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Anticipated below-average harvests to support sufficient food access through September 2024

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • February - September 2024
Anticipated below-average harvests to support sufficient food access through September 2024

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Area of Concern: Cassava, maize, and livestock livelihood zone (MG24) with a focus on Ambovombe (Figure 6)
  • Key Messages
    • In the Grand South, the rainy season was generally on time to slightly late, with below-average accumulation in Atsimo-Andrefana and parts of Androy, with most areas receiving 60 to 90 percent of average rainfall. The main harvest between mid-March and April is approaching. Maize production in the Grand South is expected to be below average, while sorghum and sweet potato harvests are anticipated to be near average. Below-average cassava production is expected in Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana due to forecasted poor soil moisture. Ongoing green harvesting of immature maize crops in the Grand South by households trying to mitigate their consumption gaps is also expected to impact yields negatively. In the Grand Southeast, rainfall was slightly early or on time. As of February 22, cumulative precipitation was average to above average in the Grand Southeast and Anosy. Harvests of maize, rice, sweet potato, and cassava crops are expected to be average in the Grand Southeast due to good rainfall performance during the 2023/24 season. 
    • In the Grand South, the lean season is at its peak, and several districts are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. For many households, cassava and other staple crop stocks have been depleted since November. Households must purchase most of their food at markets with below-average agricultural incomes while prices are at seasonal peaks. The main harvest occurring in April is expected to improve household food access and replenish stocks, resulting in improvements to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. While maize harvests starting in mid-March are expected to be below average in Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana, cassava is the most important crop in these zones and requires significantly less water than maize. Most households across the Grand South will be able to meet their minimum kilocalorie needs through September 2024 through harvests of sorghum, sweet potatoes, and cassava. However, many households will likely struggle to meet their essential non-food needs due to the need to service debts accrued during the most recent lean season and during the historic drought that ended in late 2022. 
    • In the Grand Southeast, it is also the peak of the lean season. In the isolated, landlocked districts of Ikongo, Befotaka, and inland Nosy Varika, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely ongoing. For poor households, limited stocks of off-season rice have now been exhausted, and they must purchase most of their food at seasonally high prices. Supply flows have been disrupted and are irregular, unpredictable, and below average due to seasonally deteriorated road conditions. As a result, prices in these remote areas are even higher. Due to the limited hiring capacity of better-off households unable to afford wages after successive years of weather shocks, incomes from agricultural labor and cash crop production remain below average. The arrival of the main season sweet potato and maize harvest in April and the rice harvest in mid-May, which are expected to be average, is likely to improve and maintain outcomes in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September 2024. Several districts with better market access and more diverse food and income sources will likely be able to maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes throughout the scenario period. 
    • Significant humanitarian food and cash distributions will continue in the Grand South until March 2024 and are improving outcomes to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in the following areas: Amboasary (MG24 and MG26 only), Beloha, Tshihombe, Bekily (MG22 only), and Ampanihy (MG22 only). At least 25 percent of the population in these areas will be able to meet at least 50 percent of their kilocalorie needs through humanitarian assistance. Several organizations, including WFP and FAO, are also implementing livelihoods and resilience interventions. 

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Rainfall performance: In the Grand South, the main rainy season generally began on time to late between November and December, with the longest delays toward the southwest in Atismo-Andrefana. 

    Figure 1

    Onset of Rains (Start of Season) Anomaly
    Shows how early or late the rainy season began across Madagscar. Cool colors indicate an early start, grey indicates on time, and warm colors indicate a late start.

    Source: USGS/EROS

    In the Grand Southeast, the rains arrived slightly early to on time (Figure 1). As of February 22, rainfall data indicates that cumulative precipitation during the 2023/24 season was slightly above average in the Grand Southeast and Anosy in the Grand South. 

    Figure 2

    CHIRPS Season Precipitation Percent of Average (1981-2020): Dec 16, 2023-Feb 15, 2024
    Shows precipitation as a percent of the historical average across Madagascar. Cooler colors indicate above average precipitation, warmer colors indicate below average, and white indicates near average.

    Source: NOAA

    However, rainfall was below average in Atismo-Andrefana and parts of Androy in the Grand South, with most areas receiving between 60 and 90 percent of average precipitation (Figure 2). Rainfall distribution was also poor across most of southern Madagascar, though it should be noted that erratic rainfall is typical in this context. In Atsimo-Andrefana, where the largest rainfall deficits have accumulated, rainfall was consistently below average throughout the season except during the passage of Tropical Storm Alvaro in January. 

