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First Climate Change-Induced Famine in Madagascar

Madagascar’s vast southern tip cries in hunger as droughts transform the fields into dust bowls. There is nothing to eat, nothing to plant, and the people are aflicted with famine. 

A desolate countryside with nothing to reap, leaves more than a million Malagasy weighed down, struggling to move because they are famished. 

“I feel sick and worried. Every day I wonder what we’re going to eat,” expressed a 60-year-old mother of 6. 

Turning to harmful food alternatives 

Locals were seen boiling pots of cactus in front of their homes. However, the concoction has so little nutritional value but is known for being an appetite suppressant. 

“I want to move somewhere more fertile, where I can farm. But I don’t have enough money to leave,” a mother cried. 

In Ankilidoga, an elderly couple and their daughter were seen cooking a pot of wild herbs, which they tried seasoning with salt to cut the bitterness. 

It is worth noting that the last time it rained was in May, and for only two hours. That mentioned, most villages don’t have a reservoir to collect rainwater. 

“My father was very hungry. He ate too much cactus and tuber bark. That’s what killed him. It’s like he was poisoned,” said a local that was seen watching over his father’s body. 

Climate change-induced famine

Madagascar is already suffering from hunger due to the absence of rain for four years. Additionally, the island is experiencing the world’s first climate change-induced famine. 

Southern Madagascar is regularly afflicted with malnutrition, but the current drought is recorded as the worst in 40 years, according to the United Nations

“These are famine-like conditions and they’re being driven by climate, not conflict,” said the UN World Food Programme’s Shelley Thakral.

The UN estimates the number of people affected by famine will rise as Madagascar enters the traditional “lean season” before harvest.

“This is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don’t burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change,” explained Thakral.