Madagascar is the fourth biggest island on earth and, because of its relative geographical isolation off the east coast of Africa, much of its flora and fauna exists nowhere else on earth. It is ranked as a low income country, 151st out of 186 countries in the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. In Madagascar, 92 percent of the 22 million inhabitants live below the poverty line of US$ 2 per day.
The country is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones, flooding and drought. In 2013, the island faced its worst ever locust plague, which hampered agricultural production and threatened food security.
The increasing fragility of the ecosystem, due to deforestation and poor land management, is a major cause of the increased vulnerability to shocks and related food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 85 percent of its rainforests have been lost due to the use of wood and charcoal for cooking, and slash and burn agricultural practices.
Approximately 28 percent of rural households suffer from food insecurity - of which 2.7 percent are severely food insecure and nearly 25 percent moderately food insecure. In total, about four million people are facing hunger in 2013. The food security of a further 9.6 million people could deteriorate as food prices increase during the lean season,when crops are planted but not yet harvested. Also of concern is the cyclone season, which runs from November to March.
Madagascar is ranked sixth in the world in terms of chronic malnutrition, with a 50 percent prevalence of stunting for children under five years of age.
Since 2009, the country has been in a state of political turmoil which, coupled with economic stagnation, makes for an extremely challenging environment for the more vulnerable sectors of the population.
Most of Madagascar’s main donors have suspended budgetary and development aid. The Government’s capacity to deliver basic social services has been reduced to a minimal level.
Many households have limited capacity to cope with natural disasters such as cyclones. The most vulnerable are often driven to sell off assets or reduce their food consumption in times of difficulty.