Madagascar: Cyclone Gafilo Appeal No. 08/04 Final Report

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In Brief

Appeal No. 08/2004; Interim Final Report (pending issuance of a final financial report); Period covered: March to June 2004; Appeal coverage: 100.2%.

Appeal history:

  • Emergency Appeal no. 08/2004 launched on 17 March 2004 for CHF 427,000 (USD 334,211 or EUR 272,606) for three (3) months to assist 25,000 beneficiaries; refer to http ://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf=5Fappeals.pl? 04/0804a.pdf

  • This Interim Final Report is issued in compliance with the reporting timeline. Some outstanding issues, explained below, require additional time for resolution, at which time a definitive Final Report will be issued.

  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 50,000.
Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Indian Ocean sub-regional programmes, Appeal 01.09/2004; refer to http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf=5Fappeals.pl?annual04/010904.pdf

Background and Summary

Madagascar is struck by cyclones of varying intensity on an annual basis during the cyclone season in the Indian Ocean that officially runs from mid-November to mid-April. Cyclone Gafilo first hit the north-eastern part of Madagascar on 7 March 2004 and returned on 8 March as a tropical storm in the southwest before disappearing over the Indian Ocean on 12 March. Termed as the most intense cyclone to have struck the country in the last ten years, Gafilo killed 172 people , injured 879 people while 214,260 were reported to have lost their homes. OCHA estimated that 773,000 people were affected.

The succession of two cyclones - Elita and Gafilo - hitting Madagascar greatly increased the pressure on the population and compounded the adversities already facing the country, including a socio-economic crisis, famine and food insecurity and insufficient water supply in the south and south-east zones due to silting of rivers; increased insecurity, and environmental and health problems. The two cyclones also caused significant damage to cloves, vanilla and ylang-ylang, the main cash crops for which Madagascar is the world's leading exporter.

Malagasy Red Cross Society1 was able to respond to the initial impact of the cyclone in Antalaha in the north with the support of PIROI2. The national society's operation in the south of the country supported by the Federation provided shelter materials to 5,000 affected families in the Morombé region and thus prevented an outbreak of epidemics and water-borne diseases among 25,000 of the most affected people . It also contributed to strengthening the national society's disaster response capacity at headquarters, provincial and local levels. The whole operation achieved all the objectives within the stipulated timeframe and succeeded in saving costs in transportation through the use of sea rather than air freight; this enabled for the purchase and distribution of 5,000 insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets (ITN) in addition to the Appeal objectives. The main success of the operation was that Malagasy Red Cross managed to reach populations in some of the most isolated areas and to distribute materials which responded to their needs. Although nitially there was a lack of clarity on the role and mandate of headquarters, provincial and local committees, the national society was able to overcome this to achieve a clearer idea of the role it can play as a humanitarian actor in such calamities. Some inactive local Malagasy Red Cross committees were revived and strengthened through the operation; some personnel who had previously been exposed to significant training in disaster response but who were grossly under utilized also got opportunity to use their skills.

The operation was supported by a Relief Delegate recruited for an initial two months period; upon the request of the national society the mission was extended for a further two months.

Coordination

The national society and the Relief Delegate attended daily meetings coordinated by the Comité National de Sécours (CNS) in the early stages of the operation in which the main national and international humanitarian actors also participated. Malagasy Red Cross also participated in a joint assessment in the South with the CNS, UNICEF, WFP and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). This was the first time that that Malagasy Red Cross had worked so closely with the CNS; this led to both parties understanding the importance of working together in disaster relief, and to the CNS acknowledging the potential and significance of the national society's network. It was difficult to get reliable statistics on the affected population in different regions of the country in the early stages of the disaster. However, once the CNS had assigned the national society to focus on Toliara province, close co-operation with WFP ensured access to more accurate statistics although with a few cases of inflated figures; this necessitated a review of distribution plans and redirecting of commodities to previously unidentified and very isolated villages.

Analysis of the operation - objectives, achievements, impact

Emergency relief (food and basic non-food items)

Objective 1: Provide shelter materials for 5,000 floods affected families in the Morombé Region

The Appeal covered the procurement of tarpaulins, blankets and jerry cans. A delay in the arrival of the vessel carrying the first three commodities in Toliara port resulted in a late start to the distributions. In total, the national society distributed 5,000 tarpaulins, 10,000 blankets, and 5,000 jerry cans. The French Red Cross contributed 968 tarpaulins to the Appeal. The national society also distributed 20,000 pieces of soap and 4,000 matches from its own stock in addition to the four commodities covered in the Appeal, as well as 5,000 ITN bought through savings made on transportation via ship instead of by air (see table below). A consignment of clothing donated by the Swedish Red Cross arrived in Toliara port in late August; distribution plans for these items have been prepared.

It was necessary to identify new beneficiaries owing to the fact that some of the initial statistics were inflated and that previous distributions by other organizations were not recorded. This gave the national society an opportunity to identify communities that were either forgotten or ignored by other actors but whose needs were even more acute due to their isolation. The distribution plans had to be rescheduled owing to difficulties in accessing some of these areas; this resulted in the transportation of relief items taking a considerably longer time.

