- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Friday, June 07, 2019
Ursula Mueller, U.N. deputy humanitarian chief, said the impoverished Indian Ocean island was witnessing more frequent and severe weather events, such as droughts and cyclones, which were pushing already extremely vulnerable people to the edge.
"There is a need for immediate humanitarian assistance to save the lives of 366,000 people that are in emergency levels of food insecurity - which is one step away from famine," she said following a three-day visit to Madagascar. "We need to build their resilience so that they can withstand the next shocks of drought, flood, cyclones and epidemics, and improve their lives," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview. Mueller said the south of the island - known as the Grand Sud - was severely underdeveloped and people were facing and high levels of malnutrition. "During my three days in Madagascar, I saw the impact of climate change - with the poorest and most vulnerable people bearing the brunt of a phenomenon that they had no hand in creating," said Mueller. "With every new shock, people's resilience is eroded. The country has severe needs - yet all too often the world has focused elsewhere."
Madagascar is one of Africa's poorest countries. A lack of basic services - from health and education to employment opportunities - as well as poverty and climate change have exposed many of its 26 million people to natural disasters.
About nine in 10 people live on less than $2 a day, more than 50% of children under five are chronically malnourished, and access to clean water is the fourth lowest in the continent, according to U.N. data.
In the last two decades, the country has been struck by 35 cyclones, eight floods and five periods of severe drought - a three-fold rise over the previous 20 years.
A drought caused by two years of erratic rainfall between 2015 and 2017, aggravated by the El Nino phenomenon, has left about 1.3 million people short of food.
Western nations provided about 60% of the funds needed for emergency food aid last year, but an appeal by the U.N. and the Malagasy government for $190 million to help them bounce back from the crisis was only 1.5% funded, she said.
Funding could support school feeding programs, boost health care and provide alternative incomes when disasters strike.
"It's very important that the international community steps up for recovery and resilience building projects. It's a good investment to invest in preventing major events linked to climate change," Mueller said.