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Large-scale assistance supporting widespread Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) during 2021/22 lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • October 2021
Large-scale assistance supporting widespread Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) during 2021/22 lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Events that could change the outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Large-scale humanitarian assistance has been ongoing in southern Madagascar in mid- and late 2021, and available information suggest assistance will continue throughout the 2021/22 lean season. While Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes were initially anticipated in the absence of assistance, the large-scale and widespread delivery of food assistance is supporting improvement to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. Available information on food security outcomes collected in late 2021 suggests that food assistance is mitigating worse outcomes across much of southern Madagascar. Despite area-level Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes, data also point to the likelihood that there remain households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) even in the presence of assistance. The highest populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are likely in Ampanihy and Tsihombe districts.

    • Forecasts indicate that October 2021 to May 2022 rainfall is likely to be average across the country. Despite forecast average rainfall, poor households in southern Madagascar continue to face difficulty accessing seeds and other necessary inputs due to very high costs. As a result, production across the south is expected to remain in line with levels that are well below the long-term average. Continued poor production across southern Madagascar will lead to staple food prices that continue to be above average. Food security is still expected to improve in mid-2022 with increased food available from the harvest, but assistance needs will remain higher than is typical for the harvesting period.


    Current Situation

    Rainfall performance and staple food production: Cumulative rainfall during the 2020/21 cropping season was 30-60 percent below average. As a result, national production of rice, maize, pulses, and cassava was below average, according to the preliminary results of the 2021 CFSAM. However, winter rainfall was favorable for sweet potato harvests in the eastern part of southern Madagascar, supporting near average production, especially in Amboasary, Ambovombe, and Tsihombe.

    Macroeconomy: Total exports and export revenue in USD between June and August 2021 was almost double that of the same time last year, driven by a significant increase in exports of textiles, vanilla, and mining productions. Mining contributed heavily to the recent increase, with the total value exported in June-August 2021 eight times higher than the same period in 2020. Total import value in USD increased by 35 percent compared to 2020 because of increased food imports, fuel, and raw materials. Despite increases from last year, the current trade balance remains negative, and this is contributing to continued currency depreciation. In the month of October, the MGA depreciated three percent against USD.

    Vanilla exports: Madagascar exported 2,376 MT of vanilla in 2020/21. The government has set the FOB price at 250 USD/kg for the 2021/22 export period, though this price is high relative to the international market demand for Madagascar vanilla. Given the government's unwillingness to lower the FOB price, producers primary option is to sell domestically at lower, market-driven prices, resulting in lower overall income.

    Rice imports: Between January and September 2021, Madagascar imported 425,000 MT of rice, compared to a five-year average of 400,000 MT/year. A significant portion was imported by the State Procurement of Madagascar (SPM), in collaboration with the government, to stabilize prices following COVID-19 impacts and poor 2020/21 production.

    Food prices: National food prices are generally above the five-year average, despite efforts by the government to mitigate price increases through providing subsidies on imported rice. Cassava prices remain stable in urban markets where demand is relatively low. However, across southern markets, the price of cassava, maize, and prices are upwards of 50-100 percent above average due to poor production and high demand. In some key markets monitored by WFP (Tsihombe, Amboasary, and Ambovombe) sweet potatoes are widely available due to favorable winter rainfall, though at slightly above-average prices.

    Urban labor availability: In urban areas, since the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, formal and informal labor demand is progressively increasing. However, the level of unemployment remains above normal as many small businesses are still recovering. Demand for services (laundry, security, transport, restaurants) from middle and better off households remains low, driving below-average income for very poor urban households and migrants from the south and southeast.

    Agricultural labor: Land preparation for the 2021/22 season began in October but with lower labor demand for than average. To reduce costs following a poor 2021/22 harvest and COVID-19 impacts, most households, especially in the south, prefer to prepare their land themselves rather than hiring labor. Limited water availability in some rivers and dams due to the poor rainfall in the last season is further reducing agricultural labor demand for land preparation and irrigation work. Across southern Madagascar, seed and cassava cutting shortages are also contributing to below-average cropped area leading to reduced agricultural labor opportunities. Poor households in the south unable to migrate to the north, where opportunities are better due to relatively favorable harvests, have turned to opportunities in livestock activities, handcrafts, charcoal/firewood, and petty trade, in an effort to compensate for lost agricultural labor income.

