While the main rice harvest wrapped up in July in most surplus producing areas, the cassava harvest is still ongoing in southern Madagascar. Near average production is observed in southwestern areas, above average production in coastal extreme south, and below average in south-central communes. While production is near the five-year average, it is worth noting that overall production has declined in the past ten years such that the recent five-year average is below the long-term average. In July, fresh cassava was widely available in all markets. As for wild food, red cactus is still available in July while yellow cactus is scarce.
In monitored urban markets across the country, the price of main staples in July are 10 to 50 percent above the five-year average, due to below-average stocks due to reduced imports of rice, lower production of maize, and traders holding local rice and dried cassava in anticipation of higher prices in September. Compared to last year, prices increased by 10 to 40 percent, suggesting a deterioration in supply driven by movement/transport restrictions. Compared to June 2020, most staple food prices remained stable or decreased because of the relative stability or improvement of supply across these months with the ongoing main harvest.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases dramatically increased in Madagascar with a total of more than 10,000 cases in 20 of 22 regions by the end of July against nearly 2,500 cases in early July. As a result, increased restrictions have been set by the government, including another lock-down in Antananarivo which is again reducing income-earning opportunities and purchasing power among poor and very poor households who mainly work in informal sector. An assessment conducted by the National Vulnerability Assessment Committee (NVAC) in Antananarivo in June 2020 found that poor and very poor households have reduced their food and non-food expenses and sold assets to cope with the effects of the lock-down.
In July 2020, more than 20 percent of the population in livelihood zone MG24 and in the four most vulnerable communes of Fort-Dauphin continue receiving food and cash transfers from WFP, CRS, and WHH in response to the long 2019/2020 lean season. The assistance is assessed to be covering more than 50 percent of basic food needs. Emergency responses to the impacts of COVID-19-related measures are concentrated in Antananarivo and consist of cash transfers of 100,000 MGA to about 25 percent of the population, and vouchers of 30,000 MGA to an additional 20 percent of the population, allowing beneficiaries to buy food at designated groceries.
In the south, most poor households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in July 2020, with improved access to tuber products from the ongoing harvest and the continuation of humanitarian assistance. Fianarantsoa and Toamasina, previously locked-down cities, also remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in July 2020 because of limited income sources and above-normal food prices. IPC Phase 3 crisis outcomes are anticipated in Antananarivo with reduced income sources after the re-implementation of a lock down curfew. Notable humanitarian assistance is currently being distributed in the capital and a further analysis of this assistance will be included in future reporting. Elsewhere, area-level food security remains in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) with some pockets of households who previously depended on tourism or agriculture and are now affected by the downturn in tourism and low farm-gate prices are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in July.