Flash Appeal: Cyclone Gafilo, Madagascar

Originally published
Executive Summary
Madagascar is prone to natural disasters including endemic drought, recurrent cyclones and flooding. Between 26 January and 4 February 2004, tropical cyclone Elita hit Madagascar several times causing havoc in a number of districts, leaving 29 people dead, 100 injured and 44,190 homeless. On 7 March 2004, barely a month after cyclone Elita, intense tropical cyclone Gafilo hit the country killing 74 people. Cyclone Galifo has affected the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 774,000 A multi-sectoral analysis has been used to define the affected population including; houses damaged or destroyed; children out of school; loss of main source of income due to flooding; isolation due to floods; exposure to epidemiological risk. people.

The purpose of this Flash Appeal is to present the international community with a consolidated view of the immediate needs of those critically affected by the disaster. The Appeal provides an indication of the resources required by the United Nations (UN) agencies and their partners to assist the Government of Madagascar in responding to the emergency relief needs as well as to support initial rehabilitation activities. The appeal covers the period from 19 March to 19 June 2004.

The requirements of the appealing agencies are based on the capacities and resources available in Madagascar, assistance already provided and a consolidated view of the priority needs. In this regard, of the total 774,000 people affected, it is estimated that approximately 309,500 are in need of relief supplies. Requirements Details of targeted populations are elaborated in the sector analysis. have been identified in consultation with national authorities, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The cyclone season is not yet over in Madagascar. Donors are requested to note that the assumption underpinning this Appeal is that the prevailing operational conditions will improve over the next three months and that the activities identified are the minimum required to secure lives and livelihoods. There also remains the possibility of a further deterioration in the situation and a commensurate increase in the assistance requirements. For this reason, donors are requested to respond to the US$ 8.9 million appealed as early as possible.

1. Background

Cyclone Gafilo struck near the city of Antalaha, in the northeastern part of the island, on 7 March 2004 crossed northern Madagascar and left the island the next day into the Mozambique Channel. A day later, Gafilo returned as a tropical storm and hit the western coast before turning south and leaving through the southeast of the country on 11 March. At the height of the cyclone, it was estimated that the diameter of the area of impact was over 400 kilometres wide with recorded wind gusts of over 250 kilometres an hour.

The cyclone is one of the strongest to have hit Madagascar in twenty years. As the cyclone entered Madagascar on the eastern coast it was rapidly forced upwards by the highlands of Cap Masoala, which limited the full impact of the high winds on much of the northern interior. While the northeastern coastal areas felt the full force of Gafilo's high winds and rain, much of the rest of the northern and southern interior have been more affected by rains and inundation from rising tidal waters combined with swollen rivers.

Initial information collected and collated by the Conseil National de Secours (CNS) from local authorities as well as from assessments by the international community and organisations working in Madagascar (UN, NGOs and donors), indicate that 3 districts are severely affected, 17 seriously and 49 moderately. See Figures. 1 and 2.

MAP - Figure 1. Impact of cyclone Gafilo

MAP - Figure 2. Impact of cyclone Gafilo - Number of people affected

It is estimated that over 117,000 hectares (ha) of agriculturally productive land have been damaged. An estimated 200 schools and 200 health centres have also been damaged or destroyed by high winds and subsequent flooding. The overall economic impact on the economy is expected to be in excess of US$ 250 million.

The National Authorities have been quick to mobilise response efforts. The Government issued an appeal for international assistance on 8 March to support national efforts in addressing immediate needs. CNS is serving as the central coordinating body for the response and, in that capacity, is working closely with UN and NGO partners as well as all relevant government departments. At the request of the Resident Coordinator, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has provided additional technical capacity to assist the CNS in its coordinating role.

The response of the international community has been swift, although insufficient access to affected areas continues to limit assessments as well as relief assistance. International support has already been forthcoming from a number of key donor countries notably the Governments of France, Libya, USA, Ireland, Australia, Norway as well as the European Union (EU).

2. Strategies and Priorities for Humanitarian Relief Operations

In recent years considerable investment has been made by the international community to support national capacity for disaster management. The evidence of this investment is demonstrated by the effectiveness of the early warning mechanisms that allowed populations in the path of the cyclone to take evasive action.

The appealing agencies will operate within the Government's framework for disaster response and for this reason the relief operation is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 (March 8 - 19)

- Immediate supply of shelter, food and other relief items to those made homeless in critically affected areas;

- Assessment of water, sanitation and medical requirements and of damage to key infrastructure;

- Reinforcement of national coordination structures, particularly with respect to information collection, collation and dissemination.

Phase 2 (March 19 -- April 19)

- Detailed assessment of food security needs and of impact on food production capacity;

- Continuous supply of food and non food items to accessible areas;

- Establish structure and secure resources required to address potential disease outbreaks, especially cholera, measles and malaria;

- Clear and repair emergency road;

- Complete assessment of infrastructure damage including impact on education and health facilities.

Phase 3 (19 April -- 19 June)

- Reinforce repairs to key communication routes;

- Rehabilitate agricultural productive capacity in main producing areas;

- Restock and pre-position utilised emergency supplies;

- Continue assistance to food insecure populations (through to the next main harvest season October to December);

- Emergency repairs of schools and health centres.

