Madagascar-Cyclone Gretelle Situation Report No.3

Report
from UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 18 Feb 1997
INTERNATIONAL APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE
SITUATION

1. The UN Resident Coordinator in Antananarivo reports that the population affected by Cyclone Gretelle, that hit south-east Madagascar on 20-26 January, is now estimated at 500,000-600,000, including 140 fatalities. Affected areas are the counties of Farafangana, Vohipeno, Vondrozo, Vangaindrano, Befotaka, and Midongy Sud, all in the region of Fianarantsoa.

2. In the northern parts of the affected area (Farafangana, Vohipeno, and Vondrozo), 350,000 persons are affected primarily by wind damage and some flooding, while in the southern parts (Vangaindrano, Befotaka, and Midongy) about 220,000 are touched by significant, widespread, and prolonged flooding. At least 40,000 still remain cut off in the counties of Befotaka and Midongy Sud (located 90km and 140km, respectively, from the nearest accessible road).

3. Contaminated drinking water is posing a serious health threat, particularly in the county of Vangaindrano. The cyclone caused heavy loss of food stock, and a negative impact is feared on the next rice harvest (April and May) and, possibly, on a long-term agricultural production capacity. There is a serious problem in accessing the affected areas, due to poor and vulnerable infrastructure, further worsened by flood water/mud. A majority (more than 500km) of roads in the areas are blocked by fallen trees.

4. This region had not been hit by cyclones for 41 years and has a very limited disaster preparedness capacity. Moreover, it has been suffering from endemic malnutrition, even before Cyclone Gretelle.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

5. The Government has responded to the disaster in a rapid and coordinated manner. The Ministry of Interior and the National Relief Council ("NRC") are the main government entities organizing and coordinating relief efforts. NRC oversees the work of the Disaster Response Committee ("DRC"), responsible for operational and administrative coordination. DRC's members also include UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, the Malagasy Red Cross Society ("MRCS"), CARE, and Medecins sans Frontiers ("MSF").

6. The local donor community has been mobilized and participated in relief efforts. While government-organized overflight assessments began immediately, a flight over the entire affected area was only possible on 28 January, due to bad weather. The headquarters for joint operations has been established in the town of Farafangana, from where NRC, UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, IFRC/MRCS, MSF, Medecins du Monde ("MDM"), CARE, ADRA, and Secouristes Sans Frontieres operate.

ON-GOING RELIEF EFFORTS

7. DRC has established sub-committees where relevant governmental and donor organizations coordinate relief efforts in different sectors, including health/sanitation/ water, food/nutrition, infrastructure, and rehabilitation.

HEALTH/SANITATION/WATER

8. DRC's health sector sub-committee, composed of the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, MRCS, MDM, and MSF, has been established, to assess short, medium, and long- term needs and coordinate interventions with regards to health in general, medicines, water, and sanitation. The sub-committee works in close coordination with local-level health authorities.

9. Immediately after Cyclone Gretelle hit, the Ministry of Health and WHO conducted a first assessment. This is now being followed up by MSF and MDM, both of which have been active in distributing medicines and providing clean water.

FOOD/NUTRITION/AGRICULTURE

10. Food -- The sub-committee for food distribution (composed of NRC, the Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP, WFP, FAO, and USAID) has developed a food distribution program, targeting 350,000 persons over a three-month period (which coincides with the normal cycle for a rice harvest).

11. On 6 February, food distribution, by airlift/ parachuting, started for 40,000 people isolated in the counties of Befotaka and Midongy, bringing in a total of 130 tons of rice over an initial ten-day period. Under the overall coordination of NRC and DRC, airlifts were carried out by the Ministries of Armed Forces and Interior and IFRC, with funding from EC/ECHO (through IFRC) and food and logistical support provided by NRC.

12. Nutrition -- UNICEF and MSF are organizing a nutritional survey scheduled for 24-29 February, results of which will help determine a target for food distribution. Already before the Cyclone hit, 30-40 percent of the population in the affected area was suffering from chronic malnutrition. The rate of severe malnutrition in this area is the second highest in Madagascar.

13. Agriculture -- The Ministry of Agriculture and FAO are conducting an assessment survey of the damage on crops to determine long-term needs in the agricultural sector.

INFRASTRUCTURE

14. Re-Opening of Roads -- In an effort to improve access to the affected area, the Ministry of Public Works, together with CARE, coordinates a cash/food-for-work program to re-open the seriously damaged 140km-long road between Vangaindrano and Befotaka.

