Once again, it's cyclone season in the southern hemisphere. Once again, Madagascar is reeling.
Once again, you probably didn't hear a thing about it in the U.S. media.
Last week Cyclone Ivan a storm mentioned worriedly in my last post collided with the island nation as a borderline Category 3/Category 4 storm. (The Daily Green reported on its initial impact, when 11 were reported dead.) Ivan's track is pictured below, with darker purple representing Category 3 strength and lighter representing Category 4:
Ivan brought massively powerful winds and storm surge to its point of landfall but perhaps still more devastating effects were felt inland due to the intense rainfall. As a report from the Reuters Foundation's AlertNet puts it:
large areas of rice fields were flooded in the Ambatondrazaka region, where most of Madagascar's rice, the staple food, is grown.
Almost all the regions of Madagascar are flooded and accessibility is a real problem.
Madagascar is an extremely poor country, and cyclones deal a devastating blow due to their twofold effects on agriculture: they can greatly damage production of rice, the staple food, and also of vanilla, a top export. Meanwhile, because many Madagascans live in huts or other fragile shelters, it doesn't require much wind at all to create large scale homelessness.
But of course, don't expect to hear much about this in the U.S. media. Last year, after all, when Madagascar had its worst cyclone year on record with a full six storm landfalls the American press largely ignored it. So a single storm like Ivan certainly won't trigger much attention. That's the world we live in ... or should I say, the country.
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