Androy Region, Madagascar In a ward for children with complications from acute malnutrition, Lalandy held her grandson Berto. The child’s thin arm rested on hers.
A nurse at the hospital in Ambovombe, the capital of Madagascar’s southernmost province, charted the height-to-weight ratio of the five-month-old child and saw the line rise gradually after days of treatment with therapeutic milk.
Lalandy said she sold her last valuables to take her grandson from their home in Bekily to the hospital, about 200 miles away. His mother had died in childbirth, and the ongoing hunger crisis in Madagascar’s vast Grand Sud region, which includes Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana, has caused him to lose a lot of weight.
“I didn’t even think he’d be alive,” she said. “I just brought him here by having hope.”
Decades of poverty and underdevelopment, combined with a prolonged drought and rising temperatures, drove 1.6 million people in the Grand Sud into food insecurity last year.
The situation has drawn attention to the effects of climate change on the island of about 30 million people.
An influx of humanitarian aid helped avert catastrophe, but at least 1.1 million people remain acutely food insecure. According to UNICEF, children aged five and under experienced a state of malnutrition in 13 percent of the region’s districts in February.
The Famine Early Warning System monitor has warned that low harvests in May, combined with a cut in aid funding, could lead to a return of the crisis in the region in June (pdf). Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a global food crisis that threatens regions around the world that depend on aid.
Still, several residents have played leading roles in a number of resilience projects that they hope will help protect populations from future hardships.
In the municipality of Sampona, Raherinidamy Dominique Firmando trains farmers from 25 households in techniques that – combined with high-quality seeds – have shown to make crops more resilient to the harsh conditions of the area, such as not only low rainfall but also regular sandstorms spurred by deforestation .
Firmando said 10 other training groups, each comprising 25 households, are operating in the area. The program is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which plans to further expand the information exchange network.
Meanwhile, Sailambo oversees her nephew Yves’ project in her ancestral village of Erada in Beagnatara Municipality.
They grow baby acacia trees in crescent-shaped ditches, a technique that can help capture water, restore moisture to the soil and prevent soil erosion.
“Although the trees take time to grow, I have hopes that the famine will be solved,” she said.