Cyclone Fanele hits Madagascar and stalls existing reconstruction work

MENABE REGION, Madagascar, 28 January 2009

– The southern part of Madagascar has been brutally affected by Cyclone Fanele, which hit the island in the early hours of 21 January. A recent World Health Organization assessment notes that over 20,500 people have been affected by Fanele and Tropical Storm Eric, which arrived on the 19th.

UNICEF response activities started immediately and supplies reached the region within three days. Reconstructions from last year's Cyclone Ivan were well underway when Fanele hit, stalling existing progress.

UNICEF has conducted a rapid assessment in partnership with local authorities and the National Bureau of Disaster Management and Prevention. Health kits and bed nets are being distributed in affected areas while awaiting further assessment on health needs. "As we are just at the beginning of the cyclone season, we were able to use our pre-positioned supply to respond quickly," said UNICEF Madagascar Deputy Representative Valerie Taton. "We are concerned about the high risk of more cyclones and are mobilizing partners to be able to continue to save lives and ensure the wellbeing of children."

Getting children back to school

An estimated 9,000 children have had their classes disrupted and assessments show that approximately 158 classrooms were damaged in the cyclone.

One of UNICEF's first responses to the cyclone involves a strategy to resume regular teaching and give students a return to normalcy. UNICEF has committed to provide tents for temporary classroom and is distributing 'School in a Box' kits as well as recreational kits. Mathilde is a 12-year-old girl enrolled at the Betsipotika primary school located in the district of Mehabo. The four buildings of her school have all been affected by the strong winds brought by Fanele.

"We'll have to be with the other class since there are less classrooms now. We'll have to squeeze in and it will be really hot." she said, adding: "I am willing to work hard, even at home!"

Water and sanitation

Water and sanitation issues are also being addressed and access to safe drinking water is being improved. Adequate health care is being provided in order to prevent water-borne diseases and epidemics.

UNICEF will provide water purification kits, de-worming tablets, vaccines and mosquito nets.

"Getting children back to school and preventing epidemics through the provision of clean water and appropriate latrines are our most urgent priorities right now," said Ms. Taton.

Source: UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)

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