Madagascar's bloggers ambivalent about Sichuan earthquake aid

The Malagasy government volunteered to help the international aid effort for the earthquake victims in the province of Sichuan, China. The immense proportions of the humanitarian disaster prompted the government to donate $100,000 USD to the Chinese ambassador Wo Ruidi in Madagascar for the rescue relief effort (fr)

The Malagasy blogosphere had mixed reactions to this donation, despite unanimously recognizing the sadness of a catastrophe of this magnitude, citing that more than 70% of the population still lives below the poverty line, there is a global food crisis and some regions in Madagascar are still trying to recover from the destruction caused by the hurricane season.

Tomavana, who also translates for GV Malagasy, posted on the blog, Malagasy Miray:

“Car c’est de façon quotidienne que la majorité de la population malgache affronte les difficultés de la cherté de la vie, augmentation du prix de l’huile alimentaire, de celui du carburant, des coupures “chroniques” de courants et autre cyclone de façon annuel. Or quel contraste entre le manque de fonds, excuse immanquablement invoquées par le gouvernement face à l’absence d’efficacité des réponses apportées à tous ces problèmes nationaux et cette solidarité internationale. A ce que je sache, ce don ne provient ni de l’argent de Ranjeva ni de celui du président Ra8, mais bien des caisses de l’état, donc du contribuable ?”

Everyday life is a struggle for the Malagasy population when it comes to cost of living: the increase of the cost of cooking oil, gas price, daily power outage and cyclones. The contrast is edifying when one realizes that the excuse inevitably invoked for the lack of efficient response to all these problems is the lack of funds, and then we showcase our international solidarity with China [with financial help]. From what I know, this donation does not come from Ranjeva [the Minister of Foreign Affairs] or president Ravalomanana ‘s personal money but from taxpayers’ money, right ?

Tomavana’s post induced a few reactions in the comment section:
Manalina agrees with Tomavana (fr)

“Si sans cœur tu es alors sans cœur je suis … on sait tous ce qu’il en est”

If you are heartless then I am too…we all know what this [donation] is all about.

The Malagasy government is working hard to strengthen the ties with China. In recent news, President Ravalomanana traveled to Shanghai in May and is on record for wanting to “expand collaboration with China”. The Malagasy government also was also prompt to support China’s handling of the riots in Lhasa in March and state that they would participate in the Beijing Olympics whether a boycott is in place or not.

Tattum believes that charity ought to start at home and Maintikely says that her grandmother is still waiting for the roof and the walls of her home to be replaced after the latest cyclone. Maintykely also wrote in her personal blog that the president was guilty of a blatant conflict of interest when he protected the price of oil from going up with state subsidies when he owns the company that provides most of Malagasy cooking oil.

Dotmg, on the other hand, does not understand all the negative reactions to the act of solidarity by the Malagasy government (mg):

“Rehefa misy andrarezina lavo ve ao amin’ny tanànanareo dia tsy mandeha mamangy ianareo, na mandeha mamangy ihany fa tsy mitondra solondranombary tsy masaka, sa manome ihany fa fanahy iniana atao kely satria izy aza manankarena noho ianao, ka tsy ho hitan’ny vazan’ainan’ny hareny izay kely hataonao anaty valopy?”

When people in your region is hit by disaster, do you not visit them to offer your condolences and when you do, do you only put a small amount of money in your donation because they are wealthier than you and they would not notice the difference anyway ?

Vola thinks that the shocking part is the fact that 100,000 USD is really not enough when one considers the fact that 70,000 people died and many more are still not accounted for. If it was meant as symbolic gesture of solidarity, she asked, then wouldn’t a symbolic amount be more appropriate?

Many Malagasy bloggers have been actively raising fund for the earthquake victims in China and Cyclone victims in Myanmar through Facebook.

Another topic of international solidarity that got the Malagasy blogosphere talking was the call for help from Diana, a high school student in Mahajanga, who wants to help a baby born with a congenital malformation and his family get the proper medical treatment. The Malagasy Diaspora in Italy, France, Canada and South-Africa came together to raise funds for the operation and transport of the baby and his caregiver to the capital city, Antananarivo.


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