Antananarivo — A SEVERE malnutrition crisis, which in some places borders on famine, has prompted calls for immediate and massive increase in food aid in southern Madagascar.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the international medical organisation, has made the appeal amid the worst such crisis in the island in decades.
"We're seeing totally destitute people who have literally nothing to eat and are teetering on the edge of survival," said Julie Reversé, MSF operations coordinator in Madagascar.
"Some have had to sell their cooking utensils and don't even have containers to fetch water."
MSF teams have established that an average of 28 percent of children aged under five are acutely malnourished.
One third of these have severe malnutrition and are therefore at high risk of death.
According to recent figures released by Madagascar's nutrition surveillance system, United Nations agencies and similar organisations operating in the region, some 74 000 children across the southern region of Madagascar are acutely malnourished.
Of those, 12 000 have severe malnutrition.
This is an increase of 80 percent compared to the last quarter of 2020.
The worst drought in 30 years, sandstorms caused by deforestation and the coronavirus (COVID-19) have combined to worsen Madagascar's woes.
Other factors include a surge in malaria infections and a lack of access to healthcare and drinking water