This is a success story about how Ny Tanintsika restore 47 ha of forest in S. E. Madagascar in one year. How between 2018 -19 they planted 35,000 trees. While raising awaresss in the community of the benefits of agroforestry and the value of forest.
This is an impressive achievement, not without its challenges, from which we can all learn.
Nathalie Raharilaza and her team at Ny Tanintsike knew that three things needed to happen for this project to succeed:
- The local community needed to own and lead it
- Local government needed to partner from the beginning
- Everyone needed an answer to “why?” question – a bigger purpose behind the project
Community-led tree planting
Nathalie Raharilaza and her team knew that to succeed, they would need the project to become community-led. Rrespect for traditional leadership and community practices and values is critical. Knowledge of the community helped the team develop an awareness raising campaigns that succeeded in reaching many hundreds of people across seven municipalities. Traditional practices such as village theatre and practical workshops, which may not work in some communities, succeeded in involving local people. By involving groups such as the youth Miarinarivo municipality football club, this project reached across community.
Partnering with local authorities
The time and energy Ny Tanintsika invested in understanding the perspective and duties of local government officials was key. Govenment officials and departments became committed partners in
the project’s success. Moreover, being part of this project encouraged government staff from seven municipalities to development their own official forest restoration action plans.
One of the lasting strengths of community-led forestry is the sense of ownership it generates. Partners in government helped design the project, monitor progress, and evaluate the impact of public awareness raising activities. Another benefit is that the process builds relationships. Ny Tanintsika could build relationships and trust with communities across the region, and with government agencies. Which in turn enabled other partnerships to grow with groups such as the Community-based Forest Management Associations.
Listening to people in the local community. Approaching partnership as a conversation. Recognising the value of all stakeholders. At its core, community-led forestry is an ethos, which in practice enabled Ny Tanintsika to achieve the changes they we can se
But why are we doing this?
Every project asks people and communities to change, and change is usually hard. In deeply successful projects, changes in practice go hand in hand with changes in people’s values. So to succeed, community leaders need an answer when asked ‘why should we do this?’
The clear answer to this was that the community could prosper using agroforestry techniques while conserving forests and soil for their future. To prosper, people needed training in concrete skills and knowledge which Ny Tannintsika could provide. Including agroforestry techniques, growing seedlings, tree nursery management, and forest seed collection. With these skills, communities can become independent producers and farm managers.
It is undeniable the seven municipalities in the southeast of Madagascar benefited from Ny Tannintsika’s work in many ways. Teamwork, intensive training and time are the reasons of its success. Practitioners of agroforestry show a better resilience to climate change, the cleanliness of villages increased, biodiversity significantly expanded and the caring culture of Malagasy villages has been reinforced. Ny Tanintsika’s work is a great example of collective democracy. Territorial development has been possible because of the impulse that came from the local population and
successfully initiated a conversation with the top of the state. Ny Tanintsika will continue its work and is already planning to implement new activities to empower to the Malagasy people and ensure the sustainability of their land:. This includes increasing lectures-debates in the villages, evaluation of green villages, identification of new agroforestry practices.
A big thank you to Nathalie Raharilaza, Programme Officer of Ny Tanintsika, and to her team for the impressive and inspiring work they have achieved in Madagascar and to Wessanen UK for their support.