East Africa – August 1 2022 Madagascar faces worst drought in 40 years Due to the ongoing drought, poverty and famine has severely worsened in Madagascar. "The south of the country is experiencing the worst drought in around 40 years," says Jean-François Lepetit, national director of SOS Children's Villages in Madagascar. "Many rivers and springs have dried up, large parts of the harvest have failed," says Mr. Lepetit. Three tropical storms hit the island this year and damaged the already inadequate infrastructure. Currently, almost 1.47 million people, which accounts for 49 percent of the population, are affected by extreme food insecurity. Mr. Lepetit says: "When I see children starving and drinking dirty water, I ask myself: How can they be left alone in such an inhumane situation?" Emergency relief for families SOS Children's Villages is present in Madagascar’s regions of Atsimo, Andrefana and Androy and has now intensified efforts to help. Through the emergency relief programme, already about 22,000 families have been supported. In recent weeks, SOS Children’s Villages in Madagascar has set up six aid centers in the south of the country, which offer protection to children without parental care, but at the same time also support communities. The programme includes training on the rights of women and children. The drought, the ramifications of the pandemic and the lack of wheat imports due to the war in Ukraine have caused a socio-economic downward spiral: high population growth, unsustainable agricultural methods and poor health care have led to disastrous conditions in Madagascar. "Food deliveries now alleviate the worst supply shortages, but are no long-term solution," Mr. Lepetit says. Sustainable solutions SOS Children's Villages is driving sustainable development in the region by distributing seeds, offering trainings in resource-efficient fishing, agriculture and livestock farming. Youth and women's associations as well as communities of producers are founded and supported to foster exchange and solidarity within communities. Additionally, five health centers and a mobile clinic were set up to be able to reach more people, also in remote villages. “The situation in Madagascar is disastrous, and children are the first victims,” says Mr. Lepetit.