The international humanitarian community is seeking more than $30 million to support the Government of Madagascar in providing relief to 239,000 people who lost their homes, crops and other belongings in two tropical cyclones in less than a month.
Cyclone Fame struck the island on 27 January 2008, followed by category 4 Cyclone Ivan on 17 February 2008. They intersected, although at different times, in the central Antananarivo plain, bringing heavy rainfall to most parts of the island, in particular its north-eastern and north-western regions.
Of those impacted by the storms, more than 148,000 people have lost their homes, and many more their crops. The Government estimates that more than 225,000 hectares of agricultural land has been damaged.
“Without additional assistance, the Malagasy people will continue to struggle to obtain shelter, food, clean drinking water, and healthcare,” said John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “We need to act swiftly to ensure that people are provided with basic life saving assistance and helped to recover their livelihoods,” he added.
Immediate needs include: food, medicine, tents, water, water purification kits to prevent the spread of disease, as well as seeds and fertiliser to restore the country’s agricultural production.
While Madagascar is prone to natural disasters, including chronic drought, flooding and recurrent cyclones, it has suffered two consecutive significant cyclone seasons, leaving little time in between for people to recover. The humanitarian implications are particularly significant, as Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 143rd in 2007 out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index.
Further, while seasonal food insecurity is not uncommon in Madagascar, cyclone Ivan struck between the country’s harvest seasons, a time when people’s food reserves are low, otherwise known as the “lean” or “hunger” season. Lastly, it is expected that, due to the massive flooding, the crops just planted and to be harvested in May/June, will be below average. As a result, affected populations are expected to face food shortages in the coming months.