Heavy rains wreak havoc in northwest Madagascar, State of Emergency declared

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Madagascar

Widespread rains and floods have affected nearly 107,000 people, including at least 16,000 displaced, in seven regions with Boeny, Sofia and Alaotra Mangoro regions the worst-hit.


• Heavy rainfall and flooding caused by a tropical disturbance have affected nearly 107,000 people, including more than 16,000 displaced, and caused at least 31 deaths in Madagascar over the last week.

• At least seven regions in the north of the country have been affected, with Boeny, Sofia and Alaotra Mangoro hardest hit.

• The Government declared a State of Emergency on 24 January and is leading the humanitarian response.

• Access is still a challenge, especially for Alaotra Mangoro region and some isolated districts.


A weather system that formed in the Mozambique Channel on 17 January 2020 hit the north-west of Madagascar on 22 January, causing widespread rains and floods. At least 106,846 people have been affected in seven regions, with Boeny, Sofia and Alaotra Mangoro regions the worst-hit, according to the Government’s National Disaster and Risk Management Office (BNGRC). The flooding has displaced over 16,000 people and left at least 31 dead, according to BNGRC. The death toll may rise in the days ahead, as several people remain missing.

Destruction and damage of key infrastructure–including roads, houses and schools–has been reported in multiple locations. More than 10,600 houses are still flooded and 146 have been destroyed. Across the seven regions, around 6,600 students are out of school due to damage (85 damaged classrooms) or the use the schools as temporary displacement sites (18 schools to date). Areas of the national roads 4 and 6, which connect north-western Madagascar to the rest of the country, have been washed away by the floods.

Flooding has affected rice plains and lowlands used to grow crops and may therefore impact food security in the period ahead. In Tanambe Commune, Amparafaravola District, Alaotra Mangoro Region, a dam has reportedly overflowed, flooding hundreds of hectares of rice fields and villages. The population has been urgently evacuated by the BNGRC.

The current rainy and cyclone season (October-April) has brought heavy rainfall to Madagascar since the beginning of December, when Tropical Cyclone Belna made landfall in Amparafa village, Soalala District of Boeny region. The cyclone season ordinarily peaks in February-March.


The Government declared a State of Emergency on 24 January and activated the humanitarian response, led by the National Committee for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The BNGRC has called for the mobilization of stocks to meet the immediate needs of those affected, and the Humanitarian Country Team—comprised of UN and NGOs—has mobilized its pre-positioned stocks in support of the Government-led response. The main target is currently people displaced in temporary sites.

The Government deployed two helicopters to conduct aerial surveillance of the flooded areas and support the evacuation of people at risk. The Ministry in charge of Public Works has started to repair damaged roads, reopening the national 4 and 6. However, access remains a challenge, particularly to Alaotra Mangoro Region and other isolated areas.