A third of the population of Madagascar will suffer from food insecurity due to ongoing droughts and a recession.
Over a million people are struggling to find their next meal.
BBC World Service
The UN World Food Programme is warning of a looming humanitarian crisis in southern Madagascar caused by three consecutive years of drought, and a recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The WFP says more than 1.3 million Malagasys are expected to suffer from food insecurity.
It says that with malnutrition rates continuing to spiral, families are resorting to eating tamarind fruit mixed with clay to survive.
An assessment by the WFP in one town, Amboasary, found that three out of four children were absent from school - mostly to help their parents forage for food.
- Copyright: Reuters
A plant described as "the ugliest orchid in the world" is among the 156 new species identified and named by London's Royal Botanic Gardens and its partners.
The Gastrodia agnicellus was found in a forest in Madagascar and its 11mm flowers "are small, brown and rather ugly", researchers say.
The plants are normally known for their beauty.
"The orchid depends on fungi for nutrition and has no leaves or any other photosynthetic tissue," they add in a statement.
Among other newly named plants was a "a strange shrub encountered by botanist Wessel Swanepoel in the semi-desert of southern Namibia".
After investigation, researchers found that "the plant’s DNA fitted the cabbage order, but none of the known families in this order".
The plant actually turned out to be part of a new genus and new family of plants and it has been called Tiganophyton karasense.
Tiganophyton translates as "frying pan plant" because of the shape of its leaves.
BBC World Service
The UN's food agency says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people into crisis.
The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.
In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.
Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.
Emeline Nsingi Nkosi
BBC Africa Sport in Dakar
That goal came out of nowhere. You can feel it's given Madagascar wind under their wings - a sense of hope.
By Phil Shepka
BBC News, Maputo
Nearly a dozen MPs have died from Covid-19 in southern Africa, the head of the Southern African Development Community's parliamentary forum, Esperanca Bias, has said.
The MPs were from Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, Ms Bias added.
She offered her condolences to their families as she ended a session of the parliamentary forum in Mozambique's capital, Maputo.
Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina has lifted a curfew imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The president announced that sporting activities would be allowed but with an audience of not more than 200 people.
Passengers boarding domestic flights will be required to take a coronavirus test 48 hours before departure and will only be allowed to board if the test is negative.
Only one airport was cleared for international flights beginning this month with strict guidelines in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Mask wearing and social distancing are still mandatory across the country.
Madagascar recorded a spike in virus cases in July forcing the government to reintroduce a lockdown in the capital, Antananarivo.
President Rajoelina had promoted a herbal tonic that he said cured Covid-19 but the World Health Organization has maintained that there is no cure for the disease.
The tonic is now being manufactured in tablets and continues to be distributed in the country.
By Peter Mwai
BBC Reality Check
BBC World Service
Eleven out of 31 prisoners who escaped from a facility in the south-east of Madagascar on Sunday have been recaptured, police say.
The police and army were deployed to Farafanga prison when dozens of prisoners turned against guards with rocks and a stolen gun.
The police opened fire, killing 20 inmates.
The justice ministry said 19 prisoners were still at large.
Mass prison escapes are not uncommon in Madagascar. In 2016 around 40 detainees broke out from a high-security prison in Toliary in the south of the country.
People are often held for years in prison in Madagascar as they await trial, rights groups say.
Twenty prisoners were killed in Madagascar as the authorities attempted to stop a riot in a prison in the south of the island, the justice ministry said.
The trouble began at the prison in Farafagana at around 12:00 local time (09:00 GMT) with inmates splitting into two groups and attacking guards with stones, the ministry outlined in a statement on Facebook.
They also seized a gun.
Along with the 20 who were shot dead, eight prisoners were seriously injured as the authorities tried to regain control.
Twenty-nine others were also recaptured but by 16:00 local time 31 inmates were still free, according to the justice ministry.
It is not clear how the violence began but in 2018 Amnesty International reported that Madagascar's prisons were "dilapidated, ill-equipped, with [a] lack of financial, material and general support".
