Madagascar: El Nino/Drought Humanitarian Situation Report, as of 28 February 2017

from UN Children's Fund
Published on 28 Feb 2017


  • Madagascar’s “forgotten crisis” continues. The January 2017 nutrition assessment of children under 59 months indicated a deterioration as compared to the last quarter of 2016, as expected given the current period of the lean season. Current estimates for 2017 are that 35,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition (21,750 alone in the South).

  • A rapid health assessment in four districts of Androy Region indicated that the vulnerability of children under 5, and the overall population in particular is aggravated, the lack of access to quality health care being one of the main unaddressed concerns.

  • Out of the 850,000 people with the most acute needs, 740,000 people (87 per cent) remain without potable water. However, since January 2017, UNICEF has provided 12 per cent of this population, living in the eight most affected districts, with access to sustainable safe potable water and an additional 13 per cent will gain access during the first quarter of 2017.

  • All sectors remain widely underfunded, except Nutrition. Therefore, UNICEF is unable to meet the needs of 391,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance


Children in need of immediate humanitarian assistance (46% Total pop in IPC phases 3 & 4)

Children aged 6 to 59 months in need of treatment for SAM in 2017 (UNICEF estimated caseload 2017 in the Humanitarian Action for children (HAC) appeal)

People without access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene (UNICEF estimated caseload 2017, HAC)

UNICEF HAC Appeal 2017
US$ 31.4 million

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Tropical Cyclone season has commenced with two tropical storms (Carlos and Dineo) which formed in the Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel, however due to the trajectory, neither storm made landfall therefore damages were minimal. An Intense Tropical Cyclone, Enawo, struck northeastern Madagascar on the morning of 7 March, travelling at two to three hundred kilometers per hour. On 8 March, Enawo weakened from an “intense” to a “moderate” tropical storm, with an average speed of 80km/hour with peaks of 112km/hour. As Enawo moves further inland, the Government’s disaster management agency (BNGRC), the United Nations and NGOs are evacuating affected populations, passing on life-saving information to affected communities and responding to growing humanitarian needs.

Water remains the key factor in the crisis taking place in the southern region of Madagascar, especially in Taloagnaro where the first rains have not yet fallen. Since mid-December, rain has fallen intermittently throughout Grand Sud, raising hopes that sufficient crops can be harvested by the end of March. However, harvests are still at stake if the pluviometric pattern is not sustained. With the weather patterns changing, the use of surface stagnated water has further increased, while the demand for water trucking has reduced, therefore increasing the threat of higher incidence of malaria and transmissible water borne diseases like acute diarrhoea. Although the rain is welcome, humanitarian assistance delivery has been delayed due to flooding and cut off roads. Local isolated cases of floods in Tulear – Fiherenana have been reported and assessed by a joint Mission, with flood response provided by the National Office of Disaster Risk Management (BNGRC) and local authorities.

The nutrition situation in the southern regions of the country remains a concern. In January 2017, a widespread nutritional screening took place, using mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and oedema assessment, and covered 7 of the 8 affected districts. A total of 231,241 children aged 6 to 59 months were assessed, represents 94 per cent of all children in the target area. The results indicate that the proportion of children with MUAC below 115 mm or oedema (severe acute malnutrition or SAM) by district ranged from 0.7 per cent to 1.8 per cent. The proportion of children with MUAC between 115 mm and 125 mm (moderate acute malnutrition or MAM) ranged from 2.7 to 11.8 per cent and Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), identified through MUAC less than 125 mm or oedema, ranged from 3.4 to 13 per cent. Overall these results indicate that the nutrition situation has deteriorated in January as compared to the last quarter of 2016 (October screening) when SAM rates ranged from 0.5 to 1.2 per cent, and GAM rates between 2.5 and 7.4 per cent.

A rapid health assessment addressing morbidity and mortality was carried out by UNICEF and its partner Médecins du Monde in four districts of Androy Region, whose final conclusions were that the vulnerability of the general population and mainly children less than five years of age is far aggravated. Access to quality health care remains one of the top challenges, and only an integrated response combining emergency interventions, capacity building and health system strengthening actions could alleviate the current situation.

The school year started on 3 October, but negative coping mechanisms have been employed in some areas such as parents taking their children out of school to look for water, earn money or find food. At the end of 2016 there was a reduction in the number of students attending schools in the nine districts of the south (the most affected by the drought plus Betroka, in Anosy). Between October 2016 and November 2016, there was an average 2.5 per cent increase, however, in December, there was an average 12 per cent decrease, with Androy reaching figures of a 24 per cent decrease. In January 2017, there was a 3 per cent increase in December 2016. Absenteeism remains high in 2017, with the average for the nine districts averaging 15 per cent and particularly high for Anosy at 21 per cent. The region of Atsimo Atsinanana has particularly high rates of absenteeism at 29 per cent, a consequence of the extreme weather conditions affecting this region whereby families have been unable to plant crops due to the lack of rain. Teacher absenteeism is also high despite improvements on 2016. The average is 30 per cent for Androy (44 per cent for female teachers) and 24 per cent for Anosy (29 per cent for female teachers).

For protection issues, the vulnerability of population and especially adolescents living in urban areas was regularly underlined. Key informants and protection actors both from rural and urban communities stressed that families who are the most affected by drought were often the ones who were obliged to leave their community and migrate to towns. Once there, they often have no other alternatives than to rely on negative coping mechanisms such as begging or sexual and economic exploitation of their children.