VULNERABLE GROUP

15. To address the needs of affected children and their families, UNICEF has so far provided funds and supplies amounting to USD 48,360 for initial assessments and immediate response, including the provision of emergency drug kits, ORS sachets, measles and tetanus vaccines. A plan of action has been developed by UNICEF and its partners, to cover requirements in health, nutrition, and water supply in the 7 districts in Fianarantsoa.

UN-MET ASSISTANCE NEEDS

16. Health/Sanitation -- UN Resident Coordinator reports that immediate financial needs are met.

17. Food/Nutrition -- A significant food deficit still exists in the affected region. As required food items are locally available, cash contributions are needed to procure rice (1,100 mt per month), vegetables (160 mt per month), and cooking oil (47 mt per month) for distribution to 350, 000 persons over a three-month period. Total financial requirements are estimated at USD 2.5-3 million (including the procurement, handling, transportation, and distribution). Furthermore, a need for technical assistance in logistics is foreseen.

18. Infrastructure -- A number of potential donors have been identified to finance clearing of roads.

19. Vulnerable Group -- Based on UNICEF's Plan of Action (see also para 15), USD 100,000 is required to provide assistance in health, nutrition, and water to 500,000 persons, including 95,000 children under age 5. Activities would focus on mitigating foreseeable outbreak of water- borne diseases by supplying essential drugs and ORS, restoring cold chain and vaccination operations, and repairing damages in the primary health system. Nutrition surveillance is to be strengthened, and a special feeding program is to be implemented for children. Decontamination and disinfection of water sources, as well as repairing of damaged wells, are also planned to help secure safe drinking water.

20. Logistics -- The biggest logistical challenge is the access to 40,000 people isolated in Befotaka and Midongy. As the re-opening of the road is not envisaged in a short run and appropriate, accessible landing strips are unavailable, air-dropping of rice from low altitude is being attempted. However, only one plane with a limited capacity is available in Madagascar for this kind of operation. A transport helicopter and planes have been made available from the French Government, and a Swiss missionary society, Helimission, has also made a helicopter available.

21. Rehabilitation -- The Ministry of Public Works has assessed the needs for rehabilitating administrative infrastructure in the town of Farafangana, the biggest town in the area and the one most seriously hit by wind damage. Needs are currently estimated at USD 7 million, though this figure is bound to increase, once damage in other urban centers and rural areas are assessed.

22. A sub-committee has been established within DRC, to assess long-term rehabilitation needs.

CONTRIBUTIONS

23. In addition to the contributions reported in the situation report no. 2, the following contributions have been notified to DHA:

Nippon Foundation USD 20,000 (through DHA)
Government of Japan 2,040 blankets and 10 tents
(valued at USD 27,835)airlifted from DHA's Pisa Warehouse
Government of the U.K. GBP 38,710 (USD 62,435)
provision of plastic sheeting, blankets, and jerry cans, through CARE).
IFRC clothing (1 tons),
food (20 tons of tuna),
water treatment(14,000 tablets of disinfectant),
medicaments,
six hospital tents,
and five stretchers.

24. According to the UN Resident Coordinator, the commitments made so far by the Government and the international community are valued at approximately USD 3 million.

TROPICAL DEPRESSION JOSIE

25. While relief operation continues in south-east of the island, reports have been received on Tropical Depression Josie that had hit the northwestern part of the island on 8-9 February. Assessments are being carried out, in which the UN Resident Coordinator is participating.

26. DHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used during the immediate relief phase, in coordination with relevant organizations of the UN system. DHA provides donor Governments with written confirmation on utilizations of the funds contributed. Contributions may also be made directly to individual UN agencies.

27. Donors wishing to channel contributions through DHA may transfer funds to DHA account no. CO.590.160.1 at Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: Madagascar - Cyclone Gretelle.

28. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform DHA Geneva, as indicated below, of bilateral relief missions/ pledges/ contributions and their corresponding values by item.

Telephone number: +41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: +41-22-917-2010
Desk Officer: Ms. Kayo Gotoh, direct tel: +41-22-917-1258
Press to contact: Ms. M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct tel: +41-22-917-2856
Telex: 41 42 42 dha ch
Fax: +41-22-917-0023
E-Mail: dhagva at unicc.org