A satellite image shows a cyclone approaching the east coast of Madagascar

Batsirai Cyclone: Helping communities stay safe

Cyclone Batsirai is expected to make landfall in Madagascar within hours, threatening the safety of hundreds of thousands of people. As part of their work on the island, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams implement disaster preparedness projects to protect the population of one of the world’s poorest countries.

“Unfortunately, disasters are a regular feature of life in Madagascar,” says Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion’s country director for Madagascar. “Tropical Storm Ana killed 50 people in Madagascar a few days ago, and damaged tens of thousands of houses. Some 130,000 people were forced to flee their homes and take shelter in emergency accommodation, like gymnasiums and schools. Swollen rivers destroyed bridges and floods damaged livestock and crops. This is likely to heighten the impact of the cyclone. People are still reeling from the destruction caused by the last storm, and now they have to protect themselves from this new threat.”

For the population, the worst could lie ahead because if the storm destroys their crops, it will also destroy their livelihood.

Ensuring people with disabilities are not left behind

Humanity & Inclusion has worked in Madagascar for nearly 35 years. Among its actions are disaster risk reduction projects.

The country lacks infrastructure, some areas are hard to reach, and medical services often fall below the mark, which is why it is vital to help people find somewhere safe to shelter,” Dalonneau explains. “This is the aim of our projects, which help families identify refuges like schools and better prepare their homes. People with disabilities and older people need help getting to these shelters, and we take this into account.

“Imagine you’re in a wheelchair and the cyclone hits and you need to get to a refuge fast, but the only way to get there is along a steep trail,” he continues. “We work with local organizations and emergency services to make sure no one is left behind.” 

Coastline under threat

According to the Madagascan meteorological office, the coastline is under real threat from coastal flooding. There are also fears that heavy rainfall brought by the cyclone could cause widespread flooding in the east, southeast, and the central highlands. This could add to the risks facing the population, which is being urged to take shelter. Once the cyclone has made landfall on the east coast, strong winds and heavy rain are expected across the country’s center and southwest.

Humanity & Inclusion’s teams will take shelter and prepare their own homes and families to ensure they are able to travel to affected areas once the storm has passed.

“We’ve organized our teams so they’re ready to move in to affected areas as soon as the danger has passed,” Dalonneau adds. “Our aim is to help the people who need it most as quickly as possible by providing them with kits containing basic non-food items.”

Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency preparations

  • 70 staff members are mobilized on the east coast of Madagascar
  • Pre-positioned supplies include 300 cooking kits, 1,200 blankets, 4,800 water jugs, 100 mobility devices i.e. crutches and wheelchairs
  • Planned distributions include 400 hygiene kits, 400 Covid-19 protection kits, 600 mosquito nets, 160 first aid kits

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