The damage from the storms was extensive, with Cyclone Emnati alone displacing over 420,000 people and destroying or damaging more than 23,000 houses. In the aftermath of the storms, Viamo worked together with international agencies such as GIZ and the UN under the leadership of the National Disaster Agency. Millions of relevant messages were sent, including more than seven million messages during Cyclone Batsirai. One and a half million of these were about the weather, but there were also other important issues affecting people, either because of or despite the cyclones; the Viamo Platform also sent information messages about COVID-19, and essential information about how to deliver first aid. In all, over 130,000 people received these messages. The disaster also affected the communications infrastructure.
”During the cyclone, electricity in our region was cut off, so all sources of information such as TV and radio did not work,
said Rakotonirina Nardino, Director of the local CACTUS Radio Station. This is where the strength of the Viamo Platform shines. With landlines knocked out and roads blocked , mobile phones became a lifeline. He also added that;
”A friend of mine…advised me to call the service and I was able to get all the information I needed from that hotline. When I listened to the messages, I was reassured.
Viamo’s Platform allows users with even basic phones to call a toll-free number and select the audio messages that they need from a range of options. Because the Viamo Platform harnesses IVR and basic phone technology, it is not hindered by obstacles like lack of internet, or even the notoriously short battery life of smartphones once electricity is cut off. This technology has continued to benefit the people of Madagascar even after the immediate crisis passed: since January, over 700,000 unique callers have used the Viamo Platform. Using digital technology in relief operations is essential to ensuring a localized and effective approach to the humanitarian response.