NAIROBI (Reuters) - Communities in Madagascar are on the verge of starvation, with women and children walking for hours to reach food after the worst drought in four decades devastated the south of the island, the World Food Programme said.
Acute malnutrition has almost doubled over the last four months, the WFP said, with more than a quarter of people suffering in one area.
"I met women and children who were holding on for dear life, they'd walked for hours to get to our food distribution points," David Beasley, WFP executive director, said in a statement.
"There have been back-to-back droughts in Madagascar which have pushed communities right to the very edge of starvation. Families are suffering and people are already dying from severe hunger," he added. Beasley blamed climate change for the crisis.
WFP said $78.6 million was needed to fight the crisis.
"Families have been living on raw red cactus fruits, wild leaves and locusts for months now," Beasley said.
Bole, a mother of three from Ambiriky, in southern Madagascar, who also is caring for two orphans after their mother died, told the agency that to survive they relied on cactus leaves for their meals.
"We have nothing left. Their mother is dead and my husband is dead. What do you want me to say? Our life is all about looking for cactus leaves again and again to survive," she said.
(Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Alison Williams)