|© UNICEF Madagascar/2010|
|Following Tropical Storm Hubert, Dina, 12, looks for valuables in the ruins of his family’s house in Sahasinaka commune, Madagascar. UNICEF and its partners are providing tents and school supplies so that children like Dina can resume schooling as soon as possible.|
By Fatratra Lalaina Andriamasinoro
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 12 April 2010 − After weeks of complete isolation for thousands of people in south-eastern Madagascar, aid continues to arrive in those areas worst affected by Tropical Storm Hubert.
The storm struck the south-east coast on 10 March. Towns and villages were stranded by flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains, and disruption to communication networks has complicated the relief effort.
In Sahasinaka, a rural commune 54 km north of the town of Manakara, several villages were completely flooded when the Faraony River burst its banks.
UNICEF responded immediately, sending supplies by plane and river boat – including essential medicines, tarpaulins for temporary shelter, water and sanitation kits, soap, water purification tablets and jerry cans for carrying potable water.
In partnership with local authorities, the National Bureau of Disaster Risk Management (BNGRC), and local non-governmental organizations, UNICEF is continuing evaluation missions in the most difficult to access areas to assess the full impact of the storm.
With mud and debris clogging waterways, providing medicine and safe water to prevent water-borne diseases and epidemics is urgent. The BNGRC estimates that in Manakara District, seven basic health centres serving more than 20,000 people were flooded, limiting local medical authorities’ ability to respond.
|© UNICEF Madagascar/2010|
|Children at Mahamasina Primary School in south-eastern Madagascar. An estimated 229 schools were damaged by Tropical Storm Hubert.|
Disease risk growing
“Medical supplies at these health centres are no longer usable,” said Manakara District Medical Inspector Dr. Vincent. “It is the same for other equipment, like fridges. We must re-stock the centres as quickly as possible. At the same time, the risk of diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory infections are growing.”
In addition to essential medical supplies and water kits, UNICEF is distributing mosquito nets. In addition, the agency has disinfected schools and other public places that were contaminated by flooding.
Ensuring that children can return to school as soon as possible is a priority. Many children have not only lost their classrooms, but also all their school materials. And these same students must now help their families rebuild their lives.
Return of normalcy
“We lost everything in our house,” said Dina, 12, from Sahasinaka. “I lost all my school books. And now I have to help my parents rebuild our house and find our things. I can’t go back to school straight away.”
As part of its strategy to help students return to normalcy, UNICEF has provided tarpaulins to use as temporary classrooms and, with the help of its partners, is distributing ‘School-in-a-Box’ and recreation kits to provide thousands of affected children with school materials.