    COVID-19: The number of daily new cases of COVID-19 has remained very low between June and October 2021, relative to the March to May spike. Since early June, nearly all restrictions have been lifted including those on large meetings, international travel to and from Indian Ocean islands, and the nightlife curfew.

    Available evidence on food consumption: The preliminary results from data collected by the CFSAM in September/October across districts of southern Madagascar point to the continuation of moderate hunger, very poor dietary diversity, and household engagement in consumption-based coping. Roughly 30 percent of households in surveyed areas reported poor food consumption (Figure 1), indicative of both low dietary intake and poor dietary quality. Over half of respondents indicated engaging in relative high consumption-based coping (Figure 2), meaning they restricted the frequency and size of meals, altered consumption preferences and/or relied on community support to access food. Over 40 percent of respondents reported moderate hunger, while roughly three percent reported severe hunger, with these households concentrated in Tshibombe and Ampanihy (Figure 3). These relatively severe outcomes were reported by households while many among them were also likely consuming humanitarian food assistance. As such, the outcomes were likely better than would have been expected in the absence of food assistance.

    Humanitarian food assistance: Large-scale humanitarian food assistance, including in-kind and cash-based transfers (CBT), has been distributed across the south since April 2021. Available data on assistance distributions suggests that an estimated 50-100 percent of the population has been reached in the districts of Ambovombe, Taolagnaro, Amboasary, and Bekily on a monthly basis. In-kind assistance equates to a half ration for a household of five, while cash assistance is typically 80,000 MGA, which would purchase roughly 35 to 60 percent of kilocalorie needs, based on a household size of five to nine. In Beloha, Ampanihy, and Betroka, humanitarian assistance reached an estimated 25 to 50 percent of the population, with similar rations as detailed above. In Betioky and Tsihombe, humanitarian assistance reached fewer than 15 percent of resident households with CBT also of 80,000 MGA.

    Current food security outcomes: In southern Madagascar, poor households continue to face multiple shocks, including a very poor 2020/21 harvest and high staple food prices, compounded by several consecutive below-average preceding seasons and COVID-19 restrictions that kept labor opportunities low. While the 2021/22 rainy season is underway and current agricultural labor income is improving food security conditions, overall access to food and income continues to be lower than normal. Available data points to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the presence of humanitarian food assistance. While the scale of Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) was originally anticipated to be limited to Tshibome, Ambovombe, and Amboasary, more widespread Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are now expected. This update is based on the food security and nutrition data available through CFSAM and the nutrition cluster that points to continued Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes in the presence of assistance and evidence that wider areas would likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the absence of that assistance. Preliminary results of the malnutrition mass screening in July-September 2021, showed widespread Alert and Serious levels of GAM (MUAC), indicating Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Higher GAM levels were reported in Ambovombe (13.7 percent) and Ampanihy (13.6 percent) districts, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. The nutritional situation in southern Madagascar generally deteriorated compared to the same period in 2020 but significantly improved compared to the situation during the first two quarters of 2021. This improvement is likely due to large-scale humanitarian food and nutrition assistance since the second quarter of 2021 as well as winter rainfall leading to better WASH conditions and near-normal sweet potato production in some areas.In the south-east (MG18), preliminary 2021 CFSAM results illustrate a decrease of 2020/21 staple food production including rice, cassava, fruit, and cash crops. In Manakara, information indicates Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely while in Vohipeno and Faragangana, where the drought was more severe, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected. In other areas of the country, poor households are not experiencing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1).


