Helping Victims Of Giovanna In Madagascar
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Published on 22 February 2012

Rasoarilalao's house was damaged when Cyclone Giovanna hit Madagascar in mid-February. WFP provided her and her children with emergency rations. (Copyright: WFP/Volana Rarivoson)

The National Office for Natural Disaster Preparedness (BNGRC) estimates that as many as 259,000 people were affected when Cyclone Giovanna hit Madagascar in mid-February. This is the story of one of those people and of how WFP prepared for the cyclone season. 

Rasoarilalao (49) is a washerwoman and lives in Ambodirano, a poor area of Antananarivo. When her house was damaged by the cyclone, she and her five children found refuge in one of a number of communal shelters around the capital.

Rasoarilalao’s daily earnings come to some 2,000 ariary (less than one US dollar). She is a single parent with children ranging in age from six to 16 years. One goes to a local primary school while the other four attend l’Ecole des Soeurs where WFP provides daily hot meals – one of some 1,330 schools and reception centers for orphans and other vulnerable children supported by WFP on the island.

"Here, in this poor area, you only eat if you’ve earned something that day”, she says. “If you haven’t earned much, then you’ll go to bed with an empty stomach. Rice has long since become a luxury item. The price of one kapok (the tin of condensed milk used to measure rice in the market) recently went up to 430 ariary. Sometimes, I buy just enough so I have something to feed the children”.

Pre-positioning food 
Working with the Government and aid agency partners, WFP prepared for the cyclone season by pre-positioning nearly 1,000 tons of emergency food rations in eight of the most high-risk areas. Such measures ensure that assistance can quickly be dispatched in support of the most vulnerable and worst-affected households.
“The roof of my house was blown clear off”, says Rasoarilalao. “Repairs began soon after the cyclone had passed but this meant spending several days at the shelter”.

Worst-hit areas
WFP’s response to those affected by Cyclone Giovanna included the targeted distribution of high-energy biscuits, rice and vegetables in the worst-hit areas. On the east of the island, which bore the brunt of the cyclone, a significant number of families had their homes severely damaged – some lost their homes altogether. Livelihoods suffered and belongings were ruined in the ensuing floods.


WFP is now organizing Food for Work (FFW) activities to help affected households rehabilitate damaged community assets and recover their livelihoods. Each family member participating in FFW will receive a ration of cereals and vegetables which should go some way towards ensuring the food security of the household.