More aid needed to help children and women affected by Cyclone Indlala

© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
Véronique Miadana is in shock and in despair after Cyclone Indlala destroyed her home in northern Madagascar.

By Katja Gilon

ANTSOHIHY, Madagascar, 30 March 2007 – “It was incredible. In just a few minutes the heavy floods washed out our house,” Véronique Miadana said with tears in her eyes. Living with her five children in the suburbs of Antsohihy, north of Sofia in northern Madagascar, Ms. Miadana and her family were among the first victims of Cyclone Indlala, which struck northern Madagascar on 15 March. 

“Seeing the danger, my children and I fled, taking only necessary belongings with us,” continued Ms. Miadana. “In a few minutes everything collapsed, and with it my dreams.”

The next day, Ms. Miadana returned home to survey the damage, hoping to save a few family belongings. “Almost all of the houses were underwater,” she said.

© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
A boy stands in front of a home destroyed by Cyclone Indlala.

UNICEF’s emergency response

As of 28 March, cyclone Indlala had caused the deaths of at least 88 people and left some 30,000 homeless. Many large agricultural areas have been flooded and crops destroyed. In addition, more than 1,500 homes, 100 classrooms and many health centres have been ravaged by the disaster. The road infrastructure has also been seriously damaged, and communication and water distribution have been cut off in many areas.

Upon request of the local authorities, UNICEF has established an operational base at Antsohihy to provide humanitarian assistance to the cyclone-affected population. More bases will be opened shortly to provide additional aid to the surrounding districts.

Non-food items such as water filters, buckets, soap, tents and school kits – as well as food items such as high-energy biscuits – are being sent to meet the basic need of children and their families.

© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
UNICEF Madagascar emergency supplies reach the cyclone-affected population.

Government issues urgent appeal

The arrival of these supplies has been welcomed by the 16,000 people who are left homeless in the region of Sofia. Today, there is hope in the faces of Ms. Miadana and her children. Thanks to the emergency relief, her family has access to clean drinking water and basic health care. The children will soon go back to school – the best way to bring them a sense of normalcy and help them cope with the difficult experience.

However, more needs to be done. Waterborne diseases due to poor sanitary conditions are starting to loom, threatening the lives of many vulnerable children and women. And more food is required in order to avoid a nutrition crisis, as most of agricultural production in the area is destroyed.

Madagascar has appealed for $242 million to help the affected population. “We are short of rice, animals are dying and roads are completely cut off,” Madagascar’s President, Marc Ravalomanana, said of the most urgent needs in his government's humanitarian appeal.




30 March 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Katja Gilon reports on widespread damage caused by Cyclone Indlala in Madagascar, and UNICEF’s emergency response.
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