Home Institution

Tufts University

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

Madagascar: Ecology and Conservation


Integrated Conservation and development projects (ICDPs) have increased in number worldwide as conservation organizations have to come to terms with the importance of involving and addressing the needs of local human populations to order to achieve their conservation goals. Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, environmental degradation, and plaguing poverty has made ICDPs crucial in achieving national goals of tripling the area of natural heritage conserved and poverty reduction through socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable development. In order to understand how such sustainable development can be achieved, it is essential to spend time enhancing one’s understanding of the local mentality and worldview. On Madagascar’s Southwest coast, north of Tuléar, interviews were conducted with forty women in Ifaty, a rural fishing village. The intent of these interviews was to enhance the research’s understanding of the way in which these women conceive of their world: family, friends, and community.

A British non-governmental organization (NGO), Reef Doctor, has been working in Ifaty since 2003. A science-based conservation NGO, Reef Doctor staff are monitoring Ifaty’s barrier reef to determine the extent of degradation, and to make informed decisions regarding ecosystem management, conservation and potential restoration projects. The decline in fish populations, fish size, and diversity of populations is directly linked to the declining health of the reef; similarly, the decline in fish is directly linked to the health of the community. The livelihood of the Vezo people of Ifaty is dependent on the reef and as the reef continues to decline in productivity, so will the people of Ifaty’s culture of subsistence living. ICDPs exist because conservation and development cannot be disconnected; especially in communities like Ifaty where local livelihoods and their development are dependent on an ecosystem that drastically needs conservation measures to ensure present and future productivity.

It is precisely the interdependency of conservation and development that makes these projects so complicated; at what point do you start? The cyclical nature almost demands starting at all points. If we gradually put one mechanism in place at a time, such as an unofficial marine protected area governed under local customary law, implementing an environmental education curriculum in local schools, and encouraging the idea of alternative livelihoods, these efforts that complement one another towards the common objective of reef conservation and community development.

Women are often an underutilized community resource in development programs. It is for this reason that Reef Doctor has taken steps to encourage the women of Ifaty to organize into an association oriented towards income generating activities. Women’s associations encourage a sense of ownership, self-sufficiency, and solidarity among members that reinforces members’ self-confidence and faith in themselves and collective efforts. The hope is that the creation of a women’s association in Ifaty can serve as a sort of catalyst in the community towards alternative livelihood projects. The question remains as to whether projects will be alternative or merely supplemental livelihoods in a society with no traditional savings scheme, a low level of education, and a persistent level of poverty.


Economics | Growth and Development | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sociology

Related Files Appendix_2_NGO DESCRIPTIONS.doc (47 kB)

Appdx_3_Tulear NGO and Government Contacts.doc (37 kB)
Appdx_3_Tulear NGO and Government Contacts.doc

Appendix_7_Demographics.doc (32 kB)

Appendix 9_Education_Data.doc (63 kB)
Appendix 9_Education_Data.doc

Appendix_10_Perceptions of Work.doc (29 kB)
Appendix_10_Perceptions of Work.doc

Appenix_12_Work_Data.doc (79 kB)

Appdx_13_Associations.doc (267 kB)

Appdx_14_Project Ideas.doc (510 kB)
Appdx_14_Project Ideas.doc


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