Threat to Lives and Livelihoods as Cyclone Batsirai Hurls Towards Madagascar

Published February 4, 2022

JOHANNESBURG – Lives, livelihoods, and harvest at risk as Tropical Cyclone Batsirai on course to hit Madagascar, already reeling from the impact of Storm Ana that hit in late January, the United Nations World Food Programme warned today. The cyclone is also expected to bring heavy rains to Mozambique.

“Frequent cyclones during the agricultural season mean loss of harvest, high food prices and increased food insecurity,” said WFP Deputy Regional Director Margaret Malu. “The people of Southern Africa have been on the front lines of climate extremes for many years now and each passing storm sets them back, resetting the progress made.”

Two weeks after Storm Ana ploughed through Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi, causing heavy flooding, destruction to homes and public infrastructure and displacing communities, WFP is preparing for the impending arrival of Cyclone Batsirai, expected to hit the east coast of Madagascar over the weekend.

“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. We have also prepositioned food to be able to quickly provide emergency food assistance.”

In response to Storm Ana, WFP, working closely with governments, has provided logistics support to search and rescue efforts, conducted needs assessments and organized food distributions. WFP continues its lean season food distributions, livelihood programmes and school feeding activities, where possible.

Cyclone Batsirai has the potential to derail relief efforts underway in the aftermath of Storm Ana that hit not only Madagascar but also Mozambique and Malawi, where the impact of Cyclone Idai in 2019 is still fresh in the minds of vulnerable communities who are struggling to build back their lives.

Extreme weather events like cyclones have become more frequent and intense in Southern Africa driving hunger and eroding development, sometimes in a matter of hours. The ongoing cyclone season (October 2021 to May 2022) is expected to see eight to twelve tropical systems.

WFP’s resilience programmes such as building dams and irrigation systems, drought resilient farming methods and rehabilitating forests support food security in the long term and help communities cope with future shocks better.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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