Angenie, 21, lives in a country many people think of as an ecological paradise, home to a unique diversity of plants and animals. Yet within the past three years she has witnessed droughts and floods so severe she has had to flee her home to escape them – twice.
Angenie grew up in southern Madagascar where, as a child, she remembers “things being green”. But for the past few years a severe drought, blamed on thedevastating effects of El Niño, has gripped the southern region. “The land got dry, really dry,” she says. “It got to the point we were not able to grow anything. People ate only dried cassava or cactus fruit.”
More than 80% of Madagascar’s rural poor are, like Angenie and her family, reliant on small-scale farming or fishing. With no way to feed themselves, she and her husband moved to the coastal city of Morondava three years ago, settling in a suburb called Tanambao, little more than a collection of ramshackle wooden houses on a strip of land wedged between a river and the sea.
She says: “At first life was a bit better here because at least we could go out and catch shrimps for our food. But last year we had floods. The water rose so fast. I had to carry my baby on my shoulders to get out. When we came back, everything was destroyed.”