Madagascar: Cyclone Indlala Preliminary Appeal No. MDRMG002

Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 185 countries. For more information:

In Brief


A total of CHF 185,000 has been released from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance for this operation. Unearmarked funds to reimburse the DREF are encouraged.

This operation is aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

The situation

Cyclone Indlala hit the north-eastern coast of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar on Thursday, 15 March 2007. With strong winds of up to 165 km/h, the cyclone ravaged the immediate area in its path, and left considerable damage on the northeast coastline. With limited access and communications cut, information has been very difficult to obtain. However, initial reports indicate significant structural damage in the regions of Sava, Analajirofo, Diana and Sofia. In these areas roofs were blown away, around 40% of property in the town of Antalaha has reportedly been destroyed, and the town's police station and CARE International offices were reportedly badly damaged. Infrastructure such as water and electricity has also been severely affected.

In the northeast town of Maroantsetra, those affected (displaced) from the town gathered at the municipal council hall seeking shelter and assistance. There is widespread disruption to communications, denying smaller community's access to weather reports since the national radio has been off-air. In the northeastern Diana and Sofia Regions, preliminary reports indicate extensive flash flooding, with at least 9,000 displaced by floods in Ambanja town, and 6,000 persons in need of assistance in Antsohy town. According to preliminary estimates (United Nations), immediate needs include access to safe water and sanitation, health care, targeted food distribution, nonfood items, and basic shelter items. The stagnant waters in the flood-affected areas increase the potential for outbreaks of Abrovirosis Dengue fever.

Cyclone Indlala is the fifth cyclone to hit Madagascar in the past three months: Cyclone Bondo made landfall on 25 December 2006; Cyclone Clovis on 3 January 2007; Cyclone Favio on 18 January 2007; and Cyclone Gamede on 26 February 2007. This is the first time that the island has been struck by so many cyclones in such a short period. Seasonal rains have been made worse by the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) moving slightly south, resulting in continuous rains from the end of December 2006 to the present moment and resultant flooding.

The accumulated impact of these 5 cyclones is widespread, with severe damage to infrastructure and crops, flooding, landslides and displacement of communities. The Malagasy Government estimates that 293,000 people have been affected by the floods, with 32,000 displaced (unconfirmed figures). Reports indicate that more than 150,000 farming families have lost an estimated 90,000 hectares of crop. Immediate needs include targeted food distribution, essential drugs, water, and sanitation. In terms of cash crops, Madagascar's vanilla coast in the northeast has been devastated. According to there World Food Programme (WFP), the region was still recovering from the impact of the previous cyclones Elita and Gafilo and farmers were hoping for a good harvest this year (vanilla orchids take three years to flower, so the 2006 harvest was small). According to government estimates, about 80 percent of the country's vanilla production, Madagascar's top foreign exchange earner, has been lost to Indlala. The devastation of vanilla plantations, one of the most labour-intensive crops in the world, will have an impact on the livelihoods of entire communities. The adjoining Maroanstetra district, about 150km southwest of Antalaha, has an estimated population 180,000 and was almost entirely flooded.

Northern Madagascar, which produces a substantial quantity of rice, the country's staple food, has also been affected. The island's 17 million people consume almost 2.5 million mt of rice annually. WFP is reportedly responding by trying to transport 135,000mt of food to the coastal town of Maroanstetra. The French government had already dispatched a naval vessel and aircraft to the affected areas to deliver non-food items to assist people in need.

Tropical storms such as Indlala compound the pressure on already precarious food security, especially in the country's arid southern region, where a drought has affected 582,000 people. The government appealed for $242 million in international aid in February.

