Cyclon ‘Batsirai’ now heading to open seas after causing havoc in Madagascar

(Posted 09th February 2022)

Category 4 tropical cyclone Batsirai left a trail of destruction on the island of Madagascar, after previously also pummeling Reunion and Mauritius. More than 20 people were reported to have died, flooding displaced tens of thousands of people and critical infrastructure like roads and bridges were seriously affected by flooding.

As on past occasions was air traffic severely affected, leading to flight cancellations and delays across the Reunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Madagascar.

This is the 8th such category 4 (or 5) storm hitting Madagascar since the year 2000, providing further evidence of changing climate, which influences the temperature of the ocean and leads to more and stronger storm systems – similar to the hurricanes in the Atlantic and Carribean.

Data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s historical hurricane tracker show that 12 storms of category 4 or 5, the highest level, made landfall on Madagascar since 1911, but 8 of those hit the islands and African mainland over the past 22 years.

Only weeks earlier had tropical storm Ana struck Madagascar before moving on to the African mainland where countries as far as Zambia and Malawi, besides ‘oceanfront’ Mozambique were badly affected. At least 20 deaths were recorded each in Mozambique and Malawi while on Madagascar at least 40 people lost their lives.

Especially Mozambique is still recovering from Cyclone Ida in 2019 and new storms continue to delay infrastructure restorations and agricultural production.

Meanwhile has one of the largest Mangrove planting projects been rolled out in Mozambique with over 100 million seedlings to be planted.

The project has been launched by Mozambique’s Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries (MIMAIP) in partnership with Blue Forest, a UAE-based mangrove reforestation specialist.

The project will be implemented in the biodiversity-sensitive provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, spread across 185,000 hectares of mangrove forests. It is expected that between 50-100 million trees will be planted as part of this long-term partnership. This project will offset approximately 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to taking 50,000 cars off the road.

Mr. Xavier Munjovo, the Permanent Secretary of MIMAIP, commented: “Mozambique has over 300,000 hectares of mangroves along its coast, which is one of the largest tracts of mangrove forest in Africa. We are delighted to partner with Blue Forest and to introduce innovative technology in the way we map and restore our vital mangrove forests for generations to come.”