Oxfam to assess flooding in Madagascar

Tropical storm Gloria hit the northeast coast of Madagascar last week, only a few days after Cyclone Eline had left a trail of destruction over the island and Mozambique. The storm then moved over the centre of the island, veered southeast, and died down on Sunday 5 March over Sakaraha, in the south, according to the meteorological office in the capital, Antananarivo.
Floods brought on by heavy rains in the wake of the tropical depression have affected over half a million people on Madagascar, according to UN sources. UNICEF have carried out an initial survey, completed at the weekend, and have reported that more than 600,000 people had been displaced, half of them children. UNICEF have dispatched a cargo plane with 15 mt of relief supplies, including 10.5 mt of high-energy biscuits and emergency medical supplies.

The UN have also reported that tens of thousands of people have become trapped by floods in remote corners of the island. The World Food Programme (WFP) said it would use helicopters to dispatch 25 tonnes of food to 30,000 people in the east coast town of Mahanoro, one of the areas worst affected by floods. It then plans to deliver another 375 tonnes of food to areas in the north east and west.

Officials say more than 1,000 cholera deaths have been recorded in the past year on the island, out of an estimated 15,500 cases treated. There is real concern that the flooding will cause a further, much larger, outbreak of cholera.

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else on the planet. Eyewitnesses say hundreds of birds and animals have been spotted dead in the floodwaters.

The island, with a population of about 15 million people, has a per capita GNP estimated at US$250, making it one of the 20 poorest nations in the world.

Oxfam's Response

Oxfam GB are planning to send an assessment team to Madagascar during next week to look at needs and to make recommendations.

The team will include a Programme Manager, a Public Health Engineer and a Health Specialist. Dependent upon needs, a Food Security Specialist may also join the team at a later stage. It is anticipated that the assessment will last for two weeks, after which the decision will be made to either start a programme, or decide not to become further involved.