Friday, July 23, 2021

Eating Leather in Madagascar

 More than one million people in Madagascar are in need of food in a vast area spread over 110,000 sq km (42,000 square miles).

Years with little rain have made farming impossible, while sandstorms have turned huge stretches of arable land barren – effects the United Nations has linked to climate change.

Several aid groups have been handing out hundreds of tonnes of food and nutritional supplements for months with government help. But this is not nearly enough.

World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley has compared the plight of the starving in Madagascar to a “horror film”, saying it was “enough to bring even the most hardened humanitarian to tears”.

Some 14,000 people have already reached a stage the WFP defines as level five, a “catastrophe when people have absolutely nothing left to eat,” says the organisation’s Madagascar representative Moumini Ouedraogo.

Neither the government nor the WFP publicly tracks the number who have died of starvation, but the AFP news agency has tallied at least 340 deaths from local authority figures in recent months.

The UN estimates Madagascar will need $78.6m to provide vital food aid in the next lean season starting in October.

In Ambovombe, the main town in the hard-hit Androy region, hundreds have been surviving without help for months. They beg and eat food scraps from the market – even leather offcuts given to them by sandal makers to be boiled with a little salt to soften it or grilled.

 The leather “tears up our stomachs, but it’s because we have nothing. We’re suffering badly”, says one victim of hunger.

‘Nothing left’: A catastrophe in Madagascar’s famine-hit south | Climate Change News | Al Jazeera

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