Madagascar is an island prone to natural disasters (floods, cyclones, drought and locusts) and epidemic outbreaks (Rift Valley Fever). The political crisis lasting from early 2009 to the election of the new president of the republic in December 2013, was challenging for the UNCT. The UNCT struggled to address longer-term transitional and development programme issues. Most donor aid to Government was suspended during the political crisis, and public spending had dramatically decreased while unemployment and food insecurity, exacerbated by severe drought in the south, had risen. The new regime is facing some obstacles linked to fragile political stability that it still has to overcome. Another concern during the five-year crisis was disruption of basic social services, which increased urban vulnerability. Suspension of donor funding for development and rather minimal funding of humanitarian projects also posed difficulties for agencies in securing funds for their regular programmes. The political crisis left as legacy increased poverty levels by more than 9% between 2005 and 2010, constituting 77% of households, the highest rate in Africa (World Development Indicators, 2013).
Madagascar suffered serious damage when Tropical Storm Haruna hit its coasts in February 2013, leaving more than 26 people dead, 127 others injured and another 6,000 displaced, and affecting over 42,000 people in the south-west. The island was also besieged by a severe locust infestation in November 2012, and a three-year response plan launched by the Ministry of Agriculture with FAO support was launched in September 2013. Additionally, between 300 and 600 cases of bubonic and pneumonic plague are reported annually: the disease remains endemic and efforts for its eradication continue to take place.
Different factors including natural disasters, oscillating prices, and high poverty levels have led to over 3.9 million inhabitants of the Island at risk of food insecurity throughout 2013.
Since 2007, OCHA ROSA has supported various activities in Madagascar, including:
- Recruiting a Senior Humanitarian and Early Recovery Officer and National Humanitarian Officer in 2007, and a Public Information and Advocacy Officer in 2008;
- Funding one national staff in the country’s disaster management institution to strengthen its information management system;
- Deploying, at the onset of the political crisis, its Regional Disaster Response Advisor and, subsequently, two Humanitarian Affairs Officers to support the UN Resident Coordinator/UN Country Team in coordinating response to the new scenario;
- Developing a National Contingency Plan and revising it every year;
- Developing CERF Rapid Response projects (from 2007 to 2011) and Flash Appeals (2007 to 2009), as well as CERF Underfunded Emergencies Window projects (2010 and 2012);
- Led, in 2010, a regional Directors’ Team mission to support the UN Resident Coordinator/UN Country Team in redefining their humanitarian response strategy based on the new political situation, and participated and facilitated a strategic planning workshop led by the UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) to support the UN Resident Coordinator/UN Country Team in identifying new programmatic approaches, including reformulating the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), based on the new political situation;
- Holding a workshop to review coordination mechanisms as part of recommendations made during a strategic workshop on new programmatic approaches;
- Holding a strategic workshop to identify a long-term strategy to address chronic drought in the Greater South. This led to the development of a funding request proposal to donors;
- Facilitating: (1) annual national workshops to revise the National Contingency Plan and (2) simulations prior to the cyclone and flood season;
- Deploying a Humanitarian Affairs Officer prior to the landing of Cyclone in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to support the UN Resident Coordinator;
- Facilitated resource mobilization in response to the locust outbreak.