‘Heartbreaking’ Madagascar is wake-up call to climate crisis

Nov 1, 2021, 9:14 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2021, 11:53 am
This picture made available by the World Food Program on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, shows a mother givi...

This picture made available by the World Food Program on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, shows a mother giving supplementary nutrition products to her 6 month old daughter in Ankilimanondro, Atsimo-Andrefana Region, Madagascar. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk in Madagascar, the only place in the world right now where "famine-like conditions" have been driven by climate not conflict. (Tsiory Ny Aina Andriantso/ WFP via AP)

(Tsiory Ny Aina Andriantso/ WFP via AP)

ROME (AP) — The drought-stricken island nation of Madagascar is a ‘wake up call” to what the world can expect in coming years due to climate change, the head of the United Nations’ food aid agency said Tuesday.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told The Associated Press in an interview that what’s happening in the south of the Indian Ocean country is “the beginning of what we can expect” to see as the effects of global warming become more pronounced.

“Madagascar was heartbreaking,” Beasley said, referring to his recent visit there. “It’s just desperate,” with people reduced to selling their household pots and pans to try to buy food, he said.

Some 38 million people worldwide were displaced last year because of climate change, leaving them vulnerable to hunger, according to Beasley. A worst–case scenario could an see that number soar to 216 million people displaced due to climate change by 2050.

That’s the year many industrialized nations — but not China, Russia or India — have set as their target for achieving carbon neutrality, meaning reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the point where they can be absorbed and effectively add zero to the atmosphere.

When Beasley, a former South Carolina governor, took the World Food Program helm in 2017, the top reason for people being on the brink of starvation was man-made conflict, followed by climate change, he said.

But since then, climate change has eclipsed conflicts as the bigger driver in displacing people and leaving them not knowing where their next meal will come from. Last year, about 38 million, he said, were displaced “strictly because of climate shocks, climate change,” Beasley said.

“I would like to think this is the worst-case scenario — 216 million people by 2050 that will be migrating or displaced because of climate change,” he said.

According to updated WFP figures released Tuesday, close to 30,000 people on Madagascar will be one step away from famine by the end of the year, and some 1.1 million already suffer from severe hunger. The island is struggling with exceptionally warm temperatures, drought and sandstorms.

Crops have wilted, and harvests are scarce. People have taken to eating cactus leaves, which usually are cattle fodder, the U.N. food agency said.

“To me, Madagascar is a wake-up call to the rest of the world of what is to be expected in the future from other nations,” Beasley said.

“Madagascar is not an isolated incident,” he said. “The world needs to look to Madagascar to see what is coming your way and (to) many other countries around the world.”

The World Food Program has been supplying some 700,000 people on the island with food and supplemental nutritional products for pregnant and nursing women and children.

In Ethiopia, by contrast, famine is man-made, caused by conflict.

The World Food Program estimates that 5.2 million people are in need of of emergency food assistance in Tigray, Ethiopia’s embattled northern region. United Nations officials have warned in recent weeks that more than 400,000 people could face starvation and death if humanitarian aid isn’t delivered quickly, but hardly any aid can get to those who desperately need to eat.

The Tigray forces say they are pressuring Ethiopia’s government to lift a months-long blockade on their region of around 6 million people, where basic services have been cut off and humanitarian food and medical aid denied.

Beasley says the WFP has been “messaging to all sides, including the Ethiopian government, the leadership, that this is a crisis”‘ needing immediate access for food aid. But “we’re not making headway,” he said.

“We’re not able to get (food aid) trucks in or get fuel in. We’re not even able to get the cash to the people we need to pay,” Beasley told the AP.

As a result, Tigray’s people “have to be dying at unprecedented numbers, but we can’t get the access we need,” he said. “It’s a disgrace.”

He said the WFP should be moving in 30 trucks of day loaded with food, and another 70 full of medicine and other humanitarian assistance. “We’re not even getting 10% of that in trucks a day,” the agency director said.

For many of Tigray’s people, Beasley said, it has come down to “either die or migrate.”

Paradoxically, Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers have allowed WFP access to food distribution centers and schools where many teachers are going unpaid, and protected WFP warehouses, while international donors haven’t been supplying sufficient funding, Beasley said.

“You run into the issue of donors (who) do not want to be seen in any way as aiding or abetting or supporting the Taliban,” Beasley said.

In Afghanistan, 22.8 million people — half of the population — face acute food insecurity, or are “marching toward starvation,” as Beasley put it.

Conflict and drought combined to create that impoverished nation’s food crisis.

The dire situation will grow even more critical starting in January, when the WFP’s food stocks for Afghanistan will run low, if more donors don’t come through.

“That price tag is $230 million a month feeding them” at only partial rations, Beasley said, adding: that “there are 8.7 million people in Afghanistan knocking of famine’s door,.”

The U.N. agency was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Eviation's "Alice", the world's first all-electric commuter airplane, takes off for its first fligh...
Associated Press

Prototype electric airplane takes first flight

A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight Tuesday morning in central Washington state.
23 hours ago
FILE - Anti-Japan protesters on disputed islands march near the Japanese Consulate General in Shang...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind strained China-Japan relations

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and China on Thursday mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 normalization of their ties, but there isn’t much of a celebratory mood. Improved ties between Asia’s two biggest economies are considered vital to the region’s stability and prosperity, but they remain at odds over disputed East China Sea islands and […]
23 hours ago
FILE - This aerial photo taken from an airplane shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphat...
Associated Press

Pollution from Florida mining a concern with Hurricane Ian

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The polluted leftovers of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, more than 1 billion tons in “stacks” that resemble enormous ponds, are at risk for leaks or other contamination when Hurricane Ian comes ashore in the state, environmental groups say. Florida has 24 such phosphogypsum stacks, most of them concentrated in […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Montero helps Sounders draw Cincinnati 1-1

SEATTLE (AP) — Brenner scored in the first half to give FC Cincinnati the lead, but Fredy Montero equalized for Seattle in the second half of a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night that kept the Sounders slim playoff hopes alive. Brenner scored his 15th goal of the season in the 24th minute on a breakaway […]
23 hours ago
FILE - The angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple is silhouetted against a cloud-covered sky...
Associated Press

Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting

It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy. A new law would break that sacred bond, the priest said, and directed the parishioners to sign a one-page form letter […]
23 hours ago
This photo released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Sirhan Sir...
Associated Press

RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan challenges his parole denial

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, is asking a judge on Wednesday to free him from prison by reversing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s denial of his parole earlier this year. Sirhan shot Kennedy moments after the U.S. senator from New York claimed victory in California’s pivotal […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
‘Heartbreaking’ Madagascar is wake-up call to climate crisis