    The most likely scenario for October 2021 to May 2022 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • 2021/2022 rainy season: Average October to May rainfall is forecast across the country.
    • Cyclones: Between December 2021 and March 2022, an above-average number of cyclone strikes is forecast forMadagascar, given the likelihood of La Niña and negative SIOD conditions.
    • Rice cropped area and production: The rainfall deficit during the last cropping season significantly reduced watersources (main rivers and dams) in southern, western, and central areas and reduced seed availability as householdssold off seed stocks. Subsequently, early 2021/22 national rice production in central, western, and southern areas –which is typically harvested between December and February and represents 30 percent of total rice production - isestimated to be 30 percent below the five-year average. Given more favorable production in central and westernareas, though, national 2021/22 production is estimated to be 10 percent below average.
    • Pest infestation: At the national level, pest infestation (FAW and locust) will be near average. FAW will continue toimpact maize crops, contributing to the anticipated below-long term average production.
    • Maize production: Production in western and southern areas will likely be poor and will contribute to below-averagenational level 2021/22 maize production.
    • Cassava production: Availability of cuttings remains limited as more than half of planted crops were destroyed by the2020/21 drought. However, middle and better-off households were able to plant in February 2021, but planting lessthan is typical. While peak cassava production typically takes place between July and October, most households willpostpone harvesting until January-March 2022 or use the planted cassava as a cutting source for the next croppingseason.
    • Livestock movements and prices: At the national level, cattle movement and prices are expected to be stable andpasture availability as well as milk and meat production will be near average. In southern Madagascar, forecastedaverage rainfall between October 2021 and February 2022 will likely improve pasture, water conditions, herd sizes,body conditions, and livestock prices during the outlook period. However, in Ampanihy, Ambovombe, and Tsihombemiddle and poor households sold more livestock during the 2020/21 lean season than normal and will not benefitproportionally from the favorable rainfall. Overall livestock prices will likely remain within average ranges.
    • COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions: Following relatively low new COVID-19 cases since August, no additionalrestrictions are expected in the outlook period. The government plans to open international borders in early 2022.
    • Urban labor opportunities: Mining, textile, and tourism activities will remain below average due to remaining COVID-19 impacts on international trade. Some large mining companies resumed mineral extraction and while numbers ofstaff employed will slightly increase, they will remain below average. Some who were previously employed in the sector will continue to engage in self-employment but with lower opportunities and will earn below-average incomes. Demand for informal labor for laundry, security, car maintenance, and cleaning services will remain below average as middle and better off households continue to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions.
    • Rural labor opportunities: In rural areas, the number of people seeking agricultural labor opportunities will remain high following the urban exodus in March 2020. However, labor demand from October to January for land preparation and planting in the central, northern, and western areas will remain below average due to the impacts of below average 2020/21 production which affected wealthier households who normally provide labor opportunities for the poor. Off farm activities like petty trade will remain below average due to lower demand.
    • Migration and remittances: With no domestic travel restrictions, migration will continue to increase despite the high number of migrants already in the main production and urban areas since the previous lean season. As a result, wages will remain low and remittances per household will remain below average. However, in the south, between December 2021 and April 2022, with the average rainfall forecast, a significant portion of migrants will return to take advantage of the relative improvement in local labor opportunities compared to last year.
    • Cash crops: Farm gate vanilla prices will remain below 75,000 MGA (20 USD), one third of last year’s price while the FOB price is fixed at 250 USD. Vanilla prices and export revenue are expected to continue to decrease due to the deterioration of international demand and prices. Small farmers in the northeast will likely shift to other activities.
    • Rice imports and exchange rate: The government will continue to work with the SPM (State Procurement of Madagascar) company to import 8,000 MT of low-cost rice per month until April 2022. The government plans to cover 25 percent of the estimated national cereal gap with imports. The importation of other staple foods including sugar, oil, and wheat flour will increase following the 2020/21 rainfall deficit. Cash crops, mining, and textile exportation will likely remain below normal, and the national currency will deteriorate further.
    • Market functioning: Across the country, given the general poor state of roads and the ongoing rehabilitation planned during the rainy period, domestic trade flows will be significantly below average, and some remote areas will receive lower volumes of imported goods at above-average prices.
    • Price projections: Due to the expected depreciation of the national currency and the previous seasons of poorer production, national food prices will remain above average. The price of oil, sugar, white flour, and other imported goods will be above average through January during the rainy period as road conditions will reduce market functionality. Local and imported rice prices will increase seasonally though the government intervention of selling low-cost rice in urban markets will help to mitigate volatility. In Antananarivo, local rice will be set at 30 percent above the five-year average. In Toliara, imported rice will remain stable though five to ten percent above average.
