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Canas in Madagascar

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can be detrimental to communities that rely on crop production for both economic reasons and food security. Paola Canas, a senior majoring in Nutrition Wellness, traveled to Madagascar in the Summer of 2017 to investigate the effects of natural disasters on crop production and crop sustainability. She conducted research under the advisement of Dr. Farris, a faculty member in the College of Human Sciences, who travels to Madagascar every other year.

Paola explained that Dr. Farris focuses on a different village with every visit that she takes to Madagascar. For Paola’s trip, the village of interest was the Andasiee village. Dr. Farris and Paola distributed surveys to the residents of the Andasiee village to better understand the impact of natural disasters on their crop production and eating habits. The Mad Dog Initiative program, led by Dr. Farris’s husband, aided in the distribution of these surveys.

Paola found that most residents of the Andasiee village would not consume three meals a day and that most adults would skip meals to provide more food for their children. Paola explained that the village residents would consume a meal of rice, beans, and a green leafy vegetable at every meal, regardless whether the meal was consumed for breakfast or for dinner. The lack of food and restricted diet, however, were not effects of the natural disaster. Although natural disasters impact the crop production and destroy many houses, Paola found that the eating habits of the Andasiee village residents do not differ drastically before and after a natural disaster. Paola explained that in villages like the Andasiee experience natural disasters so often that they are accustomed to natural disaster conditions.

Paola claims that the experience she had in Madagascar was both valuable and humbling. She aided a family of 19 members by rebuilding their house that had been destroyed during a natural disaster. The new house provided a more suitable living environment for the 15 kids and 4 adults who lived there. This experience was so rewarding to Paola that she plans to study abroad in future summers to aid others suffering worldwide.


Last modified: December 4, 2017