Boys laugh as they perform an exercise in a pre-school class at the public primary school in Soavinandriana District, Itasy Region. This school is one of 360 in the country offering public pre-school classes. The Government, with assistance from UNICEF, is introducing early childhood development programmes in schools throughout the country.

In March 2009 in Madagascar, people continue to suffer the effects of concurrent droughts, cyclones and political upheaval, including the resignation of the president amid ongoing violence. In early 2009, Cyclones Eric and Fenele struck coastal areas, displacing families and damaging infrastructure, while droughts in the southern regions contributed to widespread malnutrition and forced thousands of families to rely on unsafe water sources. Access to basic education and health services has been curtailed by the overlapping crises. Sanitation and water services have collapsed in major towns and cities, and schooling for over 120,000 children has been interrupted. Clean water, safe access to education and psychosocial support are urgently needed. UNICEF and partners have begun providing psychosocial services in vulnerable neighbourhoods, establishing child-friendly spaces and training social workers to support family reunification. UNICEF is also supporting improved sanitation and the provision of safe water to drought-affected communities, and is monitoring the nutritional status of children.