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Floods and food insecurity threaten Madagascar’s children

ANTANANARIVO, 28 February, 2007 – Since December 2006, Madagascar has been hit by two cyclones, a tropical storm, unprecedented flooding and a drought – the latter affecting 582,000 people including 7,000 children under five with acute malnutrition in the south of the country.

“Madagascar is your classic silent emergency,“ said UNICEF’s Representative Bruno Maes. “Fortunately, we have not had large scale epidemics or hundreds of lives lost, but the children who are affected by these disasters live under extremely vulnerable conditions and with the cyclone season still in full force, we are concerned about potential deterioration.”

The floods in Madagascar have caused seven deaths and displaced over 32,000 people – over half of whom live in the nation’s capital and are being housed in temporary accommodations and tents. UNICEF is providing many of these along with water purification solutions, jerry cans, blankets and other emergency supplies.

But around the country, the situation is worse, with close to 100,000 hectares of agricultural land lost and more than 150,000 farming families affected. Experts estimate that these losses might account for 10 per cent of total annual agricultural production.

Because of drought in the south, some 7,000 children are at risk of dying, an assessment by UNICEF found. Mobile teams were quickly dispatched that continue to monitor the situation and ensure that these children and their families receive therapeutic food and rations.

The latest tropical storm, Gamede, appears to have left the island after bringing harsh rains to the south and south-east of the country. Another cyclone, Humbo, is around the corner. Over 40 days of extensive relief operations around the country have over-stretched the nation’s response services. The government has launched an appeal for US$242 million, but only received a million thus far.


UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Misbah M. Sheikh, Communciation Officer, UNICEF Madagascar: Tel +  261-20 22 626 45/46; Email msheikh@unicef.org
Web :  www.unicef.org





1 March 2007:
UNICEF’s Misbah M. Sheikh reports on the flooding that has devastated the capital of Madagascar.
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