    Figure 3

    CHIRPS seasonal cumulative rainfall between November 2023 and February 2024 in Atsimo-Andrefana compared to 2022/23 and the historical average
    Shows cumulative precipitation over time in Atsimo-Andrefana compared to last years and the historical average.

    Source: USGS

    By February, deficits of 100 mm had accumulated (Figure 3). 

    While some rainfall deficits accumulated in northern Madagascar, these areas are tropical zones and receive far more rainfall than in the south, and ground conditions have not significantly deteriorated. During the first week of February, some areas in the north and east received more than 400 mm of precipitation. However, this did not negatively impact rice or cash crops.

    Cyclone season: Severe tropical storm Alvaro landed in southwestern Madagascar near Morombe on January 1, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfall. As it crossed eastward, it weakened to a tropical depression before exiting near Mananjary on January 2. According to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC), 16,290 people were affected, and 8,327 were displaced. In Vatovavy and Fitovinany, heavy rains damaged localized areas of newly transplanted rice. On the other hand, in Atsimo-Andrefana, many households took advantage of the rains to plant rice, maize, and off-season sweet potatoes.

    Cropping conditions: In the Grand South, the maize, sorghum, cassava, and sweet potato crops are in the maturation stage of crop development. 

    Figure 4

    Crop Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for Maize
    Shows cropping conditions for maize based on the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index for maize across Madagascar.

    Source: USGS

    The Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize (Figure 4) indicates that rainfall performance has been sufficient for crop production, with conditions ranging from mediocre to very good depending on the zone. While conditions are mediocre in parts of Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana, cassava, not maize, is the main crop in these areas. It is important to note that cassava and sorghum have lower water requirements than maize, so cassava and sorghum conditions are usually better than those indicated by the WRSI for maize. In the Grand Southeast, maize, rice, sweet potato, and cassava are also maturing. Cropping conditions are favorable, given average to above-average cumulative precipitation during the rainy season. 

    Agricultural labor opportunities: Agricultural labor opportunities are seasonally low between the off-season rice harvest in the Grand Southeast, which was completed in December, and the main season harvest across southern Madagascar, which does not begin until March. Historically, households would send members to a neighboring district or livelihood zone to take advantage of more lucrative casual labor opportunities. However, transportation costs remain above average and prohibitively high, so households can no longer afford to continue this practice. Labor wages in southern Madagascar remain among the lowest in the country, around 3000-5000 ariary/per person/day ($0.66-1.10 USD).

    Market functionality: Markets are generally well supplied with imported rice, dried cassava, and maize, though at seasonally high prices. Road conditions are seasonally poor, and supplies are often interrupted by heavy rains. Dried cassava prices are currently 1000-1500 Ariary/kg (0.22-0.33 USD). Typically, prices could reach as low as 300-500 Ariary/kg at harvest, depending on the location, and double or triple during the lean season. However, this past year, observed prices remained high despite generally average supplies, likely in part due to speculation about the potential impact of El Niño. 

    Livestock: Livestock body conditions are generally good due to seasonally improved pasture conditions. The price of livestock products has risen significantly this year compared with last year, providing additional income for livestock-owning households. However, due to several years of drought and insecurity from cattle rustling (locally referred to as dahalo attacks), the development of livestock activities in parts of southern Madagascar remains limited. Livestock prices remain above average due to below-average market supplies of cattle and goats.

    Wild food availability and green harvesting: Sufficient rainfall during the rainy season has facilitated the growth of crops and wild fruits such as cactus fruit. Currently, many poor households are consuming immature crops, particularly maize, and atypically high amounts of wild foods in an attempt to mitigate their widening consumption gaps. However, such increased exploitation of green crops reduces the yield potential for the season and comes at the expense of future household food stocks.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    As it is the peak of the lean season, households, having long since exhausted their food stocks, must purchase most of their food at markets amidst seasonally high prices. February coincides with the peak cyclone and flood seasons and poses risks to agriculture and livestock. Seasonally deteriorated road conditions are disrupting supply flows, increasing food prices in remote areas.

