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Madagascar: Development and Protection of the Environment: mutually exclusive ?

andavavoaka
(courtesy of Tattum)
A recent headline in the news has created a buzz in the world of the environmentalists and among Malagasy bloggers. The Pan African Mining corporation undertook the creation of a new mining site in the Southern region of Madagascar that many environmentalist groups believe will have a major negative impact on the way of life of the locals and the ecosystem in the region.
The debate has led to the production of a documentary “mine your own business” funded by the mining company blaming environmentalists for obstructing the economic development of the region.
Harinjaka notes that:

Pour l’instant, peu de gens l’ont vu, moi y compris. C’est un documentaire qui fait déjà beaucoup de bruit, car il accuse les écolos d’ètre à l’origine de la pauvreté de nombreux pays, dont Madagascar[…]J’ai remarqué qu’on n’entend pas du tout les réactions des environnementaliste français (qui sont aussi nombreux chez nous ?). C’est peut-être parce que le film n’est pas encore diffusé dans les pays francophones ?

For now, not many people have seen it (the documentary), and I have not either. It's a documentary that is making noise because it accuses environmentalist groups to be one of the cause of poverty in many countries, including Madagascar. I noticed that we have not heard anything fro French environmentalists (who are numerous In Madagascar ?). Maybe the reason is because the movie is not yet shown in french-speaking countries?

The debate over development vs protection of the environment has been around forever, especially in Madagascar ; However Tattum wonders if the two have to be mutually exclusive. Tattum discusses that there are other options. For instance, in the ecology vs tourism paradigm, she says that there is an alternative:

le tourisme solidaire (et durable) est :
– Basé sur le partage
– Axé sur la sensibilisation des populations et du voyageur
– Intégré dans une dynamique solidaire
– Géré par la population locale
– Destiné à un enrichissement mutuel

Interdependent (and sustainable) tourism is:
-Based on the principle of sharing.
-Centered on the sensitizing of the local population and the travelers.
-Integrated in an interdependent dynamics.
– Managed by the local population.
-Intended for a mutual benefit.

The conundrum facing Madagascar is not lost on Tattum:

On a ainsi pris l’habitude de parler de richesses biologiques et d’extrême diversité de vies. Mais il ne faudrait pas oublier que Madagascar est l’un des pays les plus pauvres de la planète. Sa conservation demeure un dilemne pour ses 18 millions d’habitants qui doivent trouver comme ils peuvent des moyens de subsistance.

One is used to talk about the biological riches and extreme diversity of living beings (in Madagascar). However, it should not be forgotten that Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. The conservation (of the habitat) remains a dilemma for its 18 million inhabitants who must find a way to fulfill by any means their basic needs of subsistence.

“Best of both worlds”

So what options are there that could address both ecological concerns and development ?

Aiky points to the dynamic market of essential oils as a way to combine the two:

Le secteur des huiles essentielles se développe peu à peu à Madagascar. Le volume et la valeur des exportations de ces huiles essentielles ne cessent d'augmenter depuis les cinq dernières années. Madagascar figure comme le pays exportateur de référence des huiles essentielles d'eucalyptus globulus, du Ravensare aromatica ou encore du Ravintsara (deux plantes différentes).

The sector of essential oils develops little by little in Madagascar. The volume and the value of exports for these essential oils have not ceased increasing for the five last years. Madagascar appears like the exporting country of reference for essential oils, especially for eucalyptus globulus, Ravensare aromatica or of Ravintsara (two different plants).

Nivo approves of initiatives such as Tsara Ketrika (building a franchise around traditional Malagasy eateries) that promotes development without jeopardizing the Malagasy traditional way of life:

L’idée m’a beaucoup interpelée dans la mesure où il s’agit d’un projet de développement original, se basant sur des infrastructures déjà existantes. Non que les autres projets soient utopiques (au contraire !) mais à mon avis mais celui-ci a le mérite de s’attaquer à un des “vestiges” de la culture quotidienne malgache.

The idea intrigued me because it is about an original project of development based on already existing infrastructures. Not that the other projects are utopian (on the contrary) but in my opinion but this one has the merit to promote one of the “pillars” of the Malagasy daily culture.

Unfortunately, some projects are bound to be not as successful as hoped: A few of them were singled out as either obsolete or downright outrageous by Malagasy bloggers:

1)Madagascan thinks that the project championed by president Ravalomanana that consists of supplying crank radios to farmers is pointless:

Une magnifique initiative du MIT a conduit à la fabrication d'ordinateurs portables à bas coût (on annonce 100 dollars) pour l'éducation dans les pays en voie de développement. Ce projet, nommé OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) […]Pourquoi Madagascar ne s'engagerait-elle pas dans un tel projet, plutôt que fournir des radios à manivelle?

A splendid initiative of MIT led to the manufacture of portable computers at low cost (announced at 100 dollars) for educational program in developing countries. This this project is named OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) […] Pourquoi Madagascar begin it in such a project, rather than provide crank radios ?

2)Many is outraged at the fact that Madagascar sold its own fresh water to other countries:

« La signature de la convention pour l’exportation d’eau du fleuve de Mananara vers les pays du Golfe Persique a été signée mardi dernier » [..] J’hallucine ou quoi ???

Last tuesday was the signature of convention for the water export of the river of Mananara towards the countries of the Persian Gulf…” [..] Am I hallucinating or what???

Final words go to Ikoza who directs us to a humoristic note that singled out the irony of a cosmetic company coming to the rescue of an endangered species:

« Merci à Chanel…
Et oui, on doit à Chanel, qui recherchait une espèce de vanille bourrée d'antioxydants afin de créer une nouvelle crème anti-âge, le sauvetage d'une espèce de vanillier en voie de disparition. Merci aux riches et vieilles clientes de Chanel, qui en tentant de repousser les marques du temps sur leurs visages, ont fait en sorte que le Vanilla Plaenifolia n'ai pas disparu de la planète »

Thank you, Chanel…
Yes, we owe to Chanel, who sought out a particular species of vanilla loaded with antioxydants to create a new anti-ageing cream, the rescue of an endangered species of vanilla plant. Thank you to the rich and old clients of Chanel who, by trying to fight back the scars of time on their faces, rescued Vanilla Plaenifolia from total oblivion.

2 comments

  • Bravo pour ton esprit de synthèse, on se doute que les roundups ne sont pas aisés à faire. Keep on ;)

  • kelkely

    @Tattum: Agree. That’s spirit!

    BTW: Rio Tinto / QIT Minerals Madagascar (QMM) is building the ilmenite (=titanium ore) mine at Tolagnaro (SE Mad). PAM ist mining copper, AFAIR.

    The discussion on the web about “Mine your own business” is disgusting. People mostly have no idea what they are talking about, opinions are biased and a lot of people are just bashing environmentalists. Shame on them. They never were in Madagascar.

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