The big picture
Madagascar remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Gross Domestic Production (GDP) per capita was only US$ 440 in 2010- compared to the UK which was $37,100 for the same year. The country ranks 151 out of 187 in terms of poverty and over 75 per cent of households and thereby 82 per cent of children live under the poverty line1. The 2009 coup d’état plunged the country into a political crisis, which resulted in the suspension of the majority of foreign aid, and which has yet to be resolved. Although elections are expected by mid-2013, political and security tensions have increased and are expected to rise throughout the first semester of 2013. The economy has stalled and poverty has risen to 76.5% of the population living with less than 1US$/a day in 2010, an increase of 7.8 percentage points compared to 2005. Governance and rule of law have declined, crime is on the rise and the judicial system is not operating adequately. For example, more than 50% of households in the two major cities of Antananarivo and Tuléar have reported that they are facing security concerns. The security situation in the south, with armed confrontations between security forces, cattle thieves and the population, is seriously affecting the lives of the local inhabitants and their access, and use of, basic social services.
In 2007 the country was on track to reach three Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but now only the MDGs related to HIV/AIDS and gender parity in education have any hope of being achieved. Since the signature of the roadmap for resolving the political crisis (in late 2011) some progress has been made in terms of reengaging with the international community. After the creation of a transitional government, the members of the national electoral commission were designated and a timeline agreed for elections in 2013. Despite this positive move, there is still some uncertainty as to whether the elections will actually take place as planned. This may not only cause delays but also carries the risk that the elections will not be recognized by the international community. This could mean an even longer period of political instability.
While some development partners reengaged in 2012 and more aid funding became available again, it remains at about half the pre-crisis levels. This has an important impact on the budget situation. Resources are allocated to the priorities of the transitional government, which focuses on maintaining fiscal and financial stability at the expense of public investment in social sectors. This severely impacts the delivery of basic social services to a population which is very vulnerable.
Since the onset of the political crisis, some donors maintained aid for social priorities, although the larger ones often encouraged the creation of parallel systems through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), consequently eroding national capacity and as a result, aid efficiency has declined significantly. As an example, despite increased investment for malaria prevention and treatment, an epidemic broke out in April 2012. Additional constraints have been the Government’s progressive budget cuts on social sectors. For example, the health budget was reduced by 40% between 2009 and 2010. As a result, vaccination indicators are alarming, with only 69% of children under one year of age vaccinated with the required three doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP). The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector has also suffered from a lack of investment coupled with no mechanism to maintain existing infrastructures. In education, the percentage of the national budget allocated to the sector has declined from a high of 19.7% in 2009, to 16.0% in 2012. UNICEF estimates that there are now 1.5 million children are out-of school, or approximately 1 in 4 children. Despite the challenges, UNICEF continues to advocate with partners to ensure that basic social services are not disrupted further.
Madagascar is at extreme risk of natural disasters such as cyclones (5th among countries most threatened by cyclones in 2012) and droughts. Sixteen regions (out of 22) have been identified by national authorities as being at risk of cyclones and flooding. In 2012, about 330,000 people were affected by cyclones which damaged hundreds of schools and many primary health care centers. Cyclone Giovanna, which struck the east coast of Madagascar in February 2012 was particularly destructive with over 2,000 classrooms completely destroyed.