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Madagascar: WFP provides immediate emergency assistance in the aftermath of cyclone Batsirai

, Simona Beltrami
VIDEO: Click above to watch WFP's response

Edit Video WFP News Video_ Cyclone Batsirai Batters Madagascar (For the Media) _ World Food ProgrammeHours after cyclone Batsirai wreaked destruction in eastern Madagascar, the World Food Programme (WFP), was on the ground providing emergency assistance. 

WFP staff at the scene report that the coastal town of Mananjary has been completely devastated. Houses have been swept away by the violent winds and access is now only possible by air. Manakara, some 100 km to the south, is also inaccessible by road. 

aerial view of coastal town hit by cyclone with houses trapped between ocean and flood waters
Aerial views from a UNHAS flight show the extent of the devastation caused by Cyclone Batsirai, which made landfall on the central-eastern coast of Madagascar on Saturday 5 February. Photo: WFP/Nejmeddine Halfaoui

"Everything was shaking. It felt like claws were pulling the roof. I heard metal sheets ripped from the roofs of nearby houses bang against my door," said Martina Azzalea, head of the WFP office in Manakara in a voice message. "Power lines were cut and the whole city was left completely in the dark."

home surrounded by water
Heavy rains and high winds have caused flooding, displacement and destruction of key infrastructure. Photo: WFP/Sandaeric Nirinarison


A few hours later, people were already at work to rebuild their lives. "I was struck by the resilience and dignity of these people, who probably lost most of what they had and were ready to start again," Azzalea said. 

Initial damage assessments indicate that 10 people have lost their lives and 43,236 people are displaced according to the National Office for Risks and Disasters Management. It is estimated that 150,000 could still be displaced due to further flooding and landslides. 

“The floods and bad weather have not only devastated homes and damaged property, but above all they have destroyed the livelihoods and sources of income of the affected families,” said Pasqualina Di Sirio, WFP Country Director in Madagascar. “Affected families, currently in a situation of total destitution, will see their living conditions deteriorate in the absence of urgent assistance until their situation returns to normal.”

To assist those who lost everything to the cyclone, WFP started distributing hot meals to 4,000 evacuated and displaced people in shelters, in coordination with Government authorities. In advance of the cyclone, WFP had pre-positioned 50 metric tons of food stocks, half in Manakara, half in Tamatave, the two main cities in the east/south-east coast, to be able to quickly assist 10,000 people (2,000 households) for ten days.

people gather around food distribution stall
Hot meals have been distributed to more than 1,000 displaced people in Manakara in the immediate wake of the cyclone. Photo: Razanajafy Tsiafara Bruno

In the coming days, WFP is planning to set up distributions of food and cash transfers to those in need.


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