Part two: Inter-Agency Appeals
People in need
1.6 million
People targeted
1.3 million
Requirements (US$)
64.5 million
Total population
28.4 million
Income level
Low income
INFORM Severity Index
2.8 / Medium
Consecutive appeals
2021 - 2022
Multi-year requirements (US$)
231 million (2021-2022)

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

Back-to-back droughts buffeted the Grand Sud of Madagascar during the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 rainy seasons, leaving at least 1.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance until May 2022. Following the failure of the 2019/2020 rains (and May/June 2020 harvest), some 554,000 people were projected to be severely food insecure until September 2020. The situation then dramatically worsened when a second drought, more severe than the first, struck the Grand Sud between November 2020 and January 2021. The region received less than 50 per cent of the normal rainfall, leading to the most acute drought since 1981. By January 2021, extreme drought impacted almost 69 per cent of the Grand Sud.

These consecutive droughts have severely impacted lives and livelihoods. The 2020/2021 drought coincided with the agricultural sowing period, with devastating consequences. In at least three districts, crop losses of up to 60 per cent compared with the five-year average were expected. In addition, farmers are having to contend with fall army worm, locusts and sandstorms, and a Rift Valley fever outbreak in the Atsimo-Andrefana and Atsinana region could severely affect livestock-based livelihoods in these areas, if not treated quickly.

At least 1.31 million people — 47 per cent of the Grand Sud’s population — are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity from October to December 2021, including at least 28,000 people in Catastrophic food insecurity (IPC Phase 5). In a worst-case scenario, Ambovombe-Androy district will be at risk of famine, according to an IPC pilot analysis. This year marks the first time that people have been recorded in IPC Phase 5 since the IPC methodology was introduced in Madagascar in 2016. In the hardest-hit areas, people have been forced to resort to desperate survival measures, such as eating locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves. Global acute malnutrition rates have also risen sharply; they remain well above average despite seasonal improvements in the third quarter of 2021. The number of children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the Grand Sud in the first quarter of 2021 was quadruple the five-year average. The situation is particularly critical in Ampanihy and Ambovombe districts.

The dire humanitarian situation in the Grand Sud is leading to increasing school dropouts, a rise in gender-based violence and child abuse, and displacement from rural to urban areas in a context where access to water and basic services is extremely limited. The child marriage rate in the Grand Sud is the highest in the country; some 49 to 62 per cent of children are involved in child labour; and the risk of child exploitation and abuse has been heightened by the back-to-back droughts. Due to severe debt, people have been forced to sell all their household belongings including pots and pans, —leaving them unable to cook food or feed their families. Many families have left their rural homes and headed towards cities as a survival strategy, increasing the risk of family separation. Since the beginning of 2021, significant displacements to cities such as Ampanihy, Betroka and Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) have been recorded. At the same time, there has been an upsurge in criminality by dahalo gangs (cattle rustlers), particularly in the Amboasary and Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) districts, limiting access to essential services, such as health and nutrition. The crisis has had a severe impact on the health of communities in the Grand Sud; water shortages and water price increases of about 10 to 15 times the average are forcing families to drink and cook with unsafe water, exposing them to disease outbreaks.

Projected situation in 2022 and beyond

Humanitarian needs will remain high throughout the 2021/2022 lean season (October 2021 to May 2022) and could rise in the period ahead, with the spectre of a third failed season on the horizon. Below-average rains are expected in the first half of the October-to-December rainy season in 2021. This would severely impact the next agricultural harvest, due in May 2022. In addition, an outbreak of migratory locusts has infested more than 48,000 hectares in the Grand Sud, impacting off-season crops planted in March 2021 and the upcoming main planting season.

Within this context, 1.6 million people urgently need life-saving and life-sustaining assistance and protection from January to May 2022. More than 50 per cent of those in need are women and girls, who have been severely impacted by the drought. An estimated 49,500 pregnant women are exposed to excess maternal morbidity and mortality due to lack of access to essential obstetric care in the Grand Sud, while women and girls also have to travel longer distances to access water and food, exposing them to heightened risk of violence. Children are exposed to a significantly heightened risk of acute malnutrition, which could have lifelong consequences, and many have had to drop out of school to support their families during the drought.

Humanitarian partners will closely monitor the situation in the coming months, especially with respect to the prospects of the main harvest. If this harvest is below average — as with the previous two harvests — and if the locust outbreak worsens, the crisis in the Grand Sud is likely to deepen.

Response priorities in 2022

The humanitarian response in the Grand Sud significantly expanded in 2021, with the number of aid workers in the region increasing from just over 200 in January to more than 350 in August. Humanitarian partners assisted nearly 908,000 people with food, almost 410,000 people with cash transfers and 87,500 people with agricultural-revival activities. In addition, nearly 252,000 people now have improved access to clean water, and more than 52,800 children have been treated for acute malnutrition. However, while some 370,000 people in IPC Phases 4 and 5 are now receiving full rations, people in IPC Phase 3 continue to receive half rations. This is concerning in the context of a rapidly deteriorating drought.

From January to May 2022 — which coincides with the peak hunger gap period — the humanitarian response will target 1.3 million people in the most urgent need of assistance and protection in the Grand Sud. Under the Flash Appeal, multisectoral response will be geographically targeted in the nine districts facing IPC Phases 3 and 4 (Amboasary, Betroka, Ambovombe, Tsihombe, Bekily, Beloha, Ampanihy, Betioky and four communes in the Taolagnaro district). Food assistance will also be provided to people facing severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above) in Toliara II district, with the objective of saving lives and alleviating suffering in the hardest-hit areas.

Madagascar FA

The response implemented by humanitarian partners will complement and support the Government of Madagascar’s National Response Plan for the crisis in the Grand Sud, which was revised in June 2021 under the leadership of the National Office for Disaster Risk Management. The Government’s revised plan calls for US$185 million to target 1.6 million people with assistance from June 2021 to May 2022.

Logistical and physical constraints are the primary challenges to response in the Grand Sud. The Anosy region, in the eastern part of the Grand Sud, is home to most of the hard-to-reach communes. Access is particularly difficult in the Tanadava Madrere commune in the northern areas of Tolagnaro district and the Manevy commune in eastern Amboasary district due to physical access constraints and insecurity linked to banditry. There are no roads to these communes and no available airstrips; access is possible only by foot and/or canoe. An estimated 15,000 people live in these communes (10,356 in Manevy and 4,602 Tanadava Mandrere). The presence of dahalo cattle raiders has also impacted humanitarian access, although humanitarian actors and assets have not been a target of the violence to date. In 2021, violence mostly occurred in Ambovombe, Ambosary and Betroka districts, affecting people’s access to basic services and assistance, and compounding an already dire drought situation. A few communes in the northern areas of Amboasary district (Elonty, Esira, Mahabo, Mahaly, Maromby and Marotsiraka) as well as Betroka district in the northern part of Anosy have been difficult to access due to the insecurity. Road access to these areas remains possible but challenging.

Further reading