Cyclone Batsirai touched down in Madagascar on Friday 4 February, less than a week after tropical Storm Ana caused widespread devastation to infrastructure and agricultural land within the coastal country. According to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) deputy regional director Margaret Malu, the consecutive natural disasters will result in inflated food prices and greater food insecurity.
“WFP is on the ground, and we are ready to provide logistics support to governments and NGO partners, to aid relief efforts and drones and boats, in case of flooding,” Malu said via a statement on Friday, 4 February, mere hours before Batsirai touched down. “We have also prepositioned food to be able to quickly provide emergency food assistance.”
According to official tallies released on Sunday 6 February, at least six people have been killed by the cyclone and more than 50 000 displaced. High waves reportedly hit coastal regions of the country’s east coast, and wind speeds reached 235 km/h.
WFP is collaborating with governments in the aftermath of Storm Ana, providing logistical support to search and rescue efforts, conducting needs assessments, and coordinating food delivery.
“The floods and bad weather have not only devastated homes and damaged property, but above all they have destroyed the livelihoods and sources of income of the affected households,” said Pasqualina Di Sirio, WFP country director in Madagascar.
Rebuilding their livelihoods
According to local media, Mananjary’s electricity had been off for two days and the water supply had been affected. Even schools and churches that were supposed to be used as evacuation centers had their roofs ripped off, said one resident.
“Their short and medium-term food security is in great peril. These families, currently in a situation of total destitution, will see their living conditions deteriorate in the absence of urgent assistance until their situation returns to normal.”
Cyclone Batsirai has sabotaged humanitarian efforts launched in the aftermath of Storm Ana, which hit Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi. The aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which devastated vulnerable areas in 2019, is still fresh in the thoughts of those trying to rebuild their lives.
Extreme weather events such as cyclones have become more often and violent in Southern Africa, fueling hunger and undermining development, wreaking havoc in a matter of hours, according to the WFP.
During the current cyclone season, which spans from October to May, eight to twelve tropical systems are in the forecast.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Storm Ana, the UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, is assisting governments in mobilising aid for individuals displaced by water.
At the displacement sites, this includes cash, food, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, as well as health, protection and camp management services.