Escape to Madagascar- A Learning Experience
Jun 16, 2011
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Young boy outside of craft market

As part of my work for the Access Initiative (TAI) Secretariat as Africa desk officer, I had the privilege of travelling to Madagascar to meet a number of nongovernmental organisations working to protect Madagascar’s unique biodiversity and enrich local livelihoods. What struck me was the beauty of the people and the nature they live in. Madagascar is one of the most “impoverished” countries in the world but with the richest biodiversity. It has suffered from political unrest over the last 3 years. This unrest plays itself out in peoples’ lives and also on impacts to the environment.

Our lead partner in Madagascar is Development and Environmental Law Center (DELC) which is run by Dr Lalaina R. Rakotoson. DELC works with a broader coalition of NGOs and the first environmental civil society organization called Alliance Voahary Gasy, which is the largest and strongest coalition of environmental groups on the island of Madagascar, lead by Ndranto Razakamanarina. They have created a network of 15 non –governmental organisations that have joined together to assess the law and practice relating to environmental governance. The TAI assessment study sponsored by the World Bank will look at access to information and public participation in environmental decision-making and whether the courts or other traditional forums for justice exist that enable a citizen to seek remedies for harm done to the environment The assessment will lead to the development of priorities and an advocacy and capacity building strategy to improve the system of environmental governance in Madagascar. I met many dynamic and committed members of the coalition who are all working towards this cause. Over a three day training course we brainstormed how to

•Identify gaps in laws, institutions and practices on access to information, public participation and access to justice in relation to the environment / biodiversity, mining and the forestry sector,

•Provide recommendations for addressing these gaps.

Twelve (12) real life examples of current practices were selected by members of the coalition to be accessed. Some of the cases that will be funded include :-

•Review of access to information in relation to the case of mining, Rio Tinto Fort-Dauphin;

•Review of public participation in relation to the development of the Code of Protected Areas , and the case of Nosy Hao, in the southwestern part of the countryand

•The response of the judicial system to the traffic of Soalala turtles and the Exploitation of rosewood.

The island of Madagascar is famous for the Movie “Madagascar”; a movie about New York zoo animals shipwrecked on the island. While this movie is a great comedy, the threats to the island are extremely serious and the dire poverty and poor living conditions of a large percentage of the population continues to accelerate their use and exploitation of natural resources. The threats to this very special countries biodiversity continue to grow at a rapid rate as a large percentage of development assistance has been removed from the country following the political crisis. The international community, donors, and civil society need to quickly come up with a clear plan to help support sustainable development in Madagascar while the decision-making authority still belongs to the Malagasy Government. The political unrest has left a large vacuum. Focused attention must be given to develop mechanisms to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Madagascar’s natural resources by local and international actors. Strong institutions will be needed to help ensure that people’s voices are heard about current and future developments that are needed to support livelihoods and ensure protection of the countries precious and unique resources. TAI’s research and coalition will play a large role in this process.

TAI National Coalition - Madagascar

A: Country Lead Organization

Development and Environmental Law Center (DELC Mizàna Maitso) Area of expertise: Environmental Law, Environmental Justice, Community Advocacy

B: Members of the Coalition

1.Ndranto Razakamanarina President: Alliance Voahary Gasy (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Forestry

2.Lalaina Rakotoson Team Leader, DELC Mizàna Maitso (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Environmental Law, Environmental Justice, Community Advocacy

3.Andry Andriamanga Executive Secretary: Alliance Voahary Gasy (Civil Society Organization) Area of expertise: Natural Resources Governance, Civil Society Capacity Building

4.Longin Ramahenina President: Development and Environmental Law Center (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Environmental Justice and community advocacy

5.Naritiana Rakotoniaina Coordinator: Service d’Appui a la Gestion de l’Environnement (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Natural Resources Management Transfer

6.Holly Rakotondralambo Coordinator: VOARISOA (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Health, Education, Extractive Industries

7.Manantsoa Tiana Coordinator: Tandavanala (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Community Development and protection of corridor

8.Jeannot Ramiaramanana Director: C3EDM (Research Center) Area of expertise: Economy-Environment

9.Irina Andriambolatiana Amie du Voahary Gasy

10.Naivosoa Andriamitandrina Technical Director: SAF/FJKM (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Development, Health, Environment

11.Paul Raonitsoa Vice President: AIFM (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Forestry

12.Lalanirina Rasoanandrianina Program Officer: WWF (ASSOCIATION) Area of expertise: Extractive Industries

13.Razakafoniaina Minombolanoro Coordonnateur National: ANAE (ASSOCIATION) Area of Expertise: Soil conservation, livelihood improvement

14.Etienne Rasarely Coordinator: ONESF (Observatoire) Area of expertise: Observatoire National de l’Environnement et du Secteur Forestier

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