Madagascar drought, famine looming
Families Eating Locusts and Leaves as Famine Looms in Southern Madagascar. Stock Photo: Pixabay

MADAGASCAR (Reuters) – Families have resorted to eating locusts and leaves in southern Madagascar where famine is looming, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

Following a devastating five year drought, and strong sandstorms this year, harvests have been ruined and the people are starving in a way the UN senior director of WFP operations globally says he has not seen anywhere in the world for quite some time.

Speaking from Antananarivo, Madagascar, Amer Daoudi said he had visited villages where people had desperately resorted to eating locusts and leaves.

“I witnessed horrific images of starving children, malnourished, and not only the children – mothers, parents and the populations in villages we visited,” Daoudi told a United Nations briefing in Geneva.

“They are on the periphery of famine, these are images I haven’t seen for quite some time across the globe,” he said.

Malnutrition has almost doubled to 16% from 9% in the four months to March 2021 following five consecutive years of drought, exacerbated this year by sandstorms and late rains, said Daoudi.

WFP is seeking $75 million to cover emergency needs in the next few months, he added.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean from Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)