Flooding following tropical storm Ana | © R.RAZAFIMAHATRATRA/ HI
A dangerous tropical cyclone is quickly approaching Madagascar, threatening hundreds of thousands. HI teams in the country prepare for disaster.
As cyclone season begins in the Indian ocean, a dangerous tropical cyclone called BATSIRAI-22 is quickly approaching the coast of Madagascar after passing near to Reunion Island and Mauritius. Threatening winds of up to 231 km per hour, the storm is expected to develop into a powerful category 4 cyclone by Friday, February 4th and to make landfall on the Madagascan coast Saturday, crossing the island from west to southwest.
Though its potential impact is still uncertain, the situation is all the more worrying as the targeted areas are still recovering from significant flooding that occurred only a week ago during tropical storm Ana. The storm affected over 130,000 people and killed approximately 50. The water from the storm has yet to be evacuated, which could lead to more severe consequences, particularly for the 27,000 internally displaced people who now find themselves once again at-risk. In the southwestern regions, persistent drought and watersheds increase the probability of rapid flooding, which could quickly create very high intensity “rivers” of powerful currents.
The government has declared a state of emergency and activated a high-level national contingency plan. Authorities are predicting heavy rainfall, flooding, strong gusts of wind, landslides and power outages, affecting an estimated 595,000 people. Such an impact could leave hundreds of thousands without shelter, at risk of injury, and without access to clean water, food or important medical services.
With needs from the previous floods still not fully covered, communities risk a compounding crisis. People living with disabilities and elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable as they are often left behind in situations of disaster.
In preparation for the cyclone, HI has already begun mobilizing its teams and resources to contribute to the rapid assessment led by the National Bureau of Disaster Risk Reduction Management (BNGRC). To promote safe practices within the community, HI teams are distributing emergency preparation plans to partners and families, and are planning to distribute pre-positioned emergency items including assistive mobility devices, hygiene kits, and blankets. Precautions are also being taken to measure and support account the needs of persons with disabilities leading up to and following the disaster.
“At this time, we’re preparing for significant damages" says HI country director for Madagascar, Vincent Dalonneau. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
HI is also preparing for a potential response focusing on rehabilitation, mental health and psychosocial support, and multi-purpose cash assistance for the most vulnerable populations including persons living with disabilities, which will be confirmed following rapid needs assessment.
Present in Madagascar since 1986, HI has activities and offices located throughout the country, including several regions in BATSIRAI’s predicted path. For years, the organization has implemented disaster risk reduction initiatives, designed to limit the immediate and long-term consequences of such natural hazards on vulnerable communities. The program hopes its emergency plans and community preparations will prove successful in limiting some of the risks associated with the impending cyclone.
HI is coordinating closely with local actors to evaluate the situation, and plans to determine further action in the coming days.