Madagascar Key Message Update: Food access in southern Madagascar is not seasonally improving despite pre-harvest period, May 2020

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Key Messages

Nationally, four main government measures are impacting household food security and livelihoods. First, increased sanitary checks at ports have slowed imports, slightly increasing prices for imported goods. This affects poor households who rely on markets to access food, especially in the south where staple production was below average. Secondly, transport restrictions are leading to price increases and negatively affecting income for small producers, who now must use more expensive trucks to transport their goods to markets. Third, the partial lockdown in three main cities is affecting incomes of poor households dependent on daily labor, petty trade, transport, and those who can only work half days due to the daily curfew. Finally, social protection programs and subsidized food sales have enabled some households in the locked down cities to partially cover their food and non-food needs.

Normal flows of food from main producing areas to Antananarivo have resumed and most prices in main markets like Anosibe returned to seasonally normal levels. However, local rice prices in Antananarivo remain 20 percent above the five-year average due to lower supply available on markets. Imported rice prices in Tulear I are 15 percent above the five-year average. This is significant for households in the south that depend on imported rice more in years of poor local production, such as this year. Across southern Madagascar, market access, which should be seasonally increasing, continues deteriorating. Maize prices in Ambovombe and Beloha did not seasonally decrease in April and remained 40 to 80 percent above 5-year average due to below-average rainfall and poor production.

With movement restricted, households’ ability to diversify their income is low. This is significant in areas that depend more heavily on migrant labor, like the southeast, the south, and some rural areas around Antananarivo. When the lockdown went into effect, many people returned to their rural homes to resume agricultural activities, earning a reduced income.

Major parts of MG24 and MG23 remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with the support of humanitarian assistance, except in Betioky and Tulear II, where populations are slightly better off due to relatively better rainfall and are likely to experience Stressed (IPC phase 2). Nevertheless, pockets of populations will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Ambovombe due to the failure of maize harvests in March/April and the depletion of cassava stocks from previous harvests. Dry spells also affected crops in areas like MG25, MG26 and eastern part of MG22, where some poor households are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The three-locked-down cities, Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Toamasina, are in Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!), with cash transfers targeting more than 30 percent of the poorest informal workers in May. Some urban populations who depend on informal work and who aren’t receiving assistance, are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in May. With no assistance currently planned after May, these three cities are expected to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from June to September.