Flash Update: Thousands affected in Comoros and Mozambique; alerts lifted in Madagascar

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 02 Apr 2014

Message sent on behalf of Mr. Ignacio Leon-Garcia Head of OCHA Regional Office for Southern Africa

In Madagascar, Hellen continues to weakening, with maximum wind speeds of 55 km/h. At 09H00 local time (UTC+3) the weather system was located 250 km north-east of Morondava and is currently moving in a south-easterly direction into the Mozambique Channel. The National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) have lifted all alerts. See attached map.

A multi-sector aerial assessment of the inaccessible districts of Soalalala, Mitsinjo and Besalampy identified damaged classrooms and flooded agricultural fields. There are reportedly needs in the sector of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), but most healthcare centres appear intact. The Prime Minister visited Soalala today, bringing relief items including water treatment products, medicines and cash.

Initial results indicate that 919 people have been displaced, of which some will be able to return home in the coming days. Over 170 houses were destroyed. Although local authorities have been quick to respond, it is expected that displaced families will need relief supplies (food, health and non-food item kits) to get through the coming weeks. WFP is dispatching one ton of high energy biscuits and 35 tons of foodstuffs to the operational base in Mahajanga where a 500 ton-capacity warehouse is open to all humanitarian partners.

Agriculture is particularly affected by the floods in an area that was already struggling with a locust outbreak in the last months. Over 3,900 ha of rice fields have been submerged. In the medium term, there are concerns over the food security situation. An in-depth assessment by food partners is being planned.

The child protection network in Mahajanga deployed social workers to monitor temporary sites. So far no cases violence or exploitation have been reported and no children were separated from their parents. Information on the districts of Soalala, Mitsinjo and Besalampy is currently being compiled following the aerial assessment. The Malagasy Red-Cross is also assessing the situation and is supporting displaced families and WASH activities. Additional pre-positioned Red Cross relief goods can be used in case needed following ongoing assessments.

As a result of funding constraints, a US$70,000 Emergency Cash Grant application has been submitted to OCHA, for logistical support to enable aerial assessments and provision of urgent relief items.

In Comoros, ongoing assessments by the General Directorate of Civil Protection (DGSC) and the Red Crescent have to date found that around 8,800 people have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Hellen.

In Anjouan, the poorest island in Comoros and the hardest hit, 7,869 people have been displaced, of which 6,142 are being hosted by relatives and 1,727 moved to 3 camps established at schools. An estimated 720 houses have been damaged and 180 houses destroyed. In Moheli, one death has been reported and 1,087 displaced people are being hosted by relatives. Three villages were flooded by storm surges and three others isolated by landslide. Electricity in some areas has still not been restored. In Grande Comores, roads have been damaged and houses flooded by a high tide. See attached map indicating impacts.

The situation is at this stage within the capacity of Government to respond. It is planning to dispatch over the next few days sufficient shelter and food supplies for those affected in Anjouan. Authorities have also started repairing roads. Other relief supplies are expected to be dispatched soon, with the assistance of UNICEF, which has also deployed a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist to assist the Red Crescent in the management of the camps in Anjouan.

In Mozambique, according to the UN Resident Coordinator's Office, the heavy rains brought on by the system that eventually became Tropical Cyclone Hellen late last week affected an estimated 1,929 households (9,645 people) in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The affected districts are Quissanga, Balama, Montepuez, Metuge, Ibo, Mecufi, Mocimba de Praia, Nangada and Muidumbe; seven of which are inaccessible by road from Pemba (the provincial capital, which is also affected). Any humanitarian support will therefore have to be by sea or air.

Most affected households are staying with host families. Some accommodation centers have been opened in Pemba for extremely vulnerable families. The Government would prefer affected families to remain with host families as much as possible. The National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) is requesting the following humanitarian support via existing Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) structures:

  • 400 tents for immediate shelter for families whose houses were completely destroyed;
  • 100 tons of food to cover the food needs of those affected for a period of 1 month, including host families;
  • INGC is working to establish relocation communities to encourage people to leave the flood plains, for which it is requesting 600 shelter kits for families to start construction once an area has been identified in next couple days.

INGC will send a Mozambique Air Force plane to Pemba tomorrow to take three tons of food to cover immediate needs. WFP will mobilize trucks from Beira on 02 April with 160 tons of food and shelter kits from the NGO consortium COSACA. A full assessment will be carried out in the upcoming days, which will be joined by HCT partners. Authorities will be preparing damaged roads and bridges. The situation is under control and a plan is underway to support affected families.

The CCGC (Coordinating Council for Disaster Management) will meet tomorrow to make further decisions on the current situation and response in Cabo Delgado. The meeting will also consider the possibility of the Ex-Hellen weather system making landfall over Mozambique on 05 April, potentially affecting the provinces of Sofala and Nampula.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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