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Projects Abroad volunteers in Madagascar plant 4000 trees in the wake of Cyclone Enawo

Projects Abroad volunteers have planted over 4000 trees to help with reforestation efforts in Madagascar following the devastation caused by Cyclone Enawo, which struck the eastern part of the island in March 2017.

Volunteers clear roads after Cyclone Enawo

With 231 mph winds, Cyclone Enawo was classified as a Category 4 storm and was the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Madagascar in 13 years. Projects Abroad’s Country Director in Madagascar, Tojo Ramaroson, describes the destruction he saw in Andasibe, the town where the Projects Abroad volunteer programs are placed: “Houses were destroyed by flooding. The local national park closed. Infrastructure, such as roads, was destroyed. There were a lot of injured people due to flying debris and the rupture of the river bank.”

The cyclone devastated large areas of rainforest and local vegetation. Strong winds uprooted trees, which then crushed smaller shrubs and bushes when they fell. Flooding also caused extensive damage to smaller plants. In Madagascar, this destruction has far-reaching consequences for the environment and for the local economy. Many animals are displaced and lose sources of food and shelter, and erosion can quickly become a problem with the loss of trees and ground cover. With national parks and many roads closed, there are fewer tourists and this has knock-on effects for people employed by the parks and the hospitality industry, as well as traditional market vendors, all of whom rely on tourists for their income.

Madagascar after Cyclone Enawo caused flooding

Projects Abroad responded immediately to the disaster, stepping in to help reforestation efforts and rebuilding local communities. In the initial days following the cyclone, volunteers helped clear debris from villages and roads, and from mid-March volunteers planted new trees in our tree nursery in Andasibe. After almost two months of hard work, the goal to plant 4000 trees was reached on 1 June 2017.

Through these and other disaster relief efforts, prospects are improving for local communities. “We can see that the animals are back and the muddy leaves of the vegetation are going back to their regular colour,” says Ramaroson. “The water has receded and things are slowly going back to normal. The village is slowly getting back on its feet.”

Young trees planted by volunteers in reforestation efforts in Madagascar after Cyclone Enawo

Although good progress has been made, it will take time for the local ecosystems and communities to completely recover from this disaster. With the help of our volunteers, we continue to focus on helping in areas in Madagascar affected by the cyclone. In June and July, we will plant another 4000 trees, begin building foundations for new houses for the displaced residents, and create housing that is better able to withstand disasters in the future.

If you’d like to get involved in our reforestation and community rebuilding efforts in Madagascar, find out more about our projects in Madagascar .

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