- Title: MADAGASCAR: Devastating landslides take their toll on residents in Madagascar
- Date: 31st March 2007
- Summary: SMALL WOODEN BOATS CARRYING PASSENGERS
- Embargoed: 15th April 2007 13:00
- Location: Madagascar
- Country: Madagascar
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA2KCL9YWS57MLLXCI74YKPTVZ
- Story Text: Since cyclone Indlala struck the northeast coast of Madagascar on the March 15th with winds reaching over 220km/h (137miles), life has changed dramatically for the Islands residents.
Migioko and Ambohimarina are neighbouring villages in Ambanja, situated in the valley of the river Sambirano. These villages have been severely affected by landslides composed of heavy rocks and mud after a downpour which lasted 30 hours.
Two thirds of the population is now homeless.
In Migioko, 60% of the cocoa crop has been lost and in Ambohimarina, the entire rice crop was been lost. Basic needs such as food, shelter and clean water are no longer guaranteed.
Jean Pierre Randriam, whose wife died in the landslide never thought a cyclone would hit his village.
"I didn't think that this would happen here, that's why I built this house here. The water has never come this far and we have never had landslides before. It was sudden and so strong when the rocks came," Randriam said.
Despite that fact that the mountains surrounding these villages have "protected" areas of forest, they are heavily affected by deforestation.
"There is pressure on the resources here that means deforestation, It is sure and certain that if there is continuous rainfall for two or three days, there will be negative results because there is no more cover that can hold in place the rocks. Evidently, when there is heavy rain, that carries with it all the earth," Christian Aridy said, director of local environmental NGO CRADES.
"Our parents already educated us about deforestation when we moved from the mountains and settled in these villages when the protected zones were created. I was here from the start. But the cover is already gone so now we don't want to but we may have to relocate the village if it isn't safe," added Sabotsy, a villager affected by the landslides.
Many people in the district are now totally dependent on aid from international agencies.
"Inside the city, you know, the buildings are still there, but in the countryside all the houses which are in wood, they have gone and you have a lot of schools where the school has disappeared, there was one school there is only one which is left from the school and it was supposed to be an anti-cyclonic school, but the water and the rocks has taken everything away," said Beatrix Weide, a logistics administrator at UNICEF.
The last remaining piece of the school in Ambohimarina is a single stone pillar. Though designed to withstand strong winds, the development agency that built it did not anticipate the effect of combined landslides and flooding from the River Sambirano.
"The landslide came in the morning and we were not expecting it. It took the school, which was a strong building. What is left was what was not in its path. They explained to us when they built it why it was supposed to be strong," said Be Vazaga who lives in the village.
Aid agencies carrying supplies to the villages can only accessed them using river transport as the roads and bridges suffered extensive damage.
Alternative routes to the villages could take upto ten hours travelling though woodland which is not feasible for vehicles carrying aid.
"Inside the regions, as long as the water is there we may be able to transport goods with canoes or Zodiacs or whatever, but when the water will be gone, everything is, you know the roads are not there anymore so the transport is going to be difficult," Weide continued.
Prior to the arrival of Indlala, the sixth cyclone to hit the island since the beginning of December (2006), the government had launched a flash appeal for international assistance to deal with cyclone damage to infrastructure, homes and lost agriculture.
The cyclone season in Madagascar runs between December and March but has been known to continue into April.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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