On 20 February 2007, the Malagasy Government launched a US$ 242 million appeal (in response to Cyclones Bondo, Clovis, and Favio. On 15 March 2007, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners launched a Flash Appeal requesting nearly USD 9.6 million to provide aid to people affected by floods and cyclones for a period up to six months. This Preliminary Appeal is being launched at the request of the Malagasy Red Cross Society (MRCS) to support their relief and response operation. Access and basic information remains limited, and the operation will be revised based based on the evolving operation and the emerging needs.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action so far

Responding to the immediate needs, the Federation has released CHF 185,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the MRCS response (an initial allocation of CHF 35,000 was released in February 2007 for cyclone preparedness, followed by a further CHF 185,000 to respond to the current needs). The MRCS and French Red Cross - through their Indian Ocean Regional Intervention Platform (PIROI) - are already active. French Red Cross technical staff, supported by volunteers, are engaged in a full operation comprising water and sanitation, shelter and distribution of basic relief supplies.

The MRCS has indicated that there are critical humanitarian needs to be met, and that the support of the Federation is required. The Federation has deployed a person from the Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) to conduct a preliminary assessment, and it reinforcing this with two Field Assessment and Coordination Team (FACT) members to support the MRC in assessing the situation and planning their response. The Federation Indian Ocean Islands sub-regional office is in close contact with the French Red Cross, through PIROI.

The latest field report from PIROI indicates that:

Following aerial surveillances undertaken over the affected area, the PIROI and MRCS teams are being redeployed towards Maroantsetra.

The MRCS President accompanied an MRCS team (staff and volunteers) by helicopter from Antalaha to Maroansetra to begin relief operations with the local MRCS branch.

Needs assessments and beneficiary identification activities are underway with MRCS teams, local authorities, and PIROI staff (watsan), with a focus on water and treatment.

Collaboration is underway with the NGO MEDAIR that maintains an office in Maroansetra (MEDAIR focuses on water and well treatment). PIROI facilitated the delivery of MEDAIR-supplied buckets and water.

The MRCS, with support from PIROI, is delivering non-food relief items (due for arrival on Saturday, 24 March).

The MRCS, with support from PIROI, is developing (or updating) a plan of action (due shortly).

The French Red Cross is considering assigning a delegate in Maroantsetra for two months to assist in coordinating operations with the MRCS.

Coordination meetings are taking place regularly, and will continue.


Through its Geneva Secretariat and Regional Delegation in Nairobi, the Federation continues to co-ordinate very closely with the French and the Malagasy Red Cross in all initiatives taken to support the affected population. According to its mandate, the Malagasy Red Cross will be mainly involved in the emergency response. The national society will address the immediate shelter and health needs of the most vulnerable populations.The MRCS and PIROI are working closely with the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as UNICEF, CARE, and MDM. Further co-ordination mechanisms are currently being explored with local actors and partners.

The Government Bureau National de Gestion des Risques et Catastrophes (BNGRC) is the inter-ministerial government body in charge of coordination of emergency response in M adagascar. Ministries, UN agencies, NGOsand the Red Cross attend daily emergency meetings. UNOCHA has provided technical support to the CNS in this particular disaster in order to set up a database meant to strengthen the coordination mechanism, especially with a view to providing a rapid overview through coordinated assessments. For practical reasons the country was also divided into five reporting zones.

UN agencies have set up a working group to help the Government provide rapid assessments of the needs withinfive key sectors. UN agencies have assumed responsibilities for each sector: WFP for food, UNICEF for nutrition, water and sanitation, and education, FAO for agriculture and WHO for health. UNDP has offered financial support for the assessments and the results are expected this week.

The needs

Immediate needs: The immediate needs are food, shelter and provision of basic relief items, including clean water. Medium and longer-term needs will include rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged buildings, infrastructure, and agriculture, as well as water and sanitation and health activities.

The proposed operation

Objectives, activities planned, and expected results

Specific Needs: The MRCS operation in the Maroanstera and Antahala areas will continue to focus on the provision of temporary shelter and preventative health and wat/san activities for 32,000 displaced people (6,200 households) while further assessment will enable extension of the plan of action to Diana and Sofia regions. The specific needs concern distribution of tarpaulin, blankets, and jerry cans, basic relief items (soap, candles), and water purification tablets accompanied by health education activities. The Federation will resource and deliver 10,667 blankets (3 pieces per family), 6,200 jerry cans, 6,200 tarpaulin, 8 million bars of soap (250 gr. p/p month ) and airlift these supplies to Maroanstera and Antahala. Through the planned relief operation the national society will also endeavour to strengthen the capacity of its branches to address the coordination of relief operations in future emergencies.

