A family left homeless by floods focuses on the future

In January torrential rains in Madagascar caused devastating flooding in the north-east of the country uprooting ten of thousands

Ralaivita Abela
Dolys wades through flood water to reach the location of his destroyed home
UNICEF/2020/Maminomena Rakotomanga

02 March 2020

"I never imagined that we could lose our house," says Dolys, who is still recovering from the traumatic events that struck his community in January. His story begins on an ordinary day. The weather forcast was predicting heavy rains, not unusual for this time of year in northwestern Madagascar. Dolys, 11, lives with his grandfather in a village 91 kilometers inland from the coastal city of Mahajanga. After three days of torrential rain, flood water finally reached the height of the home’s sole bed, made of wood and straw. The family knew they must leave. Grabbing what few items they could carry, they boarded a small dugout canoe and rowed towards one of the shelter sites where thousands of others has also taken refuge.

"I was scared and tired because we didn't sleep through the night. My school supplies were damaged and the day after we left our house was washed away, » recalls Dolys. « Today, there are only a few wooden beams left standing. Everything else is gone. »

More than 120,000 people were affected by the devastating rains which hit this region in January. Key roads were washed away, nearly two hundred school damaged or destroyed and tens of thousands displaced or left homeless.

Building a new life


When they reached the shelter site, Dolys and his grandfather were provided with a place to sleep and a hot meal. Meanwhile, classes were interrupted for a week at the boys school because the flooding had also engulfed the primary school where he studies. The son of farmers, Dolys moved in with his grandfather to be closer to school. His parents live in a landlocked area where getting to school requires hours of walking.

When his school did re-open Dolys was eager to resume his studies. With the support of ECHO, UNICEF and partners have provided support to 26.700 children and their families affected by the floods.

Dolys’ grandfafther says he is determined to rebuild his house, but for now he and Dolys continue to live in her sister’s house. It could be months before the small family again have a home of their own. Despite the upheaval and loss, Dolys says he is trying to concentrate on his studies. « I’m in the fifth grade now, the last year of primary school, » he says. « I must pass an exam at the end of the school year. It’s not easy to concentrate now, but I must do it. »

A few wooden beams are all that remain of Doly’s house, which was detroyed in the January flooding
UNICEF/2020/Maminomena Rakotomanga
Dolys carried new school supplies as he makes his way towards his primary school
UNICEF/2020/Maminomena Rakotomanga
Many children affected by the flooding lost their precious school supplies. With replacements supplied by UNICEF Dolys and others have returned to school
UNICEF/2020/Maminomena Rakotomanga