Picking up the pieces after Cyclone Bingiza

Cyclone Giovanna pushing towards the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar
(earthsky.org)

The five-day rampage of Cyclone Bingiza across Madagascar killed at least 14 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes, the office of the UN resident coordinator said in a situation report on 21 February.



The cyclone made landfall on 14 February in the Sava region in the northeast of the island and crossed into the Mozambican channel, before turning back and striking Manja District in the southwest.



The National Disaster Risk Management Office (BNGRC) has reported 14 deaths, eight people missing and 5,591 traditionally built houses “destroyed", according to the report.



According to flood and cyclone report published by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 23 February about 19,000 people were displaced, but "most have already returned home after having repaired or rebuilt their houses."



The government has decided against declaring a national emergency.



In Vinanivao, a town in the district of Antalaha in the Sava region, where the cyclone struck first, "damage is limited and much less than expected". About half the houses have been destroyed.



Pierre Gelas, a regional humanitarian affairs officer at OCHA in Nairobi, told IRIN the Category Three cyclone was downgraded to a tropical storm within hours of making landfall. Damage was less than expected.



The cyclone season runs from October to April, with February considered as the peak season.



Thirty-six schools were damaged, preventing 7,450 children from attending school, and BNGRC reported localized flooding in areas of the drought-prone southeast following five days of rain, temporarily displacing 8,393 people.



Worries over food security



Plastic sheeting (for shelter) is being distributed and "communities have already started rehabilitating their homes," but Cyclone Bingiza's longer-term impact is likely to be on food security.



The report said it was "too early to estimate impacts on agriculture" in the northeast region of Mandritsara, as well as the southeast districts of Vangaindrano, Farafangana, Vohipeno, Ikongo, Midongy sud, Befotaka and Manakara.



Initial findings by aid agencies found that an estimated 40 percent of food crops and up to 10 percent of cash crops are damaged in Manambolosy (in the northeastern district of Mananara Nord). In Antanambaobe (in the same district) 70 percent of crops are damaged, the report said.



OCHA’s Gelas said the main issue in the aftermath of the cyclone was food security, especially in the south where an assessment team was scheduled to visit in the next few days to determine, among other things, whether there was a possibility of replanting specific rice seeds to enable a harvest in April.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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