Environment & Development in Madagascar

Madagascar is the fifth largest island in the world (592,000 km²) and a country which, by its geographical isolation and the variety of climates and landforms, has varied and often unique fauna and flora.

However, this biodiversity is threatened by a very significant deforestation generated by slash and burn cultivation techniques, illegal logging and the production of wood and charcoal for domestic use. The consequences for the already very impoverished local population (Madagascar is ranked 135th out of 192 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index) are many: loss of arable land and declining agricultural yields, silting of rivers and lakes, etc.

Support for the creation of a rural training and activity center in the region of Analamanga

Collaboration between the Organisation Malgache d'Appui au Développement Intégré (Malagasy integrated development support organization -ODADI) and PU started in 2008. It aims to improve the agricultural practices of farmers and increase their incomes.

The project focuses on the creation of a rural activity center, the Patrakala center, located between the towns of Ankazondandy and Mangamila (about 80 km from Antananarivo).

The sustainability of the center is mainly based on the distillation of essential oils from ravintsara plants planted by the villagers with the support of ODADI and PU.

In parallel, a significant effort to develop beekeeping has also been planned. Development in the zone infested with Varroa destructor, a parasite that decimates swarms, led to the ODADI team directing its efforts towards research on fighting this parasite (and offering training in making frame hives and splitting swarms into a smaller number than beekeepers anticipate).

After the first phase of the project focusing on planting activities and mobilizing the villagers (late 2008-2011) and a second phase focusing on building the center and the distillery (2012), 2013 is focusing on marketing the essential oils produced and supporting beekeeping.

This project has received support from the French Embassy in Madagascar through SDF (Social Development Fund) funding.

Objective for 2013: support and encourage the autonomy of the Patrakala rural activity center.

The activities will be as follows:

  • strengthening the functioning of the distillery to generate income for the center: small equipment purchases to contain the essential oils produced, optimal use of the still by diversifying the species distilled, according to market needs
  • the development of the sale of essential oils produced by the center
  • finalizing the center's management tools
  • building a storage building for materials and housing
  • reforestation with 20,000 honey producing tree species and 5,000 fruit trees to improve rural incomes and support the development of beekeeping
  • the continuation of beekeeping and fighting the Varroa destructor parasite: experiments on biological control techniques, passing on knowledge, capacity building for rural beekeeping.

Local partners

PU coordinates and provides technical and financial support in designing and implementing the project. It also, along with the Malagasy organization ODADI, steers the project and the operational and financial reporting.

The project is conducted in partnership with various stakeholders:

  • ODADI is behind the project, for which it ensures implementation in the field and the link with beneficiaries and local communities. ODADI owns the center, and will manage its use in the long term.
  • Local authorities: the Ankazondandy and Mangamila communities, partners of ODADI, support and back the interventions. They contribute to planning actions and facilitate links and contacts with the targets.
  • Rural beekeepers and farmers, who are the direct beneficiaries, actively participate in the implementation of the knowledge acquired and share techniques with other farmers in the locality.

Results expected in 2014

300 families benefit from activities related to Patrakala center.

The proposed establishment of the Patrakala Rural Development Centre aims to achieve the following results:

  • Planting 20,000 honey producing tree species (eucalyptus, native species) and 5,000 fruit trees (orange, lemon) providing additional and sustainable rural incomes.
  • Producing and marketing of 80 kg of essential oils.
  • Signing an agreement on long-term cooperation with buyers of essential oils (production is continuous).
  • Producing 50 kg of honey per year per beekeeper and controlling the Varroa destructor parasite.
  • Creating income-generating activities. The reception building is operational and is used to benefit the rural population: sewing and health workshops, nutrition for women and children, training.
  • Making a reliable and realistic operating account available to ODADI.

Reforestation and protection of forests in the region of Itasy

Since 2010, PU has been involved in the region of Itasy, located in the center of the island. Although endowed with nature's generous, fertile land, this region suffers from significant soil erosion and has gradually seen its forest cover disappear.

In particular, the Itasy region has a large tapia forest, a species endemic to Madagascar, which provides many resources for villagers (fruits, medicinal plants, mushrooms, silk worms, etc).

Despite the fact that these forests are classified as "sensitive and protected areas" their level of degradation is high and is growing with the years. If no action is taken, the area covered by these tapia forests will go from 7,166 hectares now to less than 2,300 hectares in 2030.

The reforestation project is being implemented by PU, in partnership with regional bodies (Regional Directorate for Development, Forestry and Fisheries) and the Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to which tapia forest management was transferred. It aims to reduce the pressures of human activities on the natural environment, while also meeting the needs of the population in terms of wood for energy and offer support in establishing income-generating activities.

In 2013, two projects involving the protection of forests and improving the income of local farmers have been implemented in the area.

1. Protection of tapia forests and development of income generating activities

The project to protect tapia forests began in 2010. Actions are planned until 2014 and focus on achieving the following:

  • restoring 10 hectares of degraded forests by planting 9,000 tapia trees
  • developing areas that are currently denuded by means of reforestation with 66,000 other trees that will meet the needs of wood for energy
  • developing income generating activities related to small livestock rearing and agriculture: system of small loans for the purchase of poultry and seeds, setting up a feed manufacturing plant, providing pomegranate cuttings for 11 CBOs and reforestation committees supervised by the association Voary Vao (approximately 1,400 people)
  • capacity building in terms of managing and organizing the CBOs that manage forest areas, enabling them to be more effective in their efforts to protect and monitor the forests

2. Protection of the catchment areas feeding into Lake Itasy

The project to protect the catchment areas feeding into Lake Itasy has been underway since early 2013. It aims to protect Lake Itasy against silting due to water erosion in its catchment area and includes two types of actions:

  • reforestation of 30,000 fruit trees and other forest trees
  • the development of enclosure based fish farming to improve the income of local farmers and ensure the lake is restocked (in partnership with the local association Iraka).

Local partners

The reforestation project in the Itasy region is conducted in partnership with various local players. The strong involvement of local authorities and beneficiaries in the project helps ensure sustainability and success.

  • The Itasy region, with PU, provides the overall project coordination.
  • The Madagascan Regional Directorate of Environment and Forestry in Itasy (DREF), under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, supervises and monitors operations.
  • The association DEFI, which has extensive experience in producing tapia plants in nurseries and in planting, trains the CBOs so that these bodies can ultimately manage their nurseries independently.
  • The association Voary Vao ensures the implementation of activities in conjunction with the reforestation committees.
  • The Iraka association ensures the implementation of fish farming related activities.

Results expected in 2014

The reforestation and tapia forest protection project benefits all local village communities in the area and aims to achieve the following results:

  • 100 households and members of the CBOs will see their incomes increase by 300,000 ariary each by growing pomegranates (1€ = 2,800 ariary; the average monthly salary is around 120,000 ariary)
  • 50 households and members of the CBOs will improve their agricultural and livestock production by approximately 30% (then 50 others and so on, once the loan has been repaid)
  • 40 families from Voary Vao and the reforestation committees will save 50% of their budgets relating to purchasing animal feed
  • 150 families will benefit from the production of fish (estimated at 2,600 kg at the end of 2013) allowing them to increase their standard of living
  • The 105,000 trees planted will provide villagers with income and sustainable services (CBOs and reforestation groups have learnt the techniques required to develop their own nurseries and sustainably manage operating areas)
  • 9000 tapia trees will be planted to restore 10 hectares of degraded forests
  • a decrease of 50% in (illicit) cutting of tapia trees is envisaged by strengthening and involving the CBOs and their members.