The World Food Programme reaching out to drought-stricken people in Madagascar. The World Food Programme reaching out to drought-stricken people in Madagascar. 

German bishops appeal for Madagascar, plagued by drought, hunger

A new UN report has singled out Madagascar as one of the world's two newest "highest alert" hunger hotspots.

By Robin Gomes

Insects, clay and leaves are the only food that the population of Madagascar can survive on at the moment, due to a severe drought which, in recent weeks, has led to near-famine conditions.   The Catholic Bishops of Germany raised the alarm through its Commission for the Universal Church. 

“There is a risk of a massacre, the situation is disastrous and hunger is rampant in a frightening way. I, therefore, appeal to the international community to act quickly to avoid an even more dramatic famine, ” wrote Commission president, Archbishop  Ludwig Schick in a statement.   He pointed out that several families in rural areas have already been forced to leave their homes due to "sandstorms and dried-up fields". The south of Madagascar is particularly affected, where the population survives only thanks to "foreign humanitarian aid", he noted.

Question of survival

By now, he explained, "babies and children are just skin and bones". For this, everyone's help is needed, because "without radical support measures,” he warned, “the number of hungry people will double in a short time”.  “Faced with this alarming scenario, the global community has a duty to ensure the survival of the population".  The archbishop invited contributions to Caritas Internationalis or through Misereor.

Caritas Internationalis is the confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.  Misereor is the German Catholic Bishops' organization for development cooperation. 

A more just world

In May 2018, Archbishop Schick had led a German bishops’ delegation to the African country, on the occasion of the eighth meeting of the German-African bishops, held in the capital, Antananarivo, on the theme of integral human development.  At the end of the meeting the bishops of both the countries released a statement pledging their commitment to "shape a more just world", because "all human creatures have the right to live a dignified life", thanks "to adequate nutrition, water drinking water, education and medical assistance ".

UN’s alarm

A new United Nations report on Friday raised alarm about acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots of the world, among them Madagascar.  Entitled “Hunger Hotspots”, the report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) singled out Ethiopia and Madagascar as the world's newest "highest alert" hunger hotspots for the outlook of August to November 2021.  South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria were already among the acute food insecurity hotspots of greatest global concern before Ethiopia and Madagascar.  In some areas of these countries populations already experiencing catastrophic levels of food insecurity and significant numbers of people are additionally at risk.

The report said that in southern Madagascar – under the effects of the worst drought in the past 40 years, combined with rising food prices and pests affecting staple crops – a sustained deterioration of acute food insecurity is expected to push 14,000 people into catastrophic acute food insecurity by September.  This number is expected to double by the end of the year, with 28,000 people requiring urgent action to prevent widespread deaths and starvation. 

Pope Francis visited the Indian Ocean island-nation in September  2019, as part of a 3-nation visit that included Mozambique and Mauritius.

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30 July 2021, 17:45