Offbeat in Madagascar, famine would not only "climate"

23:25  03 december  2021
23:25  03 december  2021 Source:   liberation.fr

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Le 2 novembre à Tsihombe dans le sud de Madagascar, des habitants creusent pour accéder à l'eau, alors qu'une grave famine sévit dans la région depuis des mois. © Alice Rahmoun on November 2nd in Tsihombe in the south of Madagascar, inhabitants dig for access to the water, while a serious famine plagues in the region for months.

"Overall, we can not say that the droughts intensify in Madagascar," ensures the physicist Robert Vautard to release. The Director of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace is one of the authors of the last study of the World Weather Attribution (WWA), a network of scientists from several deemed universities including that of Oxford, specialized in the allocation of extreme events to climate change.

Their study has not found scientific evidence to categorically establish a close link between global warming and the famine that has hit the south of the island for a few months . Unlike to UN conclusions and Amnesty International end of October . For Robert Vautard, "Certainly the long period of drought aggravates food precariousness in the region, but it is rather a very rare meteorological event than a climatological trend".

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For the second consecutive year, the monsoon period was particularly short in the Great South. The study of WWA estimates that such a drought every year a chance on 135 to happen. Such an event had already happened almost thirty years between 1990 and 1992. According to Robert Vautard, these two examples are therefore not enough to deduce an increased intensification of drought in a general way.

Estolarity and Food Emergency

Nevertheless, WWA does not deny the impact that drought exercise on the precariousness of the Malagasy. For a strongly dependent agricultural area, a lack of precipitation causes almost instantly a food shortage. "A priori Farmers are able to survive a year of drought. With two years of consecutive drought, it becomes much more complicated », advance the scientist.

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Video: Madagascar: Natural climate chances cause famine (Euronews)

In addition to drought, Robert Vautard says that precarious inhabitants would also be at the origin of famine. 90% of the Greater South population lives below the poverty line and half undergoes food precariousness. One in six inhabitants is even in the food emergency.

The pandemic contributed to a collapse of economic activity, which aggravates the financial stability of farmers. They used to fall back on other professions when the performance of their fields was too weak to live. Today, these little jobs are missing.

The result is a harmful humanitarian catastrophe. Nearly one million victims of famine cook cactus and wild tubers, instead of rice, cassava and corn, to fight hunger. The ash or white clay, used to remove the bad taste of plants, make them sick. In 2020, malnutrition was linked to, at least 44% of deaths of children under 5, according to UNICEF.

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International Support

On October 27, a shocking report from Amnesty International had insisted on the origin of climatic nature of this calamity. Following the revelations, the Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina had called for international support for his country at COP26 in Glasgow. "My compatriots endure the tribute of a climate crisis to which they did not participate," had insisted the head of state.

The WWA study shows that food security in Madagascar was in a fragile stadium well before the extreme drought period. Amnesty International's conclusion that the current humanitarian disaster would be the "first climate famine" is not quite correct, according to scientists. "On the other hand, this does not mean that global warming will not cause famines in the future!" , however, emphasizes the researcher Robert Vautard.

The WWA confirms that 2 ° C global warming would result in an intensification of droughts and an increase in their frequency in the south of Madagascar. The latest IM EC report had drawn the same conclusions in August.

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