Cyclone Batsirai, UNICEF in place for the first emergency response
Cyclone Batsirai killed 121 dead people and affected nearly 144,000 others throughout Madagascar. Jimmy is a Wash officer covering five districts in the affected region.
Jimmy is on his way to Farafangana, back from his assessment mission in Vondrozo district. Since the Batsirai cylcone, Vondrozo has been inaccessible due to rising waters and several road breaks. With the local authorities, Jimmy is part of the first team to go there to open up the area. “We completed the journey in seven hours, a distance that we normally travel in two and a half hours. The water is gradually receding and the displaced people are starting to rebuild their lives,” he says. His mission focuses on damage assessment and response actions.
Jimmy's work had started long before the cyclone reached the South East coast. As the lead of the WASH cluster in times of emergency, UNICEF mobilized its staff as soon as forecasts of the cyclone were available by updating regional contingency planning, assessing the pre-positioning of stocks and the preparation of shelters and displacement sites. “Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is essential during an emergency like this,” says Jimmy. “We’ve been working with the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in setting up temporary latrines, water tanks and showers.”
For Heliane, a disabled woman and mother of two daughters, now sheltering in a displacement site, the support from UNICEF been vital. “Because of cyclone Batsirai, my house was flooded and I was transferred to this site. Thanks to UNICEF’s support, I received a kit made up of bucket, a bar of soap, a cup and a water can. In addition, a shower has been installed especially for women,” she says.
But Jimmy’s mission is not always appreciated by those affected and it can be equally important to raise their awareness of the importance of good hygiene at a time of crisis. “My priority is to provide household with kits so as to ensure hygiene, sanitation and access to water. These are not always the priorities of displaced or disaster-stricken people whose primary needs are basic necessities such as rice. Batsirai completely destroyed the crops,” he says.
Since the cyclone, the more than 1,000 WASH kits have been distributed in three districts of the impacted region.