Monday, November 17, 2008

Madagascar braces for cyclone season

IRIN: All eyes are glued to the radar screen in anticipation of the cyclone season in Madagascar, and this year the authorities and their humanitarian partners hope not be caught off guard. "We are bracing for cyclone season," Xavier Leus, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Madagascar, told IRIN. "So preparedness is important, not just for the upcoming cyclone season, but because in Madagascar it's not a matter of if, but when. Here, disasters are predictable: floods and cyclones happen every year."

Cyclone season usually kicks off in December and runs through April, when storms hit some of the poorest regions of Indian Ocean island. Around 70 percent of Madagascar's population live on less than a dollar a day. Floods are also common and cause displacement of thousands of people every year throughout the island including large urban areas like the capital, Antananarivo.

Earlier in 2008 over 100 people died when Madagascar was hit by cyclones Fame, Jokwe and Ivan. The powerful winds, heavy rains and flooding affected over 340,000 people, of whom 190,000 lost their homes. 2007 was the worst year on record, with six cyclones affecting nearly half a million people, mainly in the central and northern parts of the island; in the parched south drought has persisted for several years.

..."We need to link disaster management to climate change ... to be able to adapt and also to better manage increased risk; for the north and centre of the country that would mean increased strength and incidence of cyclones," and the chronic drought situation in the south would deteriorate even further, he warned.…Leus pointed out that great strides had been made, particularly in dealing with the impact of cyclones, but "There is still a long way to go for flooding, and a very long way to go for drought."...

Cyclone Jokwe, March 10 of 2008, NASA

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