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Madagascar on the brink of climate change-induced famine

Madagascar on the brink of climate change-induced famine

Madagascar is on the brink of experiencing the world's first "climate change famine", according to the United Nations, which says tens of thousands of people are already suffering "catastrophic" levels of hunger and food insecurity after four years without rain.

The drought - the worst in four decades - has devastated isolated farming communities in the south of the country, leaving families to scavenge for insects to survive.

"These are famine-like conditions and they're being driven by climate not conflict," said the UN World Food Programme's Shelley Thakral.

The UN estimates that 30,000 people are currently experiencing the highest internationally recognised level of food insecurity - level five - and there are concerns the number affected could rise sharply as Madagascar enters the traditional "lean season" before harvest.
"This is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don't burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change," said Ms Thakral.

In the remote village of Fandiova, in Amboasary district, families recently showed a visiting WFP team the locusts that they were eating.

"I clean the insects as best I can but there's almost no water," said Tamaria, a mother of four, who goes by one name.
"My children and I have been eating this every day now for eight months because we have nothing else to eat and no rain to allow us to harvest what we have sown," she added.

"Today we have absolutely nothing to eat except cactus leaves," said Bole, a mother of three, sitting on the dry earth.

She said her husband had recently died of hunger, as had a neighbour, leaving her with two more children to feed.

"What can I say? Our life is all about looking for cactus leaves, again and again, to survive."

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