Madagascar: Cyclone Gafilo, Final Report, Appeal 08/04


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In Brief

Appeal No. 08/2004; Final 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

  • Four Information Bulletins were launched prior to the Emergency Appeal. Two Operations Updates and an Interim Final Report were issued specific to the Appeal.

  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 50,000 (reimbursed). Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Indian Ocean sub-regional programmes, 2005 Annual Appeal no. 05AA006.

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 Society 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 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 initially 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.


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. 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.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Madagascar: Mariette de Pindray D'Ambelle, President, Malagasy Red Cross Society, Antananarivo: Email; Phone; Fax 261.320.775.50.556

In Kenya: Susanna Cunningham, Federation Focal Person, East Africa Regional Delegation, Nairobi; Email; Phone; Fax:

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

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

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