Madagascar December appeal – the work on the ground

Dried out rice fields as a result of the drought. Photo credit: Seed Madagascar.

By Anders Lorenzen

In our first two articles in our Madagascar famine appeal, we have focused on outlining the issue.

In our last article, we described the work that Seed Madagascar are doing which is, of course, the charity we are supporting in our appeal series.

To dig deeper into their work and why it is so crucial, I spoke to Lisa Bass – their Director of Programmes and Operations.

She explained to me the diverse but crucial projects they’re supporting in southern Madagascar, and described how they seek as an organisation to invest in the local community and so to build up knowledge and relationships in order to better assist.

She said that due to the severe drought resulting in the famine, they had to set up food distribution programs which they had not done before as they’re a development and not an emergency organisation.

Working on the ground Bass explained that it was a challenge communicating to a community facing a severe water shortage as well as COVID, that handwashing and sanitation are really important, especially when getting enough drinking water is a challenge and in some areas, not possible. 

The plight of farmers

Bass described how climate change is impacting the area. Farmers have reported that the seasons have changed so much that, for instance, oranges are now arriving way out of season. And as farmers do not have access to the modern technology that we have in the developed world this makes it difficult for them to predict when to plant and grow crops. Adding to this is the drought and the consequent failed harvests.

While the Madagascar famine really only became world news around October, Bass explained that for them it started much earlier. Already back in February 2021, the situation was so serious in the country that Seed Madagascar started their food distribution program in areas that had not previously been food insecure.

So how does the Madagascar situation improve? Bass expects the situation to get worse before it gets better but, moving forward, Madagascar needs long-term planning and long-term commitment. Some of this planning should entail ensuring a steady freshwater supply that is not depending on rainfall. Climate change isn’t going to go away, and this could just be a taste of the future.

This is just a snapshot of some of the things we discussed. You can see the full interview below.

And you can support the fundraising appeal below.

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