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An appeal for aid as Madagascar struggles to rebuild after cyclones

© UNICEF Madagascar/2008
On the road leading to the city of Anororo, Madagascar, cyclone-affected families who have received aid from UNICEF head back to their homes.

By Anwulika Okafor

NEW YORK, USA, 14 March 2008 – It has been more than four weeks since Cyclone Ivan first touched down on the island nation of Madagascar and triggered devastating floods, leaving 93 people dead and more than 330,000 homeless.

Since the cyclone hit, UNICEF and its partners have been on the ground assisting families and communities as they try to rebuild. Essential supplies and services – including water and sanitation kits, temporary educational facilities and basic health care – have been provided to those in need.

Yet despite these efforts, the affected population’s overwhelming needs far exceed the resources currently available. As a result, UNICEF this week launched an emergency appeal for an additional $14.7 million in cyclone-relief funding.

Damage takes a heavy toll
Soon after Cyclone Ivan first touched down, assessment teams spread out across Madagascar in an attempt to quantify the damage done. Ivan was directly responsible for the disruption of crucial agricultural production, the loss of hundreds of classrooms and school buildings, the destruction of water and sanitation facilities, and – even more dire – the deprivation of access to basic health services for thousands of people

© UNICEF Madagascar/2008
UNICEF has provided essential supplies to supplement government aid for children and families displaced by cyclone flooding in Madagascar.

These losses would be daunting for any nation, but for Madagascar, which suffered through six cyclones in 2007 alone, they are taking an especially heavy toll.

“The cyclone destroyed everything,” says Ralison Fleur, head of the Parents Association in Anororo. “The heavy rain caused damage to the dam. So many permanent buildings have been destroyed, including the only school in our village. The same for the main road. Even for me, I was not able to save anything.”

As UNICEF awaits the world’s response to its aid appeal, teams on the ground are moving quickly to move resources where they are needed most. Children remain the focus of these efforts.

Food security and education
Even in calmer times, an estimated 42 per cent of Malagasy children under the age of five were considered undernourished. Now, Cyclone Ivan has devastated crops in areas where most families make their living from subsistence farming. This has led to fears about increased food insecurity.

© UNICEF Madagascar/2008
There is a significant risk that the lack of safe water and sanitation in the aftermath of Cyclone Ivan will affect the health of children like these in Anororo.

To combat possible shortages, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) are closely monitoring food safety in flood-affected areas, as well as stepping up the distribution of health kits and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria – the leading cause of child morbidity and mortality in Madagascar.

In addition, through the use of tent schools, UNICEF has been able to bring educational services back to 23 per cent of the estimated 60,000 children left without classrooms because of the cyclone.

With every kit, classroom or provision they supply, UNICEF and its partners are working to help the children of Madagascar reclaim the lives that were so violently uprooted by the winds and rains of Cyclone Ivan.




February 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on efforts in Madagascar to recover from Cyclone Ivan.
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