WFP appeals for funds to feed 400,000 people in Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO - The UN World Food Programme appealed today for US$8.4 million in cash to help feed 394,250 people severely affected this year by floods, drought and political turmoil in Madagascar.
The funds are needed to purchase 18,400 metric tonnes of food aid to assist vulnerable communities over the next six months.

WFP has already been helping to feed many of those affected by this year's natural and man-made crises with stocks borrowed from other programmes. However, it is clear that WFP's distributions need to be expanded over the coming months to reach all those in need.

"Madagascar has been hit by a combination of natural disasters, political and economic upheavals that have left tens of thousands of people in need of food aid," said Bodo Henze, WFP Country Director in Madagascar. "We need donors to provide cash urgently so we can mitigate widespread hunger and suffering."

Following disputed presidential elections in December 2001, general strikes and blockades on the main highways crippled Madagascar's economy. Thousands of jobs were lost in the country's main urban centres and thousands of families left destitute.

As soon as the effects of the crisis on food availability at the household level were felt, WFP responded with supplementary feeding programmes and Food-for-Work (FFW) activities to help restore lost livelihoods.

As part of the expanded operations, WFP will provide supplementary food aid to 22,500 malnourished children under five years of age, as well as to 4,500 pregnant women in the capital, Antananarivo, and five other main urban centres. A further 20,000 households in these same six urban areas will benefit from FFW projects.

In the eastern province of Toamasina, thousands of hectares of farmland - mainly rice paddies - were destroyed by Cyclone Kesiny in May. Many families have now exhausted their food stocks and are increasingly dependent on food aid.

WFP is planning to aid 20,000 people and their families in Toamasina through a range of FFW projects. These include removing excess sand from rice paddies and the rehabilitation of damaged agricultural infrastructure.

Meanwhile, in the south, WFP will provide relief to 33,450 households who live in the 13 communes worst-affected by this year's severe drought. These people will also receive their food rations in exchange for working on small projects such as improving dirt roads, repairing water points and protecting farmland by fixing sand dunes.

"While the immediate crises may be over, a lot of work remains to help people regain the livelihoods they lost, and to contribute to economic recovery and to the rebuilding of rural infrastructure,' said Henze.

WFP's programmes will be implemented with national and international organisations, including CARE, CRS, ADRA, MSF, Red Cross and the World Bank.

In addition to this latest emergency operation, WFP already provides aid to 450,000 beneficiaries in Madagascar through community nutrition, school feeding and disaster mitigation and preparedness programmes. Furthermore, in June WFP also supplied corn-soya blend to the province of Fianarntosoa to help communities devastated by an influenza epidemic, which killed over 1,000 people.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2001, WFP fed more than 77 million people in 82 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.

For more information please contact:

Bodo Henze, Country Director, WFP Madagascar Tel +260-20-2230833
Annmarie Isler, Information Officer, WFP Madagascar Tel +260-20-2230833
Richard Lee, Information Officer, WFP Johannesburg Tel +27-11-5171686; +27-83-4601787
Trevor Rowe, WFP Chief Spokesperson, Tel. +39-06-65132602