Key exchange with Madagascar counterparts in advance of COP26
On 20 September 2021, BGIPU hosted a virtual bilateral meeting with Members of the National Assembly in Madagascar. The meeting was chaired by Tim Loughton MP, who had previously led a BGIPU delegation out to Madagascar in 2017. He was joined by Alex Sobel MP, Baroness Sheehan, Baroness Walmsley, Lord Thomas and Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Madagascar, David Ashley. The Malagasy delegation was led by Hon Maminiaina Rabenirina, and he was accompanied by Hon Djohary Lee Andrianambinina and Hon Raharimampionona.
The meeting began with discussions concerning the impact of climate change and the road to COP26. The topic is of pressing concern in Madagascar as the country is currently suffering from a climate-induced famine after a shortage of rainfall for the last four years. The UK is supporting the people of Madagascar and has provided £5m in assistance in the last few months through UNICEF and WFP.
The meeting progressed onto a discussion about what type of aid is most effective. The Malagasy delegation emphasised the importance of both urgent, reactive aid, as well as proactive aid. The Malagasy Government is looking into ways to increase land use, while protecting the biodiversity and forest, to prevent against future famines. A new department has recently been created with a mandate to work on reforestation.
The suffering caused by the famine has been aggravated by the pandemic. The closure of boarders has stopped tourism and caused mass unemployment in the country. Currently, less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated (this is compared to 90% in the UK of people who have received one jab). The Malagasy delegation has set the goal of vaccinating 50% of the population within two years.
The UK and the Malagasy parliamentarians were grateful for the opportunity to discuss matters of international importance and concern at the bilateral meeting. The UK has extended an invitation to host a Malagasy delegation in Westminster when it is possible with the aim of continuing to build closer relations between our two countries.