On Friday 22nd February 2013, tropical cyclone Haruna made landfall over the southwest coast of Madagascar as a powerful category 2 storm, with heavy rain and wind speeds of around 150km/h.
The village of Andavadoaka and the communities in the surrounding Velondriake area, where Blue Ventures works, have been significantly affected by Haruna, the biggest tropical cyclone to hit this region in more than 35 years.
Many houses in these villages have been damaged, and food scarcity is a serious issue as the roads to Morombe (50km to the north) and to Toliara (200km to the south) have been totally blocked by severe flooding.
Water and sanitation are major concerns, with community leaders reporting more than half of the population in Andavadoaka to be suffering from diarrhoeal illnesses. Four of the six public wells in the village are out of use as they have been submerged under floodwater, and the other two public wells are thought to have been contaminated with runoff that has mixed with rubbish and human waste. Reports being received from other Velondriake communities and inland in the adjacent Mikea forest indicate that their water and sanitation needs are equally if not more pressing, with many suffering from a complete lack of access to clean water.
In response to this situation, Blue Ventures’ community health team in Andavadoaka have quickly mobilised to provide Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) outreach to affected villages in and around Velondriake.
Thanks to Blue Ventures’ on-going Safidy programme, our community health team are working with our well-established network of community-based distributors to disseminate WASH information and distribute our available stocks of SurEau (water purifying solution), ViaSur (oral rehydration salts and zinc tablets used to treat diarrhoeal illnesses) and insecticide-treated mosquito nets (there is a high risk of malaria because standing water is providing ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos).
However, there is tremendous demand for these limited resources from affected populations. In response, Blue Ventures is urgently seeking to procure and transport further WASH supplies to Velondriake in order to meet the needs of these remote villages, home to more than 15,000 people.
We are also regularly communicating with UNFPA and several humanitarian relief agencies in order to provide them with important on-the-ground information and advocate for more resources to be targeted at these isolated villages situated in the Befandefa Commune between Morombe and Toliara.
Blue Ventures recognises that the serious impact of tropical cyclone Haruna on the health of our partner villages in Velondriake is closely related to their on-going water and sanitation needs. We are committed to supporting these coastal communities to become more resilient to extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, which may increase in frequency and severity in the future due to climate change.
In the short-term we are therefore focusing our efforts on providing affected populations in and around Velondriake with WASH information and vital supplies so that they can purify their drinking water and treat diarrhoeal illnesses. In the long-term we will continue with our on-going WASH initiatives that empower villages to address their health needs in a sustainable way through Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) mobilisations.
Further information about the situation in southwest Madagascar following tropical cyclone Haruna can be found here:
5th March update: we have launched a special appeal to support our response to tropical cyclone Haruna in Velondriake – more details can be found here and you can contribute via our donations page here.