WFP makes an international appeal for thousands of people affected by the floods in Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO - The United Nations World Food Programme today launched an appeal for US$5 million to help feed tens of thousands of people made desperate by floods which devastated the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar in mid February and early March.
WFP seeks to provide emergency food rations to an estimated 129,000 people for the next four months to help them rebuild their lives. The appeal includes US$1.9 million to support the continuation of helicopter and airlift operations which remain crucial to bringing food to many towns and rural communities still isolated because of floodwaters.

In the East, North East and West of the island, the floods, provoked by cyclone Eline and tropical storm Gloria, have contributed to the deaths of an estimated 200 people, as well as severely damaging tens of thousands of homes. Many people in isolated rural areas are still living with neither food nor shelter.

Rice farms and granaries, fruit trees and cash crops were also destroyed by the floods, leaving families with only a few days of food stocks. In North-Eastern Madagascar, in one of the largest rice producing districts, farmers lost almost 80 per cent of their production.

"In many regions, the next rice harvest is only due in six months, making tens of thousands of people largely dependent on food aid until they can feed themselves," said Haladou Salha, WFP Country Director in Madagascar. "WFP will continue to sustain the most needy with free food rations, while less vulnerable people will participate in food-for-work projects to help rebuild damaged infrastructures".

Five days after tropical storm Gloria struck Madagascar, WFP launched an airlift to deliver a one-month supply of food aid to more than 20,000 people affected by the floods in the North-East and East of the country. WFP was able to move quickly because the agency was already active in Madagascar, using food aid for development.

According to government estimates, half a million people have been negatively affected by the floods and violent winds which brought havoc to the country's already inadequate infrastructure. Roads and bridges were washed away, cutting off at least 40 towns and rural communities.

Using mainly cargo planes and helicopters, so far WFP has delivered 300 metric tons of food aid -- enough to feed 30,000 for two weeks -- to the most affected areas in the North-East and West of Madagascar.