The UN World Food Programme (WFP) stood ready to assist thousands of homeless families on Wednesday, after heavy flooding killed four people and damaged rice crops across Madagascar.
The most affected areas were the western Mahajanga province and Amparafaravola and Ambatondrazaka regions in the eastern Toamasina province.
"The areas received some unusually heavy rainfall in the last couple of days, but we are not sure what the extent of the damage is. There is a team going to the affected regions this week to assess what is needed. If the results show that WFP aid is needed, then we can make use of the 150 mt of food stocks already in Toamasina [the provincial capital]," WFP's communication officer, Steffania Trassari, told IRIN.
Three of the four people who died in the eastern region were killed when their homes collapsed, according to UN Development Country Representative Bouri Sanhouidi. Eight people were wounded during the downpour which left around 8,000 without shelter.
Sanhouidi added that preliminary reports from the area showed that 13,201 ha of the region's 148,000 ha of rice fields were underwater, leading to fears of possible food shortages.
The Indian Ocean island experienced severe rice shortages after cyclones Gafilo in April 2004 and Ernest in February 2005 destroyed crops, sparking street protests when prices of the staple food rose.
Local authorities have meanwhile appealed for medicines to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases, while 60 mt of rice, building materials and mosquito nets are needed to assist affected households.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions