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Madagascar On the Brink of the World’s First Climate Change Famine

The drought – the worst in four decades – has devastated isolated farming communities in the south of the country, leaving families to scavenge for insects to survive. “These are famine-like conditions and they’re being driven by climate not conflict,” said the UN World Food Programme’s Shelley Thakral. The UN estimates that 30,000 people are currently experiencing the highest internationally recognised level of food insecurity – level five – and there are concerns the number affected could rise sharply as Madagascar enters the traditional “lean season” before harvest. “This is unprecedented. These people have done nothing to contribute to climate change. They don’t burn fossil fuels… and yet they are bearing the brunt of climate change,” said Ms Thakral. Although Madagascar experiences frequent droughts and is often affected by the change in weather patterns caused by El Niño, experts believe climate change can be directly linked to the current crisis. “With the latest IPCC report, we saw that Madagascar has observed an increase in aridity. And that is expected to increase if climate change continues. “In many ways this can be seen as a very powerful argument for people to change their ways,” said Dr Rondro Barimalala, a Madagascan scientist working at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.