Vincent Dalonneau a white man with a beard looks to the left while outside a structure built with sticks

‘We’re preparing for the worst before the cyclone hits’

Humanity & Inclusion’s teams in Madagascar are preparing for the arrival of Cyclone Batsirai, which is expected to make landfall on Friday night. Its intensity poses a grave danger to people on the island.

Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion's country director for Madagascar, shares how the team is getting ready to respond.

Cyclone Batsirai has passed to the north of Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar and is set to bear down on the town of Farafangana on the east coast of Madagascar Friday evening, with winds close to 125 mph. It is then expected to move across the center of the island, where the capital is located, before heading west toward Menabe.

“We’re taking the threat extremely seriously,” Dalonneau says. "Many people here live in makeshift houses that won’t withstand winds of this ferocity. We’re very worried about people with disabilities and older people, who often find it harder to reach safety.  

“Even more alarming is the fact that heavy floods hit all these areas a week ago and the water is there,” he continues. “This could mean we’re hit by a worse disaster much faster, particular in Atsinanana and Analamanga. The drought and catchment areas in the southwest also risk causing flash floods and the formation of powerful ‘rivers.’” 

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Teams already in action

“We’re readying our teams and preparing for the worst,” Dalonneau adds. “We need to start by getting people in the most vulnerable situations to a safe place with the help of our Madagascan partner organizations. We’re also coordinating our bases in the country to assess the situation and needs once the cyclone has passed. This means readying vehicles, and pre-positioning equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches and kits for immediate distribution.”

Families often lose everything in a cyclone, including their homes. Humanity & Inclusion is putting together cooking kits with plates, pots and other items, as well as repair kits for homes and shelters containing sheet metal, fixtures and fittings, and wood. Teams are also preparing hygiene kits equipped with soap, water jugs and water treatment equipment.

“We’re also organizing ourselves to create a psychosocial support team that could deploy to affected areas,” Dalonneau explains. “Similarly, we’re preparing to mobilize a team of rehabilitation professionals to provide rapid support in the event of injuries.”

Disaster risk preparedness

Humanity & Inclusion is actively involved in disaster risk preparedness initiatives in Madagascar. This work includes drawing up contingency plans, identifying safe places to seek shelter, and helping people prepare for climate hazards. Humanity & Inclusion ensures people with disabilities and other individuals with specific needs are involved in developing emergency preparedness plans.

Nonprofit organizations, teachers and local emergency teams help implement early warning systems, organize simulation drills, prepare contingency stocks, and other activities. Emergency preparedness projects are vitally important to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the population of Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Humanity & Inclusion has worked in Madagascar since 1986 and employs more than 160 professionals there.

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