Madagascar is suffering in silence, charity says

25 October 2019

The country is one of the worst affected by climate change

MEDAIR

A woman collects water from a pool in southern Madagascar

A woman collects water from a pool in southern Madagascar

THE suffering of Madagascar, one of the countries worst affected by climate-change-induced disasters, is being ignored by the rest of the world which sees the island only as a holiday paradise, a charity has warned.

The emergency-relief charity Medair said that the country was “suffering in silence” as the rest of world fails to see the reality that lies behind the island’s image.

Madagacar is listed as the seventh country most at risk from climate change, and its people have seen the frequency of droughts and cyclones increase rapidly during the past decade. It also suffers outbreaks of the fall armyworm parasite, which devastates crops.

The country director for Medair, Klaas Overlade, said: “Madagascar is one of the countries most exposed to extreme weather conditions, and is at the highest risk of cyclones in Africa. The south of the island experiences severe droughts, which affect 1.4 million people.

“Around 50 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished. Food security is a major issue, and the problem with armyworm is part of the reason for that. We also had an outbreak of bubonic plague in 2017, and a measles outbreak last year. And on top of these national disasters, 78 per cent of the population live on less than $2 a day.

MedairPeople collect water in the south of Madagascar

“People think of Madagascar as a holiday paradise, but the reality in the field is very different. When people come here and see the country, they see that we are suffering in silence.”

Future projections for the impact of climate change on the island were frightening, he said.

“If we do not take action now, and spend money to mitigate the effects of climate change, then we will spend more and more money on emergency responses to humanitarian crises caused by climate change. We can’t stop climate change, but we can reduce the impact on people. In my six years in Madagascar, I have seen the number and frequency of natural disasters growing.”

Medair is working with the government and the European humanitarian aid organisation ECHO to develop a digital integrated warning system to improve forecasting so that the government can better plan its emergency response.

Mr Overlade said that Mozambique, which did not have an early warning system, had experienced huge devastation from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth earlier this year (News, 20 September, 21 March). It was hoped that the system being developed could be shared with other countries.

Forthcoming Events

21-22 February 2020
Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature
For 2020 the Bloxham festival celebrates ‘The Power of Love’. Book tickets

26 March 2020
Theology Slam Live Final
Theology Slam is back, continuing its search for the most engaging young voices on theology and the contemporary world. Find out more

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)