July 01, 2009, Baltimore, MD
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that Catholic Relief Services is the lead agency for an $85 million, five-year program designed to help almost a half million people in Madagascar.
The $85 million will support a program called Strengthening and Accessing Livelihoods Opportunities for Household Impact (SALOHI). It will target 98,500 vulnerable households in 120 rural communes and three urban centers in eastern and southern Madagascar.
“Food insecurity is a very real threat for many Malagasy,” said Christopher Bessey, CRS’ Country Representative. “The SALOHI program will use a variety of approaches to address that problem.”
In addition to distributing food to vulnerable children, pregnant women and new mothers, the program will provide education on preventing malnutrition and common diseases, work to increase the production and value of crops in selected areas, as well as provide funding for infrastructure projects designed to help communities withstand climatic shocks and improve access to essential services.
Other agencies in the program are CARE, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Land O’ Lakes International.
An island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar has enormous agricultural potential, yet a majority of its 20 million people struggle to get enough to eat. Two-thirds are subsistence farmers, most living on less than $1 a day, and 38% of the population is undernourished. CRS has been in Madagascar since 1962. Political instability has been the rule, not the exception, since independence from France in 1960.
A few years of relative political calm at the beginning of the 21st century ended earlier this year when the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, led demonstrations against the elected president, Marc Ravalomanana. After Ravalomanana was ousted by a military coup, Rajoelina was named head of a transitional government.
“This investment in the future of Madagascar is crucial at this time of political uncertainty,” said Christopher Bessey, the CRS Country Representative. “It is a step to secure the future of the Malagasy people, to show that we have faith in that future, even as their leaders squabble.”