Seeds and food assistance to Help Victims of Drought in Southern Madagascar begins in Ambovombe

Over 500 people received vouchers in Ambonaivo commune, Ambovombe district, Androy region this week, with which they bought seeds and agricultural tools to prepare for the upcoming planting season. More than 200 other beneficiaries received food for their work on rehabilitating a community rain-catchment basin in Beratro I.

This agricultural fair and food-for-work activity, funded by the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is the first of a series of activities funded by USAID and implemented by Catholic Relief Services and the World Food Programme.

In September 2015, the United States Government through USAID provided $4.5 million in assistance to Madagascar through four drought response programs in the southern regions of the country. These programs are providing assistance to over 120,000 people affected by drought in five districts: Amboasary, Ambovombe, Beloha, Bekily and Tsihombe.   This contribution will administer immediate assistance to combat hunger and malnutrition as well as assist with longer-term recovery efforts.

Forecasts are indicating there could be below-average rainfall in the south of the country through February 2016, which could exacerbate the food security situation.  To address this crisis, the United States government and its partners —  the World Food Programme, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Catholic Relief Services, and Land O’Lakes —  will work together in communities hardest hit by the drought.

From now through February 2016, these organizations supported by U.S. government funds will work with their local partners to provide 2.3 metric tons of life-saving food assistance as well as farm supplies and toolkits for use during the planting season.  The programs will also distribute specialized, nutritious foods to malnourished children and pregnant/lactating women, who are most affected by acute malnutrition. In addition, these programs will provide farmers with small livestock and train them in animal husbandry.  All food assistance will come from local and regional sources.

USAID closely monitors the implementation of these programs, and U.S. Ambassador Yamate visited the first fair and food for work activities in Ambovombe.  He thanked the Government of Madagascar as well as the implementing partners for the prompt implementation of these innovative programs relying mostly on local resources:  “The larger community will benefit from the rehabilitated rain catchment basin. In addition, the voucher and the local purchase systems are a means to help people produce more and to boost the local economy during the lean season.”

For over 30 years, the United States government has provided assistance to the Malagasy population through USAID to save lives and strengthen food security. The United States remains the largest donor of food assistance in Madagascar.