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UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund supports Madagascar’s cyclone-hit World Heritage rainforests

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Following the impact of tropical cyclone Batsiraï, the ‘Rainforests of the Atsinanana’ World Heritage property and the local communities are preparing their resilient recovery

May 6, 2022

On 5 and 6 February 2022, Madagascar was severely impacted by category 3 tropical cyclone Batsiraï, only 2 weeks after tropical cyclone Ana hit the country. The new cyclone was devastating, counting more than 120 deaths and destroying more than 91 000 homes. Also severely impacted were the ‘Rainforests of the Atsinanana’, a World Heritage site inscribed in the List since 2007, and included in the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2010, due to illegal logging and hunting of endangered lemurs on the site.

The cyclone left the local communities living in the region with major challenges, in particular the Ranomafana and Andringitra areas. As an example, an interpretation site and a cottage dedicated to tourism were damaged, negatively impacting the tourism activities of both sites. As a consequence of the cyclone, floods and landslides damaged bridges and roads, complicating the access to the heritage areas for the evaluation of the impact and damages.

In order to develop a comprehensive damage assessment to inform and plan the urgent interventions needed, the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF) provided US$ 36,300.00 to support the initial recovery of the ‘Rainforests of the Atsinanana’ and their local communities. Several evaluations are being conducted to assess the impact of the cyclone on the environment, the infrastructure, and the locals’ livelihoods. The results will be used by UNESCO to facilitate longer-term recovery and reconstruction activities. Furthermore, the procurement of equipment is also being financed through the HEF, for the urgent stabilization of key sites and to prevent further damage.

By getting adequate equipment and drawing lessons from an accurate assessment of damages, UNESCO’s project allows the local teams to better understand the impact of natural hazards on cultural heritage, evaluate the best actions to be taken, and be prepared for potential future emergency situations.

This activity is supported by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and its donors: the Qatar Fund for Development, the Kingdom of Norway, the French Republic, the Government of Canada, the Principality of Monaco, ANA Holdings INC., the Republic of Estonia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Andorra, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Serbia.