Ethical chocolate firm MIA urges support for drought-hit Madagascan communities
Bean-to-bar ethical chocolate company MIA (Made In Africa), has urged support for a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Madagascar, its core cocoa production partner, with populations facing a threat of starvation amid extended droughts, reports Neill Barston.
As the company explained, the southern region of the country has been especially hit by extremely challenging conditions – which have been further impacted by the coronavirus crisis that has not enable access to vital vaccines.
Brett Beach, co-founder of MIA expressed concern to Confectionery Production on the issue, having worked hard to establish the business, which has delivered a range of premium chocolate, that has centre on ensuring cocoa processing and production occurs locally in Madagascar to ensure maximum benefit to local communities.
He explained that the situation was particularly concerning, and as a result, it would be making a charitable donation for a famine relief fund from its 1 for Change impact fund, and urged the sector to join the response via the UK charity’s Money For Madagascar initiative appeal page.
Commenting on the crisis, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Madagascar Country Coordinator Julie Reversé revealed the extent of conditions facing the country.
She said: “We’re seeing totally destitute people who have literally nothing to eat and are teetering on the edge of survival. Some have had to sell their cooking utensils and don’t even have containers to fetch water.”
According to MSF, around 28 percent of children under five are acutely malnourished in some villages in the Amboasary district in the south (a school building in the region pictured below). One-third have severe malnutrition and are at high risk of death (approximately 12,000 children).
MIA Co-founder Brett Beach, who called Madagascar home for six years after he landed there as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1999, travelled to the south many times, added: “Southern Madagascar has historically been the poorest region with a hot and dry climate that makes life under normal conditions challenging for those with few resources.
Seeing mothers mixing tamarind and clay in a desperate attempt to fill children’s stomachs is really heart breaking, especially when we know that the food relief programme can provide children a healthy meal a day for just £6 per month. That’s roughly the cost of two coffees for a child to eat for a month.”
The MIA’s latest donation of £500 towards the cause marks its second in what has been a prolonged famine for the
region. MIA support is implemented by Money for Madagascar, a UK charity that works in coordination with the World Food Program to feed children at two grammar schools.
Money for Madagascar Director Irenée Rajaona-Horne explains the charity’s work: “We are helping the World Food Program address this crisis by providing free school meals to over 650 students at two grammar schools in the most severely affected
communities. While the primary purpose of the nutritious meals is to alleviate starvation, working with schools to distribute the food means that the support also helps children continue learning despite the crisis.”