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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely to emerge in the Grand South during 2022/23 lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • June 2022 - January 2023
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely to emerge in the Grand South during 2022/23 lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • A continuation of large-scale assistance is required to prevent the emergence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in southwestern Madagascar during the 2022/23 lean season, following severe drought and extremely low maize and anticipated poor cassava and sweet potato harvests. Across most of the Grand South, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes currently persist – despite it being the post-harvest period – as ongoing humanitarian assistance is mitigating worse outcomes through August. Cumulative rainfall and soil moisture conditions in the southeast will drive relatively better outcomes as most of the rest of the Grand South is expected to experience Crisis (ICP Phase 3) through January 2023. Northern Atsimo Andrefana, also hard-hit by severe drought, is expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) given well below average harvests and reduced crop sales. Food assistance needs throughout the 2022/23 lean season are expected to be similar to last year and well above the five-year average.

    • Meanwhile, areas worst affected by the above-average 2022 cyclone season are experiencing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2), although significant pockets of households are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to crop and infrastructure losses. As recovery continues, these areas are expected to slowly improve but will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January 2023. In the rest of the country, near-average production and near-normal incomes will continue to drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes throughout the outlook period.

    • According to key informants, national-level crop production is near normal, despite significant, localized losses to rice, cassava, and coffee and other cash crops in eastern Madagascar and moderate losses to vanilla and cloves in northern Madagascar due to cyclone damage. In the Grand South, however, multiple shocks – including late-onset rains, severe drought, pests, cyclone impacts, and above-average input prices have led to a significant reduction in maize harvests. Declines in crop production were noted across the region, however, were more pronounced (approximately 70 percent below normal) in the districts of Ampanihy, Betioky, Bekily, Betroka, and Taolagnaro. Household stocks are therefore significantly below average, varying from one to five months this season.

    • Across the Grand South, prices are currently stable but remain high. FEWS NET data shows that maize grain prices fell seasonally in April when supplies from the 2022 harvest began boosting market availability. Still, prices were exceptionally high across all monitored markets – and even double the five-year average in some markets – reflecting reduced harvests in 2022. Dried cassava from central Madagascar, a key supplier for the Grand South, is available and prices were stable but were 55 percent above the five-year average in April. Similarly, prices of local rice – generally preferred to imported rice –were between 23 and 48 percent higher than the five-year average in April, significantly constraining household purchasing power when households in the Grand South are heavily reliant on market purchases to meet their food needs.


    Current Situation

    2021/22 rainfall and drought: Severe drought conditions developed during this year’s rainfall season, marking the third consecutive drought in southern and southwestern Madagascar, given late-onset, erratic, and significantly below-average rainfall. While southeastern Madagascar saw notable reductions in seasonal deficits thanks to multiple storms, soil moisture conditions continue to be significantly below average in the southwest. Across the rest of the country, seasonal rainfall totals were near average.

    Cyclone recovery: Six storms and tropical cyclones (Ana, Batsirai, Dumako, Emnati, Gombi, and Jasmine) hit Madagascar between January and April 2022, causing considerable crop and infrastructure damage in localized areas. According to OCHA, about 960,000 people were affected by these tropical weather systems, which killed more than 200 people, resulted in the severe flooding of 60,000 hectares of rice fields in eastern Madagascar, and damaged a further 35,000 hectares of rice and 6,500 hectares of maize in central Madagascar. FAO’s March assessment of cyclone-impacted areas indicated that 61% of cultivated area for food crops and 88% of cultivated area for cash crops were negatively affected in various ways by Batsirai and Emnati. Food crop losses – mostly rice and cassava – were estimated at 61 million USD, while cash crop losses were estimated at USD 78 million, mostly impacting bananas, coffee, and cloves. Recovery, however, is ongoing, and market function is improving, even in the worst-affected areas of eastern Madagascar.

