We believe that the only way to build the skills of the communities we work with is through collaboration - so we work hard to make sure the training and workshops we deliver are designed and run according to the wishes of our beneficiaries. This is particularly important for Stitch Sainte Luce, which is working closely with the women of the cooperative in Sainte Luce to achieve independence and sustainability for their embroidery business.
In a recent trip to the bush, the Stitch team asked the ladies what skills or training the cooperative needed to improve their business - and they requested training in how to use computers. The team therefore held an IT workshop in the studio for the embroiderers, training them in pairs to operate a laptop and create a document. Several women quickly picked up the basics and took over teaching the other members, gaining further practice by passing on their newly-learned skills! With further IT training planned in the next phase of the project, the cooperative will soon be able to record their sales and manage stock movements much more easily!
An exciting ornithological update from Sainte Luce as for the first time since 2007, the Tylas Vanga (Vanga eduardi) has been spotted and heard calling in nearby forest fragment S9! It has now been a decade since James Watson published his bird inventory for Sainte Luce, and confirming the continued presence of such uncommon species is an important and ongoing task. Although there are still some species that we are still to encounter, we have been able to confirm the presence of a further 20 unrecorded species in the wider Sainte Luce area!
Thanks to Elena Racevska for the photo!
Tatirano's household systems are finally up for grabs across six villages following three very loud and colourful promotional events across Sainte Luce. Community Liaison Officer Mamonjy spearheaded proceedings by drip-feeding hundreds of potential users with info about the systems and how they can pay for it, all the while cleverly negotiating some difficult questions and - as expected - some public push-back about the cost of the systems.
All in all, the week was a great success and a few thousand people now have some time to ponder whether clean water right on their doorstep would be a good idea! Also in the news, Tatirano has set up an office in Mahatalaky, a midway point between communities and the focal point of the commune, where people can sign up. Our Loan and Marketing Officer Tolotra is currently manning the fort and has some exciting news coming soon! (see instagram.com/rainmadagascar for more regular photos and info snippets).
We would like to thank the Travers Cox Charitable Foundation for their continued support of Tatirano!
Together with Global Goals Week 2017, we're also celebrating Climate Week NYC! Every year, business and government leaders meet in New York to discuss how to tackle the two UN sustainable development goals that focus on climate change and sustainability.
This year's theme focuses on innovation, jobs and prosperity, demonstrating how investment in innovative technology and clean energy can drive emissions down. With the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement earlier this year, it's more important than ever that businessess, cities and states work together to combat climate change.
Here is a collection of old plastic flagging tape collected in S9, one of Sainte Luce's protected forest fragments, during a casual walk this morning. Flagging tape is widely used in conservation research to mark out survey areas and transects. Although most of the information is now lost from the flags, some can still be dated from the late 1990s! A reminder to scientists of how important it is to remove your plastic once your project is finished, and to reduce your footprint whenever possible - it's not as biodegradable as you might imagine!
Two years ago, the United Nations launched Global Goals, a series of ambitious targets to end poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. This week is Global Goals week, where world leaders meet up at the UN headquarters in New York City to discuss their progress. All of our work here in Madagascar happens within this framework and we're pleased to say that we contribute to 15 of the 17 goals across our projects!
For more info, check out the Global Goals website below.
Check out this blog post from Fettes College, who visited our construction and conservation sites back in July! It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the students and their hard work meant that the school building at Manambaro Lycée has been going up quicker than ever!
Rats chewed through your cables? Solar panels slipping of your roof? No problem, just call SEED!
The Stitch studio has been getting a well-needed electrical upgrade this month, with new wooden frames to house the solar panels, the old wiring replaced with more sturdy, future-proof electrical cable, and efficient LED lights. With a joint effort from our international IT specialist, an English volunteer turned electrician and the local handymen of Sainte Luce, the Stitch embroiderers can now enjoy more reliable and longer lasting electricity in the studio. Perfect for showing off their vibrant and colourful products to customers arriving later in the day!
One of the best possible classrooms is the real world, and here in Fort Dauphin class is in session!
The SIT Study Abroad Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management offers American undergraduate students the opportunity to spend a semester analysing environmental issues in an array of ecosystems. We were kindly invited to join the students, and give a broad overview of the social and environmental issues present in Madagascar and the work which we do. It was a fantastic opportunity to share our knowledge and introduce students to our rainwater harvesting, sustainable livelihoods and sexual health rights projects, and the challenges both communities and NGOs face in Madagascar! Many thanks to SIT for the invite, and to the engaged students for asking so many great questions!
This is Mara. Mara lives below the poverty line in Mananara II, an extremely remote village where Project Renitantely works. Mara used to sell his honey for the equivalent of 75p per litre. Thanks to the new partnership between Renitantely beekeepers and Honey & Soga, he is now able to sell his honey for £1.85 per litre! This price increase makes a huge difference to his annual income which he puts towards supporting himself and the other 7 people of his household.