It also highlighted how people can spend years in pre-trial detention.
Last year, the BBC's Pumza Fihalni reported on the conditions in Antalaha Prison:
By Raïssa Ioussouf
BBC Africa correspondentCopyright: AFP
Officials at some hospitals in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, are warning that their facilities are overwhelmed following a recent spike in Covid-19 cases.
The minister for health has written an open letter to aid agencies asking for equipment like testing kits, respirators and protective equipment for health workers, to help fight the pandemic.
At one government hospital in Antananarivo, the director says they are already treating 46 patients and only have space for four more.
Another administrator at a different facility said they were constantly overwhelmed.
The World Health Organization representative in Madagascar has warned that hospitals are saturated even before the peak of the pandemic in the country is reached.
There are over 7,500 coronavirus cases in Madagascar - nearly 80% of them were diagnosed in the past month.
With the spike in positive results, the government reinstated a strict lockdown of the capital and surrounding areas.
Following the health minister’s request for assistance on Monday, Madagascar's government spokesperson said it was not his duty to make appeals for help.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has insisted the country is able to manage the disease and has promoted an unproven herbal drink as a preventive cure.
BBC News, Lagos
The authorities in Nigeria say it could not find evidence in the tests that it had done so far that Covid-Organics, Madagascar's herbal tonic touted as a coronavirus cure, actually works.
But officials at Nigeria's National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), who analysed the product, say its tests were not exhaustive.
In May, bottles of Covid Organics were given to Nigeria and several other African countries by Madagascar, but President Muhammadu Buhari said he would not sanction its use in his country until it had been approved by the relevant health agencies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had also said that there was no proof of a cure for Covid-19 after Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina launched the herbal mixture, which is produced from the artemisia plant - the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment - and other Malagasy plants.
"This investigation revealed that the product had some effect in helping mucus expectoration from the trachea (helping people cough out) and also reduced fever in the animals it was tested on," Dr Obi Adigwe, head of NIPRD told the BBC.
But he said the NIPRD had advised the Nigerian government that it could not find any evidence to support the claim that the product can be used to prevent or cure Covid-19.
"If we had time and resources, it is possible that we could still find some evidence," Dr Adigwe said.
Nigeria has now recorded more than 37,000 cases of the coronavirus and over 800 people have died.
BBC World Service
A third of all lemur species, which only live in Madagascar, are "one step from extinction”, conservationists have warned.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has been updating its Red List, which details animals that are under threat. It shows that 33 lemur species are classified as critically endangered.
Deforestation and hunting have driven the decline of the primates.
Experts say those problems are being made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Species such as the North Atlantic Right whale and the European hamster are also now deemed to be critically endangered.
BBC News, Johannesburg
Madagascar has placed one of its main regions, which covers the capital, Antananarivo, back under a strict lockdown following a surge in coronavirus infections.
The government announced that the lockdown would come into effect on Monday and end on 20 July.
It will include a ban on traffic in and out of the region and a curfew on the movement of people on the street.
"Only one person per household is allowed to go out into the street between 06:00 and 12:00," the government said in a statement.
The lockdown was meant to slow the spread of the virus, authorities explained.
There are 2,941 confirmed cases, and 32 people have died since the virus was first detected on the island in March.
Close to 24,000 tests have been done so far.
Madagascar made international news in May when President Andry Rajoelina launched a herbal tonic known as CovidOrganics, which contains the anti-malarial artemisia plant, saying it could cure and prevent coronavirus
It has been widely distributed and is being given freely to pupils in schools across the country.
Although its efficacy has not yet been scientifically established, a number of African countries have since ordered it to try it for themselves.
The African Union said in May that it wanted to see the scientific data on the "safety and efficacy" of the product.
The World Health Organization has issued a warning against people using untested remedies for coronavirus.
The Madagascan president had suggested the Lengana plant would cure the disease.