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Madagascar: A Teacher’s Lesson

February 23, 2022

The people of Madagascar have been struggling with drought for the past four years. The drought has left tens of thousands of Madagascans experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger and food insecurity. While the situation is grave, there has been very little media coverage in North America about this crisis. Yet some Canadians have been responding.

Peter Oussoren is a teacher at King’s Christian Collegiate, a high school in Oakville, Ont. When he first heard about this situation during an episode of Al Jazeera’s Start Here program, he decided to share what was happening in Madagascar with his grade 9 students. They were excited to launch a fundraiser.

The students’ goal was to raise $1,000 CAD to donate to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s drought response efforts in southern Madagascar. Oussoren, who shared the story of their efforts with Al Jazeera, said: “Students were willing to give, and they wanted to meet their goal.” Eventually, Oussoren’s students were joined by other grade 9 classes, and together they raised $2,500.

World Renew, a founding member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is grateful to Oussoren and his students for extending God’s love to the people of Madagascar.

Sadly, drought is not the only crisis the people of Madagascar are facing.

On Jan. 22, Cyclone Ana made landfall in northern Madagascar with strong winds and rains that destroyed homes and washed away roads, leaving a trail of destruction. On Feb. 5, Cyclone Batsirai pummeled the region with heavy rains and winds reaching speeds of 235 km/hour, leaving an estimated 270,900 people displaced and in need of immediate food assistance. Ten days later, Tropical Storm Dumako hit the northeastern coast, leaving almost 3,000 people displaced. And another storm, Emnati, is expected to hit this week.

While providing people in crisis with emergency food is crucial to people’s survival, long-term solutions are needed in Madagascar, where a long history of natural disasters has taken a toll on the economy. Poor infrastructure, a low education rate, and heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture contribute to chronic food insecurity, with 75 percent of the population struggling with poverty, living on less than $2.00/day.

In 2021 World Renew with Canadian Foodgrains Bank received support from Global Affairs Canada to respond to both short-term and long-term food security needs simultaneously. In January 2022, World Renew’s partner in Madagascar, SAF-FJKM, launched the Humanitarian and Early Recovery and Development (HERD) program. Through this four-year program World Renew is working to address both the emergency needs and the development needs of 1,500 vulnerable households.

Through the HERD program, households will be provided with emergency cash and rice to meet families’ immediate food needs for six months. Alongside this response, households will be offered opportunities toward sustainable development of their communities, including support for farming activities with a focus on conservation agriculture practices, such as growing drought-tolerant crops, support to initiate new nonagriculture livelihoods, and support to establish savings and loans groups.

Please pray for the people of Madagascar, asking that all who are displaced will find shelter and that more hearts will open to extend God’s love to people struggling with food insecurity. Pray too for guidance for World Renew and its partners as they work to share God’s hope with families in Madagascar.

To help Madagascar and other countries facing hunger, you can support World Renew’s Canadian Foodgrains Bank programs.