Madagascar: Cyclones Emergency Appeal No. MDRMG002

Originally published


This Emergency Appeal revises the Preliminary Emergency Appeal launched on 22 March, 2007.

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.

In Brief


Appeal history:

A DREF bulletin was issued on 19 January

A second DREF bulletin was issued on 16 March

A preliminary emergency appeal was launched on 22 March

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 over 200 km/h, the cyclone ravaged the immediate area in its path (mainly Maroantsetra) and left considerable damage on the North East and North West regions. Cyclone Indlala was the fifth cyclone to hit Madagascar in the past 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 December 2006 to the present moment - and resultant flooding. Most recently, Cyclone Jaya hit Madagascar on 3 April 2007 causing further damage and displacement. The wind speed was 150 km/hr at the highest peak while Indlala's was 235 km/hr. Cyclone Jaya did not make significant impact compared to Indlala because vulnerable groups lost all their belongings during successive cyclone passages and related floods. The "no damage"reported by several organizations is therefore an indicator of the impact made by the precedent cyclone and the vulnerability of the population living in the repeatedly-affected areas. According to assessments conducted by the Malagasy government, 126,017 people have been severely affected and require immediate assistance. Some 13,066 houses were completely destroyed, 91 public buildings damaged (including 29 schools), 35 bridges damaged, over 35,000 hectares (ha) of rice paddies and 12,006 ha of other crops destroyed. Assessments are being finalized; it is anticipated that these figures will increase as a result of improved access to affected areas.

With limited access and communications affected, information has been very difficult to obtain. However, reports indicate significant structural damages in the regions of Sava, Analajirofo, Diana and Sofia. Infrastructure, including water and electricity systems, has also been severely affected. Cyclone Indlala destroyed houses in the town of Antalaha as well as in the surrounding villages; roofs of poorly built houses were partially destroyed or severely damaged. The area north west of Antalaha is not yet accessible after a connecting bridge was washed away by the raging floods. In addition, 80 percent of coconut and vanilla trees have been damaged. Vulnerable persons, in particular, face difficulties in rebuilding their houses.

The Maroantsetra area is the hardest hit, with 60,000 people affected. The flooded area is a productive farming valley. Houses, crop fields, schools, a health centre and 1,200 boreholes have been flooded. Access and circulation inside Maroantsetra District is only possible by boat. However, as the floodwaters begin to recede, access by pedestrian and animals carts will improve.

In Diana and Sofia regions, located in the north eastern region, preliminary reports indicate that there were 30 hours of rain, resulting in extensive flooding which displaced at least 9,000 in Ambanja town and left 6,000 persons in Antsohihy town in need of assistance. According to preliminary UN estimates, immediate needs include access to safe water and sanitation, health care, targeted food distributions, non-food items, and basic shelter items. Stagnant waters in the flood-affected areas increase the potential for outbreaks of Dengue Fever.

Intervening actors, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and CARE International, concur that the effects of successive heavy rains and floods destroyed the little coping capacity of the communities. A severe food crisis is foreseen in the coming months as 70 to 80 percent of rice crop has been destroyed and access to vulnerable groups is very difficult.

Accessibility: Road networks in the North West have been severely damaged. Some have been washed away or are submerged by rising and fast flowing waters from the overflowing rivers, or have been blocked off by landslides and boulders that have rolled down adjoining hills. While the Public Works Department is already at work trying to restore circulation, most of these obstructions will require a significant amount of work and mechanical resources to open the roads to normal traffic. Many smaller roads, notably those leading to the countryside, are likely to remain cut off for a while due to their lower priority as regards traffic. Presently, Befandriana, Bealanana and Mandritsara are completely isolated. The logistics entry point/hub for merchandise from international locations is planned to be the town of Mahajanga which has an international airport with a 2,300 metre runway and night-landing capability.

In the current state where roads have been damaged, and in view of the gravity of the situation, transfer of many humanitarian relief items will need to be done by boat, pirogue, carts or human back packs. It is expected that it will be, on most occasions, quite difficult to reach beneficiaries in the remote areas of the country. Some rivers have also been blocked by fallen rocks and stones, with water cascading down, making navigation almost impossible.

Food security: The north of Madagascar, which produces a substantial quantity of rice (the country's staple food), has also been affected. Cyclones, including Indlala, compound pressure on the already-precarious food security situation, especially in the country's arid southern region, where a drought has affected 582,000 people. The situation has worsened due to the fact that successive cyclones washed away crops at the harvest period and seeds could not be secured by the communities. According to the UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is the lead agency in the food sector, seeds available in the local market are inadequate, which could compromise the next farming season.