    Across the Grand South, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely occurring in zones without significant humanitarian assistance. Households are relying on incomes from temporary agricultural labor opportunities and other activities such as petty trade and brickmaking to afford food purchases as there is little cash crop production in the Grand South. Others are likely intensifying their firewood and charcoal sales to try and compensate for below-average agricultural wages. Many households are also reducing meal portions and frequencies, consuming immature crops, or consuming atypically high amounts of wild foods. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely ongoing in Amboasary (MG24 and MG26 only), Beloha, Tshihombe, Bekily (MG22 only), and Ampanihy (MG22 only). At least 25 percent of the population in these areas are currently meeting at least 50 percent of their kilocalorie needs through humanitarian assistance.

    In the Grand Southeast, the isolated, landlocked districts of Ikongo, Befotaka, and inland Nosy Varika are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Off-season rice stocks have now been exhausted, and many households must purchase most of their food. Due to the limited hiring capacity of better-off households unable to afford wages after successive years of weather shocks, incomes from agricultural labor and cash crop production remain below average. Some households are engaging in petty trade, charcoal selling, and mining to earn additional cash for food purchases, but increased competition has limited these income sources. Households have likely increased their consumption of wild fruits to atypical levels, reduced meal frequency and portion sizes, and sold any remaining productive assets. Areas with better market access and higher cash crop production are likely maintaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Though most households no longer have any stocks of off-season rice, income from cash crop sales and agricultural labor is likely sufficient to purchase enough food to meet their minimum kilocalorie needs.

    Many of Madagascar's most productive regions with easy access to markets are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, with many households able to sustainably meet their food and non-food needs due to diverse income sources.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Madagascar typical seasonal calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    Rainfall: Below-average rainfall totals are expected in the Grand South and Grand Southeast by the end of March, signaling the end of the rainy season. Northern and northwestern regions anticipate average to above-average rainfall. Cyclone risk remains below average due to the effects of the negative Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole. However, the risk of an intense cyclone remains through the end of the cyclone season in April. 

    Figure 5

    RootZone-SM IC Soil Moisture Forecast Jan-Jun 2024
    Soil moisture forecast for Africa, warm colors indicate below average soil moisture and green indicates above average.

    Source: NASA/LDAS/FLDAS-Forecast

    Soil Moisture: Driven by above-average temperatures, soil moisture levels are anticipated to deteriorate significantly earlier than typical, starting in February (Figure 5).

    Root and tuber production: Below-average cassava production is expected in Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana regions of the Grand South due to poor soil moisture conditions, with near-average production anticipated in Anosy. Cropped areas are likely to be average across the Grand South and Grand Southeast due to production improvements during the last season. Average sweet potato production is expected in July in the Grand South and the Grand Southeast, with off-season cassava production in the Grand Southeast also forecasted to be average in April.

    Maize production: Maize production in the Grand South is expected to be below average due to below-average soil moisture and the harvesting of immature crops by households. Below-average maize production is likely in Bekily, Beloha, Tsihombe, and Ambovombe, with delayed harvests impacting southwest Madagascar. The maize harvest is likely to be exceptionally below-average in the part of Amboasary located in the MG24 livelihood zone due to the encroachment of sand dunes driven by the Tiomena winds. Otherwise, near-average maize production is expected in Anosy for crops harvested on time, with maize being less critical in southwest Madagascar. Maize planted late is likely to be of lower quality as soil moisture is expected to deteriorate over time.

    Rice production: Rice production is expected to be average in the Grand Southeast. Some localized deficits are expected in Vatovavy and Fitovinany due to the impact of Tropical Storm Alvaro. On a national level, the rice harvest in mid-May is forecasted to be average, with the most productive zones in central, northwestern, and northeastern regions.

    Cash crop production: The vanilla harvest in July in the East and Southeast is expected to be improved from last year but below average given ongoing recovery from the previous two cyclone seasons. The government-mandated minimum price for vanilla has also been lifted, which is expected to improve sales revenue and export demand compared to the previous year.

    Livestock conditions and prices: Pasture conditions are expected to deteriorate seasonally with the onset of the dry season by the end of March. Prices for livestock are expected to increase seasonally after the lean season but remain above average due to limited supplies and the ongoing threat of livestock banditry.

    Agricultural labor demand: Labor demand is expected to peak annually during harvesting activities from mid-March to May. Wages are expected to remain below average but show improvement amid drought recovery. An additional increase in labor demand is expected during root and tuber harvesting from July to September. Labor opportunities will likely improve compared to the previous year due to slight improvements in better-off households’ capacity to hire, though they are still expected to be below average.

