Madagascar making good progress in post-cyclone recovery, says UNICEF chief

Madagascar making good progress in post-cyclone recovery, says UNICEF chief

A Malagasy family walks in search of shelter from Cyclone Ivan
The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lauded the Government and people of Madagascar for the progress made so far with recovery and reconstruction following the deadly cyclone that battered the Indian Ocean island nation in February.

With winds of up to 190 kilometres per hour, Cyclone Ivan was one of the biggest to hit the island, which is prone to frequent cyclones and tropical storms. More than 160,000 were affected in the four districts that bore the brunt of the storm.

In addition, some 364 schools and over 40 health centres were damaged or destroyed, with a serious impact on the health and well-being of children in the area.

On the first-ever visit by a UNICEF Executive Director to Madagascar, Ann M. Veneman said she was pleased to see the “impressive” progress made in re-establishing basic health and education services.

“This is due to the engagement among the government, local communities and international organizations working together to improve conditions for children and their families,” she said during a visit to Analanjirofo, the region hardest hit by the cyclone.

Ms. Veneman visited a local health centre that offers basic services, including the treatment of malnutrition. The health centre offers ‘Plumpy’nut,’ a ready-to-use therapeutic food for treating severely malnourished children.

The high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based paste typically comes in foil wrappers or small plastic tubs and has a two-year shelf life when unopened. Plumpy’nut requires no preparation or special supervision, so a parent can deliver it to an undernourished child at home.

She also visited a local school that was partly destroyed by Cyclone Ivan. UNICEF is providing temporary classrooms and essential school materials at the school site.

Also during her visit, Ms. Veneman met with the President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, the Prime Minister and several ministers to discuss progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight targets, including halving extreme poverty and providing universal primary education, that world leaders pledged to achieve by 2015.

Today, the Executive Director officially launched a national campaign to fight tetanus, which aimed to vaccinate 830,000 women between ages of 15 and 49, with the goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus on the island.

Following her visit to Madagascar, Ms. Veneman will travel to Mozambique before journeying on to Mexico, where she will join Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other officials at the International AIDS Conference set to begin in Mexico City on 3 August.