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The Kere of Madagascar: a qualitative exploration of community experiences and perspectives

Maixent I. Ralaingita, College of Health and Human Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
Gretchen Ennis, College of Health and Human Science, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
Jeremy Russell-Smith, Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
Kamaljit Sangha, College of Engineering, IT & Environment, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
Thierry Razanakoto, CERED, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar


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The Kere is a recurrent famine occurring in the south of Madagascar that emerged substantively in the 1930s. Each major event claims thousands of lives and keeps many in a cycle of impoverishment, despite the existence of various aid-based responses. This assessment presents qualitative research exploring two Kere-affected communities’ experiences of the phenomenon. Through focus group discussions, we learn that the Kere is a complex social-ecological disaster, compounded by an intricate chain of causation and impacts. Seeking a deep understanding of affected peoples’ perceptions and experience of the phenomenon, this paper challenges the idea that the Kere is a famine caused by recurring drought that can only be solved with provision of water and aid-based solutions. Based on community views and research literature, and the application of Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework, we demonstrate that the Kere is a phenomenon compounded by multiple interacting, debilitating factors including deforestation, drought, pests and diseases, food insecurity, extreme poverty, lawlessness, and political malaise; thus, solutions require a comprehensive, sustained, holistic response.

Key words

famine; Kere of Madagascar; pastoralists; qualitative research; social-ecological disaster;

Copyright © 2022 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087