Drought-stricken Madagascar a ‘wake up call,’ UN food agency head says

Madagascar’s state of drought and hunger is a “wake up call” for what the world can expect to see in the future because of climate change, according to a United Nations (U.N.) agency’s leader.

The nation represents “the beginning of what we can expect,” David Beasley, who leads the U.N.’s food aid agency, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

As the country endures extreme temperatures, drought and sandstorms, about 1.1 million suffer from severe hunger in Madagascar, according to the World Food Program. Nearly half of all children under the age of 5 in Madagascar experience chronic malnutrition, marking the 10th-highest rate in the world. 

“Madagascar was heartbreaking,” Beasley, who recently visited the nation, said to the AP. The World Food Program’s executive director also described what he saw as “desperate” people attempting to sell their pots and pans to purchase food.

Last year, 38 million people were displaced and left vulnerable to hunger as a result of climate change. Beasley told the AP that in a worst-case scenario situation, the number could jump to 216 million people by 2050.

The European Union, the United States and many other countries have set the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Other major emitters, such as China, Russia and India, did not commit to that deadline. Earlier this week, India said it was committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.


“Madagascar is not an isolated incident,″ Beasley said to the wire service. ”The world needs to look to Madagascar to see what is coming your way and [to] many other countries around the world.”

Beasley’s warning comes as leaders from nearly 200 nations gather in Scotland for the U.N. COP26 summit, or the 26th annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties, to discuss strategies for addressing climate change globally.

Tags Climate change COP26 Famine World Food Program

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