On Friday 22nd February 2013, cyclone Haruna made landfall over the southwest coast of Madagascar as a powerful category 2 storm, significantly affecting the communities in the Velondriake area where Blue Ventures works.
Two weeks later, the road to Toliara (200km to the south) is still completely blocked by severe flooding, and lack of access to markets is having considerable impacts on food availability and livelihoods (including the sale of fish, octopus, sea cucumbers, etc).
Our partner communities in Velondriake are struggling to access clean water; many wells have been submerged under floodwater or contaminated by runoff mixed with human waste and rubbish. A significant proportion of the population is suffering from diarrhoea, and malaria is also high risk because standing water is providing ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos; people sleeping out in the open since their homes have been destroyed are particularly vulnerable.
Blue Ventures’ community health team has therefore quickly mobilised our well-established network of community-based distributors to provide remote villages in and around Velondriake with vital health information and supplies including water purifying solution, diarrhoea treatment kits and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Due to the huge need and tremendous demand for our limited resources from affected populations, we launched a special appeal in order to be able to procure, transport and distribute more health supplies to isolated communities in the area, home to more than 15,000 people. We have been astonished by the phenomenal response to this special appeal: thanks to everybody’s incredible generosity, together we have already raised more than £5,000 which is making it possible for us to get more life-saving supplies to these villages as quickly as possible!
Our logistics team has managed to procure some supplies in Toliara – including water purifying solution and mosquito nets – which are currently being transported up to Morombe on a large relief ship. Stocks in Toliara have now run out, but fortunately our Country Director is in the capital city of Antananarivo at the moment so he is working to procure and transport more supplies from there. Our community health team is also in regular communication with the WASH cluster (the group coordinating the water and sanitation response to the cyclone) as well as the main aid agencies including UNFPA, UNICEF, CARE, CRS and WFP in order to secure further resources through them wherever possible.
A gathering is being held today in the commune centre of Befandefa to mark International Women’s Day, so our community health team is disseminating important health information relating to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at this mass mobilisation. Because many of our community-based distributors are attending this event, we are also using this as an opportunity to provide them with our remaining supplies for distribution in their villages. In addition to providing affected families with water purifying solution (SurEau), we have also started shock treating wells; bleaching and pumping out contaminated water. Our community-based distributors are continuing to sensitise their villages with vital health information, and we will be providing them with more supplies for distribution as soon as they arrive in Velondriake.
Thanks to the fantastic support we are receiving for our special appeal, and the unwavering dedication and can-do attitude of our skilful staff, Blue Ventures is working hard to address the pressing health needs of our partner communities following cyclone Haruna. We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of our efforts in the coming weeks.
In addition to responding to these urgent health issues in the wake of this cyclone, Blue Ventures will also be focusing on strengthening our on-going community health programme that supports villages in and around Velondriake to improve their health and thereby increase their resilience to natural disasters in the long-term.