    Current crop production: Across most of the country, crop production is approximately average, given near-normal cumulative rainfall amounts. Significant losses to rice crops in eastern Madagascar from recent cyclones were localized enough that main season domestic rice production, which is currently being harvested, is still near normal.  In the Grand South, however, a combination of hazards led to a significant reduction in this year’s maize harvests. According to an assessment carried out in April by Madagascar’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee (mVAC), cropped area this season was reduced by nearly half due to a lack of agricultural inputs and farmers’ anticipating a poor rainfall season. In addition, below average and erratic rainfall caused sub-optimal crop performance, particularly in the southwest.

    Furthermore, pest damage was reported for maize and sweet potatoes and, to a lesser extent, for rice and cassava. Analysis of the Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI), which shows the extent to which crops received the water needed throughout the growing season, indicated that maize crops in many areas received insufficient water (Figure 1). Overall, the mVAC reported a 63 percent decline in crop production across the Grand South compared to normal. In the districts of Ampanihy, Betioky, Bekily, Betroka, and Taolagnaro, the decline is more pronounced (about 70 percent decline reported) due to relatively worse rainfall, pests, and high input costs. Across the Grand South, household stocks are significantly below average, varying from one to five months this season.

    Pasture availability and livestock conditions: Across much of Madagascar, water availability, grazing conditions, and livestock body conditions are generally near normal except in the Grand South, where pasture availability and livestock conditions are below normal. The Percent of Average Seasonal Greenness (PASG) looks at accumulated vegetative health compared to average conditions for the same period. Over the course of a season, it is a good indicator of the total amount of biomass (e.g., grazing matter in areas that are primarily grasslands) accumulated, and hence the amount of grazing available to livestock. In southern Madagascar, analysis of current PASG shows that it is well below average, indicating grazing conditions are likely to have been negatively affected by the poor rainfall performance. In addition, livestock herd sizes are below average in southern Madagascar due to the impacts of consecutive years of drought and above-average sales as households have been trying to raise income for market purchases during the lean season.

    Staple food prices:  FEWS NET data shows that prices declined seasonally across commodities and markets in May. For example, maize grain prices fell seasonally by 8 percent, 7 percent, and 2 percent from April to May in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Ihosy markets, respectively, as supplies from the 2022 harvest began boosting market availability. Prices were consistently higher than last year’s across Antananarivo (14 percent), Ihosy (22 percent), Fianarantsoa (50 percent), and Toamasina (9 percent) markets. Compared with the five-year average, maize prices in May were 15 percent, 56 percent, and 205 percent above in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Toliara, respectively. Similarly, local rice prices declined in the same period by 4 percent, 8 percent, and 7 percent in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Ihosy, respectively. However, these were higher than last year’s levels across all monitored markets. Ihosy and Toamasina markets registered a 16 percent price increase above the previous year and prices were 18 percent, 37 percent, 34 percent, and 24 percent above the five-year average in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, and Toliara, respectively. Prices of imported rice, generally a less preferred alternative to domestically produced rice, were, on average, more than 8 percent above last year and were 28 percent, 43 percent, and 23 percent above the five-year average levels in Antananarivo, Toamasina, and Toliara markets.  Meanwhile, May prices for dried cassava were 43 percent, 16 percent, and 6 percent higher than last year’s prices in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Toliara markets, respectively, reflecting reduced harvests in 2021.

    Household income: Below-average cropped area, rainfall, and harvests have adversely impacted agricultural and non-agricultural labor opportunities in the Grand South. Agricultural labor demand, especially for cash crops, typically peaks between July and March, which also overlaps with the peak for most other agricultural-related activities, even for non-cash crops, as cultivation for the next production season begins with land preparation. In addition, while wild foods can withstand water stress relatively well and wild food gathering and sales can often be a coping strategy, this year, consecutive years of drought have negatively impacted wild fruits and leaves. Currently, households are relying primarily on firewood and charcoal sales for income; however, this livelihood strategy is somewhat constrained by restrictions aimed at reducing deforestation and by poor households’ lack of access to transportation to forested areas. Elsewhere in Madagascar, most livelihood strategies are near normal, given economic recovery and reduced COVID-19-related restrictions.

