Madagascar: UN appeals for $6 million to stockpile supplies as cyclones loom

25 November 2009

United Nations humanitarian agencies launched an appeal today for $6 million to help the people of Madagascar brace against the impact of a wave of intense cyclones forecasted to hit the Indian Ocean nation in the coming months.

This year meteorologists are warning that four to five powerful tropical storms will swirl through the island causing large-scale destruction and putting thousands of lives at risk.

“We are in a very grave situation and need to pre-position supplies in the areas most at risk to be able to effectively save lives and mitigate the impact on these communities,” said UN Resident Coordinator Christopher Peter Metcalf.

“It is urgent that resources be mobilized now,” stressed Mr. Metcalf. “We urge the international community not to ignore the plight of the Malagasy people.”

Due to its geographic location, Madagascar is affected every year by three to four cyclones, and with almost 70 per cent of the population – or nearly 13 million people – considered poor, coping with such emergencies is precarious.

In addition, poor infrastructure means that once a cyclone has hit it can take weeks to reach some of the affected communities which are left isolated and at great risk of hunger and disease.

Over the last two years, the country was hit by five cyclones affecting over 463,000 people, damaging 2,276 classrooms, destroying 180,000 hectares of agricultural land and leaving 190,000 people homeless.

“The tragedy is that this is an annual event and it appears that each year the severity and impact is potentially greater,” said Mr. Metcalf. “Investments in disaster risk reduction programmes can save lives and help communities recover more quickly.”

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Volatile climate, politics leave access to food precarious in Madagascar – UN

Access to food for the people of Madagascar remains unreliable because of the impact of natural disasters, which routinely strike the island State, and continuing political tensions, a United Nations report warned today.