Nairobi, 13 March 2017 — Tens of thousands of people are displaced in Madagascar and need urgent humanitarian assistance after powerful Cyclone Enawo battered the island with torrential rain and wind, destroying homes and flooding farms and communities.
Officials from the country’s disaster management agency estimate dozens of deaths, nearly 200 injuries, over 84,500 people displaced from their homes, and nearly 300,000 people in 58 districts affected by the storm, which made landfall on 7 March 2017.
Damage, landslides and widespread flooding hampered access to some of the worst hit areas, but assessments are underway and aid is gradually reaching people in need.
“The scale of the damage is massive, particularly in the northeast, and thousands are in urgent need of shelter, food, medical care, clean water and other essential relief services,” says Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa.
The Malagasy Red Cross Society has mobilized 24 disaster response teams as well as 890 volunteers, many of whom were dispatched to communities ahead of the storm to provide early warning messages and safety tips. Since the storm, the volunteers have been providing first aid, medical consultations and psychosocial support to displaced families in evacuation centres.
“Many people whose homes have been flooded or destroyed are staying with relatives in more secure areas, while thousands more displaced people have sought shelter in schools, churches and gymnasiums,” says Dr Nafo-Traoré. “Many have lost everything, including their farmlands and livelihoods, and their needs are significant. Red Cross staff and volunteers are working to reach the most vulnerable as quickly as possible.”
IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for 895,000 Swiss francs to help the Malagasy Red Cross scale up assistance for at least 25,000 people affected by the cyclone.
The Red Cross plans to distribute safe water, to clean and disinfect wells that were inundated and contaminated by flood waters, and to repair damaged water sources and systems. The Red Cross also aims to expand first aid, psychosocial support, community health services and health and hygiene promotion to reduce the risk of vector and waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera.
Using stocks pre-positioned in the country and region, Red Cross volunteers will also distribute kitchen sets, other basic household supplies, and emergency shelter materials and tools, while providing assistance and guidance on shelter repairs and reconstruction.