Project Renitantely continues to work with beekeepers and local partners to keep increasing the price of their honey. This will make sure beekeeping is a viable livelihood for local communities.
While our volunteers spend lots of time looking for wildlife in the forest, sometimes you need to see the forest for the trees! Our Conservation team have just started a long term monitoring project looking at the health and structure of the forest fragments of Sainte Luce. The coastal forests of the southeast represent one of the best examples of this habitat in Madagascar, but with ongoing pressures from logging and mining, these isolated fragments are at risk of destruction.
Understanding the basic makeup of the forests in Sainte Luce will allow us to assess how differences affect animal populations, and may explain why certain species of lemur and reptile are only spotted in certain fragments.
Through conducting forest plots our volunteers are recording vital data. By revisiting these plots year after year we will also be able to monitor the long-term health of the forest, compare logging frequency and identify areas most at risk from deforestation. Surveys are exciting and hands-on, and the team regularly spot cryptic leaf-tailed geckos during tree measuring! Forest analysis is one of our most important research projects, and could not be done without the brilliant support from our volunteers.
We're Lemur Conservation Network's member of the month for September! Check out their article about our expeditions and hear from some of our past Conservation Programme volunteers.
By Flo Skinner
In response to declining catches in the Fort Dauphin regional lobster fishery over previous decades – a trend seen in small-scale fisheries across the country – Project Oratsimba Phase 2 aimed to develop a replicable model for sustainable, community based lobster fishery management in south-east Madagascar.
During Phase II, the emphasis has been on developing the Sainte Luce fishery as a sustainable, locally-managed marine area (LMMA), building the capacity of the Riaky Committee to manage their fishery. Regular training sessions have focused on committee roles and responsibilities, financial management, and enforcement of the dina (fishery regulations). Throughout Phase II, SEED has supported the community to adopt adaptive, evidence-based decision making balancing community needs with the long-term interests of the fishery. Key to the success of Project Oratsimba has been obtaining the wider support of private sector actors and estate authorities, to support the long-term viability of bottom-up fishery management.
Exciting news from Project Microcebus as radio tracking has begun! Seven mouse lemurs so far have been fitted with high-tech radio collars and released back into the forest. Weighing in at just three grams each, the collars allow us to track their movements and work out where they eat, breed and sleep. The data collected allows us to estimate the abundance and distribution of the population, so we can determine which parts of the forest are a priority to protect. For more on Microcebus, check out our website: madagascar.co.uk/projects/environment/microcebus
"They have large families. They have very small areas of land. They're very poor. They lack access to basic services. They're really living on the edge in many ways," she says. "So they depend almost entirely on rice production for both their food security and for income generation. So anything that affects their rice production ultimately very quickly undermines their livelihood."
Check out this NPR article to learn more about how climate change and increasingly erratic weather patterns are affecting those in Madagascar who rely on the land for survival.
Madagascar is the Bradt Travel Guides Destination of the Month for September! Check out their fantastic and in-depth guide for your next trip to the Eighth Continent!
"I knew that not all volunteering was conducted in such a way, but it often seemed an almost insurmountable task to reliably separate the good from the bad."
It can be difficult to find a volunteer organisation that's doing valuable and sustainable development work. Check out this article from Tourism Concern to learn more about Chris Robinson's experience selecting a volunteer expedition!
While French may be a commonly spoken language in Madagascar, relationships with English speakers go way back! Check out these cool photos from the 19th century of an English lesson notebook of a Malagasy prime minister, and if you're interested in being a part of this history, consider applying to join our English teaching programme for anywhere from two weeks to six months!
The Project Tatirano team are gearing up to scale out the sustainable rainwater harvesting project to eight villages along Madagascar's east coast! Here the team are prepping the simple first flush systems that removes the need for a complex and failure-prone filter whilst keeping the water clean and safe to drink. Read more in our reports at madagascar.co.uk/projects/community-health/tatirano and keep an eye on the @rainmadagascar Instagram page for more updates over the next few weeks.
We would like to thank the Travers Cox Charitable Foundation for their continued support of Tatirano.
Happy International Day of Charity, a day celebrated all around the world to motivate people to help others through volunteering and philanthropy.
Charity, volunteering and philanthropy all help create more inclusive and more resilient societies. Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in healthcare, education, housing and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalised and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations. Self-sufficiency is the goal of all of our work, but it is important to know the impact a charitable donation can have to jumpstarting a better world.
With 92% of all donations going directly to project activities, you can feel confident that your donation to SEED Madagascar will make tangible change in the lives of those in need. For a more inclusive and resilient global society, consider a monthly donation over on our CharityCheckout page.