    Market supplies and staple food prices: Supply movements are anticipated to improve with the conclusion of the rainy season in April. Staple food supplies are expected to be close to average throughout this time, resulting in seasonally low prices despite localized production deficits. Prices are expected to be average from June to September, owing to sufficient cassava and sweet potato production across southern Madagascar. However, remote areas far from markets will still face high transportation costs, receiving lower volumes of goods at above-average prices, which poor households may struggle to afford. 

    Macroeconomic:  Madagascar's economic performance is likely to be mixed at the start of the year, with inflation running at 10 percent since the end of 2023 before gradually moderating throughout 2024. The Ariary continues to depreciate and has fallen against the US dollar by more than three percent within the last 12 months. This depreciation is notably affecting imported essentials like sugar and pasta. For example, in Antananarivo in February 2024, a kilo of sugar now costs 5,200 Ariary, compared to 4,800 Ariary in December 2023. However, fuel prices have been stable since 2022 because of government regulations. Additionally, vanilla exports are expected to be below average but exceed last year’s levels, likely impacting foreign exchange reserves positively. 

    Wild Food Availability: Wild food availability is expected to be average. 

    Malnutrition: As the rainy season concludes in April, acute malnutrition outcomes are expected to improve seasonally due to a lower occurrence of water-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhea and improved household access to food during harvesting. Additionally, road conditions are anticipated to improve, facilitating the transportation of essential goods and medical supplies.

    Humanitarian food assistance: Significant humanitarian food assistance is expected to continue through March in the following zones: Amboasary (MG24 and MG26 only), Beloha, Tshihombe, Bekily (MG22 only), and Ampanihy (MG22 only). Assistance is expected to seasonally pause in April after harvests are underway until the next lean season, which is outside the scenario period. 

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    February 2024 to May 2024: From February to mid-March, poor households will continue relying on food purchases, immature crops, and wild foods. Acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to improve with the arrival of the harvest period between March and April. While agricultural labor opportunities are at their seasonal peak, wages are expected to be below average due to the limited hiring capacities of better-off households after several years of successive weather shocks.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across much of the Grand South through mid-March. In worst-off areas where rainfall during the 2022/23 season was poorly distributed or insufficient, poor households have been without food stocks since October, making do with market purchases, income from agricultural labor opportunities, foraging for wild foods, and harvests of immature maize. During the peak of the lean season, many households will likely continue selling atypically high numbers of poultry, though increased competition will keep poultry prices low. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely in Amboasary (MG24 and MG26 only), Beloha, Tshihombe, Bekily (MG22 only), and Ampanihy (MG22 only) because of significant humanitarian food and cash assistance. The arrival of the main harvest in mid-March and April is expected to facilitate improvements to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across the region. 

    In the Grand Southeast, the peak lean season is ongoing until the next harvest in April. In addition, heavy rainfall has made road access difficult. Supply flows have been disrupted and are irregular, unpredictable, and below average due to seasonally deteriorated road conditions. Several districts with better market access and more diverse food and income sources will likely be able to maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes throughout the scenario period. The most isolated districts of Befotaka, Ikongo, and inland Nosy Varika will likely face area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until the harvest period in April. For poor households, limited stocks of off-season rice have now been exhausted, and they must purchase most of their food at seasonally high prices. As a result, prices in these remote areas are even higher. The arrival of the off-season cassava harvest in April and the rice harvest in mid-May are anticipated to facilitate improvements to area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In Vatovavy and Fitovinany, where the rice harvest is expected to be below average, households may intensify petty trade or market gardening activities to earn additional income for food purchases. 

    Many households in the Grand South and Grand Southeast will likely struggle to meet their essential non-food needs due to the need to service debts accrued during the previous lean season, historic drought, and intense cyclone strikes. Very poor households and those facing severe liquidity constraints will likely sell at least half of their harvests to cover other needs, such as non-food household items, school fees, and uniforms, before consuming the remainder. Households with limited storage capacity will likely sell a large portion of their harvest to maximize income and minimize post-harvest losses. Conversely, middle-income and wealthier households with better storage facilities will likely store their production as a food reserve until they can fetch higher prices during the lean season. 

