UNICEF, the national office for disaster response and other humanitarian partners are gearing up their relief operation for people affected by cyclone Giovanna that struck Madagascar yesterday.

The category 4 cyclone made landfall about 100 kilometres South of the city of Tamatave, which is also known as Taomasina, in Brickaville district. It then moved across the island in a south-westerly direction where it lost strength in the highlands and was downgraded to a tropical storm. The capital Antananarivo nevertheless saw strong winds and heavy rains.

Partners of UNICEF swiftly began to assist victims with water and sanitation, child protection and education. The NGO Frere St.Gabriel, for example, is activating a water purification plant in the hard-hit town of Brickaville. Another partner, SAF, is constructing UNICEF temporary classrooms to replace those that were destroyed.

UNICEF also has stocks of basic items in the country to help 66,000 people through the first few days, such as water purification devices and mosquito nets. There are also school kits for 45,000 children in stock, which could be distributed to those in need immediately.

“From the East coast we received reports of damage and human loss caused by heavy winds and flooding,” said Dominic Stolarow, UNICEF’s Emergency Coordinator in Madagascar.

“What needs to be done now is a proper assessment so we can understand the exact dimensions of this natural disaster. It will help us to design an adequate response.”

The national disaster office will organise an aerial assessment as soon as possible. UNICEF moved five regional technical advisors to support assessment and response.

In addition, two UNICEF rapid assessment teams were on stand-by in Antananarivo to be deployed together with teams from other UN agencies at short notice.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with a UNICEF spokesperson in Madagascar, please contact:

Ju-Lin Tan, UNICEF UK, +44 (0)7814 549 071, +44 (0)20 7375 6030, julint@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org