Located 250 miles off the coast of Mozambique, the island country of Madagascar is known for its unique array of plant and wildlife. Of the 200,000 animal species that inhabit Madagascar, about 150,000 of them cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The people of Madagascar are also diverse, with 18 different ethnic groups scattered throughout the country.
Close to 80% of the population depends on subsistence farming, meaning they grow food crops to meet the needs of their own families. As of July 2021, the southern part of Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. Access to food has been further impacted by ongoing Covid restrictions.
But rural living does not necessarily equate to poverty. Due to overcrowding in bigger cities, income, education, and healthcare are often better in rural villages. A third of all Malagasy people cannot read or write. Improvements to the education system in Madagascar are further complicated by the fact that 40% of the population is under the age of 15. For many families, sending their children out to earn a wage and help meet their immediate needs outweighs the long-term benefits of attending school.
In addition to physical poverty, there is also a deep spiritual poverty in Madagascar. Ancestral worship and witchcraft are rampant, even among those who claim to be Christian. Through an official partnership with ten churches in the capital city of Antananarivo, CHF has already begun training local Malagasy pastors in gospel-centered mercy ministry. We look forward to seeing how God will work through these faithful partners.