Madagascar remains desperately poor, and its people afflicted with malnourishment, endemic poverty, and disease. And yet there are signs that some cautious optimism may be in order. Progress has been slow and painful, but real. After many years of government control, new free market policies have been implemented and the government is slowly putting the productive sectors of the nation into private hands. And while climatic factors remain a wild-card threat, on-going attempts to diversify the economy and address poverty levels will help to reduce exposure. But much will depend on continued international support.