Tropical cyclone support for devastated African communities
04 July 2023
Tackling the devastating impacts of tropical cyclones in Madagascar and other parts of Southern Africa is the goal of a new £4.8 million project involving expertise from the University of Reading.
REPRESA (Resilience and Preparedness to tropical cyclones across Southern Africa) is an international initiative set up to enhance community preparedness across Southern Africa, where tropical cyclones have the most severe impact.
Experts from The University of Reading will work with communities on the frontline of climate change in Madagascar, aiming to strengthen flood forecasting and early warning capacity with national hydrometeorological services and undertaking state-of-the-art hydrological modelling from the next generation of high-resolution climate models. This will improve the ability to prepare and respond to the devastating impacts of tropical cyclones in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique.
Dr Velomahanina Razakamaharavo, a Research Fellow at the University of Reading, is from Madagascar and is the Country Leader leading a team of researchers, policy-makers and communicators in-country. She said: “Madagascar continues to endure the devastating onslaught of successive tropical cyclones, meaning communities remain trapped in a state of ongoing hardship. We are witnessing a vicious cycle of destruction, leaving our local population bewildered and incapable of finding viable solutions.
“The strain on local infrastructure has reached its limits, with farmers and city dwellers grappling with food insecurity, crop losses, infrastructure damage and internal migration.
“REPRESA offers a beacon of hope, promising invaluable support to millions of people not just in Madagascar, but also across Africa and the world."
Southern Africa is highly vulnerable to the destructive forces of tropical cyclones, as shown by the catastrophic tropical cyclones Idai in 2019 and Freddy in 2023. The latter lasted more than five weeks and killed more than 1,400 people across a number of Southern African countries.
The existing early warning systems in the region are inadequate to prevent loss of life and economic hardship. Research looking at how cyclone risks evolve in a changing climate will be used to generate adaptation plans as part of the project.
Professor Liz Stephens, Professor in climate risks and resilience at the University of Reading, is also supporting the project. She said: “The REPRESA project is a truly interdisciplinary and international collaboration, and we are excited to work alongside national hydrometeorological services, local NGOs and communities to improve the forecasting and prediction of flood risks from tropical cyclones in a part of the world which is extremely vulnerable to their impacts."
The REPRESA project will run from June 2023 until the end of November 2026.