Madagascar Hit by Political Violence and Cyclone

Published on 16 February 2009

Damage caused by the latest cyclone to hit Madagascar.

WFP in Madagascar has recently had to deal with a complicated political situation and a cyclone. In this short Q&A, WFP Country Director Krystyna Bednarska explains how WFP was affected by the first and how it is responding to the second.

1 . Madagascar has been wracked by political violence recently. Has the violence affected WFP operations?

While most of our operations have not been affected, the political situation has made it more difficult to operate in Madagascar. The transfer of some WFP food assistance from ports to WFP warehouses was delayed due to riots in Toamasina on the east coast and in Toliara in the south west.

In addition, the WFP Amboasary warehouse in the south was attacked and looted but timely intervention by the police limited the losses to less than 100kg. Due to this risk, security at all WFP warehouses was enhanced and no other incidents have been reported.

While our assistance to beneficiaries across the country has not been severely disrupted, WFP is concerned by the situation and by the possible impact on already poor and vulnerable people, especially in urban areas. In collaboration with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be ready to respond should we be asked to assist.

2. Madagascar was also hit by Cyclone Fanele at the end of last month. What is WFP doing to assist those affected?

WFP is closely working with humanitarian community under the coordination of the National Office for Disaster Management and Responses to assist the victims. WFP in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services distributed 100 tons of food to 13,000 affected people in Menabe region – enough to cover their needs for 15 days.

Once relief operations are completed, WFP and its partners will determine whether there is the potential for any food-for-work activities such as the rehabilitation of infrastructure, which could help families to recover from the shock and quickly start rebuilding their livelihoods.

 
3. Does WFP have other foods stocks pre-positioned around the island in case of cyclones?

In November, WFP pre-positioned 736 tons of food in cyclone-prone parts of the country. These food stocks are crucial since they allow WFP to respond immediately to natural shocks – such as cyclone Fanele – that often destroy the affected area’s already poor infrastructure. Without these pre-positioned supplies, WFP would not be able to respond nearly as quickly and effectively and would struggle to get sufficient assistance in to affected areas in time.

And Madagascar has more than its fair share of natural disasters – over 50 in the past 40 years alone.

4. Are you expecting a bad cyclone season this year?

According to the Malagasy Meteorological Service, four cyclones might hit Madagascar during the current season.

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Richard Lee

WFP Spokesperson for southern Africa

Richard Lee is southern African spokesperson for WFP. He has worked for WFP for the past seven years in southern Africa, Sudan, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.