Aid agencies amass nutrition data diligently from the scorched south of Madagascar. But on the ground, the sale of kitchen utensils is a real red flag for aid workers — a signal of surrender to unrelenting days of hunger. Amid a global pandemic in this unheeded corner of Africa, people are struggling with the worst drought in a decade. Gaston Manantana, head of the village of Talaky Bas in Tsihombe district. Image courtesy of Sedera Ramanitra/Catholic Relief Services. Water is a luxury most years. Prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.), a rare plant that can survive the aridity, is a food staple. Gaston Manantana, head of Talaky Bas village in Tsihombe district, told Catholic Relief Services (CRS) staff that his community is resigned to eating fruit from the spiky plant to keep pangs of hunger at bay. This year the cacti are a luxury too. “Most of the cactus have dried up. Can you imagine that even our usual coping method is short? To us, this year is probably the worst,” Manantana said. Elsewhere, there are reports of villagers eating clay to survive. Children with too little to eat and too-big bellies dying. According to one estimate, in the deep south, 1.35 million people, including 100,000 children under 5, could fall victim to malnutrition in the coming months. Source: Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. Disclaimer: The information shown on this map does not imply official recognition or endorsement of any physical and political boundaries. All national population figures are based on…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer