The African Development Bank has approved a USD 1 million emergency grant to fight the scourge of malnutrition in the Great South of Madagascar. The purpose of the grant is to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups by decreasing the severity of food insecurity as well as decreasing the overall acute malnutrition of children under the age of five years in the region. The Bank support will result in the increase of the number of households that have access to a nutritious diet through Food and Nutrition Assistance services. It will also increase the number of children under five years of age receiving treatment for MAM (Moderate Acute Malnutrition) and SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) by increasing the ambulatory care centers.
Madagascar has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world with the southern region being the most affected due to its dry and semi-arid climate. Food security and the nutritional status of the region have been further impacted by the drought which has been ravaging the area since January 2015. A joint mass screening by UNICEF, the National Office of Nutrition (ONN) and the Ministry of Public Health in February 2016 in eight (8) districts has shown prevalence of overall malnutrition of 8.1% of which 1.4% was SAM and 6.6% was MAM. These results indicate deterioration in the nutritional status of the country compared to October 2015 where the rate of SAM was 0.4 to 1.6%. These statistics equate to nearly 73,000 children under 5 years in critical nutritional status, with overall malnutrition and severe sometimes higher than the national level.
The Bank’s emergency support will significantly increase the efforts of the authorities of Madagascar and its partners to alleviate the suffering of the people in the Great South region. It will also focus on building resilience for the most vulnerable. The Bank’s support investment will ultimately help to alleviate stunting, one of the effects of malnutrition, which is irreversible and adversely impacts the cognitive development of children. Stunting leads to a diminished workforce which impacts economic growth. The Bank is a key partner to supporting Madagascar’s efforts to sustainably promote improved nutrition, food security, and address the overall improved Quality of Life for all people of the country.