Downed trees and piles of debris after cyclone in Madagascar

Tropical storm threatens communities recovering from Cyclone Batsirai

While Humanity & Inclusion plans supply distributions to families who have lost everything in Cyclone Batsirai, the north of the island is experiencing Tropical Storm Dumako.

After Cyclone Batsirai traversed Madagascar, the figures reflecting its significance continued to grow as authorities and their partners evaluate affected regions.

Since the morning of Sunday, Feb. 6, a Humanity & Inclusion team of 18 people has been conducting needs assessments across the Atsinanana region.

“We’re seeing the initial impact of the cyclone,” says Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion’s country director in Madagascar. “There are so many houses destroyed and flooded. The health and education structures were unfortunately seriously impacted. Over 2,500 classrooms were destroyed, and 73 health facilities damaged. Many are without homes, children have no schools and some areas are still inaccessible. Some of the most isolated zones have yet to be reached, so these numbers are expected to increase as assessments continue.”

Officials are currently reporting over 120 lives lost as a result of the cyclone, nearly 9,000 homes destroyed, and over 143,000 people affected. More than 60,000 people were displaced into shelters for protection from the storm, and are increasingly returning to find their homes toppled, flooded, or broken.

Distributing emergency supplies

“People are slowly leaving the shelters now, but they have lost everything,” Dalonneau explains. “This is a population extremely vulnerable to poverty, so the loss of any belongings can have a real long-term impact. They can’t cook warm meals for their families or wash themselves.”

Humanity & Inclusion will be distributing hundreds of emergency kits across the most affected regions, including kitchen supplies with cookware, and household kits with blankets to keep people warm.

The organization will also distribute hygiene supplies such as soaps, toothpaste, disinfectants and water purifiers to the households in greatest need, to promote sanitation and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases, resulting from flooding. Covid-19 prevention kits will also be provided, to protect people forced to live in crowded shelters from the threat of coronavirus in the ongoing global pandemic.

Populations threatened by another storm

Further north in the country, Tropical Storm Dumako made landfall Tuesday, Feb. 15, and is making its way across the island. With winds averaging 40 mph, and gusts of up to 55 mph, it is expected to make a significant impact between the Antalaha and Ste Marie regions of Madagascar.

“We’re particularly concerned about the possibility of flooding from heavy rains in the North,” Dalonneau continues. “Authorities are predicting over five inches of rainfall in Analanjirofo and Cap Masoala. As more and more parts of the country are being affected by natural hazards, it will become increasingly difficult to overcome and rebuild.”

Ongoing emergency support

Humanity & Inclusion will maintain an emergency presence in Mahanoro, and open a new base with local partners in Fianarantsoa to cover the Nosy Varika, Manakara and Farangana zones, where assessments have identified significant need, and there are very few responders. Kits of emergency materials will be distributed to families across these areas in the coming days.

“It will take a long time to recover from this,” Dalonneau says. “Humanity & Inclusion is committed to accompanying the most vulnerable people, and particularly people with disabilities—who unfortunately are often left out of aid responses. In an already delicate situation, many are at risk of meeting even greater difficulty.”

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