Implementation of the project
The total project has been designed for a period of initially five years, providing at least 35 job possibilities in the Centre and collaboration with at least 3 clusters of villages. For the practical execution and an economically sound management, the project has been divided in five phases.
Though the project is not intended to be profitable for CMGDM, the set-up is such that after the initial five years the total of the activities will be self-sufficient for the Centre in Toamasina, guaranteeing its continuity. From the expected returns also further extensions may be financed.
The villages will be able to work independently and profit making in about 2 years after the introduction of alternative agricultural methods of and an infrastructure for ecotourism. The pilot phase with Fetraomby and surrounding villages is almost completed. Contacts have been established with other villages.
2. Achieved in the period 2008-2010
Construction: At Centre Lambahoany various buildings have been reconstructed: the fence, the main building and three bungalows in 2007/2008 and another three bungalows in 2010. In 2009 the stage and a kiosk have been constructed; in the mean time the trees have been pruned; shrubs, plants and flowers have been planted.
Activities: Since April 2009 local and national musicians have been performing at Centre Lambahoany; the stage obviously meets a local need. An English Conversation Club is active since 2008; meditation and sports activities (the Indonesian martial art Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen and the Brazilian martial art Capoeira) are being taught since September 2009. Renting out the bungalows and the rooms for meetings and parties is daily business. Contacts have been established with national tour operators to inform them about Centre Lambahoany and the new touristic possibilities in Fetraomby and environments, while at the same time initiating its own activities as a tour operator.
(ii) Village Fetraomby
Construction: a bungalow has been constructed and four 'cases villageois' to house tourists; the water supply from a reservoir has been repaired; the general taps in the village Fetraomby work again. The bungalow and the 'cases villageois' have been supplied with latrines and basic showers. Although the arrival of tourists is the direct reason to improve the infrastructure, the reason behind it is that it will also improve the living conditions of the villagers. The latrines and showers have an exemplary function, the repair of the water supply means women no longer have to walk hundreds of meters to the river to collect water. The introduction of a water purifier means the village has safe drinking water.
Activities: training in hotel and catering has been realised. Knowledge of basic hygiene and ways to prevent the spreading of food-related diseases are passed on. The inhabitants have been made aware of the danger of undesired contacts with visitors, such as leading to child exploitation and sexually transmitted diseases. Also training in guiding tourists has been realised, it concerns both guiding in general and specifically in the forests. Several scenic routes have been developed. A subsidy from the UNDP Small Grants Programme has been asked and has been awarded to further develop the protection of the forest and to introduce sustainable agricultural methods.
Since 2007 CMGDM works with the Association RIANALA, an organisation of the villagers of Fetraomby. Together an itinerary has been developed as to participate in a national contest, organised by several national and international organisations concerned with nature conservation and responsible tourism. The itinerary has won the first price.
Moreover the region decided to celebrate the World Environmental Day 2009 in Fetraomby, a forgotten village until the inhabitants decided to take their fate in their own hands. The presence of several regional and district authorities at this celebration is a sure indication that the position of the village in relation to the (local/regional) government has been strengthened by the ecotourism activities.
The success of Fetraomby has spread as melted chocolate among the surrounding villages and 'communes'. More and more villages want to benefit from durable agricultural and energy practices and be involved in the eco-tourist activities. Rianala and CMGDM now also collaborate with TSARAFANIRY, a federation of so-called grass-root committees (VOI's in Malagasy) in the communes Ambohimanana, Maroseranana, Fetraomby, Anivorano, and Fanasana, all part of the district Brickaville in the region Atsinanana. The objective of the federation is to preserve nature by stimulating and organising the population to take responsibility for the protection of the forests surrounding their village.
4. To be realised in 2010-2013
The plans are a little slowed down due to the coup d'état of 17 March 2009 and the resulting political situation. Donors were reluctant to continue financing activities in Madagascar and tourism was at an all time low. It seemed better to wait and see if it was any use to invest in eco-tourist facilities. As the political situation does not induce riots and other forms of unrest, tourism is picking up, thus new activities and investments are foreseen for the period 2010 – 2013. What remains to be done before the project is ready to be handed over the villages and the association in town is the following:
(i) In town
(a) Reconstruction of the training centre
Reconstruction of the training centre will enable the project to better educate and train villagers involved in the project. The rooms can also be rented as part of the commercial activities for the sustainability of the Centre
(b) Construction of the Great Hall
The foreseen great hall will be used for cultural events, as it borders the stage, and it will also be rented out for meetings and parties. It will be a novelty in Toamasina, perhaps even in Madagascar, as the design concerns a hall with no walls, but with 8 pillars supporting a roof that can go up and down. Thus the roof can be adjusted according to the needs, and in case of a cyclone the roof ca be lowered till ground level.
(c) Installation of the cyber café
An internet café serves both as a means of income and as a means to give people access to the Internet, both local people and tourists.
(d) Reconstruction of 1 bungalow and reconstruction of a building to create two studios.
The site of Centre Lambahoany, when purchased, included 7 structures meant to be bungalows. Six have been reconstructed since. The two studios will be a realised in a building already in existence, i.e. four walls and a roof. As the Centre already now and then has 'no vacancies' and people regularly ask for a studio with cooking facilities for a longer period of time, the reconstruction of both the seventh bungalow and the studios will meet a need.
(e) Training of the board of the association to take over the Centre Lambahoany.
The association is already in existence, but the members are as yet not qualified to run the Centre Lambahoany. Training, or may be recruiting new members is necessary before the project can be handed over.
(f) Training of personnel to increasingly assume more responsibilities.
It is foreseen that the board of the Association is composed of volunteers, who will not be able to take care of the daily business, thus the personnel of Centre Lambahoany will have serious responsibilities, once the foreign co-ordinators withdraw. The staff members are already being trained for these tasks, but there is still training required.
(ii) In the villages
(a) Expanding in Fetraomby and environments.
As said, the project in Fetraomby, develops beyond expectation, the association of villagers, Rianala, regularly develops new itineraries with new tourist attractions, both nature and cultural. More villages want to become involved and need tourist accommodation and are getting interested in alternative agricultural techniques.
(b) A new cluster of villages along the Pangalanes canal
The region has more secluded areas, where people would like to improve their live through other agricultural methods and by income diversification through eco-tourism. At present two such areas have been identified. Both are situated along the Pangalanes Canal. One is situated a little north of Brickaville, to be reached from Toamasina by boat (half a day) or by Brickaville by car (a few hours). The other is situated further south, still along the Pangalanes Canal, to be reached by boat only. From Toamasina the trip by car and boat will take an entire day. It can also be reached from Mananjary. Then the boat trip will take 9 hours. In both places people have indicated to be interested in co-operating with CMGDM. Of course the contacts have to be intensified to be able to decide whether a co-operation will be fruitful for both parties. And a solution has to be found for an easy transport of tourists, as not all of them prefer public transport.