The U.S. government continues to respond to the humanitarian disaster in southern Madagascar

A child collects her family’s drinking water from a muddy puddle in the middle of the road
A child collects her family’s drinking water from a muddy puddle in the middle of the road
A.G. Klei, USAID/Madagascar

Another $5 million donation brings the total U.S. government contribution to over $36 million for emergency food relief to southern Madagascar

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 28, 2016


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Antananarivo - Madagascar has been experiencing a prolonged and deepening drought in the south of the country for four years now, which has led to alarming levels of food insecurity.  The crisis has resulted in complete crop failures in a region where most farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture and livestock.  Approximately 900,000 people need emergency food assistance and many have been forced into desperate actions to survive.  Southern Madagascar is the poorest part of the country, with 90% of the population earning less than $2 per day.

“We are announcing that the United States government will be providing an additional $5 million towards desperately needed drought relief and emergency food supplies in Southern Madagascar,” says U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar, Robert Yamate.  “We are committed to seeing the people affected by the drought through these terrible times.”

“Our priority is addressing the needs of the most vulnerable,” adds Ambassador Yamate. “That’s why the U.S. government has been steadily increasing our support, coordinating with others working on the relief effort, and adapting our response to ensure people are getting the help they need.”

The U.S. government has been the leading donor of food assistance in Madagascar, contributing over USD $36 million towards emergency relief since 2014.  This latest contribution is part of an ongoing effort to ramp up the drought response as needs peak during the lean season.  The U.S. government, through USAID, funds eight organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), and the World Food Programme (WFP), to deliver emergency relief programs.  Through these organizations the U.S. is funding is the delivery of life-saving food aid; seeds to grow new crops; farm supplies and tools; livestock and training in animal husbandry; and specialized nutritious supplements to prevent starvation among malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women.

“USAID has been providing relief to Southern Madagascar for many years,” says USAID Mission Director Michelle Godette. “As the drought has deepened, we have seen firsthand the desperate nature of the situation. We have witnessed children collecting their drinking water from dirty puddles in the road. We are aware that people are scavenging in the forest for leaves to eat. We are therefore redoubling our efforts to coordinate our food security and development assistance to ensure maximum impact.”

In addition to emergency food relief, USAID-funded programs are equipping farmers with the tools and supplies needed to replant their crops using drought resistance grains; providing fishing tools and training to communities along the coast; and coordinating relief efforts and information to the community to ensure that grains received as food rations are not planted and that seeds intended for planting are not consumed to survive, but will be available when the rains come.

USAID is also leading public health-related activities in southern Madagascar, including rebuilding water access points; promoting proper hygiene and sanitation through UNICEF to cut down on the rate of illnesses that are associated with malnutrition; and providing family planning and reproductive health services and products.

“We commend the great work of the partners we are funding in the region,” says Director Godette. “They have been passionate responders to this emergency and their work has supported hundreds of thousands through some very lean, desperate times. Now as the food security situation is expected to worsen going into 2017 we must step forward and do more. That’s what today’s funding announcement is about.”

In July, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched a global appeal for US$2.4 billion to assist the millions of people affected by the El Niño-induced drought across Southern Africa. In September, the Madagascar government issued a statement expressing their solidarity with the appeal and acknowledging the need for humanitarian assistance to support the vulnerable population in Southern Madagascar. “Because of the SADC appeal and the Malagasy government’s statement of solidarity hopefully more members of the international community will see the urgency and will rally to support the people of Madagascar in this time of great need,” notes Director Godette.