The project Torotorofotsy has been going on already for four years since its starting in 2015. A lot has been done during this time to preserve the endangered wetland nature. It’s time to see what effects the project has had so far and what the future looks like. The project’s mid-term evaluation of the second phase of the project was carried out in the autumn 2018. The results of the evaluation will be used to improve the project’s effectiveness, as well as sustainability and development impact for the next two years.
In order to find out about the impacts of the project, all participant groups, project leaders and local authorities were interviewed. This way we found out about how effective the actions were and what could be done to improve the work. The evaluation team also visited the project sites with project workers to see how the work is going on there.
The results of the evaluation revealed that harmful land use methods have decreased significantly since the project started. The sustainable land use practices gained interest among local farmers, and seeing how well the practices have worked for the first pioneers has encouraged also others to try sustainable farming. Slash-and-burn cultivation, being one of the main reasons for the degradation of Torotorofotsy nature reserve and its wetlands, has reduced in the region. At the same time sustainable land use practices have provided income for the local farmers. Sharing knowledge among farmers and continuing sustainable practices is important for the future preservation of the Torotorofotsy wetland.
The Torotorofotsy project set annual goal for planting 15 000 seedlings and restoring 15 hectares of degraded land. It’s great to see that the goals have been met and the planting work is also doing its part to change attitudes towards harmful land uses – the people taking part in the planting work have stopped practicing slash-and-burn agriculture and are sharing their knowledge for others, too.
Also women’s association Menalamba Torotorofotsy has had positive social effects. The income from the selling of handicrafts is helping the local women, and the members would be eager to make selling of handicrafts their main income source. At the moment, the activity is still quite small so in the next two years the supporting of the Menalamba association will be important. Even now it has made an impact in empowering the local women. Moreover, the women have learned lots of new skills in the making of handicrafts and gained valuable friendships with each other.
Though many goals have been achieved, there still remains challenges for the upcoming years. It’s important to raise more awareness among locals about the importance of the wetland for the future well-being of the people and the environment. All the time more people are moving to the region which causes challenges to the work. That’s why environmental education plays a vital role in the continuation of the preservation work. There is a growing interest among locals to begin using more sustainable farming practices, but the support from the project is still needed to be able to make the change. Also Menalamba Association will need support in the coming years in order to be able to develop the activity.
The goals have been achieved together with the help of the locals, and taking into account the social sustainability has been important in the project from the very beginning. It’s encouraging to see that sustainable solutions are possible without compromising the livelihood and well-being of the people. Quite the contrary – it’s ensuring that the land is still there to feed and nourish people in the years to come.
Text: Tarja Anttila, volunteer of FANC Madagascar project
Photos: Laura Blomberg, Development Cooperation Coordinator of FANC