Baobabs in Madagascar

Madagascar Natural paradise in challenging circumstances

Madagascar is Africa's largest island state and the fourth largest island in the world. Its isolated situation in the Indian Ocean has allowed a rich diversity of flora and fauna to develop. The country is also rich in resources and fertile land and there is great potential for renewable energy generation.

However, Madagascar's people are faced with huge challenges. Decades of economic problems, deficits in the field of governance and widespread corruption have led to a situation which is now, in some areas, disastrous. Madagascar is among the world's least developed countries. More than three quarters of the people live in extreme poverty.

Large parts of this natural paradise have already been destroyed as a result of human intervention. The island used to be almost entirely covered by rainforest, but only a fraction of that forest has survived.

Madagascar is also particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts. They often destroy harvests and cause considerable damage to the country's infrastructure, threatening people's livelihoods.

Hunger crisis in the south

Straight to
Queue at a public water dispenser in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar
The southern part of Madagascar is currently faced with a severe hunger crisis – the first ever, worldwide, that has clearly been caused by climate change, according to the United Nations. The worst drought in 40 years has led to harvest loss, dust storms, and sand piling up on the land. The south is the poorest and least developed region of Madagascar. The consequences of the pandemic have further exacerbated the situation, as food prices have risen sharply while employment opportunities have deteriorated significantly. On top of this, the region has been hit by a locust plague.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), some 1.31 million people in Madagascar are affected by food insecurity and malnutrition (as at end of 2021) and are in need of humanitarian aid. Some 28,000 people are experiencing famine-like conditions.

David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme
Families are suffering and people are already dying from severe hunger. This is not because of war or conflict, this is because of climate change. This is an area of the world that has contributed nothing to climate change, but now, they're the ones paying the highest price.
David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme

German development cooperation with Madagascar

Sustainable vanilla cultivation in Madagascar

Sustainable vanilla cultivation in Madagascar

Sustainable vanilla cultivation in Madagascar

Germany supports the efforts of the people of Madagascar to make use of local development potential. German development cooperation with Madagascar began in 1962. In response to a coup in 2009, Germany – along with the European Union and all EU member states – suspended its intergovernmental cooperation with Madagascar. Following the coup, Germany's activities were limited to projects that directly benefited people locally.

Madagascar: A lemur with an offspring
After Madagascar had returned to democracy, the EU lifted the restrictions in 2014, and Germany resumed its bilateral development cooperation with the country. In 2020, Germany committed some 48 million euros to Madagascar. The first bilateral government negotiations since 2007 were held in December 2021.

In response to the current hunger crisis, the Federal Foreign Office has provided humanitarian assistance. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has increased its activities in the southern region with a view to increasing the resilience of local communities and addressing the structural causes of the crisis. To that end, the BMZ has made available 3 million euros for the work of the World Food Programme in Madagascar. Among other things, the funding is to go towards school meals for more than 120,000 primary school pupils. In addition, 5.8 million euros is being provided for a project for the adaptation of agricultural value chains to climate change. Among other things, support will be provided for a harvest loss relief fund and for the creation of new income opportunities.

Core areas of cooperation

Germany's development cooperation with Madagascar focuses on the following core areas:

  • Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources
    Areas of intervention: Biodiversity; forests
  • Sustainable agriculture and food systems
    Areas of intervention: Food and nutrition security; agriculture
  • Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy
    Area of intervention: Renewable energy and energy efficiency

The BMZ also supports activities in the field of good governance. Among other things, it funds projects for pro-poor municipal development through increased decentralisation, higher municipal revenues, local infrastructure development and anti-corruption.

Farmers harvesting rice

Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources Fostering nature conservation, protecting biodiversity, securing local prosperity Internal link

One major focus of Germany's development cooperation with Madagascar is environmental protection. The island is a unique biodiversity hotspot. It is home to many animal and plant species not found anywhere else in the world.

Madame Filao inspects her castor oil plants.

Sustainable agriculture and food systems Agricultural value chain development Internal link

Even though Madagascar has contributed nearly nothing to human-made climate change, the island is one of the countries that are most affected by it. Extreme weather events are on the rise. Cyclones and droughts regularly cause harvest loss and significant damage. The southern part of the country, which is particularly poor, is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis that is significantly fuelled by climate change. Due to persistent drought, more than one million people are experiencing hunger.

Mobile solar panels are used to power small electrical items in areas where there is no access to electricity in Madagascar.

Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy Electricity for rural people Internal link

Only six per cent of Madagascar's rural people have access to electricity. Most households meet their energy needs through firewood, kerosene lamps, candles, coal, or diesel generators. Germany has therefore focused its activities on improving the rural power supply. To that end, the BMZ supports the use of renewable energy, because Madagascar's natural conditions for the generation of renewable energy are very good.

Current situation

Political situation
Policeman in Moramanga, Madagascar
Social situation
Economic situation
An intercity bus in Madagascar
Development potential
Madagascar: A lemur with an offspring