Flooding was reported in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eloise in Antalaha, Maroantsetra, Vavatenina, and Toamasina districts in the northeast. More than 500 people were displaced in three communes of Maroantsetra. Most displaced people are seeking shelter with family members, while at least 270 are hosted in temporary accommodation sites. In addition to damaging and destroying about 200 houses, the storm also damaged schools and electrical infrastructure, leading to power outages, according to BNGRC. In other regions in the north and west, heavy rainfall from Eloise was favorable for the cropping season.
In December 2020, food prices remained above last year and five-year average levels, especially in large cities. Staple food prices in Toliara remained particularly elevated; local and imported rice prices were 50 percent above December 2019 prices. Residual effects of COVID-19, increased demand from December festivities, and low food production in the extreme south in 2020 are the main drivers of high prices. In January 2021, as prices continue to rise, poor households’ access to food is declining because of low income-earning opportunities and limited savings.
Rainfall from October 2020 through January 2021 was 40 percent, and 46 percent below the 2000-2018 mean in Fianarantsoa and Toliara provinces, respectively. Notably, October to March rainfall in Toliara province has been 15 to 20 percent below average in four of the past five years. Rainfall conditions to date have affected ground conditions; access to water for human and animal consumption has deteriorated compared to the same period last year, and the price of water (20 liters) reached a record level of MGA 3,000 in several remote areas. According to key informants, the availability of wild foods such as cactus, mango, local plum, wild tubers, and the green harvest of maize, vegetables, and wild gourds reduced by more than 80 percent and preliminary CFSAM findings. Finally, availability and access to seeds are extremely limited for the poorest households, particularly cassava and sweet potato cuttings, which will impact May to September harvests.
The effects of the current drought in southern areas, subsequent crop losses, and lower labor opportunities drive food insecurity in January. Large-scale assistance is only being distributed in four districts: (MG23 (Ampanihy), MG24 (Ambovombe and Taolagnaro), and MG26 (Amboasary), then are experiencing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes in January. Large scale assistance is expected to end by the start of February. Thus, districts across the extreme south facing poor production, high food prices, and reduced income-earning opportunities will experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes from February through May. There will continue to be notable populations facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes across these districts.