After Cyclone Haruna, Blue Ventures Leverages Its PHE Program for Disaster Response in Madagascar

March 28, 2013 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Family Planning, News

After Cyclone Haruna, Blue Ventures Leverages Its PHE Program for Disaster Response in Madagascar

Balbine is walking around her coastal village of Andavadoaka with a sense of urgency. Normally she works as a community-based distributor for Blue Ventures‘ integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) program in southwest Madagascar, providing health information and products to her community. However, since Cyclone Haruna swept through the region several weeks ago, Balbine has been especially busy distributing diarrhea treatment kits to mothers caring for sick infants, providing families sleeping out in the open with mosquito nets to protect against malaria, setting up water filtering stations, and emphasizing the importance good hygiene practices.

One of the key points raised at a recent Wilson Center event exploring the social dimensions of resilience was the importance of social capital in underpinning community responses to disasters. We have certainly found this to be the case with Cyclone Haruna, as having strong social networks already in place enabled our partner villages in southwest Madagascar to efficiently organize themselves and address their pressing health needs with our support.

Cyclone Haruna, which made landfall on February 22, was the biggest cyclone to hit southwest Madagascar in more than 35 years. Tens of thousands were affected by the storm, with the most vulnerable being the many small rural villages, which are extremely isolated from outside assistance. Blue Ventures works with some of the most remote of these coastal communities, where poverty intersects with high marine biodiversity and the need for health services and other infrastructure is great. When Haruna hit, our team was able to rapidly distribute vital health information and supplies to more than 20 remote villages in the Velondriake area, some 200 kilometers from the nearest city, Toliara.

Moving From Reactive to Proactive

In the wake of Haruna, villages have been struggling to access clean water, as wells have been contaminated by runoff mixed with rubbish and human waste. A significant proportion of the population is suffering from diarrhea. Malaria is also a high risk because standing water is providing ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos, and some people have been forced to sleep out in the open since their homes have been destroyed.

Thanks to Blue Ventures’ existing PHE program, our well-established network of community-based distributors, and our strong local infrastructure, we have been able to quickly and effectively deliver a robust response to these challenges.

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