The World Food Programme (WFP) has begun providing emergency food assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the cyclone Ivan, which devastated large parts of Madagascar last week.
In the capital, Antananarivo, WFP has already distributed three-day rations of High Energy Biscuits (HEB) to 2,000 people living in tents after their homes were destroyed by the cyclone. The distribution focussed on the most vulnerable people, including children under 5 and pregnant and nursing women.
Along the worst-affected East coast and on the devastated island of St. Marie, WFP distributed 500 kilograms of HEB as an immediate response to ensure that the most vulnerable people had food to cope with the traumatic first few days after the cyclone.
On Monday, WFP began providing food assistance to people in tented camps in Antananarivo in partnership with two non-governmental organizations, Asern and Reggio Terzo Mondo. WFP will distribute nutritious corn-soya blend porridge to one of the camps and HEB to the other seven camps.
General food distributions and food-for-work activities will start along the East coast in the coming days.
All decisions relating to the response to the latest cyclone disaster are taken during daily coordination meetings in Antananarivo, which are coordinated by the National Office for Natural Disasters Preparedness and Response (BNGRC) and include all humanitarian partners.
According to the BNGRC, 73 people were killed by cyclone Ivan, while around 240,000 people were affected, 148,500 homeless, among them almost 20,000 in Antananarivo.
Following initial government-led assessments, WFP estimated that around 140,000 people will require around 2,000 metric tons of immediate food assistance. However, this figure could change since additional assessments are planned, which will provide an even more accurate picture of how many people need assistance.
WFP has prepared for the cyclone season by pre-positioning food in strategic locations. Currently, WFP has around 3,000 tons of food, including rice, pulses, oil and HEB in the warehouse in Toamasina.
Given the estimated number of beneficiaries, WFP is likely to face a shortage of rice and vegetable oil in April.
The damage inflicted by the cyclone will also pose a logistical challenge since many affected communities are no longer accessible by road and it could prove difficult to provide them with assistance. WFP is considering delivering food by air if necessary.