Last month Madagascar was devastated by Cyclone Ivan and the world press barely noticed it. The Force and destruction of the tropical storm was comparable to Hurricane Katrina, yet Andriankoto of Foko Madagascar tells us that the coverage by the US and French press was “bare minimum”. Malagasy bloggers took to the task of filling the information void:
Mainstream media may have dropped the ball on covering the cyclonic season in the Indian Ocean but alternative citizen media filled the void and try their best to keep the lines of communication open within the country and with the rest of the world.
The combined efforts of bloggers covering the aftermath of the storm resulted in an interactive map of the current status of many regions in Madagascar after Ivan as well as a comprehensive slideshow illustrating the extend of flooding in Antanarivo and its surroundings.
One of our most enthusiastic bloggers, Avylavitra…has showered us with pictures from cyclone Ivan that devastated Madagascar.
Avylavitra also applied his recent learning of video-blogging by posting some videos on YouTube of the tidal surges Cyclone Ivan caused.
FOKO was busy last month with a lot of activities, including their first video and photo workshop.
For an example of the outcome, take a look at Avylavitra's Flickr account for coverage of the riots outside Mahamasina Municipal stadium during a football match.
FOKO also planted trees in the region of Andranovelona with the Namana SeraSera Youth Group. Avylavitra, a member of Namana SeraSera posted some pictures of the tree planting which can be found in his Flickr album.
They also initiated a blog commenting exercise. More seasoned bloggers are encouraging new ones by following up others’ posts with tips and encouraging comments. So we have seen an increased flow of comments in participant blogs and a boost in the morale of budding bloggers..
A selection of three posts from January were translated for the international audience of Foko which can be found here. Please don't miss gazety_adaladala's translated post to learn about the indiscriminate parking of cars in Antananarivo from early morning to late at night.
Despite the cyclone, FOKO carried on with its expansion plan in Madagascar’s second largest town, Toamasina.
“Our interest in bringing the Foko Blog Club to Toamasina resides in bringing more attention to a very dynamic region where the youth and the communities are highly skilled and have many stories to share with the world. Our Toamasina group will be of course driving attention to environmental echues that are not commonly talked about on the web or even on the ground. With their charming accent is different, their wonderful seafront and kindness, this group will very quickly surprise us!”
A selection of five of the February posts of the FOKO bloggers were translated on the Foko Blog Club page. Two of the featured Toamasina bloggers reveal how quickly they have begun expressing themselves via blogs.
Karenichia, from FBC-Tana-Youth group, continues with her excellent posts and is now also writing in English. She shares her concern about the Malagasy society and also wonders “Why is it so important for Malagasy societies and companies to have employees who have spent some years abroad?”
Meanwhile FOKO has resolved to strengthen their ties with the other Rising Voices grantees, learn from their experiences and apply their tips to running workshops successfully. They have put up posts about Nari Jibon, Hyperbarrio andVoces Bolivianas in their Blog.
Hery, a member of the Serasera Namana Group, is planning to bring teens and will teach them blogging himself. Read an interview with Hery on ICT and Youth in Madagascar.