Tropical storm Hubert leaves dozens dead and thousands affected in Madagascar

© UNICEF/2010
Tsimba Joël recovers what is left of his house and belongings in the commune of Tsiatosika in eastern Madagascar.

By Fatratra Andriamasinoro and Katharina Koeller

MANANJARY DISTRICT, Madagascar, 19 March 2010 – One week after tropical storm Hubert wreaked havoc on the coastal towns of south-eastern Madagascar, the flood waters have receded and families are returning to their homes in the district of Manajary.

The neighbouring regions, however, remain inaccessible and various districts are currently only reachable by sea route. Ikongo district, in the southeast of the island, was the hardest hit, followed by Mananjary.

'I lost everything'

Communication networks and electricity supplies have been cut off due to the landslides which followed the storm. Further south, in the Manakara district, 273 families are still accommodated in makeshift shelters.

© UNICEF/2010
Pupils and staff in Mahamasina School try to dry school materials damaged by tropical storm Hubert.

Tsimba Joël, a resident of Tsiatosika commune, about 10 kilometers from Mananjary, witnessed the death of three family members due to the storm.

"I lost everything," he said. "Some of my family members lost their lives. The landslide completely buried our houses. We are trying to save everything we can from the mud. I am completely disillusioned."

UNICEF's efforts

Despite recent sanctions due to political unrest that have shaken the country since 2009, when Andry Rajoelina took over as Madagascar's president of the transitional Government, the country has mobilized efforts to deal with the natural disaster.

© UNICEF/2010
Roads have been flooded on the southeastern coast of Madagascar since tropical storm Hubert hit the island on 10 March.

UNICEF and partners are distributing blankets, water purification kits and bed nets to affected families. The National Bureau of Disaster Risk Management is working closely with local authorities and UNICEF to assess the scope of the situation to enable an appropriate response.

"Such emergency situations considerably weaken the coping mechanisms of already vulnerable families in Madagascar, a country where 7 out of 10 people are poor," said UNICEF Representative in Madagascar Bruno Maes. "In situations like these it is UNICEF's mandate to save the lives of children and to offer technical, logistic and financial support."



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