Floods, drought and political turmoil have left nearly 400,000 people in Madagascar in desperate need of food aid costing some $8.4 million, the United Nations UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today.In launching the appeal, WFP said the funds would buy 18,400 tons of supplies to help feed 394,250 people over the next six months.WFP said it has already been helping to feed many of those affected by this year’s natural and man-made crises with stocks borrowed from other programmes. However, the UN agency said it is clear that its distributions need to be expanded over the coming months to reach all those in need.“Madagascar has been hit by a combination of natural disasters, political and economic upheavals that have left tens of thousands of people in need of food aid,” said Bodo Henze, WFP Country Director in Madagascar. “We need donors to provide cash urgently so we can mitigate widespread hunger and suffering.”As part of the expanded operations, WFP is planning on providing supplementary food aid to 22,500 malnourished children under five, as well as to 4,500 pregnant women in the capital, Antananarivo, and five other main urban centres. A further 20,000 households in these same six urban areas will benefit from food-for-work projects.In addition to this latest emergency operation, WFP already provides aid to 450,000 beneficiaries in Madagascar through community nutrition, school feeding and disaster mitigation and preparedness programmes. In June the UN agency also supplied corn-soya blend to the province of Fianarntosoa to help communities devastated by an influenza epidemic, which killed over 1,000 people.