LISTEN HERE (Support this project at patreon.com/AfricanElements)
Mananjary, Madagascar – In 2022 alone, Madagascar, an island nation off the coast of southeast Africa, has already been hit by five major storms.
Residents of the island’s southeast coast, which found itself in the direct path of two cyclones – Batisrai and Emnati – in February, are still reeling from the destruction left behind. Many have been rendered homeless or have lost their livelihoods.
On Tuesday, the World Weather Attribution Network, which compares rainfall patterns under today’s climate to that of the pre-industrial area, said the storms’ downpour “was made more intense by climate change”.
It added that “episodes of extreme rainfall such as these have become more frequent” in Madagascar, a country of about 30 million people.
During this cyclone season, at least 46,000 residences, 73 health centres, and 2,500 school rooms were destroyed or damaged. At least 205 people were killed and more than 145,000 people were displaced, according to the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS).
At least 470,000 residents remain in urgent need of food assistance in the southeastern regions of Vatovavy, Fitovinany, and Atsimo Atsinanana, according to the World Food Programme.
Approximately 60,000 hectares (148263 acres) of rice paddies were also flooded across the storm-hit regions, with the WFP estimating that up to 90 percent of crops were destroyed in some areas ahead of the upcoming harvest in May.
Friederike Otto, of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said: “Again, we are seeing how the people with the least responsibility for climate change are bearing the brunt of the impacts”.
In the coastal city of Mananjary, Al Jazeera met residents living in a tent provided by UNICEF on a lot near a beach. There was stagnant water on the floor and approximately 200 people, who cram into the structure to sleep, complained of rashes and feared other illnesses.
The district hospital in the city lost its roof during Cyclone Batistrai, which hit the area on February 5, rendering its surgery, radiology, maternity and paediatric wards unusable.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF, Médicins Sans Frontières) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have been offering health care in tents on-site, and plan to launch a rehabilitation programme at the end of April.
Further south, near the city of Manakara, villagers who grow cash crops like cloves, lychee, breadfruit, and vanilla in the hills said these have been destroyed in the wind and rains. They have taken to eating the bitter Polynesian arrowroot tuber, a plant known locally as tavolo.
In Farafangana, about 400 residents crowd into a local public house in the city’s market to sleep. Bao Angeline spends the day looking for work as a clothes washer. She is trying to rebuild her house one plank of wood at a time.
“I have to wait [to find] money to rebuild this house,” she told Al Jazeera. “I am not rich at all.”
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects an increase in cyclone wind speeds and precipitation in Madagascar, in the coming years amid rising global temperatures.
This content was originally published here.