Belgium supports FAO to protect the livelihoods of people in southern Madagascar in response to the 2019 El Niño drought conditions

Southern Madagascar is characterized by a semi-arid climate, and is regularly affected by periods of drought, along with drying winds and wind erosion. Here, vulnerable households’ livelihoods are precarious and not diversified, and are mainly dependent on agricultural and livestock activities. In addition, more than 90 percent of the Malagasy population lives below the poverty line.

Chronic drought periods from 2012 to 2014, aggravated by the 2015/16 El Niño phenomenon that caused about 80 percent crop losses, led to a deterioration in food security and populations’ vulnerability.

Since 2016/17, efforts have been made through emergency and agricultural activities, and continued throughout the 2017–2018 cropping seasons, to help protect and restore the food security of the communities in southern Madagascar. However, the cumulative effect of the adoption of negative coping mechanisms during crisis years have increased people’s vulnerability, leaving them unable to ensure a satisfactory outcome of the 2018/19 main agricultural season.

In response to these challenges, and in particular to the potentially negative effects of an El Niño-induced drought in 2019, FAO launched an early action project to protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, with support from the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities.

The project is being implemented in the three districts of Ambovombe, Amboasary and Taolagnaro, which are constantly affected by climatic hazards such as drought. Project activities focus on supporting producers through the provision of short-cycle quality seeds, and improved water availability and management to ensure planting during the main agricultural season. Vulnerable selected farmers will also benefit from the protection and strengthening of their productive assets through livestock restocking and vaccinations.

Nearly 3 000 households, were targeted for the assistance for the period of January–July 2019. Households who receive agricultural inputs will also benefit from training on improved farming techniques, crop diversification and its benefits, and local support, particularly on the use of fertilizers, compost, the establishment of woody fodder plants and storage. These trainings will also be provided to technicians of partner institutions in order to ensure the sustainability of gains made for better services to farmers. Throughout project implementation, FAO encourages collaboration among all relevant partners, including local communities, with the ultimate goal of strengthening their resilience to future shocks.

Source : Fao