1.5 million people in Madagascar in need of emergency food aid: WFP

World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley speaks to the media about the organization's Nobel Peace Prize win, at the airport in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, late Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. | Photo Credit: AP

The UN World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday said at least 1.5 million people in southern Madagascar are in serious need of emergency food aid.

The combined effects of a prolonged drought, the COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in regional insecurity have undermined the “already fragile food security and nutrition situation”, according to the WFP.

World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley speaks to the media during a past event. | Photo Credit: AP

In November last year, the WFP warned that three consecutive years of drought had pushed half of the region’s population, about 1.5 million people, into “crisis” or “emergency” hunger conditions.

The situation, described then by the WFP as “extremely worrying”, had forced about 75 percent of children in Amboasary, the hardest-hit area, to drop out of school help their parents search for food.

Madagascar already has one of the world’s highest rates of stunted growth among children, due to chronic malnutrition.

The call by the UN food agency comes at a time when it is grappling with a reduction in cash transfers and food rations for vulnerable populations in a number of African countries due to shortfalls in funding.

The WFP has previously warned that a steep reduction or complete halt in assistance could have far-reaching consequences on the health and nutrition of refugees and vulnerable populations in addition to the stability and security in refugee camps and surrounding communities.

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