Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Cyclone Ava Update

The storm has hit, people are suffering – Madagascar seriously needs our help.

Madagascar is an amazing land – the home to a variety of unique animals and plants. There is a catch though – it often experiences severe storms and also excessive droughts – these sadly leave Madagascar’s people struggling to survive, so one thing is clear - they need a helping hand.

Madagascar is now trying to recover from Cyclone Ava which hit on the 5th and 6th of January. This cyclone affected mainly the eastern coast, killing over 50, leaving some missing and around 54,000 (1) were displaced. With wind speeds of 87 - 119 mph (2), Madagascar has been left in shock and the worst is unfortunately not over yet – many schools have been closed due to the risk of flooding and landslides. Madagascar’s infrastructure is the main priority at the moment – with many roads and bridges having been damaged, potentially leaving some remote communities isolated.

Now that Madagascar has got through the worst days of the cyclone itself, the recovery process is everyone’s priority. Cyclones are far from new -often hitting Madagascar between November to April. (1) Whilst flash floods are still a dangerous possibility, the priority is to help those affected try to regain at least some normality. In Madagascar though, where some people struggle to find food, shelter and safe drinking water even away from ‘the cyclone season’ – the people need all the help they can get.

MFM has a strong history of acting in times of emergency. We always provide support based on the needs identified by our partners on the ground. Although the work we support emphasises long-term goals, such as disaster resilience, in a crisis, immediate needs must be met.

If you would like to make a real difference in Madagascar’s time of need – please consider making a donation - https://moneyformadagascar.org/ - Whatever you are able to give will make a difference to people's lives. Thank You.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hoping for a smoother year for Madagascar’s Vanilla

When you start a refreshing ice–cream or one of the many other desserts that contain vanilla, the ‘politics’ of - where it comes from, who makes it and under what conditions they produce it – is probably not something you consider. You are certainly unlikely to link your dessert to Madagascar – the home of Lemurs but sadly also one of the poorest countries in the world. Vanilla sales play a large part in Madagascar’s ‘wellbeing’, as one of its main exports. The farmers ultimately are often pressured with targets and often not given a decent or reliable wage.

The process of production is complex - separating the flowers, extracting the right pods, being picked and cured at the right time -this can all take around 6 months (2) and during this time, the weather, (Madagascar experiences devastating cyclones and extreme droughts) can change everything. Working against the odds, these small-scale famers need our help. It is not all bad news though, Madagascar has managed to do better than its target last year (1) but the price of vanilla remains unusually high due to the adverse weather.

Hopefully, the weather in 2018 will be less unpredictable, the markets will stabilise and there will be a chance to pursue a more sustainable means of production. With more and more people turning to the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (2), the farmers are guaranteed ‘a life line’ in times of trouble, and exploitation is hopefully prevented. This initiative has many benefits and comprises of many organisations, from food manufacturers to fragrance outlets, it seeks to stabilise the prices and ensure farmers get a reliable living wage. It also goes further – helping farmers time pollination and possibly even get two harvests instead of one.

Whatever the future holds for these small farmers, one thing is certain – they need help. Could you lend that helping hand? Money for Madagascar has played a key role in fostering enterprise – offering support in times of need – especially offering support in the aftermaths of droughts and cyclones.
If you feel you would like to make a difference, please consider making a donation –
Anything you give will go to those who need it most, Thank you.

By Matthew Ward