News / Africa

    UNICEF: Madagascar Vote Must End Instability, Suffering

    Supporters paste campaign posters of Madagascar's presidential candidate Robinson Jean-Louis along the streets of the capital, Antananarivo, October 23, 2013.
    Supporters paste campaign posters of Madagascar's presidential candidate Robinson Jean-Louis along the streets of the capital, Antananarivo, October 23, 2013.
    As Madagascar prepares for crucial presidential polls on Friday, UNICEF is hoping the vote will bring much-needed stability after five years of political crisis left the island’s 22 million people in dire need.  With an estimated 92 percent of the population living on just $2 a day, UNICEF says there is not more time to waste.

    Madagascar has moved from one problem to another since 2009, when Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, ousted President Marc Ravalomanana in a coup backed by the army.  The political upheaval dominated the government and little to no attention was paid to the needs of the people.
     
    Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Representative in Madagascar, said the presidential vote on Friday is a golden opportunity to get the country back on track.
     
    The coup resulted in the suspension of the international aid, which accounts for 40 percent of the national budget.  And that, said Lauwerier, has in turn led to severe cuts in government social programs.
     
    “The burden of the crisis came back to families.  Families had to pay for the children to go to school. Families had to pay far more for the health services.  One-point-five million children that are not at school at this moment - that’s a lost generation.  Those are sacrifices that had to be made at the cost of the most vulnerable, unfortunately in the society,” said Lauwerier.

    Misery in numbers

    Statistics from UNICEF tell more of the story.  Five Malagasy women die each day in childbirth and five children under the age of five are reportedly dying every hour, due to diseases that are preventable. 
     
    Worse still, one in two children are malnourished while 80 percent of them live below the poverty level.
     
    Lauwerier said Madagascar's people are pinning their hopes on Friday’s election to bring improvements.
     
    “Everybody hopes it will bring change, but that will depend, of course, on the politicians themselves, and it will depend on those who win and those who lose to accept that they lost. But everybody hopes that that will stick back the kind of confidence from the international community as well in the country and confidence that also investors need to invest in the country and bring a bit of stability,” said Lauwerier.
     
    Thirty-three candidates are contesting the presidency.  If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the first round, the two top contenders will compete in a second round scheduled for December 20, when parliamentary elections also take place.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora