Severe Tropical Storm Cheneso made landfall in Madagascar on 19 January 2023 bringing with it a week of heavy rains and wind and causing significant flooding across the country. Cheneso is putting to test the multipurpose safe haven and drainage system recently completed by UN-Habitat and its partner Oxfam in the vulnerable coastal city of Morondava. Inaugurated just over a month ago, the 200-person capacity safe haven is now fully occupied for the first time, lending refuge to vulnerable households, 80% of whom are women and children.
This is the first safe haven of its kind constructed in Madagascar, where schools are often used for emergency shelter during cyclone season, disrupting schooling for children sometimes for weeks at a time. The center is equipped with solar energy, pumped water, a sheltered outdoor kitchen, laundry basin and is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. UN-Habitat is working with the UN system, Oxfam, and the national government, particularly the national disaster risk management center (BNGRC) on promoting and replicating this model of safe haven across Madagascar, large island in the Indian Ocean, particularly vulnerable to storms and cyclones.
But the safe haven is only a part of the story. Resilience can only be built through integrated interventions blending green infrastructure, disaster preparedness measures and capacity-building, and community mobilization that address the critical needs of a vulnerable urban area holistically and sustainably. The project which has resulted in the safe haven, “Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-Eastern Africa” is funded by the Adaptation Fund, coordinated by UN-Habitat, and with Oxfam as the main partner delivering resilience interventions at the city level.
Through the same project, Morondava also received drainage rehabilitation which is now keeping the streets safe from the floodwaters of Cheneso. Six other interventions including solid waste management, mangrove rehabilitation, elevated roads, and the construction of bridges are currently underway in Morondava to ensure that when the next cyclone season comes around the residents will be even better protected. Similar interventions are also being carried out by this project in three other cities, Zomba in Malawi, Chokwe in Mozambique, and Moroni in the Union of Comoros.
The learning and expertise that is being gathered from executing these resilience interventions is being gathered and disseminated in the region by DiMSUR, the regional technical Center for Excellence on Disaster Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience.
As of 25 January, the impacts of Cyclone Cheneso at the national level in Madagascar are 8 people dead, 20 people missing, 46,994 disaster victims (i.e. 10,807 households) spread over 13 Regions, 20,603 displaced people in 75 accommodation sites (i.e. 4,828 displaced households), 12,435 housing units flooded and 523 housing units destroyed. Many of these people are staying with relatives, but 200 of those in Morondava are protected by our safe haven.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Habitat.