A cyclone wreaked havoc in what was already the world’s second-hungriest country, Madagascar. Dozens of Madagascans died and over 80,000 were left homeless since a severe tropical cyclone made landfall last week and swirled for days off the island’s western coast. Cyclone Cheneso hit northeastern Madagascar 10 days ago, bringing strong winds and triggering downpours that have caused massive flooding.
Over the next week it tracked southeastwards, destroying houses, and schools and severing several highways. More than 40,000 houses were flooded.
Cheneso made landfall on January 19, packing winds of up to 68 miles per hour. After that, its wind speed rose and fell, at one point reaching 103 miles per hour. It is the first cyclone to hit Madagascar, a large island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, that is roughly the size of France.
In recent years, Madagascar and nearby Mozambique on the African continent, have been repeatedly hit by severe storms and cyclones that have destroyed homes, infrastructure and crops and displaced large numbers of people.
Nearly half of Madagascar’s population (48.5%) was undernourished between 2019 and 2021. Widespread hunger has led to nearly 40% of all children in Madagascar being stunted and 8% of children experiencing wasting. The country’s southern region faces recurring droughts, including one that began in 2019 whose impacts are expected to last until the end of this year. At the beginning of 2022, it was also hit hard by Cyclones Emnati and Batsirai, which devastated extensive tracts of land and crops.