Madagascar on brink of ‘the first famine caused by climate change,’ experts say

The country of Madagascar has an increasing number of people facing hunger and food insecurity, which some experts are saying is a result of a climate change induced famine.

A lack of food has been growing and becoming a constant for people in Madagascar. For the past four years, crop failures have been all too familiar. As the country enters “lean season” before the harvest, there is great concern regarding the health and wellbeing of its citizens, as many are starving.

According to the UN, an estimated 30,000 Malagasy people are experiencing level five food insecurity- the highest recognized international level. As the lean season approaches, the number will likely increase.

A spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme, Shada Moghraby, claimed, ​​”Around 512,000 people are one step away from famine.” It’s suggested that 30% are experiencing malnutrition and about one in 5,000 people die each day due to starvation. In addition, around 110,000 children have been malnourished for so long that their growth may be permanently stunted.

A major cause of the famine is the country’s inability to farm. Due to harsh conditions, like little rain and sandstorms which are uncharacteristic of the country, the land has become infertile. People have been forced to eat things like locusts and cactus leaves, which lack nutrients. People living in remote villages have suffered the most, but the hunger is spreading to the bigger cities as well.

Shelley Thakral of the UN World Food Programme remarked, “These are famine-like conditions and they’re being driven by climate not conflict.” With little electricity or cars throughout the country, Madagascar contributes just 0.01% to the world’s annual carbon emissions, suggesting that they did little to bring the crisis upon themselves.

“This is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don’t burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change,” Thakral added.




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