ADRA Madagascar Responds to Flooding around Antananarivo

Adventist Youth volunteers helped ADRA distribute food and supplies to flood victims in Antananarivo.

For two months, beginning in January 2015, an unusually severe rainy season combined with cyclone season caused daily inundations of rain in and around Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar. River levels rose and the ground became saturated with water. After a large storm in the last week of February, the floodwaters finally broke through dams in the low-lying areas on the outskirts of Antananarivo. Many houses and rice fields were flooded or destroyed, and people were forced from their homes.

After the first reports of flooding, ADRA Madagascar quickly sent two teams to assess the damage. They interviewed local authorities and displaced people who were staying in classrooms or tents. Many flood victims had to abandon their homes without taking anything, leaving them without even basic cooking or hygiene supplies.

Thanks to partnerships with Stop Hunger Now and AmeriCares, ADRA already had boxes of rice meals and disaster kits in stock for emergencies. A few days after the assessment, ADRA made its first distribution at a primary school with the help of a group of Adventist Youth volunteers. In total, 181 families staying at the school or in nearby tents received cooking and hygiene supplies from AmeriCares and 12-15 days’ worth of complete meals from Stop Hunger Now.

As organizations began to coordinate their efforts, ADRA partnered with World Food Program (WFP) to distribute rice and yellow lentils to flood victims in three villages: Soavina, Amorona, and Ankeniheny. Each household on the list of flood victims provided by local authorities received 20 kg of rice and 3 kg of lentils – enough to feed a family of 5 for at least 10 days, to help them get back on their feet again. In all the distributions, AY volunteers continued played a critical role, and throughout the coming weeks, they grew into a close-knit, efficient team.

Vololona Raharimalala known as Hary, lives in Ankeniheny with her husband and child. On the day that ADRA distributed in her community, the floodwater in her clay house was at waist level, but fortunately, it had not collapsed.

“I could not move anything out of the house,” she said. “It was no longer steady, so I preferred not to touch anything inside, and wait until water dries out.”

Forced out of their home, Hary and her family moved into a wooden hut on the narrow embankment road near their property. Security was always a concern. “We cannot leave the hut and go out for a job. Our previous house could be locked, but not this one. So we have to stay here to look after it,” Hary said.

Security issues and damaged infrastructure make it difficult for flood victims to earn income. “I can’t find any work to do,” said Hary. “Before, I had a small business, but now, I can’t even go to Anosibe [the marketplace] because the road is slippery, and I am old.

In addition to that, the road is blocked, so it is no longer usable. I can’t walk around because when I walk too long in the water, my feet become infected.”

ADRA Madagascar purchased supplies to help more flood victims using the budget from ADRA’s National Emergency Management Plan (NEMP). This included contributions from ADRA International, ADRA Africa, and the Indian Ocean Union Conference. ADRA distributed kits to 350 households. Each kit contained 25 kg of rice, 7 kg of beans, sugar, salt, 2 L of cooking oil, water purifying solution, and a set of cooking pots and utensils.

These distributions helped flood victims like Hary and her family survive until they could support themselves again. “I’m so happy because today I received 20 kg of rice and 3 kg of legumes,” said Hary during ADRA’s distribution of WFP food in Ankeniheny. “If we cook one cup per meal… this quantity should be enough for a few weeks. By then, the level of water should decrease, and we will be able to find jobs again.”

In the end, ADRA distributed to a total of 1,643 households from 11 villages in three weeks. The distribution team and AY volunteers worked long hours in the hot sun and in the pouring rain, often returning home long after dark. Despite these conditions, the AY members said that this experience helped them discover the joy of giving and helping others. They also learned leadership, communication, and respect, and were especially impressed by the sacrifice of the ADRA staff that led the distribution. ADRA’s flood interventions would not have been possible without the generosity of partners, and the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers, both in the office and at the distribution sites.

- Renee Cerovski

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