The combination of the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 and the climate change-related 40-year long drought affecting southern Madagascar has contributed to 1.1 million people becoming acutely food insecure. SEED's Emergency Food Distribution programme has been well underway since February 2021, aiming to address the alarmingly high rates of malnutrition among children under 5 years old. So far there has been a 98.2% recovery rate, and SEED is already in the second distribution phase.
Despite the 98.2% recovery rate from malnutrition for children under five, more remains to be done. Food insecurity is escalating in southern Madagascar, particularly as the country approaches the "lean season", the risky period between planting and harvesting. Soaring food prices due to food shortages have sent malnutrition rates growing, with a recent estimate of clinic admissions for severe acute malnutrition reaching four times the average rate of the past 5 years.
Starting in February 2021, community health agents administered ready-to-use therapeutic food, and distributed parcels of unprepared food (rice, beans, oil) covering 41 villages with an estimated population of 70,000 people. With the support of community health agents trained by SEED, recovery was monitored and nutrition education sessions were delivered to families. In the most extreme cases of disease exacerbated by severe malnutrition SEED provided transportation to Fort Dauphin hospital.
The Emergency Food Distribution Programme alleviates the short-term pressures of food insecurity and grows the capacity for healthcare providers to identify and treat children with acute malnutrition - a leading cause of half of childhood deaths. The programme mitigates the plethora of health issues that can result from unaddressed malnourishment in children under five, and aims to continue seeking long-term solutions to guarantee food security and resilience in the face of climate change.
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