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Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Madagascar: Urbanization and Rural Development


Mahajanga, Madagascar is currently watching one of its biggest development efforts unfold. The Sôma Beach project will transform the previously-bustling Village Touristique, degraded over the past decades by the ocean’s waves, into an accessible hotspot for national and international tourists. This study aimed to answer the overarching questions, “How is the Sôma Beach project being carried out?” and “How is it affecting the local population and spatial organization?” Interviews, spatial observation and analysis, and review of relevant documents were used during a month-long period in order to gather information on this topic. The study concluded that space was an influential factor in the decision-making process, particularly in the assessment of local assets, and that the community’s interaction with this space will inevitably change as a result of the implementation of the project. It also found that the planning and implementation processes involve the work of a variety of public and private entities but little to no input from stakeholders in the local community. Meanwhile, Madagascar’s complex land titling system—resulting from colonization and post-independence efforts to modify it—added, and continues to add, a dimension of confusion to negotiations with local inhabitants, providing an opportunity for government corruption and exploitation of this population.


African Studies | Business | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Inequality and Stratification | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Tourism | Tourism and Travel | Work, Economy and Organizations


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