    Macroeconomic issues: Annual inflation trended lower at 6.17 percent in April, the second consecutive monthly decline, down from 6.39 percent in February 2022. This reduction could be due to a seasonal decline in food inflation. However, significantly above-average international fuel prices have kept upward pressure on transportation inflation. In April 2022, annual transport inflation was 2.85 percent compared to 3.01 percent in March; however, significantly above-average international fuel prices are keeping pressure on transportation prices. Rising inflationary pressures are weighing on disposable incomes and affecting the ability of better-off households to hire labor, constraining labor opportunities for poorer households.

    Humanitarian assistance: Given the meager harvest expectations, humanitarian assistance was extended into the post-harvest period and is ongoing in most districts in the Grand South. In June, WFP and partners targeted close to 1.3 million beneficiary households with food distributions and cash transfer programs in drought-affected and cyclone-affected districts. Although assistance levels have dropped somewhat since the peak of the lean season, it remains significant in Androy, Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana, and Atsimo Atsinanana, covering up to 60 percent of the population in these areas and expected to provide between 50 and 100 percent of households’ caloric needs. However, rising prices are reducing the impact of this assistance. Analysis done in December 2021 shows that the 100,000 MGA per household per month – which should have covered 50 percent of kilocalorie needs, ultimately meet only about 35 to 40 percent due to a significant increase in the price of water and basic foodstuffs. In April, the mVAC assessment also noted that cash transfers are sometimes irregular, forcing households to rely on credit and take on more debt – sometimes at exorbitant rates – as they wait for the next transfer. 

    Current food security outcomes

    Seasonal improvements for many poorer households across the Grand South have been marginal. With a 63 percent reduction in crop production compared to normal, households are left to continue relying on the market to satisfy their food needs. Meanwhile, below-average income levels and higher-than-normal prices continue to reduce household purchasing power and limit food access by increasing expenditures on food items to unsustainable levels (Figure 2) An assessment carried out by mVAC in March/April in the Grand South found that overall, 14 percent of the households had a Food Consumption Score considered poor while 46 percent had borderline. Across the regions, Androy had the most significant percentage of households with borderline and poor consumption, followed by Anosy, then a relatively lower percentage in the Atsimo Andrefana region. Furthermore, the percentage of households consuming fewer food groups was high, as demonstrated by the Household Dietary Diversity Score. The Androy region, followed by Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana, all recorded low dietary diversity. In addition, 23 percent of the households in the Grand South reportedly used Emergency livelihood coping strategies, and a further 17 percent used Crisis strategies. Anosy, then Androy and Atsimo Andrefana, recorded the highest rates of Emergency and Crisis coping.

    Currently, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes prevail across most of the Grand South as ongoing humanitarian assistance is mitigating worse outcomes. Rainfall and harvest expectations were slightly better in parts of the southeast, allowing for some areas to improve to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and north of the Grand South, some areas are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to below-average production due to the negative effects of severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, worst-affected cyclone areas are receiving sufficient humanitarian assistance to mitigate worse outcomes and are in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) conditions currently, while other areas impacted by the storms are likely in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Across the rest of the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are being driven by near-average crop production as households consume their own-produced food while earning near-average incomes.

    The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition in the three southern regions of Madagascar was 9.5 percent in March/April, indicating Alert or Serious Acute Malnutrition outcomes. This prevalence is close to the proxy-GAM from nutritional surveillance in the 15 southern districts during the first quarter of 2022 but lower than the proxy GAM from the SMART survey in 10 districts in March/April 2021. This shows a real improvement in the situation compared to the same period last year, likely due to significant humanitarian delivery over the course of this period.


    The June 2022 to January 2023 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Rainfall: Between June 2022 and January 2023, near-normal rainfall is likely across most of the country, and a normal start to the 2022/23 rainy season is expected. However, due to multiple consecutive droughts, below-normal soil moisture across much of the Grand South is likely to negatively impact upcoming root and tuber harvests and initial plantings for the 2022/23 main agricultural season.

    Seed availability: During the winter cropping season and the main agricultural season’s initial plantings, poor households’ access to agricultural inputs is likely below normal, given limited supplies and significantly above average prices.