Plan of action: The Federation will assist the MRCS in their relief operation for 6,200 displaced households through the provision of non-food items, tarpaulin, jerry cans, blankets, water purification tablets and other basic relief items. Health education activities will be part of the projected distributions.

Relief Distributions

Objective 1: To provide shelter materials for 6,200 flood-affected families.

- Activity planned: To procure, airlift, transport and distribute 6,200 tarpaulins and 10,667 blankets.

- Expected result: 6,200 flood-affected displaced households have immediate access to shelter, have minimum protection from the effects of the environment and a minimum basic household equipment is replenished.

Objective 2: To prevent the outbreak of epidemics and water borne diseases.

- Activity planned: To procure, airlift, transport and distribute distribute 6,200 jerry cans, water purification tablets, 8 million bars of soap (250 gr. p/p month) and other basic relief items.

- Expected result: No epidemics occur in the area of operation and the population has immediate access to safe water and basic relief articles over the planned operation period.

Objective 3: To provide air and water transport of personnel and goods

- Activity planned: Provision of two zodiac boats (motorized and 10 life jackets) and the rental of - or sole or joint access to - a helicopter (capacity: 400 kilos of freight).

- Expected result: Personnel and relief goods will access the affected towns and areas where assistance is being delivered.

Specific Needs : The MRCS operation will focus on the provision of temporary shelter and preventative health activities for 5,000 families until assessment on the north west coast enables extension of activities that area. The current specific needs are focused on the distribution of basic relief items, shelter, and watsan equipment in the form of 5,000 tarpaulin, 10,000 blankets, 5,000 jerry cans, soap, candles, and water purification tablets, accompanied by health education activities.

The MRCS will resource water purification tablets and other basic relief items locally. Through the planned relief operation the national society will also endeavour to strengthen the capacity of its branches to address the coordination of relief operations in future emergencies. Standard Federation procurement policies will be used for purchasing material on the local market. The tender document will be shared with reliable suppliers with specific deadlines for marketing the items available locally.

Communications - Advocacy and Public information

The MRCS has requested the Federation's regional delegation to assist in strengthening their ability to disseminate and communicate Red Cross activities. The MRC cyclone and post-cyclone response provides an excellent opportunity to make the MRC known to the public. The regional information delegate will continue to assist the counterpart in formulating strategies to address the public and media. The main responsibility remains with the Malagasy Red Cross information officer who will be encouraged to travel to the affected area, document the distribution process, witness the interaction between Red Cross staff and volunteers and beneficiaries, and produce relevant articles and photographs.

Capacity of the National Society

The MRCS has experience in dealing with cyclones and floods (cyclones Huddah in 2000, Manou in 2003, and Elita and Gafilo in 2004), and in effectively managing relief assistance operations. While the current capacity of the national society is limited (full-time working staff), the MRCS have actively participated in PIROI training initiatives as well as the regional disaster management programme over the last two years. At headquarters a programme coordinator oversees MRCS activities countrywide.

Preliminary Budget summary

See Annex 1 for details.

Susan Johnson
National Society and Field Support (NSFS)

Markku Niskala
Secretary General

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Madagascar: Ratsimbazafy Fanja Nantenaina, Secretary General, Malagasy Red Cross Society, Antananarivo; Email:; Phone +; Fax +

In Mauritius: Susanna Cunningham, Head of Sub-Regional Office for the Indian Ocean Islands, Mauritius; Email:; Phone + 230.454.69.34; Mobile +

In Kenya: Per Jensnäs, Federation Head of East Africa Regional Delegation, Nairobi; Email:; Phone +; Fax +

In Kenya: Youcef Ait Chellouche, Acting Regional Disaster Management Coordinator, Nairobi; Email:; Phone +; Fax +

In Geneva: Amna Al Ahmar, Federation Regional Officer for East Africa, Africa Department; Email:; Phone + 41.22.730.44.27; Fax + 41.22.733.03.95

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at