Madagascar: floods, drought threaten lives of undernourished children, UNICEF warns

Madagascar: floods, drought threaten lives of undernourished children, UNICEF warns

Mother & son sit in front of severely damaged house
Flooding from cyclones in Madagascar has displaced 32,000 people and affected over 150,000 farming families, while a drought in the south of the Indian Ocean island has hit nearly 600,000 people, endangering the lives of 7,000 children with acute malnutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in an update on the situation.

Flooding from cyclones in Madagascar has displaced 32,000 people and affected over 150,000 farming families, while a drought in the south of the Indian Ocean island has hit nearly 600,000 people, endangering the lives of 7,000 children with acute malnutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in an update on the situation.

With the country’s relief operations over-stretched UNICEF is sending in tents, water purification equipment, blankets and other emergency supplies.

“Madagascar is your classic silent emergency,” UNICEF country representative Bruno Maes said. “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 have left seven people dead and 32,000 others uprooted from their homes, over half of them in the nation’s capital, Antananarivo, where they are being housed in temporary accommodation and tents.

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 which has affected 582,000 people, some 7,000 children under the age of five are at risk of dying, an assessment by UNICEF found. Mobile teams were quickly dispatched and they continue to monitor the situation and ensure that these children and their families receive therapeutic food and rations.

The Government has launched an appeal for $242 million, but has so far only received $1 million.