Table of relief items distributed

Locality
Beneficiary
Tarpaulin
(piece)
Blankets
(piece)
Jerry cans
(piece)
Soap
(250 g bar)
Mosquito nets
(piece)
Matches
(packet)
Toliara
750
150
300
150
600
150
n.a.
Ambohivia Velo
7,000
1,350
2,700
1,350
5,400
1,350
300
Betroka
9,727
2,000
4,000
2,000
8,000
2,000
2,285
Fianarantsoa
1,885
400
800
400
1,600
400
n.a.
Vangaidran
3,180
400
800
400
1,600
400
515
Medongy
1,860
350
700
350
1,400
350
450
Vondrozo
2,025
350
700
250
1,400
350
450
Total
26,427
5,000
10,000
4,900
20,000
5,000
4,000

Objective 2: To prevent the outbreak of epidemics and water borne diseases among 25,000 of the most affected people in the Morombé region

During the initial distribution of relief items, a secondary need for 4,000 ITN was identified to cater for a large number of mothers, elderly persons with minors, and female headed households who were found to have settled in high risk flood zones that exposed them to increased risk to malaria . Procurement of the ITN was made possible from the considerable savings made by the use of sea freight rather than air freight; the ITN were subsequently procured through the Federation Regional Delegation in Nairobi and distributed to selected beneficiaries in each of the seven targeted localities.

The national society carried out a sensitization campaign including the distribution of written material on hygiene and malaria prevention in parallel with the distribution of ITN.This enabled the Malagasy Red Cross to regain its reputation as an important player in the malaria prevention field , something it has been unable to do since the suspension of 'niviquinization' campaigns more than five years ago due to the development of resistant strains. Owing to this visibility, the government and WHO are looking towards the national society as a key partner in the distribution of ITN in the last quarter of 2004 and throughout 2005 from the recent Global Fund allocation to Madagascar for malaria prevention and control activities.

Objective 3: To strengthen the disaster response capacity of Malagasy Red Cross at headquarters, provincial and local levels

During the operation, 50 volunteers were trained to carry out assessments and to assist in the distribution of relief items. The mission of the Relief Delegate recruited to assist Malagasy Red Cross with the operation was extended by another two months upon the request of the national society to provide support in the second round of the distribution, to put effective logistics, reporting and distribution systems in place, and to train staff in stock control.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Principles and initiatives

The main Movement actors supporting the Malagasy Red Cross (the French Red Cross and the Federation) cooperated very well from the outset of the operation and kept each other regularly informed of their activities. ICRC which has a small office in the capital, Antananarivo, carrying out protection activities, was kept informed of activities. All three Movement actors also participated in the learning review hosted by the Malagasy Red Cross (see the following section on lessons learned for more details). The Federation was able to pursue it policy of making maximum use of sub-regional resources when a member of the PIROI who is a member of the RDRT and the FACT was released from the Seychelles Red Cross to assist in the assessment and the design of the Emergency Appeal; this was done jointly with a FACT trained delegate from Mozambique delegation.

By targeting isolated communities among its beneficiaries, the national society drew attention to the needs of very vulnerable people . The link between a cyclone response operation and ARCHI priorities was demonstrated in that the second phase of the operation which involved a hygiene and malaria prevention campaign.

This Appeal was over-subscribed, and cost savings were also realized; remaining funds are estimated at CHF 70,000. It is planned that a portion of these remaining funds will be applied towards the following activities:

  • initiate a new disaster preparedness project for 2004,

  • support the organizational development and sub-regional disaster management programmes in the Malagasy Red Cross Appeal 2005, and

  • support the Indian Ocean sub-regional office to be based in Madagascar in 2005.
Lessons learned

A learning review was carried out at the end of the operation in June 2004; French Red Cross, ICRC, Federation and Malagasy Red Cross representatives from headquarters and all six provincial committees participated. The objective of the study was to review the Movement's response to the cyclone , to analyze the timeline and to carry out a SWOT analysis from the point of view of those involved in the response in Anthala (supported by French Red Cross) Toliara (supported by the Federation), and to examine view of their national society's capacity to coordinate response to a disaster involving various partners in different locations.

Although the national society's potential to be more visible in carrying out relief operations was widely acknowledged, there were several challenges that were observed, among these was that many systems and procedures were lacking, and that the role of the headquarters and branches needed to be more clearly defined. It was also observed that a considerable skills deficit existed at branch level and that there was no proper system of coordinating the work of volunteers. The lack of sufficient skills meant that the Relief Delegate was obliged to have a more hands-on role than desired, preventing the national society from gaining the maximum benefit from his presence. A significant future role for the national society in gathering statistics was identified, however the skills are currently lacking. Addressing these capacity building issues will form the objectives of support to the disaster preparedness and organizational development programmes of the Malagasy Red Cross for the rest of the year and in the 2005 Annual Appeal.

A one day training covering issues of procurement, stock control, and financial management was conducted on the last day of the review. New forms distributed during the training will be used at central and provincial level to facilitate the keeping of transparent records.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Madagascar: Mariette de Pindray D'Ambelle, President, Malagasy Red Cross Society, Antananarivo: Email crm@wanadoo.mg ; Phone 26.20.22.21.11; Fax 261.320.775.50.556

In Kenya: Susanna Cunningham, Federation Focal Person, East Africa Regional Delegation, Nairobi; Email ifrcke43@ifrc.org; Phone 254.20.271.42.55; Fax: 254.20.271.84.15

In Geneva: Josse Gillijns, Federation Regional Officer for Eastern Africa; Africa Dept.; Email josse.gillijns@ifrc.org; Phone 41.22.730.42.24; Fax 41.22.733.03.95

For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal (referenced above).

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

Footnotes

1 Malagasy Red Cross Society - http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/check.asp?countryid=109

2 PIROI - In French, Plate-forme d'Intervention Régionale Océan Indien)

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