    • Conflict: Dahalo (cattle rustlers) attacks on civilians in Atsimo Atsinanana, Menabe, Betsiboka, Atsimo Andrefana, Melaky and Bongolava will likely increase from the current low, but seasonally average levels, and exceed historical averages through May 2022 given the increasing unemployment in urban areas. Separately, the government’s decision on September 29 to increase military presence across Madagascar, including in and around Antananarivo, is likely to increase the number of armed clashes between the military and dahalo groups in the areas of deployment as security forces seek out and engage the various criminal gangs operating in the aforementioned areas.
    • Humanitarian food assistance: Between October 2021 and April 2021, large-scale humanitarian assistance is planned across southern Madagascar where targeting plans indicate most households will receive either in-kind food assistance (15 days ration per month for a household of five) and/or 100,000 MGA per household per month. The CBT amount will increase from 80,000 MGA to 100,000 MGA and represent a household ration of 50 to 75 percent for a household of five to nine.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between October 2021 and January 2022, the majority of poor rural and urban households across Madagascar will likely earn income through labor opportunities and will produce some seasonal staple foods and cash crops. Despite high food prices, most poor households will meet their basic food needs, leading to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes until May 2022. However, given high prices and overall lower economic functioning, some very poor households with limited food and income sources will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    In the livelihood zones of MG22, MG23 (Ampanihy), MG24, MG25, and MG26, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist through the March/April peak of the 2022 lean season. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be expected in the absence of the assistance that is mitigating the size of consumption gaps, but assistance is expected to meet around half or less of households’ needs (depending on the household size) and many poor households will still face slight to moderate food consumption gaps due very high food prices and limited income-earning opportunities, including few remaining livestock to sell. Poor households will likely continue selling productive assets, consuming immature tubers and fruits, and reducing essential non-food expenditures during this time. By April 2022, the expected near-average rainfall will slightly improve prospects for staple food production, as well as labor opportunities and livestock production, compared to last year. Food security will improve with increased access to this labor income and harvests, but these improvements will be relatively short-lived, and because of this, alongside continued above-average food prices and the absence of assistance as of April, consumption gaps will persist, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will remain widespread.
    In Betioky, cassava production was less affected by the drought than other districts, assets were not severely degraded like in other districts and there are more labor opportunities surrounding the area as wealthier households have incomes to pay for labor including construction of houses, brick making, and land preparation. However, poor households have started facing food consumption gaps with the depletion of their harvest in September and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected during the 2021/22 lean season. In Manakara and Vohipeno, poor households will exhaust staple food production from the 2020/2021 harvest by January and will rely on wild foods and selling more chickens to fill food gaps through the peak of the lean season, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in Manakara and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Vohipeno where production was relatively worse. After March, when the rice harvest is available, food security will improve to reach the Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    In Farafangana and Vangaindrano, poor households also experienced a poor harvest that will likely be exhausted by January, and they will rely on the consumption of wild foods, including immature fruits and tubers, during the lean season. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will be likely. Starting in February/March, food security will improve with the green and main harvest. This, alongside declining staple food prices, will drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    Events that could change the outlook

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

    AreasEventsImpact on food security
    NationalRe-implementation of COVID-19 restrictions (restricted inter-regional travel, curfew) from January 2021Lockdown and limited movement of people between regions likely lead to more severe food security outcomes including (IPC Phase 3) among poor households in restricted urban areas.
    Southern MadagascarBelow-average rainfallAlthough humanitarian food assistance would continue to mitigate food security outcomes during the lean season and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) would remain likely, below average rainfall would limit agricultural labor income and result in an even lower harvest than currently expected. Livestock conditions would further deteriorate, and value would be lower than anticipated. Water available for human consumption would be low, driving poor health outcomes. As such, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would start to emerge around May 2022 when assistance is no longer likely.



    Figure 1

    Current Situation for October 2021

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Seasonal calendar

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: CFSAM 2021

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: CFSAM 2021

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: CFSAM 2021

    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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