A dangerous tropical cyclone is quickly approaching Madagascar, threatening hundreds of thousands of people. Humanity & Inclusion teams in the country are preparing for disaster.
As cyclone season begins in the Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Batsirai-22 is quickly approaching the coast of Madagascar after passing near Reunion Island and Mauritius. Threatening winds of around 125 mph, the storm is expected to develop into a powerful category 4 cyclone by Friday, Feb. 4, 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 already dire as the targeted areas are still recovering from significant flooding that occurred only a week ago during Tropical Storm Ana (pictured below). The storm affected over 130,000 people and killed approximately 50. The water from the storm has yet to subside, 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 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 at-risk as they are often left behind in situations of disaster.
Preparing for the worst
“At this time, we’re preparing for significant damages,” says Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion’s country director for Madagascar. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
In preparation for the cyclone, Humanity & Inclusion 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, teams are distributing emergency preparation plans to partners and families, and are planning to distribute emergency items including mobility devices, hygiene kits, and blankets. Precautions are also being taken to measure and support the needs of people with disabilities leading up to and following the disaster.
Humanity & Inclusion is also preparing for a potential response focusing on rehabilitation, mental health and psychosocial support, and multi-purpose cash assistance, which will be confirmed following a rapid needs assessment.
Humanity & Inclusion in Madagascar
Present in Madagascar since 1986, Humanity & Inclusion has activities and offices located throughout the country, including several 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 communities. Most recently, the organization has been helping communities respond to one of the country's worst drought in four decades, causing much of the population to face acute food insecurity.
The program hopes its emergency plans and community preparations will prove successful in limiting some of the risks associated with the impending cyclone. Humanity & Inclusion is coordinating closely with local actors to evaluate the situation, and plans to determine further action in the coming days.