- Due to insufficient rainfall, the 2003-04 agricultural season in Madagascar's south "has been jeopardised and an increased period of household food insecurity is foreseen this year," according to the World Food Programme (WFP). Rising malnutrition is reported.
The UN's food security agency warns about increasing rates of malnutrition in the 18 districts of Southern Madagascar affected, as the drought that has hit Southern Africa also has made its impact on the island.
In late December 2003 and early January, heavy rainfalls were reported from these southern Malagasy districts, damaging several roads. But the rains came too late to have any positive impact on the agricultural season and mostly did harm on crops.
According to the latest weekly 'WFP Emergency Report', the poor rains have already had an impact on Malagasy poor households' coping abilities. Food security is rapidly deteriorating as harvests are failing and food prices are rising.
The UN agency reports that prices of basic food commodities, in particular maize and rice now "continue to rise in rural market places." Prices are now getting out of reach for the poorest households in Souther Madagascar, as commodities must be supplied from other regions. Also the price of potable water, delivered to villages, remains high, WFP warns.
The first signs of a food crisis in the drought-stricken area are already registered "Intensive Nutrition Care Centres throughout the south are reporting increased referrals of malnourished children," according to the report.
The UN yesterday informed that WFP Madagascar now has called for additional donor assistance to purchase some 4,000 metric tons of maize to feed around 130,000 people on the island. The agency now is purchasing maize and pulses locally to assure food supply.
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