from MARIO RAJOMAZANDRY in Antananarivo, Madagascar
ANTANANARIVO, (CAJ News) – RISING hunger and food insecurity is forcing communities in Madagascar to eat insects.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the drought is hitting southern parts of the country the most, with 1,5 million people affected.
This is half the region’s population.
The figure is three times the number projected mid-year, with women and children comprising most of those experiencing the food crisis.
Tomson Phiri, a WFP spokesperson, said as hunger numbers rose, so did the proportion of families who are resorting to crisis-coping mechanisms.
“The majority of them are having to eat bugs,” he said.
“They are selling off lifesaving livelihood assets, farm implements and kitchen utensils,” Phiri said.
The hunger and malnutrition is the result of three years of ruined harvests, hampering access to food and affecting people across ten districts.
Last month, WFP conducted an assessment in Amboasary, one of the hardest-hit districts, which revealed that three-quarters of children were forced to drop out of school so they could help their families forage for food.
“Most of the women that we spoke to said they had nothing to feed their children except the red cactus pears that grow on the roadside,” Phiri said.
WFP began life-saving emergency food assistance in September, reaching more than 100 000 people in Amboasary.
Some 576 000 people in the nine other districts are also receiving assistance during the lean season, which runs through December.
WFP is appealing to the international community for $37,5 million (R572,4 million) to continue response efforts.
– CAJ News