Malagasy Red Cross volunteers respond to the tropical cyclone Enawo

This week has been an extraordinary one. Madagascar is severely affected by the cyclone Enawo, the strongest storm to strike the island in 13 years. The cyclone made landfall in the north-east part of the country on Tuesday 7 March and moved its way southwards to Antananarivo and Tsiroanomandidy, where we live, on Wednesday evening before exiting the country into the Indian Ocean on Friday 10 March. None of us have ever experienced natural forces like the ones Enawo brought to the island. Powerful winds and torrential rain has caused major damage to infrastructure, as well as flooding and landslides across the country. Our village escaped severe consequences of the cyclone.

Whenever a disaster strikes, Malagasy Red Cross (MRC) is an essential part of the government’s response. Prior to the cyclone, MRC mobilized hundreds of volunteers all over the country who sensitized populations and disseminated early warning messages. As the cyclone hit, well trained local MRC volunteers conducted assessments of the situation and provided First Aid and Psychosocial Support to the people in the affected communities. The activities have been enabled through the ECHO Emergency Fund (European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) and with the financial and technical support of the Danish Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and German Red Cross. The efforts of the Malagasy Red Cross volunteers will continue as the population in many parts of the country will need assistance to restore their lives and communities both in a short-and long term perspective.

MRC and the authorities fears that, under a worse-case scenario, more than 700,000 people have been directly or indirectly affected by the cyclone. Still, figures for the number of victims are not yet available for many of the municipalities and districts where the cyclone passed. However, several deaths have been reported, thousands of people have been displaced and houses have been damaged, flooded or destroyed. There is no doubt that Madagascar will need time, as well as assistance from the international community to recover from this disaster.

Our thoughts and sincere condolences go to the people affected by the consequences of the cyclone. Lastly, we want to praise all the volunteers who have contributed to MRC’s rapid response and who still work hard to reduce suffering in the aftermaths of Enawo.