27 March 2023

An urgent nutrition and food security response is needed in the Great South-East of Madagascar

The South-East region of Madagascar was hit in early 2022 by two consecutive cyclones, Batsirai on the 5th of February and Emnati on the 22nd, followed by other tropical storms. Despite ongoing interventions and the mobilization of the humanitarian community, the situation in three regions (Vatovavy – Fitovinany – Atsimo Atsinanana) remains critical. Food and nutritional insecurity continues to be fueled by the devastating effects of the cyclones, recurring droughts and poor harvests, COVID-19, and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine. These regions were not previously targeted by humanitarian responses and, as a result, historical data on the prevalence of acute malnutrition and food security are scarce. However, the 2021 Demographic and Health Survey reported an already worrying situation, with an acute malnutrition rate1 above the national average. A SMART survey was conducted in June-July 2022, further highlighting the worsening nutrition and food security situation, with 6 of the 11 districts surveyed in a precarious situation, and 1 district (Ikongo) in the severe category, in terms of acute malnutrition. The destruction of houses and livelihoods caused by the cyclones led to a sharp deterioration of household food security, now worsened by the hunger gap season, which started earlier than usual this year. 88% of the cash crop area and 61% of the food crop area have been affected in the districts. Despite this situation, the financing gap for food and livelihoods assistance was 94% compared with a needs estimate produced by the SAMS cluster in its post-cyclone response plan.