Ambassador Pelletier Speech – Announcement of $100 Million in Food Security Programs

December 14, 2020
Antananarivo

His Excellency the President of Madagascar,
The staff of the Presidency,
Our valued partners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Miarahaba anareo namana sy mpiara-miasa.

Voninahitra ho ahy ny mijoro eto anilan’ny Filohan’ny Repoblika androany, tahaka ny ijoroan’i Etazonia eo anilan’ny vahoaka malagasy miatrika ny haintany sy ny tsy fanjarian-tsakafo izay mianjady amin’ny vahoaka any atsimon’i Madagasikara.

Since 2015, the U.S. government has been the leading provider of food aid and agricultural supplies to the south, providing more than $100 million in emergency assistance that has helped over 1.5 million Malagasy citizens survive through the devastating droughts that have struck southern Madagascar in the last six years.

In President Rajoelina’s remarks at the recent Paris Peace Forum, he said that food security is his foremost priority.  Having just returned from an assessment of U.S. government food security assistance in the south, I can attest that the drought this year is especially dire and presents a tremendous challenge.  I am here to say that the U.S government remains ready to face that challenge side-by-side with the Government of Madagascar and the Malagasy people.

Mr. President, as the Malagasy proverb says,

“Mpirahalahy mianala isika;

ianao tokiko, izaho tokinao.”

In the past decade alone, the United States has stood with the Government of Madagascar and the Malagasy people to overcome cyclones, plague, and measles.  And throughout this past difficult year, we have worked together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now we face a devastating drought that is affecting over one million people.  Having just returned from the south, I saw first-hand the parched landscape and heard from people about their daily battles with hunger.  Mr. President, I can assure you that we share your profound concern and commitment to ensuring the health, nutrition, and food security of families in the south.  You can always rely on the United States of America, as we know we can rely on Madagascar.

Today, on behalf of the U.S. government and the American people, I am pleased to announce three new projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development, marking an additional $100 million commitment by the United States to face the challenge of food insecurity in Madagascar.  Through these efforts, the U.S. government, working side-by-side with the Government of Madagascar, will respond to the urgent needs of families in hunger, and provide long-term solutions to food insecurity in southern Madagascar.

Through the new Firangà project, USAID will provide $10 million in emergency food assistance to more than 222,000 people in Atsimo Andrefana and Androy regions.  The project will also treat malnutrition in children under five years old.  Catholic Relief Services will implement Firangà.

USAID is also launching the $45 million Maharo project.  This five-year development activity will address the nutritional needs of more than 279,000 vulnerable people in Atsimo Andrefana and Androy, helping them become healthier, more resilient, and more prosperous.  In addition, the Maharo project will offer immediate food relief to vulnerable families in these regions.  Catholic Relief Services will carry out Maharo as well.

Finally, the third USAID project is Fiovana.  It is another five-year, $45 million project to reduce food insecurity for more than 428,000 people in Vatovavy-Fitovinany and Atsimo Atsinanana regions.  The Adventist Development and Relief Agency will implement Fiovana.

All these activities will collaborate closely with the Government of Madagascar to respond to drought and promote sustainable development in the targeted regions.

These projects are aligned with the more than $10.5 million in U.S. government-funded emergency activities already underway in the south.  This assistance includes more than 8,300 metric tons of emergency food aid and $2.5 million in malnutrition treatment for young children that the U.S. government is providing through the World Food Program and UNICEF.  Additional food aid from ADRA and CRS will bring the total amount of U.S. government-provided food assistance for south and south eastern Madagascar to over 16,000 metric tons.

The length of our partnership with the Government of Madagascar and the level of our commitment to the prosperity and health of the Malagasy people demonstrate the enduring friendship between our two nations.

We firmly believe a healthy population is crucial to the nation’s prosperity.  In 2020 alone, USAID assistance to Madagascar totaled $114 million, including $62 million to support the health sector, where the United States is the largest single-country donor.  Through those activities, we have helped over four million women and two million children remain healthy; provided 76,303 people with access to clean, drinkable water; improved the quality of care at health facilities; and trained medical personnel serving hundreds of thousands of Malagasy citizens throughout the country.

Through our other programs, we work side-by-side with the Government of Madagascar and the Malagasy people to promote economic growth, sustainably develop natural and human resources, and support strong, responsive governance.

And we will continue to work together, like brothers walking through the forest, to address the food insecurity in the south of Madagascar.

Mr. President, these are tough times.  But it is during tough times that you meet your true “mpiara-dia”.  The United States of America and the Republic of Madagascar have a long history of trust, collaboration, and friendship.  Whether you face tempestuous storms, debilitating disease, or devastating drought, the United States has your back.

Ianao tokiko, izaho tokinao, fa isika toa ny mpirahalahy mianala ka hiara-hiatrika ny olana ara-tsakafo any atsimo, tahaka ny efa niarahantsika niatrika ireo olana maro teo aloha.

Misaotra Betsaka