“Look at my child, please help us!” The woman cried.
She quickly undressed the five-year-old girl, revealing the haggard arms and ribs under her skin that were visible to the naked eye. The child allows himself to be pulled before starting to shake.
The mother and her daughter live in the Anosi famine area in the southernmost part of Madagascar.
Penniless, they still have 10 kilometers (6 miles) to walk from the village of Fenoaivo to the nearest medical center.
Moving further, the family silently kept vigil outside the hut where their father had been lying since he died of hunger four days ago.
“We can’t bury him because we don’t have zebu (cattle). We won’t have food. This is the most important thing for us,” said Rahovatae, the deceased’s daughter, by the low-grade fire.
The family has been searching for the root, which is the only food available while waiting for the rescue to arrive.
“There is nothing in the place we have been digging,” said Rahovatae, the mother of nine children with a shovel in her hand, in the small woods outside the village.
She tore off a piece of cactus they had been eating because they wanted something better.
“I cut off the thorn with a knife. It’s terrible, it’s bitter, and it sticks to your mouth. Even if you cook, it doesn’t have any taste. It makes us weaker,” she complained.
The small and desolate village where the family lives is one of the villages called “zombie villages” by aid workers-there are only a few abandoned people who seem to be waiting to die.
Rahovatae and her family are among the more than 1 million people in Madagascar who need food, and the area covers an area of ??more than 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 square miles).
Years of little rain made agriculture impossible, and sandstorms made large areas of arable land barren — the United Nations linked it to climate change.
“We planted it, but it didn’t rain. Everything we planted will die. We have nothing. We sold some of the things we owned, and the rest were stolen by bandits.” Mahai has 8 children Said his mother Sinazy.
Her 17-year-old son Havanay is crushing wild nuts in their little thatched cottage.
“We eat offal, this white inner core,” he said. “I break these from morning to dusk. But fat makes you sick. I tremble after eating,” Havanay said.
David Beasley, head of the World Food Program (WFP), likened Madagascar’s hunger plight to a “horror movie”, saying it was “enough to bring tears to the strongest humanitarians”.
Moumini Ouedraogo, the organization’s representative of Madagascar, said that about 14,000 people have reached level 5 as defined by the World Food Programme, which is “a disaster when people have absolutely no food to eat”.
Neither the government nor the World Food Program has publicly tracked the number of people who died of hunger, but AFP has counted at least 340 deaths from data from local authorities in recent months.
The United Nations estimates that Madagascar will need US$78.6 million to provide important food aid during the next off-season beginning in October.
With the help of the government, several aid groups have been distributing hundreds of tons of food and nutritional supplements for months.
But this is far from enough.
Hundreds of people have survived without help for months in the main town of Ambovom in Androy, the hardest-hit region.
They beg and eat food scraps on the market—even the leather scraps given to them by sandal manufacturers.
Add a bit of salt to soften or roast, and the leather “tears our stomachs, but this is because we have nothing. We are suffering severely”, Clarisse said.
President Andry Rajoelina (Andry Rajoelina) has taken “several actions” since the 2019 election to “realize the transformation of the South”. His Chief of Staff Lova Hasinina Rano Romano (Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro) stated, adding that there is “strong political will”.
The President himself announced through Twitter that “140 major projects” will be launched in the fields of agriculture, water supply, public works and health.
Since 1896, Madagascar has experienced 16 recorded food crises.
Paubert Mahatante, secretary-general and researcher of the Southern Africa Fisheries and Aquaculture Non-State Actors Platform, said that in addition to climate change, other factors such as “population explosion and depletion of natural resources” are also to blame.