Countries Surrounding the Indian Ocean Are Preparing for Cyclone SeasonTropical Cyclone Freddy wreaked havoc across the Southern Indian Ocean throughout March 2023, setting a new record for the longest-lasting cyclone at 34 days. Madagascar and Mozambique suffered irreversible damage, with unconfirmed reports revealing that around 190 people lost their lives. The national disaster management agency in Mozambique estimates that 1.75 million people were affected by Freddy, and over 8,000 people have been displaced due to flooding and housing collapses. Repairing the damages will require ample amounts of time and resources, and this fact further highlights the importance of cyclone season preparation.

U.N. Early Warning for All Action Plan Prepares Countries for Cyclone Season

Climate change is starting to impact the intensity of the damage that tropical hazardous weather causes. With rising sea levels and an increase in precipitation rates, there is extreme flooding in affected areas. In Mozambique, Cyclone Freddy contributed double the expected monthly rainfall in just a few days. The World Meteorological Organization advises the U.N. Early Warnings for All action plan, which includes a Global Multi-Hazard Alert System to strengthen and broaden the coverage of alerts and warnings. Due to increasingly affordable Information and Communication Technologies, countries can prepare for cyclone season by analyzing climate trends and raising awareness towards the Common Alerting Protocol approach. This allows emergency messages to spread instantly throughout various media and public alerting systems. The plan currently has $3.1 billion in investments as of the U.N. 2022 Climate Change Conference.

Case Study: Bangladesh

The World Bank, to help prepare Bangladesh for cyclone season, has helped sponsor and build 1,000 shelters, which serve as schools when not used during cyclones, and 550 km of paved roads for better access to different areas of the country. The floors of the shelters are built to support thousands of people and livestock. Additionally, the concrete walls surrounding the shelters serve to keep safe anyone who needs asylum. Solar panels also provide ample electricity for the shelters, and rainwater is a prominent resource.

Situated in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is a hotspot for cyclones and other hazardous tropical weather. The Cycle Preparedness Program is an early warning system, boasting 76,000 volunteers trained and ready for disaster prevention. Over half of the volunteers are women. In November 2021, Bangladesh initiated a Climate Prosperity Plan to strengthen its preparation for cyclone seasons. It promises to grow the economy and create jobs to alleviate some of the country’s poverty.

Looking Ahead

Despite the devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy in the Southern Indian Ocean, there is hope on the horizon for vulnerable communities facing similar threats. The U.N. Early Warnings for All action plan, supported by the World Meteorological Organization, is empowering countries to better prepare for cyclone seasons through advanced technology and global coordination. Bangladesh, a country frequently affected by cyclones, serves as a successful case study with its Cycle Preparedness Program and Climate Prosperity Plan, showcasing the effectiveness of long-term investments in adaptation and community mobilization. By implementing similar strategies, nations can potentially enhance their resilience and protect lives in the face of natural disasters.

– Olivia Maillet
Photo: Flickr