MORONDAVA – The United States government and other development partners are redoubling efforts to save Menabe’s ancient Kirindy dry forest, the last habitat of the world’s smallest primate, while promoting sustainable development throughout the region.
During an October 2-6 visit to the region, U.S. Ambassador Claire A. Pierangelo and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Anne N. Williams observed U.S. government programs that protect the region’s unique biodiversity and improve the health and livelihoods of the people.
The Ambassador met with regional Prefect Fidèle Rafidason and Governor Serge Randriantsoa and visited USAID activities in Kirindy Forest and the Menabe Antimena Protected Area, as well as villages that may soon host migrants from the south of Madagascar.
“We came to the Menabe region to look at the environmental challenges facing the dry forest and Madagascar,” Ambassador Pierangelo said. “Our dual purpose is to save the forest and provide economic development to this region.”
The centerpiece of the visit was discussion of an ambitious land reserve and migrant relocation project under the President of Madagascar’s “Titre Vert” initiative. This project will expand the underserved village of Bezeky to accommodate 500 families currently living in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area by building new homes, a health center, and a school. Both current residents and new arrivals will secure land tenure. The Council of Ministers approved the Titre Vert Menabe Antimena initiative October 5.
“USAID programming will help improve land tenure, agricultural production, and access to markets in support of these efforts to relocate migrants out of the protected forest,” Mission Director Williams said in Bezeky.
The delegation also visited USAID projects in the village of Andranomena; these programs provide alternative livelihoods for migrants who once engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture. Among these initiatives, USAID-supported women’s agricultural cooperatives demonstrated poultry husbandry and market gardening techniques that will help them diversify production while increasing incomes.
In Mahabo, the Ambassador met with regional health officials and saw first-hand how USAID provides life-saving medical commodities to reduce maternal and child mortality and control malaria. She also visited a village that USAID has sponsored to become “open defecation free.”
Over the last decade, the U.S. government has committed more than $500 million to support environmental conservation, economic development, and health in Menabe and throughout the country. Like “mpirahalahy mianala,” the United States works side by side with Madagascar to help save its unique biodiversity and improve the lives of its people.