Learn more about specific causes in Madagascar that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentMadagascar’s environmental issues stem from deforestation, erosion, exploitation of resources, and the introduction of foreign species into the ecosystem. The practice of tavy, a slash-and-burn approach to converting rainforests into rice fields, is also a huge threat to the environment. This exacerbates pre-existing issues such as droughts.1 While this practice can be economically beneficial in the short-term, it ultimately renders the land unusable for agricultural purposes. Most of Madagascar’s population is heavily dependent on agriculture and natural resources as a livelihood, and the degradation of the environment is damaging its long-term sustainability.2
FamilyMadagascar has a large need for family planning services. In rural areas, it is common to see a young mother taking care of 10 children. The annual population growth rate is 2.7%.1 The government has added family planning to their economic and social development plan, called the Madagascar Action Plan. The goal of family planning facilities is to improve the wellbeing of each member of the family and to meet the demand for contraceptives.2 The average age for first-time births is 19, the infant mortality rate is 42 of 1000 births, and the maternal mortality rate is 353 deaths per 100,000 births.3
Human RightsThe majority of human rights abuses happen intermittently during times of political unrest. The country struggles with an overzealous law enforcement and a military who responds to even small protests with unnecessary amounts of force.1 Arbitrary detentions still occur, although the government did abolish press censorship. Security forces and government authorities are reported to commit human rights violations by using excessive force and perpetuating the culture of impunity. The government’s efforts have failed to stop child trafficking and forced labor. 2
EducationEducation is a continual challenge in Madagascar. Following various political crises, families have lost income and government funds for schools have run out. The increase in familial poverty has further decreased the likelihood that children will go to school. Instead, they work to help contribute to their families. For every 10 children that begin primary school, only 6 complete the fifth grade. Additionally, the average adult in Madagascar has only 4.4 years of schooling. This is in part because there is a severe lack of teachers, infrastructure, and resources to provide for the country’s educational demand.1
PovertyMadagascar is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. With the increase of the population, the rate of poverty has also substantially increased. 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.1 The lack of hygiene and chronic levels of malnutrition have diminished life expectancy, consequently decreasing the work force and exasperating poverty.2
ReligionAround half of the population of Madagascar follows indigenous religions, 25% are Protestant Christian, 16% are other Christian denominations, and the remaining 7% are Muslim.1 Freedom of religion is protected by the country’s constitution and is well-enforced. Religious conflict is seldom reported.2
Clean WaterAround 12 million people in Madagascar lack access to clean water. Moreover, 21 million people have no access to sanitation facilities and services. This leads to the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhea, which kill thousands of children each year.1 81% of people who live in urban areas have clean water access, differing greatly from the 35% of rural populations who do.2
EconomyThe backbone of Madagascar’s economy is agriculture, especially fishing and forestry. This industry accounts for 24% of the GDP. Madagascar’s government has reformed its economic policy to allow for more freedom of entrepreneurial growth. In recent years, tax reform has simplified and reduced individual and corporate taxes. Corruption has been reported, hindering growth in nearly every economic sector, including the judiciary.1 The unemployment rate is 2.1%.2
GovernmentMadagascar’s government is a semi-presidential republic. The political unrest and government corruption the country has been known for in the past has acted as a deterrent for foreign investment, despite the relative stability of the government in recent years. The judicial branch is not independent and remains vulnerable to executive influence.1 However, since 2014 the government-run elections have been found to be much more stable, free, and fair.2 Transparency International ranks Madagascar 145th out of 176 countries for high levels of corruption, and ranks the country in the 26th percentile for their control of corruption.3
HealthThe leading causes of death in Madagascar are diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections, heart diseases, and malnutrition. The average life expectancy is 62.1 In theory, medical services are free, but limited government funding undermines the efficacy of the health clinics and hospitals.2 Government turmoil has negatively impacted the healthcare system because each new leader starts and stops different projects and very few are seen through to completion.3
ChildrenChild trafficking and the commercial sex industry are prevalent issues for children in Madagascar. Food shortages and poverty continue to make children one of the most vulnerable groups of the population. 41% of the population is younger than 14. Many children grow up without parental protection and become entangled in trafficking, prostitution, or are sold for child labor.1 47% of children have stunted growth, and 10% have been diagnosed with acute malnutrition. An intense drought in 2016 caused school dropout rates to reach 40% and increased the number of children forced into illegal and dangerous work.2
AnimalsRosewood trees, tortoises, chameleons, geckos, and snakes are among the endangered species living on Madagascar. The illegal wildlife trade is one of the leading threats for native animals. Additionally, the slash-and-burn forest clearing technique used by farmers destroys valuable habitats for the native species.1
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