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The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar boasts a unique ecosystem, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. Despite its great potential, in recent decades the country has experienced a stagnation in per capita income coupled with a rise in poverty. Recent political instability has undermined government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It has also reduced people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks. 

More than 90 percent of the population live below the international poverty line and almost half of all children under five are malnourished, making for the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition.

Farming, fishing and forestry form the backbone of the Malagasy economy. Agriculture is dominated by rain-fed small-scale subsistence farming. Seven out of 10 smallholder farmers own no more than 1.2 hectares of land. Rice is a staple and the island’s main crop, but not enough is produced to satisfy demand. Agricultural production remains low due to a range of factors including limited access to agricultural productive assets, credit and markets.

Madagascar is among the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. A quarter of the population lives in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate these risks while the increasing fragility of the ecosystem intensifies vulnerability to shocks and food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 85 percent of Madagascar’s rainforest has been lost to logging, charcoal-making and slash-and-burn agriculture.

The southern region suffers from recurrent drought, most recently aggravated by the global El Niño weather event.  In September 2016, a joint assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP found that 1.2 million people from the south are food insecure, with 600,000 severely food insecure. 

WFP assists vulnerable people in Madagascar’s southern and south-eastern regions, as well as in poor urban areas of the capital, Antananarivo, and in Tuléar.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar


WFP works to prevent acute malnutrition, reduce stunting (low height for age) and extend nutritional support to people suffering from tuberculosis. Ahead of the cyclone season, WFP pre-positions food in remote and disaster-prone areas.

Food assistance

Due to the negative impacts of El Niño-amplified drought on the food and nutrition situation in the south of Madagascar, WFP plans to provide relief assistance to 350,000 vulnerable people through food distributions and cash transfers during the prolonged 2016-2017 lean season.

School meals

WFP provides school meals with the support of the Ministry of National Education, and is helping to develop a national school meals policy and a home-grown school meals programme linked to smallholder farmer production. WFP also provides nutritional education, promotes hygiene in schools and encourages the use of environmentally friendly stoves.

Support to smallholder farmers

To enhance smallholder farmers’ access to markets, WFP encourages local food purchase and builds the capacity of farmers’ associations to improve crop quality.

Resilience building

WFP promotes resilience in three main ways: assessing the country’s vulnerability to multiple shocks; facilitating and coordinating seasonal livelihood activities in the most vulnerable districts; and implementing community-level planning.

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