The severe droughts which have devastated much of Madagascar are contributing to what the United Nations have named ‘the world’s first climate change famine’. With over one million Madagascans struggling to get enough food to eat, this famine is a humanitarian crisis which requires urgent action. The droughts, which are primarily caused by the impact of global warming on rainfall patterns, have been disastrous for farmers whose crops are failing year upon year. This crisis stands as a wake-up call to global governments, demonstrating on a major scale the direct impact of climate change on our communities, livelihoods, and most importantly, our lives.
Drought and Famine in Madagascar
Though drought has been a recurring problem for Madagascar, the nation is currently facing its worst drought in 40 years. The lack of rainfall has vastly impacted farming and production, with Alice Rahmoun of the World Food Programme noting that ‘harvests fail constantly, so people don’t have anything to harvest’.
Families have had to resort to other ways to ensure their children do not go hungry, such as, evident in United Nations reports, locusts and cactus leaves. Currently, 1.1 million Madagascans are in a state of food insecurity, meaning that their food intake has been disrupted significantly by the droughts.
How Can Climate Change Be The Cause of Famine?
According to the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions, climate change ‘increases the odds of worsening drought’. As global warming is producing ever-increasing temperatures across the globe, the reduction of moisture is increasing the likelihood of droughts.
Drought is a devastating phenomenon for farming and agriculture, and with little being done internationally to contribute to the fight for environmental justice, the problem is not going away. Agnès Callamard of Amnesty International noted that climate change projections suggest that droughts will become ‘more severe’, and the famine in Madagascar stands as an example of the close link between the health of our planet and the health of its citizens.
The Inequality of Climate Destruction
Christina Chen of Global Citizen said ‘The world’s poorest communities often live on the most fragile land, and they are often politically, socially and economically marginalised, making them especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.’
Though Madagascar has produced 0.01% of the world’s annual carbon emissions in the last eight decades, the nation is suffering from some of climate change’s worst effects. Madagascar is the only nation that is not in conflict, which is facing a ‘Famine-Humanitarian Catastrophe’.
91% of all Madagascans live below the poverty line, and the biggest victims of climate change are the poorest communities across the globe. With fewer resources to combat climate destruction at their disposal, the most disadvantaged populations are bearing the brunt of the impact of climate destruction. Climate change will forever be a source of further global inequality, with the major perpetrators of environmental crimes not having to experience the consequences of their actions.
The Future of the Madagascan Crisis
International humanitarian agencies, such as The World Food Programme, are working with the Malagasy government to help those most in need in the region. By treating malnourished children, providing food aid, and educating the population on how to best cope with these droughts, these organisations are supporting more than 700,000 Madagascans in desperate need.
UNICEF has launched a fundraising appeal with the hope of raising $34.2 million, in their project of reaching 9 million Madagascans in need – including 4.3 million children.
The Madagascan food crisis has put a global spotlight on the devastating impact of climate change on communities. With help from the advocacy work of humanitarian organisations, the crisis will stand as a wake-up call to international governments, showing them the importance of acting now to save the environment, and to save the world.