Drought and deforestation: How Madagascar’s children are paying the price
Southern Madagascar has been hammered by two years of drought that has left 1.5 million people – half the region’s population – facing extreme hunger.
Children are particularly at risk. An estimated 500,000 children under the age of five are suffering acute malnutrition, and 110,000 of them are severely malnourished, according to UNICEF.
Drought and hunger is nothing new to the people of southern Madagascar. The word for famine is "kéré" in Malagasy, and historically there have been many episodes.
Unpredictable rainy seasons have been a problem for as long as the elderly in the Androy area can remember.
But it’s not just the droughts that are driving food insecurity. As a result of widespread deforestation, poor rains have combined with desertification to create an additional threat known as “tio mena” or red wind – the sandstorms that whip up and bury crops in the fields.