Southwestern Madagascar is experiencing the effects of severe drought
Severe drought conditions during southern Madagascar’s rainy season from November 2017 to April 2018 has led to nearly dry dams in many parts of the south. This dryness has affected livestock’s access to water and pastureland, which has led to poor livestock body conditions as many are subsisting on burnt cactus leaves in the absence of viable pastureland. This has similarly affected crop development, with many areas experiencing failed or near failed harvests. Only Ambovombe commune received favorably heavy rains in July that allowed some farmers to plant new maize and potato crops.
In the south, cereal prices are increasing by 6 percent compared to June for local rice and maize, which is mainly from Ambovombe. Prices of substitute foods like imported rice, dried cassava and sweet potatoes remained stable. Dried cassava prices are 7 percent lower than the 5-year average because of greater supply from Betroka. Pulses are mainly from Tulear and prices are also higher than normal.
Households are currently highly dependent on markets because most of them were not able to harvest. For those who harvested, stocks of maize, cassava and sweet potatoes are only expected to last for one month and will be depleted this month. To afford food, poor households are selling wild foods like tamarind to nearby cities like Tulear, or farmed sugar cane which is mostly consumed locally. They are also selling small ruminants and poultry, or charcoal and firewood at below normal prices because of the increased supply at markets. Others near the Onilahy river in the district of Betioky are selling handcraft products and water by the jerrycan. Some villages near Beloha also are benefiting from cash for work.
Poor and very poor households in MG23 (the Mahafaly plains) in the southwest of Madagascar are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity because of poor or failed agricultural production and the resulting early dependence on markets for food. In Androy Semi-Arid Cassava, Maize and Livestock (MG 24), food security is deteriorating following the harvest period as stocks deplete and poor and very poor households are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with the exception of Ambovombe where the situation is better. Food insecurity is less severe in the Southeast (MG 19) and Rice and lima bean (MG 20) which remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The rest of the country remains in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).