3. Priority Emergency Needs and Requirements by Sector

3.1 Water and Sanitation


Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation conditions has been severely compromised by the cyclone and subsequent flooding, increasing public health risks in the most affected districts.

The three provinces worst hit by the cyclone have extremely poor rates of access to adequate water and sanitation facilities. Current data estimates that 80% of households in Mahajanga, 74% in Toliara and 78% in Antsiranana access their water from surface sources and non-protected wells. Furthermore, sanitation is likely to become an even more critical problem in these flooded areas, increasing the cases of diarrhoea and other communicable diseases and the risk of a cholera outbreak.


- To assist in the prevention of outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

- To ensure the access of the estimated 20,000 displaced persons currently sheltered in administrative buildings to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.

- To ensure that the 200 affected schools have adequate water and sanitation facilities.


Displaced person shelters: In the estimated 50 sites sheltering 20,000 displaced persons, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will provide tools, shovels and buckets for the building and maintenance of five provisional latrines per site.

Schools: In the 200 damaged or destroyed schools targeted; UNICEF will build provisional latrines and distribute water purification solution, jerry cans, buckets and soap.

Affected Communities: In the severely hit communities, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will provide basic water and sanitation material for 8,000 households. UNICEF will cover the water and sanitation needs of an additional 14,000 households and provide calcium hypochlorite for 150 community wells.

These activities will be implemented by the targeted communities themselves in partnership with local associations and international NGOs already working in the affected districts (CARE, Taratra, Miarintsoa, CRS, Medical Environmental Development with Air Assistance [MEDAIR], and Population Services International [PSI]). UNICEF has already provided 10,000 jerry cans and 10,000 bottles of water purification solution to the CNS for immediate distribution.

The support aims to strengthen the local coordination capacities for water treatment products distribution, sanitation facilities installation and repair and hygiene promotion. Community counselors will be identified, trained and provided with hygiene promotion material that focuses on personal hygiene/ hand-washing, proper management and storage of water supply at home and proper use of latrine.

The concerned agencies will also coordinate with the CNS and the Ministries of Water and Mines, Health, and Education as well as with NGOs to distribute supplies and support an assessment of the water and sanitation rehabilitation needs in the most affected areas.

3.2 Food Assistance


About 65% of the total population of Madagascar face chronic food insecurity, and an estimated 48% of children under-five suffer from chronic malnutrition. The loss of food crops will significantly worsen the food security situation for some 110,000 people in the three affected provinces until the next main harvest season (between October and December 2004). With many areas still requiring in-depth assessments, the current estimate of people in need of food aid could be revised, as more information on the food security situation in the affected areas becomes available. A joint FAO / WFP / Government crop assessment will be undertaken in late April. The World Food Programme (WFP) and its partner Cooperative for Relief and Assistance (CARE) have already started distribution of some 200 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of rice -- pre-positioned in the north-east of the country -- to cyclone victims in and around the worst-hit town of Antalaha. Another 60 MTs of corn soya blend (CSB) have been transported to Antalaha to relieve an estimated 35,000 people in the town itself and surrounding communities currently isolated by flooded roads south of the city. An additional 160 MTs of rice and pulses is being sent to affected families in Majunga, Morombe and Morondava, for distribution by CRS.


The goal of food assistance is to prevent a further deterioration in food security of the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, affected by the cyclone.


During phase 1 and 2, WFP will provide general food distribution to those made homeless in critical areas and to rural families in isolated and cut off communities, with priority given to female headed households. The individual daily ration will include: 400 grams rice; 60 grams pulses; and 15 grams oil. In addition to general food distribution, WFP implementing partners will distribute some 1,750 MTs of CSB (100 grams/person/day) from WFP in-country stocks, to families with children under-five and pregnant women to address malnutrition concerns. During phase 3 through to the next main harvest season, WFP will gradually phase in food-for-work (FFW) activities to assist the affected communities rehabilitate cyclone-affected community assets (rural roads, agricultural fields, schools and health posts). The family ration (5 persons) will include 2 kilograms (kg) of rice, 300 grams of pulses and 75 grams of oil.

WFP will work in partnership with CARE International in the north-east provinces of Antsiranana and Toamasina (some 42,500 beneficiaries), and with CRS in the west Province of Mahajanga and the Morondava region (some 67,500 beneficiaries).

Specific nutritional needs of malnourished children, pregnant and lactating women will be addressed by the already operational organisations:

- WFP/WB will provide CSB through its sponsored Community Nutrition project, implemented by the Government agency Seecaline as well as through CARE and CRS;

- UNICEF in collaboration with MSF and CRS will undertake nutritional surveys and ensure supplies of F-100 for an estimated 1,000 acute malnourished children for 3 months. A stock of 12 MTs of BP5 will be made available for immediate distribution;

- WFP will preposition in-country a contingency stock of 17 MTs of BP 5 (sufficient to feed some 10,000 people for 5 days) for future emergency response.

Full appeal (pdf* format - 515 KB)

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