RWA Madagascar: Climate Change and Migration in Madagascar

Throughout centuries, climate change has been playing a major role in rural women’s lives, namely on their way of life and livelihoods, and their well-being as well. When referring to climate change, it is important to highlight long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change primarily due to the burning of fossil fuel (like charcoal, oil and gas) producing heat-trapping gasses. 

Regrettably, the most affected by this phenomenon are the women who are being vulnerable from generation to generation and especially rural women who are hardly spared given that they are the mainstay of their families ‘livelihoods. Deep in the Southern semiarid and arid parts of Madagascar, drought which is the main climate change effects is real and disrupting people’s way of life because their vital resources, such as water, food and energy are at risk.: with the water sources dried up, women have to travel many more kilometers than they used to do before to find drinking water for their families and livestock.

The women have been living in this hopeless situation on a daily basis for decades. Communities have been experiencing recurrent catastrophic starvation or “KERE” (in the local dialect): demographic pressure and the aggravated drought due to climate change are the main causes of this steadily event which keeps the subregion in a cycle of poverty: 57% of the population are classified very poor (INSTAT 2014) while 67,5% are in continuous undernourishment (Razanakoto 2017).

In order to escape this situation made up of food shortage and economic distress which has taken on a worrying dimension: the Kere-affected communities are migrating north. This increase in human population means that more food and other resources are needed. Thus, conflict is inevitable for migrants who are not welcomed by local populations already struggling to make a living due to climate change. Despite the fact that the Northern part looks quite different from the South with the increase of rainfall, climate challenges are the same: devastating humans and the wildlife.

Since the outbreak of the Covid 19, the country already weakened by many factors, has experienced unprecedented inflation, especially for basic necessities, building materials and pharmaceuticals, which is at its highest rate increasing the number of new poor, both in urban and rural areas, widening further the gap between the haves and have-nots. Unfortunately, no clear policy has been put in place to address the issues associated with inflation to mitigate its impacts. Instead of providing emergency aid interventions including the distribution of imported rice the staple food which does not fit the local context and undermines the human dignity of the inhabitants, sustainable initiatives must be taken and appropriate actions must be undertaken such as promoting local production through the granting of solidarity funds ensuring a better circular economy to leave no one behind.

Contemporary concerns are in one way or another linked to climate change since the climate crisis touches all areas of our lives. Mostly, the huge victims are those working in agricultural fields who are women in majority. In this momentum, this group has to undergo Gender Based Violence and discrimination capacity building on their way to a new environment and lifestyle in which they are compelled to adapt themselves.

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