Madagascar: UNICEF warns of potential disease outbreaks after cyclone

Cyclones tear through Madagascar every year. Photo: UNICEF

17 February 2012 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) voiced concern today that waterborne diseases may soon spread in the areas of Madagascar that were pummelled by Cyclone Giovanna earlier this week.

The provisional death toll from the disaster has reached 17, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva, with information not yet in from all cyclone-affected areas, which are largely concentrated in the east of the island country.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that almost 2,000 Malagasy have been displaced so far, including more than 500 residents of the capital, Antananarivo.

Agricultural production has also been hit, with damage to key commercial crops such as banana, litchi and sugar cane.

Ms. Mercado said waterborne diseases is now a key concern for aid agencies, with the cyclone having destroyed some water sources and hot and humid weather conditions now prevailing. An estimated 580,000 people live in the hardest-hit areas.

UNICEF has begun distributing medicines, mosquito nets and other emergency materials, working with local authorities and partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure the supplies reach those in need.

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for OCHA, said authorities are monitoring the water levels of the five main rivers surrounding Antananarivo. The water levels are expected to rise but not yet to alert levels.


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