Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved emergency financing to Madagascar to help the country provide food security for 13 million people who are coping with a continuing locust infestation and drought.
"Due to the convergence of several factors (political crisis, drought, locust infestation, extreme poverty), food security has increasingly become a growing daily challenge for the poorest people in Madagascar. Many are having only a meal a day, others cannot eat everyday" said Haleh Bridi, World Bank Country Director for Madagascar. "We strongly felt that the World Bank's mandate called for an emergency action in this sector".
The first of two emergency support projects approved by the Bank will help to restore and maintain the livelihoods of the 9 million Malagasy who earn their living from agriculture and are being affected by locusts and other natural disasters. The IDA credit of $65 million will target areas that are affected by both locust infestation and drought under the Emergency Food Security and Social Protection project.
The project will help the poorest of these families become more resilient through safety nets that complement more traditional agricultural and rural development activities.
"The interventions have the potential to benefit several million smallholder farmers and poor urban consumers while reducing dependence on food imports to manageable levels, said Ziva Razafintsalama Task Team Leader of the project. "The project would also create short-term employment through cash-for-work and other cash transfer modalities that provide a temporary social safety net for the most vulnerable groups."
The World Bank's Board has also approved emergency funding for Madagascar that will expand the country's efforts to bring essential nutrition services to an additional 687,000 pregnant or lactating women and children under the age of five. The new credit of US$10 million will expand nutrition services to reach a total of 2.6 million people, under the existing Emergency Support to Critical Education, Health and Nutrition Services project.
"Of Madagascar's 22 million people, 80 percent live in absolute poverty on less than US$1.25 per day and many suffer from malnutrition and hunger," said Jumana Qamruddin, Task Team Leader for the project, "This funding is absolutely critical to help prevent a potential humanitarian crisis caused by deteriorating food security."
The project will now be able to support an additional 837 community nutrition sites in the country's most food-insecure regions--Vakinankaratra, Itasy, Haute Matsiatra and Amoron'i Mania--as well as Betioky and Ampanihy districts in Atsimo Andrefana where Madagascar's ongoing locust infestation originated.
* The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.