A series of years of low rainfall has caused a prolonged drought in Madagascar that has already led to famine-like conditions for tens of thousands of people.
A study by scientists from the World Weather Attribution initiative, a collaboration between Imperial College London (London) and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (the Netherlands), found that droughts are most likely caused by natural variations in the climate.
According to the group, poverty, poor infrastructure, and dependence on rain for agriculture are also contributing factors to the country’s current food crisis.
Scientists said they couldn’t exclude climate change as a contributing factor to the lower rainfall. However, their role, if any was, was so small that it was not distinguishable from the country’s historical climate patterns.
The study states that the main reason for the food crisis is “instead, the study finds vulnerability to low rainfall.” “Covid restrictions to limit the public health impacts also stopped people in the region from going elsewhere in the nation to find work, like many people have done in other times.”
WFP responded to the study saying that the food crisis was caused by above-average temperatures, lower rainfall, crop failures, and other vulnerabilities in communities dependent upon subsistence agriculture. This was made worse by the economic impact on Covid-19.
“The WWA study did not attribute the 2019/2020 droughts solely human-induced climate change. However, it acknowledges that global warming increases vulnerability,” the organization stated in a statement.
The average temperature increase in the world has been around 1.2 degrees Celsius.
WFP stated that it was concerned that Madagascar and other countries would continue to experience food crises if the climate crisis is not addressed and that it should help the vulnerable adapt and build their resilience.
CNN was one of many media outlets that reported on the WFP’s description of the climate crisis as the reason for the current food crisis.
The scientists from WWA studied the heavily affected southwest of the country. They analyzed weather records, climate projections, and computer simulations to compare current and past climate conditions.
The study revealed that the region experiences high levels of variation in its rainfall patterns. It was found that Madagascar has a 1-in-135 chance for such a drought in today’s climate.
Madagascar is still vulnerable to the climate crisis. This is due primarily to humans’ use fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas. The country will likely experience more extreme weather effects, including drought, as greenhouse gas emissions increase.
“If global temperatures rise further Madagascar is likely to experience stronger tropical cyclones and in some places more droughts,” said Lisa Thalheimer (postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment, Princeton University), who participated in the study.
“Unless carbon emissions worldwide are reduced, any increase of extreme weather events will only compound existing vulnerabilities and especially harm the poorest people, making them less able to deal with compounding shocks such as the one we are currently experiencing.”
“What we see with the Madagascar earthquake shows that we are not always prepared for today’s climate,” Maarten van Aalst, director at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said.
“It remains crucial to address the vulnerability in the region, and improve the living standards of the people.”