unit (unit under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s office) has benefited from an insurance indemnity of USD 2,126,803 from the Pan-African Insurance Company ARC. A part of the fund designated to the National Nutrition Office (ONN), enabling 16,000 most vulnerable families to receive food assistance, to facilitate nutritional care for 2,000 children under five years and 1,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women, the supply of drinking water for 100,000 households, the construction/rehabilitation of two nutritional and medical centres in Ambovombe and Amboasary and the provision of medicines to the various health centres covering the affected area.

Interagency Coordination

A partnership was established with the Operational Commandment Centre (CCO-K) to support the operation in the census/registration of beneficiaries. Regular coordination meetings were held at national and field levels as following:

  • A weekly meeting of the WASH and Food security & livelihood clusters,

  • A meeting once every two weeks for the Cash Working Group.

  • At local level, a fortnightly meeting of partners involved in the WASH sector was also set up.

These regular coordination meetings aimed at exchanging on the progress of the response, share experiences and ensure to avoid overlaps and potential gaps in interventions being implemented in different areas. The Malagasy Red Cross was assigned to intervene in Ambatoabo commune, while partner organisations focused on other affected areas of the country. This also informed the targeting strategy in the respective areas, with organizations supporting in some instances, the entirety of the affected population, as was the case for this DREF operation.