    Rice production: Despite cyclone-related crop damage in the southeast, rice production for the main rice season – which began harvesting in May – is likely to be near-average at the national level.

    Cassava and sweet potato production: Although some areas of higher-than-normal cropped area for root and tuber crops are likely, national harvests, which begin in July, are likely to be below-average given poor soil moisture conditions in southwestern Madagascar and limited access to inputs across the Grand South (Figure 3).

    Cash crop production: Despite significant losses to vanilla crops in eastern Madagascar from multiple cyclone strikes, national production is likely to be slightly below average thanks to relatively more minor damage in the northern areas, where most vanilla is grown. Meanwhile, cloves and coffee will likely see below-average production given cyclone impacts along the island’s eastern side and downwards trends in investment and production overall.

    Pastureland and water availability: Pasture conditions and water availability are average in most of the country but are below average in the Grand South, given the severity of the current drought. In the South, conditions are likely to deteriorate further over the dry season before seasonally improving with the beginning of the rainy season in November.

    Livestock conditions and prices: Livestock body conditions are expected to seasonally deteriorate and remain well below average, especially in southern Madagascar, where the continuous drought has severely negatively impacted vegetation. In addition, livestock herd sizes are likely below average in Southern Madagascar as households sold more livestock than normal during the lean season to raise income for market purchases. Due to below-average body conditions and desperate sales, livestock prices will likely be below average throughout the outlook period. Overall income from livestock sales, therefore, is expected to be below average. 

    Urban labor demand and income: Labor demand – particularly in urban areas – is expected to continue to increase with general economic recovery but remain below pre-pandemic levels. On the other hand, labor supply in urban areas is likely to stay above average, dampening wages.

    Agricultural and cash crop labor demand and income: Seasonal labor migration, especially for poor households from the Grand South to northern and eastern parts of Madagascar, will likely resume this season with the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions. However, cyclone impacts on several cash crops will reduce labor demand and constrain migration to below-normal levels. As a result, income from agricultural and cash crop labor will likely remain below average throughout the peak season, given below-average labor demand and an increased number of households looking for labor opportunities in the face of high prices and little to no own-production. A near-normal start to the main agricultural season in the Grand South is likely to improve local labor demand starting in October; however, high input costs and compounding economic impacts of multiple, consecutive droughts are still expected to constrain labor demand to below normal levels.  

    Remittances: Domestic remittances will likely increase slightly with the relaxation of COVID-19-related restrictions and improved migratory labor opportunities compared to last year. However, due to the impacts of cyclones and storms on cash crop production, domestic remittances will still likely remain below average. In contrast, international remittances will likely remain above average throughout the outlook period, although poorer households rarely receive these remittances.

    Economic recovery: Economic growth is projected to rebound in the outlook period, supported by both public and private investment and a resumption of exports as the global economy and international trade recover. Increased private capital expenditure and the expansion of agriculture, tourism, agroindustry, textiles, and mining, particularly gold, nickel, cobalt, chrome, and graphite, will drive economic growth and job creation in the formal sector.

    Food and commodity prices: Despite monetary policy to stabilize inflation over the medium term, prices will likely continue increasing well above average, following global trends of high food and fuel prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The depreciation of the MGA is likely to result in even higher prices for imported commodities. Meanwhile, prices of local staples, such as rice, maize, and cassava, are also expected to remain high, given the anticipated below-average 2022 harvests. In addition, rising production costs for commercial farmers – particularly fertilizer and fuel – may slightly reduce the cropped area for upcoming harvests and further increase consumer prices. As a result, FEWS NET estimates annual inflation will likely stay above 6 percent during the outlook period.

    Exchange rate: The MGA is expected to continue to depreciate during the outlook period due to a negative trade balance and high global prices. The current account deficit is expected to remain above average during the outlook period due to lower external demand, delayed recovery of metal and vanilla export values, and high import costs for fuel and foods.

