While multiple cyclones in the last two months caused great damage to agricultural land in Madagascar, farmers in the Grand Sud are pleased with the downpours brought by the cyclones. This, amid the most acute drought this region has seen in the last 40 years.
In recent months, the Ministry of Agriculture has distributed 400 tonnes of seeds with the help of the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Water from the Mandrare River, which has overflowed into the Anosy region, has flooded several fields. The wetlands, on the other hand, will allow the inhabitants to transplant new seeds.
According to the World Food Programme, the 3.9 million-person region has experienced food insecurity for the past four years. While the “great south” saw relatively little rain in the last four years, the current significant rains have offered reason for optimism after the drought has burnt the soil, ruined crops, and put people out of work.
A Reliefweb report warns that residents are dealing with the crippling effects of climate change as a result of a complex set of difficulties.
On top of the Covid-19 catastrophe, the persistently low rainfall has major cascade effects, putting a burden on already overworked labour markets, boosting poverty levels, limiting access to health and nutritional services, and wreaking havoc on the lives of many young women and girls.
Impact of ocean heat
Speaking to Reuters, Claire Nullis from the World Meteorological Organisation said even though groups of cyclones passing by Madagascar is not uncommon, how they made touchdown in close succession is.
“Ocean heat is one of the factors in rapid intensification of cyclones,” she told Reuters. “Right now there was no evidence of an increase in the overall number of tropical cyclones.”
First, tropical storm Ana hit the island nation in January before moving on to Malawi and Mozambique. Tropical storm Ana, which killed over 80 people and displaced 100 000 people in total across the three countries.
Thereafter, another cyclone called Batsirai touched down on the island between 25 January and 11 February, and about 124 000 people had their homes damaged or destroyed by the typhoon, with another 30 000 evacuated and camped across 108 locations. After Batsirai exited the island, storm Dumka touched down and left 14 dead and 4 300 displaced.
Tropical storm Cliff passed by the island, but did not leave the ocean to cross over onto land.
Now, the country is recovering from cyclone Emnati, which made landfall last week. The cyclone lead to the evacuation of more than 30 000 people as a precautionary measure. It produced winds of up to 100km/h, but did not leave extensive damage or casualties.