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Skidmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management


All over the world, different sources of energy are harnessed by populations looking to fulfill their needs, be it electricity, heating, or cooking. In Madagascar, fuel wood and wood charcoal provide the bulk of daily energy needs – for over 85% of the population they are the only available sources of domestic energy (GREEN-Mad 6). These two sources provide a cheap alternative to other fuels such as natural gas, which can be more than three times as expensive as charcoal (GREEN-Mad 51). In an impoverished country such as Madagascar, where 90% of the population live on less than two US dollars per day (PPP), inexpensive sources of energy are indispensable (World Bank).

Madagascar’s population is growing rapidly, however, at a rate of nearly 3% annually (CIA World Factbook). This rapid growth has caused an increased burden on the island’s natural resources, particularly forests. Between 1990 and 2010, Madagascar experienced an average rate of deforestation of 0.42%, leading to a loss of 8.3% of its remaining forest cover (Mongabay). Traditionally, the majority of charcoal production has been carried out illegally in natural forests, contributing to these high rates of deforestation (GREEN-Mad 6).

In 1994, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GTZ, now GIZ) in collaboration with the government of Madagascar, launched the project Gestion Rationnelle de l’Energie et de l’Environnement à Madagascar (GREEN-Mad), aimed at finding solutions to the problems of energy in Madagascar (GREEN-Mad 6). One of the first areas of focus for the project was the northern province of Antsiranana (now the region of Diana), centered on the urban center of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) (GREEN-Mad 6). One of the early goals of the project was to find a way to reduce the domestic demand for charcoal in the province – an estimated 9,000 tons per year in 1992 (GREEN-Mad 6).


Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Sustainability