A multi-pronged response to a complex emergency in southern Madagascar
An analysis of child malnutrition in the region shows that more than 300,000 children are at risk in the months ahead - this includes approximately 60,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition.
In the village of Andranotsiriry, 20 kilometers from the town of Ambovombe, doctor Raymondine leads a mobile team in treating children living in remote areas.
Lohambosie came with her eight-month-old daughter Jessica. Jessica's arm circumference is in the yellow area indicating that is at risk of acute malnutrition.
Lohambosie looking at her daughter while being worried about her health. “I am a community worker, and my role is to bring health services to sick and malnourished children. Unfortunately, my daughter is one of them,” says Lohambosie.
Southern Madagascar continues to experience its worst drought in 40 years, wiping out crops and creating food insecurity.
The southerly wind called "Tiomena" causes sandstorms across the region, blowing away topsoil and creating one more challenge for a vulnerable population.
In 2021, around 60,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition using ready-to-use therapeutic foods provided by UNICEF and donors.
To determine the nutritional status of children, health workers carry out some 130,000 screenings a month using a band that measures the child upper arm. Red indicates the child is severely malnourished.
Langesa, 42, a farmer and mother of 12 children, is one of the parents who have been trained in the use of the band.
The passage of cyclones Batsirai and Emnati in February caused widespread damage, but the heavy rains allowed the Mandrare river near Amboasary, formerly completely dry, to flow again.
In the village of Ehavo, vegetables grow thanks to a water system that provides irrigation as well as safe drinking water.
Vatsaonjoe, 56, is one of the 600 people in the village benefiting from the system.
Students at Ehavo primary school now have access to regularly running water, allowing them to wash their hands and avoid illness by maintain good hygiene.
The fight against malnutrition in southern Madagascar is not just about treatment. Persia, 20, was able to purchase medicine for her son Claudio thanks to a cash transfer program that UNICEF supports.
The recent rains have provided a rare opportunity for children to play in the water. The challenges caused by the drought remain and UNICEF and its partners are accelerating emergency responses to strengthen the at-risk population of the south.