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Madagascar: Four devastating storms in four weeks

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Lausanne, Switzerland, February 25, 2022 – With Madagascar still reeling from the aftermath of Tropical Storms Ana and Dumako and Cyclone Batsirai, the country has been hit by yet another devastating storm – the fourth one in as many weeks. With wind speeds reaching up to 140 km/h, Cyclone Emnati swept across the country's east coast on Tuesday night, where cleanup efforts after Batsirai had only just begun.

Medair, an international emergency relief agency active in Madagascar since 2002, continues to provide urgent assistance to populations affected by these storms, with emergency response teams currently deployed Mananjary district, on the eastern coast.

"In some places of the district, 95% of infrastructure has been damaged. Water wells are contaminated and there is a risk of disease outbreaks," said Evelyn Speich-Baer, Medair’s Madagascar Director. "We have therefore focused our response on restoring safe drinking water supplies. These interventions are essential to help communities regain some sense of normalcy."

In the aftermath of Cyclone Batsirai, Medair has been working in partnership with experts from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to assess damages, and prepare interventions. Medair’s emergency teams, supported by 75 local volunteers, have disinfected wells while in other villages, water samples were collected and analysed for further interventions. Community meetings have also been organized to raise awareness, and provide guidance on hygiene and disease prevention.

"The wind destroyed so much in the village," explains Rosalie Rabefaly, a local resident. "I was afraid for my family and my house. We all live in the same village and some of us had to leave our homes. We need help. After the storm, the water has become very murky. Normally, we take water as it is. The way Medair showed us, we have never properly disinfected our well before."

With Cyclone Emnati having exited the country, Medair is currently participating in flyovers of affected areas, together with the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

“Madagascar is prone to very challenging weather, including cyclones and tropical storms, and our teams are well trained and prepared to respond,” adds Speich-Baer. “But there is no denying that the past month has been particularly grueling. There is no respite when faced with such devastating weather. Communities here need all the support they can get.”

For media

Media enquiries should be directed to:

• Jonathan Kyle, Regional Communications Manager (English, French) +243 (0) 815 287 506 (DR Congo)

In Madagascar:

• Mialy Chrystelle Rakotomavo, Communications Officer (Malagasy, French, English): +261 32 05 146 02

In Switzerland:

• Daniela Dönges, Press Officer (German, English, French) +33 (0)6 20 09 40 53