Project Lambahoany, the achievements.
Project Lambahoany, the vision
In 2007 project Lambahoany started with its activities to contribute to nature conservation in East-Madagascar and to better living conditions for the people involved in the conservation activities. According to Conservation International “Both ecotourism and sustainable tourism have the potential to link the conservation of nature with the well-being of local communities through a number of positive benefits including revenue generation, cultural preservation, and capacity building.” (www.conservation.org) Project Lambahoany puts that – and more – into practice.
Project Lambahoany, the implementation
Part of the project is being implemented in Toamasina, the seaport on the East coast. The other part is carried out in the rural communities Fetraomby, Anivorano-Est, Maroserana, Fanasana and Ambohimanana, located about seventy miles from Toamasina, North-East of Brickaville town. The part in Toamasina will be self-sufficient, and thus sustainable. The profits will be used to finance further development of the part of the project in the rural communities. The two parts of the project are supplementary and symbiotic. The link is eco-tourism.
Project Lambahoany, the rural part
At the beginning the project worked only in the rural community Fetraomby, – surface 300 km2, 20,000 inhabitants. De community can be found in the Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena, the habitat of the Indri-indri, one of Madagascar’s endangered lemurs. In the Corridor, under the auspices of Conservation International several organisations contribute to the conservation of the tropical rainforest here. Together with the local organizations Association RIANALA and Fédération TSARAVANIRY, Project Lambahoany contributes to this policy. Meanwhile, people from the neighbouring communities Anivorano-Est, Maroserana, Fanasana and Ambohimanana joined RIANALA and TSARAVANIRY. And thus they became involved in the implementation of project Lambahoany.
Project Lambahoany, eco-tourism
First, in Fetraomby eco-tourist facilities were realised: accommodation, training in catering, guidance and developing treks. The local people maintain the six treks and the accommodation. They earn a supplementary income as guide, porter, caterer or by performing traditional dances and music. In the main village, also called Fetraomby, the waterworks have been provisionally repaired, thus the inhabitants can fetch water at the communal taps and don’t have go down to river anymore. The water comes from a source higher up in the hills. A NAIADE, a solar powered water purifier, has been installed (www.naiade.com). At the same time consciousness-raising was taken up. The inhabitants are now convinced of the importance of conservation of the forest, the habitat of the Indri-indri. The Indri-indri is a sacred animal according to local traditions and hunting is prohibited. From there it is a small step to explain their habitat should be protected as well. That eco-tourism brings in money is another incentive.
Project Lambahoany, agriculture
On the short term eco-tourism does not yield a change for the better. The local population belongs to the 92 % of the Malagasy that live below the poverty line of two US dollar a day. That makes it difficult not to exploit the forest. Therefore agriculture has been added to the project. In every community five villages have been selected to participate, thus a total of 25 villages.
Several conditions have to be fulfilled to grow rice: rice fields that can be irrigated, fields that are worked before planting, and the availability of sowing seeds. All three elements are available in the 25 villages, but with some investments the level can be raised, with less heavy work and higher yields. Three irrigation systems have been constructed, thus 228 ha rice fields can now be better irrigated. The 300 families that benefit have founded three water-associations. With their monthly membership fee and their manual labour they maintain the irrigation systems.
For working the fields each community has received two trained zebus with the necessary equipment: ploughs, harrows, wheel barrows and the like. Fifteen men have been trained to work with and take care of the zebus. Until then the fields were worked manually, or untrained zebus were driven through the rice fields to trample in the mud. Now people can hire the caretakers to work their fields with the zebus, thus the soil can be used more efficiently and that will also contribute to higher yields. The 300 families have been supplied with sowing seeds suitable for well irrigated rice fields, to realise a still higher yield.
Already the first year the rice crops have doubled. But not only the 300 families benefit, also nature is better off. The slash-and-burn practices, to the detriment of the forest, are rendered superfluous.
Also within the framework of the agriculture project horticulture has been introduced. In all five communities 150 families have been supplied with sowing seeds for five different kinds of vegetables and corn, a novelty in these rural communities. The families have been instructed how to grow vegetables and how to transfer this knowledge (train the trainers). Everyone has to instruct four people each year. For the time being the crops from the test fields are for private consumption, but in the long run a surplus will be sold.
