New York – Citing efforts to curb the food crisis in Madagascar sparked by erratic weather and a locust invasion, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today stressed the urgency of bridging a $25 million funding gap for the country.
In a news briefing in Geneva, the WFP spokesperson, Elisabeth Byrs said the agency is planning to assist one million people from November until December next year, with Government and partners assisting the rest.
However, “because of a lack of resources, WFP is now concentrating on assisting 400,000 of the most vulnerable in the south of the island.” Ms. Byrs cautioned.
WFP is boosting its efforts to support people in Madagascar, including with school meals, cash and food for assets, food for Tuberculosis patients, and supplementary feeding for children under two, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
In addition to providing school meals for 219,000 pupils in food insecure southern regions of Madagascar, Ms. Byrs said WFP is also offering assistance to 28,000 orphans and vulnerable children in poor urban areas to support their access to education.
According to WFP, rice, maize and cassava production took a bad hit this year from erratic rains and a locust plague, which led some four million people in rural Madagascar being food insecure. The upcoming cyclone season, set to start at the beginning of November, is also expected to cause the increase in food prices.
“If the next harvest is poor and these obstacles persist, leading to price increases, there will be an additional 9.6 million people facing food insecurity,” Ms. Byrs warned, adding: “The chronic malnutrition rate is 50 per cent, already, the sixth highest in the world. The number of out-of-school children is 1.6 million.”
According to WFP, total funding of $25 million is needed for the continuation of its emergency operations in the country until mid-2014. Currently, the agency’s Country Programme is facing a shortfall of $15 million, while the Relief and Recovery Operation faces a funding gap of $10 million.