In Madagascar, isolated after the destruction of the cyclones, populations suffer from hunger

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Food insecurity in the southeast persists. In Ikongo, one of the most affected districts, MP Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa even reports deaths linked to lack of food in the past two months.

With our correspondent in Antananarivo, Laetitia Bezain

In addition to the destroyed crops and fruit trees, the state of the roads is aggravating the food crisis in the Ikongo district, says its deputy, Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa. ” Since the passage of the cyclone in February, the rehabilitation works have not yet taken place », he specifies.

A mountainous and forested area cut off from the rest of the island, says Parfait, a farmer in the village of Ambolomadinika: ” We feel abandoned. What we are asking the state for, first of all, is food aid to give us strength, like rice. All day we look for something to eat. I can not stand it anymore. I’m tired. My brothers, my sisters, everyone is in trouble. We only eat in the morning. At noon and in the evening, we drink water that we boil. We are forced to eat wild tubers that are not normally eaten. There are many weak and sick people. But they no longer have the strength to go to the hospital. »

The worst may be yet to come

In this post-harvest period, more than a quarter (26%) of the population of the interior districts of the Grand Sud-Est is classified as highly food insecure, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report. An unusual situation for this part of the island, but the hurricane season at the start of the year which left 206 dead and 460,000 victims had serious consequences.

While the price of foodstuffs continues to rise and they are becoming scarce in certain localities, the nutritional situation is likely to worsen in the months to come, explains Nathalie Raharilaza, program manager for Ny Tanintsika. This Malagasy NGO, present in Ikongo, has set up school canteens in nine municipalities and a project to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

If there is no emergency food aid in Ikongo, it will really be Kere [famine, NDLR]. We are on the verge of starvation, she is alarmed. The kids are really skinny. Adults too. You can see right away that they are suffering. Many villagers use a taro-like tuber called “piko-piko” which is not usually eaten. The situation is truly alarming. In this area, we still imagine the worst. Ikongo, the district capital is really inaccessible. So the cost of transporting foodstuffs increases and this further aggravates the situation. »

Drink to feed

As for the local cultures, it is not simple: the landscape of Ikongo is not really adapted to the cultivation of rice. ” People make rainfed rice but the watersheds were destroyed during the cyclone. So this activity cannot yet resume at this time. We just plant rice on the lowlands which are narrow. We can resume cultivation but it will not come back quickly as before. »

The price of a kilo of rice can go up to 4000 ariary in some localities, or nearly one euro. A sum well above the means of most households. ” The children are no longer going to school at the moment because they are too hungry. We elders only drink cold water. This is what fills our belly before sleeping adds Thomas Andrianony, notable of the village of Ambolomadinika.

123,000 children under 5 are acutely malnourished, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report.

A feeling of abandonment

Food distress also causes theft and insecurity. ” I had a field with a little more cassava but it was all stolen. People also steal chickens in our village », Continues Parfait, the farmer.

MP Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa calls on the central state to intervene, in particular to restore traffic, which will reduce the cost of transporting food. “SIf we manage to feed the inhabitants for a few days, they will be able to work the land again. We feel abandoned and despised. I have already spoken about the situation during the meeting of the permanent bureau of the National Assembly and I hope to have another opportunity during a plenary session.’

Last August, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent – Indian Ocean had already alerted to the worrying food situation in the south-east of Madagascar.

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