The Climate Report 2017/18 - Page 80



Climate change in Madagascar:
Rising seas and floods risk making this country even poorer
Francois paces around his family’s stilted- wooden home in Western
Madagascar as his 10-year-old daughter Florida plays in the sand. walks
back and forth inspecting the water marks left from the encroaching sea.
“At high tide the water only used to come up to here,” he says, pointing to
a mark just a few centimetres off the ground. “That was in 1998. Now it
comes up to here,” he says as he moves his hand more than a metre
higher.
Francois’ home sits on a flood plain in Tanambao village in Morondava. It’s
a risky place to build a house but residents say they don’t have much
choice. More and more people are migrating to Morondava from Southern Madagascar to escape increasingly dry
conditions.
When you ask residents or local government officials if they’ve seen changes over the last few years, they all
agree - sea levels are rising, and the seasons are becoming less predictable.
“We’ve noticed the water getting higher. We think that’s to do with climate change,” explains the city’s mayor,
Kolo Frijot. “The sea is also getting closer to the village. Another risk is floods,” he adds.
It’s difficult to say with certainty if this is a direct result of climate change. The destruction of mangroves, which
act as a natural sea defence, and deforestation, which can alter the microclimate of an area, also contributes to
encroaching waters. But it’s clear that the city of Morondava is no stranger to natural disasters, whether it’s
floods, cyclones or lack of rainfall.
Just last year Tanambao village had to be evacuated as flood waters
inundated the area. A year on and there are still signs of the devastation
the floods caused. Homes still have no roofs on and the only tap in the
village, which supplies water to at least 50 families, looks close to
collapsing.
“When the floods came, the water flooded the pipe. I’m afraid the next
flood will destroy the pipe all together,” explains Fajo, the owner of the
water point.
This area is already desperately poor. Much like 80% of Madagascar’s population, most people in Tanambao village
live below the poverty line of less than $1.25 dollars a day. It’s obvious that just one more freak weather event
could have devastating consequences for the people here, especially if their only water point is wiped out.
Investing in sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services is crucial to help villages like Tanambao build
resilience to the threats of climate change. If residents here have a reliable source of water and improved
sanitation, it reduces the risk of diseases spreading after the next flood.
It sounds simple, but these provisions aren’t routinely included in planning for disasters. Moreover not enough
climate finance is being allocated to help poor communities adapt to these weather extremes.
On November 4th 2016 the historic Paris Climate Agreement came into force.
While WaterAid welcomed the implementation of the deal, which includes a
promise to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius, for many
communities, it’s too late to reverse the damage done. As negotiations get
underway at COP23 WaterAid is calling on world leaders to provide more
funding to help countries and communities adapt to these increasingly
unpredictable weather patterns.
For mother-of-two Angenie, whose house was destroyed in last year’s floods,
she says it’s not a matter of if, but when the next natural disaster will strike.
“I don’t know about the future,” she says. “I live for today.”
Policy makers need to start investing in the future of the millions like Angenie now so she and others like her have
the tools to better cope with the coming changes.
78

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