Climate risks in urban and urbanizing geographies: Madagascar

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Madagascar is ranked “highly vulnerable” to climate trends (20 of 181 countries) based on climate projections and is poorly prepared to address climate-related impacts (ND-GAIN 2015). Urbanization and climate trends in the country are increasing the risk of diminished public health and food insecurity in urban areas. This document assesses the climate risks to urban infrastructure, services and populations and the opportunities for adaptive responses.


Nearly the entire country is exposed to cyclones, which strike an average of 3–4 times per year. Cyclones and heavy rain events lead to high flood risk everywhere but the southwest. The southern regions in particular, however, suffer recurring drought, including the recent four-year drought, 2013–2016, and six droughts during 1981– 2010 (Masih et al. 2014). Cyclones, flooding and prolonged drought diminish human health, cause major losses in the agriculture sector, and greatly disrupt economic activities in urban areas. The country is already significantly food insecure, and an estimated 53 percent of children under five suffer from stunting (UNICEF 2015). As the climate becomes more variable and extreme events happen with greater frequency or duration, already chronic food insecurity will deepen and likely affect growing numbers of people. In rapidly expanding urban centers, climate risk exacerbates problems of inadequate water supply, sanitation and wastewater management. A poor transportation network, limited electricity supply and a lack of reliable infrastructure in general combine to further hinder economic development and the ability of urban populations and institutions to plan for and respond to climate stressors.