Satellite image shows Cyclone Emnati approaching Madagascar

Back-to-back cyclones carry lasting impact

The immediate impact of Cyclone Emnati is still uncertain, but the long-term consequences will be significant. Humanity & Inclusion is supporting affected families recovering from back-to-back cyclones.

Cyclone Emnati hit the coast of Madagascar on Feb. 22, making landfall between the regions of Manakara and Farafangana, where Humanity & Inclusion teams were already carrying out response activities. It was the fourth major tropical storm to hit the island in the past month, and followed a similar path as Cyclone Batsirai, which devastated communities just two weeks earlier.

The storm tore across the island with wind gusts as high as 125 mph and intense rainfall. Nearly 40,000 people from over 9,000 households were displaced ahead of the storm across seven regions. Telecommunication networks are down along the path of the cyclone, limiting contact with affected areas. Though it is still too early to determine the extent of damage, authorities are particularly concerned for the impact on communities that were already facing the consequences of the violent Cyclone Batsirai.

“The same people are victims again. They have lost everything: their livelihoods, their clothes, their homes. Everything must be rebuilt," says Anja Andriamorasata, Humanity & Inclusion’s communications and advocacy manager in Madagascar.

Supporting people with disabilities

Among the most affected are people with disabilities, many of whom faced great difficulty evacuating their homes twice this month among flooded streets and rough terrain.

“We received a call from a man with reduced mobility,” Andriamorasata explains. “He lives alone and needed to leave his house to reach a safe shelter. With the rising level of water, flooding and intensity of the wind, he told us that this cyclone was even more intense for him than the last one.”

Prior to the storm, Humanity & Inclusion was able to finalize emergency supply distributions in Mahanoro and Manakara to support communities, accessible evacuation centers and more than 200 people with disabilities affected by Batsirai. Once security restrictions are lifted, Humanity & Inclusion will continue its response to Cyclone Batsirai and begin evaluating needs and responding to Cyclone Emnati in Farafangana, Manakara and Vondrozo.

“It will take time to assess the damage, and even to access the regions affected,” says Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Madagascar. “We already know that the road to Farafangana is cut off in two places.”

On Friday, Feb. 25, a logistics specialist will join Humanity & Inclusion’s efforts to assess road and infrastructural damage during initial evaluations after the storm.


Facing long-term consequences

Already without immediate access to clean water, food, shelter and other essentials, affected communities will be dealing with the long-term impact of these consecutive storms well after houses are rebuilt. Not only have thousands of homes been destroyed over the last few weeks, but vital infrastructures have been severely damaged, including schools and hospitals. Thousands of children will go without education. Entire communities are unable to access medical services at a time when Covid-19 is easily spread in crowded evacuation shelters, waterborne diseases are a greater risk after weeks of flooding, and people have limited access to basic hygiene facilities and supplies.

Farmers have lost their crops and livestock, and artisans have lost their materials. Without income, families will face greater difficulties in rebuilding their lives and meeting their basic needs. As people experience prolonged fatigue and stress, the need for mental health services and psychological support will increase.

“It will be very difficult, and it will take time,” Andriamorasata adds. “We have to start over from nothing, so it will be a great challenge to rebuild everything again.”

In addition to distributing essential household items and Covid-19 prevention items in emergency supply kits, Humanity & Inclusion is providing cash transfers to vulnerable households to support the local economy and enable the purchase of vital goods.

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