The Malagasy people are facing extreme poverty, leading to a widespread issue of food insecurity. This dire situation has resulted in a prevalence of undernutrition and malnutrition, especially among children. However, the severity of the problem varies across different regions of Madagascar, with some areas experiencing extreme cases of malnutrition and limited access to food. In this article, we will focus on two contrasting cases of malnourished children in Madagascar, specifically in the Central and Southern regions.
In the capital city of Madagascar, malnutrition primarily affects children from impoverished families, which can be classified into two categories: financially sufficient families and those living on the streets without any parental or family support.
Children from families with financial difficulties often struggle with malnutrition due to the lack of money to afford balanced and nutritious food. Their daily struggles revolve around earning enough just to secure a meal, resulting in an inadequate diet lacking essential nutrients. Despite having enough to eat, the quality of their food is poor, rendering them vulnerable to illnesses and malnutrition.
On the other hand, children living on the streets, referred to as “4mi,” face even graver challenges. These children do not have the luxury of living with their parents and must fend for themselves. They survive by scavenging the leftovers from garbage bins, consuming dirty and rotten food. Their main source of sustenance includes remnants of rice and other discarded foods found in the trash. Some may resort to stealing, while others work to earn meager amounts of money, which are never sufficient for their nutritional needs. Additionally, they lack access to clean drinking water, further exacerbating their vulnerability to illnesses. Even if they fall sick, they do not have the means to seek medical attention at a hospital.
Moving to the Southern region of Madagascar, the situation is more terrible for children facing food insecurity. Lack of access to food and clean drinking water has led to an alarming increase in child mortality rates in this region. There, children not only suffer from undernourishment but also face severe malnutrition due to an acute shortage of food. Unfortunately, the problem is so overwhelming that even the efforts of various charitable associations that provide food aid are insufficient to meet the needs of the affected children. Madagascar requires comprehensive efforts and support from a variety of non-governmental organizations to address malnutrition and food insecurity. Effective solutions must go beyond short-term food aid and focus on long-term sustainable initiatives such as education, vocational training, and improving economic opportunities for families.
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