Weathering the storm
Almost every year Madagascar is battered by cyclones of incredible strength and violence. During the most violent storms 100 mph winds tear off roofs, demolish buildings, bring down power lines and fill the air with deadly projectiles. Meanwhile the accompanying heavy rains flood homes, decimate crops, cut off roads and destroy bridges.
Hundreds of thousands of people suffer every year from the effects of these storms. Whether killed, injured, left homeless or impoverished, whole communities can be devastated within a matter of hours.
The damage to public buildings and infrastructure can be enormous. Sadly the government rarely provides sufficient funding to rebuild lost hospitals, schools, roads or bridges meaning that it is a miracle if the damage from one year’s cyclone season is repaired before the next arrives. This downward spiral has left many coastal communities as shadows of their former selves.
Picking up the pieces
In the immediate aftermath of a cyclone Money for Madagascar is able to provide swift, effective emergency relief through trusted local partner organisations. We send money to help fund feeding stations and temporary shelters and to organise ‘food for work’ schemes whereby the able-bodied are paid in rice for repairing the cyclone-damaged roads in their area.
To address longer-term issues we have also funded vital repair work to damaged schools, hospitals, children’s homes, and community resource Centres. Whilst no building could ever be described as entirely “cyclone-proof”, wherever possible we encourage building practices designed to minimise the danger of the future storms that will visit Madagascar in the years to come.
In addition to emergency relief work Money for Madagascar also funds important work to help communities prepare for the impact of future cyclones. In one community we funded the purchase of two boats which are now used as emergency vehicles during the cyclone season and for the rest of a year to transport local pupils to school and goods to market. In others we have supported schemes to plant large numbers of hardy, strong rooted plants to protect against the mudslides and dramatic soil erosion that often accompanies the rainy season.
Of course cyclones are not the only disasters which threaten Malagasy communities. Bush fires, often caused by the environmentally disastrous practice of “tavy” (slash and burn agriculture) are a huge danger to rural communities and precious wildlife habitats. We ensure that the reforestation schemes funded by us incorporate safety measures such as firebreaks to minimise the impact of forest fires and anti-erosion planting programmes designed to protect against heavy rains and flooding.