    June 2024 to September 2024:  During the post-harvest off-season period, households rely heavily on their own production, leading to a decrease in food prices due to increased market supplies and decreased demand. 

    Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected across the Grand South and Southeast through September. The start of the cassava and sweet potato harvest in mid-July in the Grand South is expected to improve food access further and keep food prices steady in local markets even as household stocks of maize and sorghum decline. Another seasonal peak in agricultural labor opportunities is anticipated during this harvesting period through September. While maize harvests are expected to be below average in Androy and Atsimo-Andrefana, cassava is the most important crop in these zones and requires significantly less water than maize. Most households across the Grand South will be able to meet their minimum kilocalorie needs even with below-average harvests of sweet potatoes and cassava. In the Grand Southeast, the sweet potato harvest in July will further improve household food access and provide an additional source of income. Vanilla sales will supplement household incomes, especially in areas with better market access. However, the vanilla harvest in July is expected to be below average due to the ongoing recovery from previous cyclone strikes, but it is expected to improve from last year. Debt repayments will likely continue to weigh heavily on households, and many will struggle to meet their essential non-food needs.

     

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes

     

    National

     

    Further than anticipated depreciation of the ariaryAny additional decline in the value of the country’s currency will raise the prices of imported products and worsen the already elevated inflation rates. Urban households depending on markets for food and non-food items would bear the brunt of this, possibly leading to more households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions or worse. In rural regions, the impact would be partially mitigated by seasonally improved access to food beginning in mid-March as maize harvesting begins, though similarly resulting in more households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions as non-food needs become increasingly unaffordable. 

    Grand Southeast

     

    Intense cyclone hits the Grand SoutheastGiven its dependence on cash crop production and road infrastructure that is highly sensitive to heavy rains, the Grand Southeast would be greatly impacted if a strong tropical cyclone were to pass through. Since the devastating passage of tropical cyclones Batsirai (2021) and Freddy (2022), many households have replanted their vanilla, pepper, and clove plantations. A new disaster would be a major setback in the ongoing recovery from two consecutive years of intense cyclone strikes. The same applies to the main food crops, such as rice and manioc, which are maturing and awaiting harvesting. An intense cyclone strike would significantly reduce both staple and cash crop production, destroy homes, and render many markets inaccessible. As a result, area-level food insecurity outcomes would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Area of Concern: Cassava, maize, and livestock livelihood zone (MG24) with a focus on Ambovombe (Figure 6)

    Figure 6

    Figure 6: Area of concern reference map: Cassava, maize, and livestock zone (MG24)
    Map of southern Madagascar with intersection of Ambovombe district and MG24 livelihood zone shaded in purple.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal progress: The 2023/24 rainy season started on time to slightly late depending on the location, as there are microclimates in Ambovombe. Rainfall has generally been erratic and below average during the 2023/24 rainy season. At the onset of rains in November, rainfall was near average in quantity but was poorly distributed. There was a dry spell in December, and deficits began to accumulate. At the beginning of 2024, the passage of Tropical Storm Alvaro brought significant rainfall to the district, and rainfall performance temporarily improved at the beginning of February. While rainfall has been below average and erratic, it has been sufficient for crop production, and vegetation conditions are generally near average. 

    Crop production: Maize and sorghum harvests typically begin in March and April, respectively, while sweet potatoes and cassava are harvested in July and August. According to the results of the EPASA survey, agricultural production in 2022/23 for the Ambovombe district declined by 60 percent for maize and sorghum and 40 percent for cassava compared to the historical average. The sweet potato harvest was average. The drop in agricultural production was mainly due to localized below average and erratic rainfall and limited access to planting material (cassava vines, etc.) For the 2023/24 season, maize and sorghum were being planted in a larger area than the previous season, and access to planting material has improved due to improvements in production during the last season compared to the last several years of historic drought conditions. Conditions have been favorable for off-season sweet potato cultivation, as well.

    Livestock production: Cumulative above-average rainfall from the start of 2023 has provided water and pasture, resulting in average to good body conditions for goats, sheep, and cattle. Better-off households own large livestock, while very poor households own poultry. Prices are 10 to 15 percent higher than at the same time last year but below average due to below-average market supplies and herd sizes resulting from insecurity (dahalo attacks). 

