Madagascar crisis: this is Tsihala’s story

Stories | December 1, 2021

Even before Madagascar became gripped by a worsening humanitarian crisis, things were already challenging for Tsihala and her family.

The 30-year-old has an intellectual disability and requires daily care from her mother and brother. They are the only people in their small village who are able to communicate with her, meaning they need to accompany her to any type of activity or appointment that requires interaction.

Tsihala’s brother even chose not to get married so he could devote more of his time to caring for his sister.

The difficulties experienced by Tsihala and her family have been compounded by the fact that – like about three-quarters of the population in Madagascar – they have long lived in poverty and their diet resolves around red cactus fruits and cassava leaves.

Without easy access to water in their region, Tsihala and her family have to walk several miles to fetch water and find food just to survive.

Farming was the family’s livelihood, but then back-to-back droughts in 2020 and 2021 left their land dry and unusable. Coupled with the ongoing impact of Covid-19, Tsihala and her family are among the millions of people in Madagascar experiencing the devastating impact of the African island country’s most severe drought and food crisis in decades.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme says that about 1.3 million people need urgent assistance and the catastrophic impact on agriculture has left many forced to eat locusts, raw red cactus fruits or wild leaves to stay alive. In some districts, three out of every four families are starving.

It is estimated that the food security crisis will only continue to worsen due to a range of factors including insufficient food supplies, limited employment opportunities and increased prices for food staples and essentials due to COVID-19.

People with disabilities are more likely to be forgotten or left behind in times of disaster. This can be seen in disaster responses that fail to take in the unique needs of people with disabilities, through to places where food and money are distributed being inaccessible to people with physical impairments.

People like Tsihala and her family need to help to navigate this deadly crisis and rebuild their lives.

Can you provide an urgent gift to CBM today to help provide life-saving supplies directly to people with disabilities? Donate here

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