Anticipatory humanitarian financing arrives two days before Tropical Cyclone Freddy hits Madagascar

Tropical Cyclone (TC) Freddy made landfall on Tuesday evening, 21 February in the coastal town of Mananjary in Madagascar.

Rya Ducusin


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Tropical Cyclone (TC) Freddy made landfall on Tuesday evening, 21 February in the coastal town of Mananjary in Madagascar. The track of the cyclone left 2.2 million people exposed to storm surges and flash floods as it ravaged the country. It has been reported that over 16,700 people were affected and around 4,500 homes were damaged.

GBP£700,000 was disbursed by Start Network to Catholic Relief Services, Welthungerhilfe, CARE, Medair, Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, and Medecins du Monde to lead anticipatory activities and provide early assistance to communities along TC Freddy’s path. Over 500,000 people are expected to benefit from this support.

Start Network and its members have been monitoring the movement of the cyclone since the Meteo Madagascar released a bulletin on 17 February forecasting TC Freddy to reach a minimum wind speed of 166 kilometres per hour at landfall.

The predicted intensity of the cyclone led to the activation of Start Ready - Start Network’s newest financing mechanism which allows humanitarian actors to access rapid, predictable funding and provide support in anticipation of a crisis once specific thresholds are met.

Start Network members acted quickly and utilised prepositioned resources once the bulletin was broadcasted. Families received materials last Monday, 20 February to reinforce their homes, dignity kits, water purification items, and mosquito nets. The provision of pre-positioned items and cash before the cyclone hits prepared communities for the impacts of the cyclone.

“The change of behaviour on disaster preparedness has saved a lot of lives and caused less destruction. I commend the communities, government, fellow in-country humanitarian actors, and donors like Start Network for quickly mobilizing their resources even before the landfall of Cyclone Freddy. As part of the anticipatory action initiatives, we were able to deploy teams in Manakara and Mananjary - as then the potential ground zero two days before the landfall,  ensuring that we carry out pre-emptive measures such as alerting the communities through radio, text messages, and helping the community to have a conducive evacuation site where they safely spent their night before the landfall," Medair Country Director Adriaan Mol, says.

In 2022, two similar anticipatory action humanitarian interventions were also implemented ahead of Cyclones Batsirai and Emnati. An anticipatory action system for tropical cyclones was managed by FOREWARN Madagascar, a pool of local risk experts, private institutions, government agencies, and humanitarian actors. Early action interventions for the two cyclones were funded by Start Network’s flagship programme, the Start Fund.

Much of the learning from Start Network’s 2022 early action activities in Madagascar informed the activation of Start Ready for TC Freddy. Start Network, humanitarian actors, FOREWARN Madagascar, National Risk Management Office (BNGRC), Meteo Madagascar, and other partners in-country have since then agreed on community-informed anticipatory activities and financing to protect at-risk populations. Early reports show increased amounts of anticipatory and early action to prevent and mitigate impacts.

Start Network’s anticipatory risk financing pool Start Ready is supported by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, IKEA Foundation, Irish Aid, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, German Federal Foreign Office, and the Swiss Re Foundation.