High yield crops
Not for private consumption are the cocoa trees growing in the new nurseries. Each community has five such nurseries. As soon as the cocoa trees have reached a certain height they will be planted out to become a new source of income. This will be a new high yield crop, next to the already existing coffee and banana cultivation. The bananas do not bring in a lot of money as the trees suffer from the Panama disease. The coffee that grows in these humid circumstances is the robusta, who brings in less than the Arabica that grows in the highlands. The cocoa is a welcome addition.
Project Lambahoany, nature conservation
Accept offering alternatives for the use of the forest there are also some activities to protect and conserve the forest more directly.
Fifty foresters (ten per community) have been appointed to report poaching, illegal hunting and especially illegal logging. That concerns not so much the local population who logs a tree every now and then, but especially commercial enterprises that illegally log tropical hard wood to sell abroad with a huge profit, leaving the local community with bare fields. The work of the foresters has i.a. resulted in the handing over to the gendarme of several poachers and illegal loggers, and – a more structural result – a high-ranking civil-servant who issued logging permits for personal gain has been transferred.
There is also a reforestation plan. The 25 nurseries not only harbour little cocoa trees but also trees that can later be used for charcoal and as building material, thus they are an alternative for forest trees. And a part of the nurseries are filled up with plants and trees that will be planted to restore the forest. That requires specialist knowledge, as the small trees and plants need special soil, care and attention. Fifty people have been trained for this kind of work. They have been trained and qualified and are now also working on consciousness raising, to convince others of the importance of nature conservation. Of course they are paid for their work.
Project Lambahoany, summary
All-in all it can be said life has changed for the better in these five rural communities. Nature has gained as it is better protected now, there are less infringements and parts destroyed are reforested. The inhabitants do not yet prosper, but live is less difficult and there are prospects things will be better in the future, and more people will be able to gain by the developments. And tourists can experience the tropical rainforest and the hospitality of the traditional rural live. A win-win-win prospect.
Als NL versie
Project Lambahoany in Toamasina, the town
The other part of the project is implemented in Toamasina town. Here, Centre Lambahoany is located. Where once some ruins were about to collapse underneath some beautiful but neglected lychee trees, a dynamic Centre has been build up.
The main building has been restored, a storey has been added. In the seven bungalows of which only the walls remained, now tourists spend the night. Another ruin has been transformed into a conference centre. On the lawn a podium has been erected.
The Centre has several purposes: bungalows where tourists can spend the night, first of all those who want to visit Fetraomby but also others. The conference rooms are used for the training of the members of the rural organizations Rianala and Tsarafaniry, but they are also rented out. Several clubs make full use of it. Meditation sessions, sport and dance clubs, an English conversation group and play rehearsals have found shelter at Centre Lambahoany. The podium is for shows. In the main building breakfast is served, there is a bar and offices and storage rooms. Seventeen people earn a living being employed at Centre Lambahoany. All proceeds go to the rural part of the project.
Project Lambahoany would like to continue its work in the rural communities Fetraomby, Anivorano-Est, Maroserana, Fanasana en Ambohimanana: thorough reparation of the waterworks, installing hydro-electricity, involve more villages in ecotourism and expand the nature conservation and agriculture project to another 25 villages.
If you like to contribute you can visit us or donate on Triodosbank Number IBAN: NL28TRIO0212316044, BIC: TRIONL2U attn. Stichting Vrienden van Toamasina, Hilversum, the Netherlands.
The project has been made possible by subsidies from De Wilde Ganzen, NCDO, ASN, PIF, Achmea Foundation, Fred Foundation, GEF/SGP, The Dutch Embassy in Tanzania, Johanna Donk-Grote Stichting, Stichting Voeten in de Aarde, Stichting Alle Beetjes, Stichting Marie Schippers Fonds, Stichting Protestants Steunfonds, Stichting Winters van den Speulhof, Derde Wereld Fonds (ATOS), and many private individuals.
We would like to thank all donors for their contribution that makes our work possible!