    Figure 7

    Observed and projected dried cassava prices in Ambovombe, Sept 2023-Jan 2025
    Shows projected changes in dried cassava prices in Ambovombe over the course of the next several months. Grey bars represent the five year averages, the blue line represents the previous years prices, and the dotted lines above show projected prices within an upper and lower bound.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Food prices: Due to the reduced availability of fresh produce on the market, cassava prices rose atypically early by 10 percent between August and September, compared to November. Compared with cassava prices at the same time last year, there has been a 25 percent increase since October due to the market’s dependence on imported cassava from Beloha and certain quantities from Tsihombe. Out-of-season sweet potatoes are still present in the markets, although quantity and quality are low, and prices are slightly up by 10 percent compared to the last harvest period. The price of imported rice is high but stable, while rice from other regions of Madagascar has risen by 15 percent. Imported corn is available on the market in limited quantities and at higher prices. In general, the Ambovombe and Ambondro commune markets are the best supplied. Prices are relatively higher, and supplies are lower in other local markets due to increased transportation costs.

    Labor opportunities: Casual labor opportunities, such as land preparation at the start of the farming season, are rare in rural Ambovombe. Each household cultivates its own fields. Currently, households are weeding their crops using their own household labor. During the lean season, the main source of income is the sale of livestock products. The sale of cactus fruits is also a source of income in the district center of Ambovombe. In contrast, all households in rural areas can benefit from picking wild cactus fruits for consumption.

    ASSUMPTIONS

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Poor households are expected to continue selling atypically high numbers of poultry, contributing to below-average prices.
    • The maize harvest is expected to be below average due to many households resorting to harvesting immature crops during the current lean season, although the cultivated area is anticipated to be higher than in the previous year (2022–2023). 
    • Sufficient rainfall is expected through the rest of February to ensure an average sorghum harvest in early April.
    • Markets will be well supplied with imported cassava from Beloha until the next cassava and sweet potato harvests in July, which are anticipated to be below average. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    February to May 2024: February is the peak lean period where most poor households are expected to have significant food consumption gaps due to prematurely exhausted food stocks, below-average agricultural incomes for purchases of staples such as cassava and sweet potatoes, and seasonally high food prices. Due to depleted harvest stocks, poor households began reducing their number of meals from three to two per day, atypically early in September (compared to November typically), well before the start of the lean season. Poor households will continue to depend on market purchases of cassava and maize, gather wild cactus fruits, and consume immature maize. Given limited purchasing power due to low incomes and high market prices, market purchases are generally below average, and household dietary diversity is poor. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected until the maize harvest begins in mid-March. From mid-March onward, gradual improvements in food availability are anticipated to improve area-level outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), as households will start consuming food from their harvests of maize, off-season sweet potatoes, and sorghum. Many households are expected to struggle to afford their essential non-food needs, given the need to service debts accrued during the previous lean season, historic drought, and intense cyclone strikes.

    June to September 2024: Households will continue to consume and sell their stocks of maize, sorghum, and off-season sweet potatoes from the 2023/24 harvest. The anticipated below-average cassava and sweet potato harvest beginning in July will replenish diminishing household food stocks and maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through September. However, debt repayments will continue to weigh heavily on many households, and many will struggle to afford their essential non-food needs. Households will likely sell atypically high numbers of poultry or charcoal and firewood to generate additional income. However, incomes from these sources are expected to remain limited due to increased competition. Selling wild fruits will also be seasonally unavailable as a source of income.  

    The latest IPC Analysis in December 2023 showed that global acute malnutrition (GAM) levels are expected to reach 13.6 percent between February and April 2024 in Ambovombe, classifying it under Severe (IPC Phase 3). Ambovombe is among the districts with the highest rate during this period. Low levels of household dietary diversity and seasonally reduced access to food are some of the factors expected to contribute to this situation. Water-borne diseases, the high prevalence of malaria, and poor access to health services are among the main causes of poor nutritional conditions in the Ambovombe district. Malnutrition levels are expected to improve from June to September, with the livelihood zone moving from Severe (IPC Phase 3) to Alert (IPC Phase 2) due to the availability of stocks and food diversity at the household level and a decrease in water-borne diseases. This forecasted drop in prevalence matches the pattern observed in the past five years: a rise in malnutrition and infant mortality from October until March, then the rate drops sharply from April onward before gradually increasing from August or September onward.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Madagascar Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Anticipated below-average harvests to support sufficient food access through September 2024, 2024.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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