© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1250/Pirozzi

A toddler stands near debris in a poor neighbourhood in Antananarivo. Concurrent droughts, cyclones and political upheaval have displaced families, forced thousands to rely on unsafe water sources and exacerbated food shortages.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

Nearly every year, Madagascar is hit by two or three cyclones due to its geographic location.  These climatic hazards have been worsening in their impact, uprooting hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.  In addition, since early 2009 the country has been gripped by a political crisis which has resulted in significant cuts in aid flows to the public sector. UNICEF now has serious concerns about the steady deterioration in the country’s capacity to cope, particularly in its capital city, Antananarivo. At the same time, the south of the country is suffering from irregular and erratic rainfall, which has adversely affected harvests.  In 2009, this resulted in food shortages in an area of the country where 73 per cent1 of households are already considered chronically vulnerable and food insecure. In March 2009, Global Acute Malnutrition rates reached 14.5 per cent in one of the worst affected southern regions.  It is expected that food shortages caused by erratic rainfall will continue into 2010.

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

In 2010, UNICEF together with the Government of Madagascar, United Nations agencies and other national and international partners, is planning to reduce the vulnerabilities of an estimated 238,000 children under five in the southern part of Madagascar and a further 300,000 people affected by cyclones in the north through the provision of emergency relief in line with the Core Commitments for Children.  Emergency response will remain an integral part of the overall country programme strategy. Emergency planning, implementation and monitoring will continue across all sectors, with a special focus on preparedness, rapid response and early recovery.  Following are the expected results of UNICEF emergency interventions:

Health and Nutrition: UNICEF will lead the Nutrition Cluster to provide immediate response to the high levels of acute malnutrition among at least 238,000 children under five in the south of Madagascar and 300,000 cyclone-affected people in the north. Basic health care and nutrition services will also be strengthened by improving the supply of essential drugs and expanding outreach and immunization programmes.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): As lead of the WASH Cluster, UNICEF will work to ensure access to safe water and sanitation and hygiene facilities for up to 300,000 cyclone-affected people and for 136 health centres in the south. This will be achieved through the rehabilitation of water supply systems, distribution of WASH kits, construction of sanitary facilities adapted to Sphere standards and hygiene education activities.

Education: UNICEF will lead the Education Cluster to ensure access to a safe learning environment for at least 100,000 children whose education has been disrupted by cyclones through the provision of temporary learning spaces as well as recreational materials.

Child Protection: UNICEF will lead the Child Protection Sub-Cluster to ensure that 50,000 children affected by cyclones and 60,000 children affected by the political crisis gain access to psychosocial support through the provision of over 20 child-friendly spaces, recreational activities and counselling services. The situation in Antananarivo will be monitored in part through a Multi-Cluster Rapid Assessment, which will also be applied in other emergency-affected areas where necessary.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Health and Nutrition 2,000,000
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 5,000,000
Education 4,000,000
Child Protection 450,000
Total 11,450,000

1 World Food Programme, ‘Comprehensive Food Security Vulnerability Assessment’, WFP, Rome, 2009.