Madagascar prays for rain as U.N. warns of 'climate change famine'
AMBOASARY SUD, Madagascar, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Some days, all Tsimamorekm Aly eats is sugary water. He's happy if there's a handful of rice. But with six young kids and a wife to support, he often goes without.
This is the fourth year that drought has devastated Aly's home in southern Madagascar. Now more than one million people, or two out of five residents, of his Grand Sud region require emergency food aid in what the United Nations is calling a "climate change famine."
"In previous years there was rain, a lot of rain. I grew sweet potatoes and I had a lot of money... I even got married because I was rich," said Aly, 44.
"Things have changed," he said, standing on an expanse of ochre dirt where the only green to be seen is tall, spiky cacti.
Climate change is battering the Indian Ocean island and several U.N. agencies have warned in the past few months of a "climate change famine" here.
"The situation in the south of the country is really worrying," said Alice Rahmoun, a spokeswoman with the United Nations' World Food Programme in Madagascar. "I visited several districts... and heard from families how the changing climate has driven them to hunger."
Rainfall patterns in Madagascar are growing more erratic – they've been below average for nearly six years, said researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
"In some villages, the last proper rain was three years ago, in others, eight years ago or even 10 years ago," said Rahmoun. "Fields are bare, seeds do not sprout and there is no food."
Malagasy children eat a meal at the Avotse feeding program that benefits malnourished children with hot meals in Maropia Nord village in the region of Anosy, southern Madagascar September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Joel Kouam
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