Tropical cyclone Ivan struck Madagascar on 17 February at wind speeds of more than 200km per hour, affecting 14 regions and 44 districts. By 10 March when it had left the island, the death toll had reached 93 and more than 190,000 people had been displaced. Among the severely affected regions was Fenerive Est, where New Statesman subscribers have contributed to water and sanitation projects (NS, 3 December 2007).
Cyclones are destructive. High-speed winds flatten houses and destroy roads and bridges. The huge volume of water destroys food and grain stores. Electricity and water supplies are interrupted. In the immediate aftermath, people are particularly vulnerable. Water-borne illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria and cholera increase. Water and food shortages lead to sickness; debris and waste water stagnates, creating further problems.
Lucky Lowe, WaterAid's country representative in Madagascar, told the NS: "Since Cyclone Ivan passed, our partners, Frères Saint-Gabriel, have been working to prevent further impacts on the vulnerable - especially young children who are most susceptible to disease. We are helping local people clear rubbish from the streets and ditches. FSG is focusing efforts on two neighbourhoods, promoting good hygiene, ensuring people have a supply of safe drinking water and essential materials to rebuild their homes and livelihoods."
If you would like to support the work of WaterAid please visit its website (http://www.wateraid.org) or call 0845 6000 433