    Humanitarian assistance: In July and August, humanitarian assistance will likely be reduced across the Grand South as the cassava harvests become available. However, it will still cover a significant percentage of the population in Amboassary, Ampanihy, and Betioky, mitigating worse outcomes in these areas.

    Wild foods: Wild food availability is likely to remain below last year and typical levels in the Grand South throughout the outlook period, given multiple consecutive droughts and limited access to forests.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    With significant humanitarian assistance continuing in parts of the Grand South, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes will likely persist in these areas through August. Although cassava and sweet potato harvests are likely to be below-average across the region, the southeast is likely to have relatively better harvests given their near-normal soil moisture conditions after the rainy season and may begin to access these crops by mid-July. These harvests will improve food security outcomes in these areas to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or even Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for several months. In the southwest, however, significantly below-average soil moisture conditions are expected to negatively impact root and tuber production, compounding the issue of little to no maize stocks. Without harvests or reserves, poor households will be forced to continue purchasing much more than normal and at prices well above average.  Food access from markets is likely to be constrained by below-average income due to this year’s lack of crop sales and very limited agricultural labor opportunities. To cope, households will intensify non-agricultural income-earning strategies and employ unsustainable strategies, such as the increased sale of livestock, wild fruits, firewood, and charcoal, taking children out of school to work, and atypical migration.  However, the expansion of these livelihood strategies is also limited by low consumer demand, overexploitation of the forest, limited wild food availability due to consecutive years of drought, and restrictions to control deforestation. Food consumption levels will only marginally improve, if at all, and consumption gaps are expected to worsen. In this context, the Grand South is expected to enter into the annual lean season months earlier than normal and food security outcomes are anticipated to deteriorate. Without large-scale humanitarian assistance, it is likely that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will emerge as early as September in Androy and Atsimo Andrefana.

    In cyclone-affected areas of eastern Madagascar, ongoing recovery will likely allow an improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in the coming months; however, sizable pockets of the population in worst-affected districts will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the outlook period. Meanwhile, in the central and northern parts of the country, most households will have experienced near-average crop production and have earned near-normal income from typical livelihood strategies such as crop and livestock sales, self-employment activities, non-agricultural labor activities, migratory labor, and the collection and sale of natural forest products. Most areas will therefore be classified as Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the outlook period, although the various price and weather shocks will result in a higher proportion of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes.

    National acute malnutrition will be within Alert (GAM 5-9.9) levels through September, as food access is likely to be similar to last year with near-average harvests in surplus-producing areas – and nationally – but a below-average harvest for the deficit-producing areas of the Grand South. Between October 2022 and January 2023, acute malnutrition is expected to worsen from Alert (GAM 5-9.9) to Serious (GAM 10-14.9) levels as household food access is expected to be limited by high food prices and below average income when households are most reliant on purchases. Historical trends show that acute malnutrition tends to worsen during the October to January period which coincides with the peak of the lean period when household stock levels are at the minimum and staple prices seasonally increase. Currently, no humanitarian food assistance is planned across the Grand South past August.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalHigher than anticipated increases in key commodity prices Higher than anticipated international commodity prices, including fuel, fertilizer, and food, would negatively impact household purchasing power and increase households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse outcomes.
    NationalCyclone strikesShould cyclones strike any part of Madagascar during the outlook period – especially during the normal cyclone season starting in November – agricultural losses would be likely, reducing agricultural labor opportunities for poor households and reducing incomes. Additionally, a cyclone would likely cause infrastructure damage and disrupt supply chains, negatively impacting physical access to food. This would likely increase the number of households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse outcomes.
    NationalThe return of COVID-19-related restrictions New surges of COVID-19 cases and the reintroduction of movement restrictions would negatively affect labor migration by poor households (particularly those in the Grand South) to northern and eastern regions, reducing household labor opportunities and income and increasing those facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse outcomes.
    NationalContinuation and/or increase in humanitarian assistanceThe continuation or expansion of humanitarian assistance in response to the poor agricultural season and/or cyclone impacts would improve households’ access to food and improve outcomes at the household and area level to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!).



    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: mVAC

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    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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