Antananarivo — The World Food Programme in Madagascar issued an alert today, warning that it has been unable to pre-position sufficient quantities of relief food in critical cyclone-prone zones ahead of the cyclone season due to a lack of donor funding.
WFP said that in past years, it has stocked 1,000 metric tons of food in vulnerable areas of the country, ahead of the cyclone season, which typically starts in November. However this year, due to funding shortfalls, it has only managed to deliver 544 metric tons - half of the needed amount - enough to feed around 17,000 people for 10 days.
"The window to make the necessary preparations is quickly closing," said WFP County Director, Willem van Milink. "We need donors to quickly step forward - being prepared will save lives and livelihoods, and this in turn will save money."
Already, Madagascar has been threatened by Cyclone Anais in October, which at the last stage dissipated and became a tropical depression.
The Government of Madagascar is also struggling to put emergency measures in place, as it too has been unable to resource the necessary supplies for the upcoming cyclone season, including tents, water and sanitation kits, mobile bridges, and road repair equipment.
WFP is urging donors for US$ 6.1 million immediately required for advance relief assistance. WFP also needs US$15 million over the next six months for its ongoing programmes that provide assistance to 914,000 people including primary school aged children, orphans and vulnerable children, families affected by natural disasters as well as malnourished people and HIV and TB patients. Lack of donor support in recent months is already hampering WFP's ability to reach several hundred thousand people, including school children.
WFP is also reviewing cash and voucher programmes to look at how food can be most quickly mobilised in the event of a cyclone.
Madagascar is one of the most cyclone-prone countries in the world. Cyclone Giovanna and tropical storm Irina hit Madagascar in February and March, affecting 90,000 individuals. Madagascar has been struck by 45 cyclones and tropical storms over the last 10 years.