Madagascar is a large island nation located in the southwestern of the Indian Ocean just off the south-eastern edge of the African continent. The country is classified as least developed, low-income, and food deficient country and ranks 145th out of 177 countries by the 2009 United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report. Since its independence in 1960, annual per capita income have fallen by 40%, with 1990s the GDP falling 50% from that of the 1980s. Poverty levels, however remain high, and much of this poverty is centered around rural areas, where subsistence agriculture is practices to meet basic needs . Food security remains a significant challenge, and according to 2005 estimates 25% of the country’s rural population was classified as food insecure. Since 2000, however, GDPs have seen a steady rise ($9 billion in 2009). The country’s population is also on a steady rise, with an estimated 19 million people living in Madagascar in 2009 with an average population growth rate of 3% . The primary sectors that form the basis of the country’s national economy include agriculture, fisheries and livestock production. Cash crops are grown primarily in the east and northwest of the country, and include sugarcane, vanilla, coffee, cloves and cocoa. Subsistence crops dominate household consumption, including rice, cassava, beans, bananas and peanuts. The country encompasses a diversity of ecosystems, with a highland plateau extending throughout the center fringed by low lying coastal areas on all sides. The highest elevations on the island are those of Mt. Maromokotro (2,880m). Although the country’s ecosystems have been severely degraded due to logging and agriculture, Madagascar hosts a unique and increasingly threatened diversity of flora and fauna, including several rare orchid species and lemurs. Several rivers traverse Madagascar, including the Socia, Betsiboka, Manambao, Mangoro, Tsiribihina, Mangoky , Manannara and Onilahy. Clearly, development challenges loom large for Madagascar, where poverty rates hover at 71%, literacy at 70% and an uncertain political situation. Madagascar faces significant risks imposed by an increasingly variable and changing climate. Cyclones, droughts, and floods are all common occurrences in the country. Between 1980 and 2010 alone, Madagascar was struck by 35 cyclones and floods, 5 periods of severe droughts, 5 earthquakes and 6 epidemics . These disturbances are becoming increasingly frequent and intense affecting population food security, drinking water supply and irrigation, public health systems, environmental management and lifestyle.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities