Madagascar

New climate change and adaptation films

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NAIROBI, 10 May 2011 (IRIN) - IRIN Films is pleased to announce the launch of two more chapters of The Gathering Storm, our award-winning series of short films highlighting the human cost of climate change.

This series has addressed the impact of climate change in Africa and Asia; now we turn the spotlight on Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world and one of its poorest nations.

In Madagascar, an estimated 65 percent of the population of 19 million live on little more than US$1 a day and the country has long been plagued by political crises. Climate change adds insult to injury.

According to the World Bank, Madagascar has seen a 10 percent increase in temperature and a 10 percent decrease in rainfall in the past 50 years, with a devastating impact on the farming and fishing communities. Years of drought in the south of the country have left people there facing chronic hunger and high rates of malnutrition.

In the first of these films, we look at the charcoal industry in the south, and discover how the prolonged drought has driven farmers - whose barren fields can no longer support them - into the forests in search of a livelihood. In a country that relies almost exclusively on charcoal as a cooking fuel, wood is one of the few resources left for them to exploit.

As a consequence, areas such as the Afaty forest are forests in name only.

Farther south, communities are under siege from the relentless march of sand; dunes sweep in on the wind and claim the void left by farmland choked dry by years of drought.

In villages such as Androka, the sand and floods have forced hundreds of people to flee. Some have taken refuge in new towns, but remain hostage to the ravages of climate. Just outside New Androka, a farmer sweats over the rather pathetic looking maize crop that he has managed to coax out of the sand.

"The soil here used to be firm and we could grow crops," he said. "But these days I'm lucky to get any maize at all. If the rain doesn't come soon, we will be forced to move again."

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