Friday, 24 November 2017

FAMINE PREVENTION UPDATE: An overview of MfM’s work to help vulnerable families rebuild their lives in the wake of prolonged drought followed by cyclone Enawo.

Despite being one of the world’s lowest emitters of carbon dioxide, Madagascar, is numbered amongst the  ‘Vulnerable Twenty’; a group of nations that  will see their future development severely impacted by climate change. Already this year, we have seen the south of the Island afflicted by such extreme drought that 850,000 people were taken to the brink of famine. Further north, in and around the capital, Tana, drought caused severe power cuts (no water to drive the hydroelectricity!) and crop failure. Just as the rains returned and people began planting, cyclone Enawo hit the island, leaving flooding and devastation in its wake. 

Southern Malagasy boy eating cactus plant (Nicholas Kristoff/ NYT 2017)
Your generous response to our appeal for those at risk of famine could not have been more timely! Funds were rapidly distributed to our partners enabling them to meet the immediate nutritional needs of four communities and start them on the road to recovery:

Famine Prevention in Beloha Androy:

In the South, our partner SAF has been working with all 150 households in the drought stricken community of Beloha Androy. To meet immediate nutritional requirements we delivered 19 tonnes of rice, 4 tonnes of beans and 1500 litres of vegetable oil to starving local families.

SAF truck arriving at Beloha Androy with rice supplies
Sacks of rice stored in local church awaiting distribution
Supplies were distributed through a system of food for work. This enabled local households to recover from acute hunger whilst improving key community facilities. Tasks were identified and prioritised by the community to ensure that they responded to local needs. Vital works undertaken included: planting trees and protective hedges, cleaning and restoring the community water tanks and building new class rooms.

Families collecting their food rations
Community members forming working parties

1.8 tonnes of improved maize and cowpea seeds were also distributed to households in conjunction with training on improved agricultural techniques for a drought prone environment. The seeds were selected due to their: drought resistance, local popularity (and therefore acceptance); nutritional value and potential to produce 2 crops in one year.

Community members have expressed their gratitude for this emergency assistance in their time of acute need. They are now able to face daily life and plan for the future. Unfortunately, insufficient rain has hindered the planting of new seeds. Farmers are hoping to be able to plant in November if the rains come. 

Responding to drought and cyclone in Analamanga and Amoron'i Mania:

On the rural outskirts of Tana our partner WTDM helped 250 households in 3 villages where farmers had lost their crops to drought and then to cyclone Enawo. As well as helping farmers to replant their crops, we also helped the communities to rebuild cyclone-damaged homes, classrooms, toilets and water points. 

The distribution of new tools and improved seeds, adapted to better withstand drought and flooding, is helping families to replant their lost crops and look to the future with greater optimism.

Rehabilitating water points and providing watering cans is allowing farmers, like Aina, to keep their crops irrigated when rain is scarce.

Providing families with small livestock or poultry is helping farmers like Richard to diversify their farming practises.  Agricultural diversification is a great way to improve resilience and increase income. Richard now breeds ducks alongside his arable agriculture so that he can provide his family with eggs and meat as well as generating additional income.

Planting a range of improved adapted seeds cuts the risk of losing all crops to a climatic disaster. By planting improved rice with a variety vegetable crops Armand is spreading his risks and increasing his family’s resilience.

Despite the damage done by cyclone Enawo, Hanitra is happy to see her new crops are growing well thanks to the improved seeds and tools provided by WTDM.

Next step: adapting to climate change:
Thanks to your generous response, our disaster appeal has prevented crippling hunger and started four communities on the road to recovery. However, there is more work to do. According to the World Bank, Madagascar is likely to be hit by ever-stronger cyclones that possess double the intensity of today’s storms. The southern region of Madagascar, which already suffers periodically from drought, is likely to receive even less rain.
It is no longer enough simply to respond to disasters as they happen; we need to act now to help the people of Madagascar build their resilience to face future climatic extremes. MfM has always invested in people over time. Next, we want to help farmers to further adapt their livelihoods so they can survive the threats of climate change.