Switzerland is making an additional contribution of CHF 900,000 (US$ 928,000) to help deal with the serious food crisis in Madagascar. In releasing this sum, which is intended to support the activities of the World Food Programme (WFP), Switzerland is responding to a recent joint appeal by the government of Madagascar and the UN for international aid. Alarming situations are also unfolding in many other countries where millions of people lack food because of armed conflict, economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change. In 2021, Switzerland provided a total of CHF 100 million – a new record – to support the WFP's activities, primarily in Africa.
Food insecurity in Madagascar continues to worsen. Since the beginning of the year, the authorities and humanitarian organisations have redoubled their efforts to mitigate the consequences of the worst drought in 40 years and the economic recession linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than one million people are currently in need of emergency food assistance and nearly half of all children aged 6 months to 5 years are suffering from chronic malnutrition.
In view of this crisis, Switzerland has decided to make an additional contribution of CHF 900,000. This amount is intended to support the WFP's operations on the ground. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the FDFA had already allocated around CHF 1.5 million since the beginning of the year in order to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. Although Madagascar is not one of its priority countries, the SDC is active on the island through its humanitarian aid. It is working together with the Swiss embassy in Antananarivo, which is closely monitoring the situation in the country and providing support for the implementation of the aid provided by the Swiss Confederation.
Critical situation worldwide
Besides Madagascar, at least 80 other countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, are facing food insecurity. Famine-like conditions are prevalent in 43 countries, with 45 million people facing acute or catastrophic levels of food insecurity, as compared to 41 million people in June 2021. Conflict-driven displacement, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the consequences of climate change are depriving millions of people of access to food of sufficient quantity and quality to meet nutritional needs.
The WFP sounded the alarm as early as February of this year, calling on the international community to mobilise additional funds to meet the unprecedented scale of need. At the time, the SDC pledged a record CHF 100 million to the WFP for 2021. This new contribution for Madagascar means that Switzerland will have paid the full amount by the end of this year. To put this in perspective, the SDC's annual contributions to the WFP amounted to approximately CHF 70 million in previous years and CHF 90 million in 2020. Switzerland continues to monitor the global food insecurity situation with great concern. Swiss support for WFP operations takes the form of financial contributions, technical assistance from Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit specialists and funding for political initiatives undertaken by UN organisations to promote food security.