International Federation releases emergency funds for Madagascar

Published: 29 February 2008 0:00 CET

Jean-Luc Martinage, International Federation

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released 108,000 Swiss francs (USD 100,000 / euro 65,000) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Malagasy Red Cross Society in its response to tropical cyclone Ivan which hit the island on 17 February with winds of up to 230 kilometres per hour.  Some 46,000 people will receive immediate assistance.

An emergency appeal is under consideration based on the outcome of the assessments currently taking place to assist some 10,000 families.

“According to the latest figures released by the governement’s disaster agency, at least 83 people have been killed,” says Mbolatiana Ranaivomanana, Malagasy Red Cross Information Officer. The death toll could further increase as many people are still missing. According to the authorities, more than 320,000 people have been affected while 190,000 have been made homeless.

The cyclone also caused flooding in some areas damaging many buildings including schools and health centres. Many crops were also washed away, especially in the Alaotra Mangora region where heavy rainfalls and violent winds destroyed ten of thousands of hectares of rice crops in a region which is known as “the breadbasket” of Madagascar.

As soon as the cyclone alert was raised, Malagasy Red Cross set up a crisis unit  supported by the French Red Cross and International Federation delegates. Volunteers were immediately mobilized, going house-to-house to deliver prevention messages. The same volunteers are currently taking an active role in emergency operations.  More than 120 volunteers were deployed in the most affected regions (Aloatra Mangoro, Atsinanana and Analamanga) to evaluate the needs. In northwest Madagascar, local branches were also involved to conduct rapid assessments in Sofia, Boeny and Menabé.  

Malagasy Red Cross also requested the support of the French Red Cross regional intervention platform (PIROI). Twelve tonnes of material were sent from the main centre on La Reunion Island, including tarpaulins, tool kits, generators, water purification tablets and other emergency items. 

Based on the first assessments, the Malagasy Red Cross will deliver emergency assistance for 200 families in Sofia, 6,000 families in Sava and 3,000 families in other locations.

Initial reports also indicate the needs for water and sanitation, shelter, food and construction material. Volunteers are distributing water and sanitation kits (buckets, washing basins and soap), shelter (tents and tarpaulins) and mosquito nets to prevent the rise in malaria cases.