Since December 2006, a series of cyclones, with accompanying heavy rainfall, has lashed several regions of the island nation. In addition, this year's rainy season has brought unusually heavy rains to most of the island. Together, these events have damaged large swathes of populated and cultivated areas throughout the country, including the regions of the capital, northwest, west, and southeast. In total, some 293,000 people are expected to require assistance in the coming months, including 33,000 displaced persons and 260,000 persons affected by the loss of up to 80 per cent of crops in south-eastern areas of the country.
"Urgent assistance is needed to provide for the many thousands of people affected by this overwhelming series of natural hazards," said John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Immediate needs include targeted food distribution to prevent an acute nutritional crisis; essential drugs, water and sanitation for the treatment and prevention of waterborne diseases; and agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertiliser to restore the country's agricultural production. Additional needs include shelter and non food items, child protection, health, education, logistics and coordination.
On 20 February 2007, the Government of Madagascar launched a $242 million appeal for support in responding to needs created by the severe floods that started in December, as well as an existing drought situation prevailing in the south, which has affected 582,000 people. In response to the Government appeal, donors have provided $2.8 million from the Governments of France, Norway, China, Switzerland, and Morocco, as well as private donors and Malagasy foreign representations.
"Madagascar has been hit by a series of cyclones this year, which has drained in-country supplies," said UN Resident Coordinator Mr Bouri Sanhouidi. "We need to replenish relief supplies to ensure that we are prepared, as more rains are expected along with possible cyclones."
So far this season, six cyclones have hit Madagascar -- the worst Bondo and Clovis in January. Another intense tropical cyclone, Indlala, landed yesterday on the island's east coast and has already flooded large areas. The cyclone season typically lasts until mid April.
Madagascar is prone to a wide range of natural disasters, which regularly cause damage to the local communities as well as set-backs to economic growth. The country ranks 143 out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index.
For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570. Michelle Thulkanam, OCHA-Southern Africa. +27 11 517 1635, mobile + 27 82 4111 442.
In Madagascar, please call: Bouri Sanhouidi, UN Resident Coordinator: + 261 20 22 366 50, + 88 16 31 51 9 555 UNDP DRR : + 88 16 31 51 9 556); Krystyna Bednarska, WFP,: +261 20 22 315 72; Martin Smith, FAO: + 261 20 22 288 31; Bruno Maes, UNICEF: + 261 33 11 399 36; Leonard Tapsoba, WHO: + 261 32 03 30 300; Benoit Kalasa, UNFPA: + 261 22 226 57; Jérémie Toussaint, Office of the Resident Coordinator: + 261 32 074 66 68.
OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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