MADAGASCAR: the human and environmental disaster of Cyclone Freddy

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MADAGASCAR: the human and environmental disaster of Cyclone Freddy © James Hall

After Cyclone Batsirai, which shook Madagascar in 2022, the island is again facing a new storm called "Freddy". This meteorological phenomenon recently killed four people and caused significant damage, particularly in the port city of Mahanoro.

In Madagascar, recent heavy rains on the eastern coast have devastated 3,300 houses. The resulting floods killed four people, swept away pets and destroyed trees and many schools, particularly in the town of Mananjary, 542 kilometres from the capital Antananarivo. According to the provisional assessment of Madagascar’s National Disaster Management Office (BNGRC), “another 16,660 people have already been affected by the bad weather”.

Among the victims are farmers whose plantations were swept away by winds gusting up to 180 kilometres per hour. While Cyclone Freddy also displaced 11,000 people and cut off Madagascar’s main power lines, the World Food Programme (WFP) fears for the livelihoods of at least 2.3 million people in the country, which is “one of the poorest in the world” according to the World Bank.

Over the years, Madagascar has become a target for natural disasters. The cyclone season from November 2021 to April 2022, for example, brought several storms such as Ana, which formed over the Indian Ocean before crossing the north of the island. The dramatic rise in water levels forced the shutdown of power generators in affected hospitals, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Read also-EAST AFRICA: the heavy toll of the 2021/22 cyclone season in the Indian Ocean

In response to this climatic vulnerability, the French Development Agency (AFD) in partnership with the European Union (EU) has been financing a sanitation project in Antananarivo since 2016. The 25-million-euro initiative will eventually allow for the repair of sanitation networks and five pumping stations in the Malagasy capital, as well as “the creation of emergency facilities and the sensitization of 700,000 people to hygiene issues,” AFD says.

Benoit-Ivan Wansi

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