U.S. Government-Supported Environmental Legal Clinic Opens in Morondava

This legal clinic will promote environmental justice and enforcement of environmental laws in the Menabe region

Today, Ambassador Amy Hyatt, United States Chargé d’Affaires for Madagascar and the Comoros, cut the ribbon to officially open the U.S. Government-supported Environmental Legal Clinic in Morondava. This legal clinic is an independent entity that provides communities in the Menabe region with access to free legal services, resources, and advice to promote adherence to and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. The clinic is an initiative of the civil society organization Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG) and is supported financially by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Hay Tao project. The Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, regional leaders, and other civil society organizations also collaborated on the development of the legal clinic with the Minister of Environment Baomiavotse Vahinala Raharinirina; Président of Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG) Ndranto Razakamanarina; the Governor of Menabe Serge Lucky Randriantsoa; and other local officials and ministerial representatives joining the opening ceremonies.

Promoting good governance and supporting transparency are key U.S. government priorities. In her remarks during the ceremony, Ambassador Hyatt emphasized the U.S. government’s continued commitment to support the Government of Madagascar in its efforts to reduce corruption, improve the enforcement of environmental laws, and increase prosecution rates of those committing environmental crimes.

Ambassador Hyatt also highlighted the urgent need for this environmental legal clinic given the high level of deforestation and illegal cultivation of crops in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area. “Now is the time to increase transparency and to utilize these legal resources available through the clinic, to improve the lives of communities and protect the precious natural environment in Menabe. Without transparency, without good governance, and without the knowledge and will to protect the environment – sustainable development will be difficult to achieve,” declared Ambassador Hyatt.

Legal clinics like the Environmental Legal Clinic help local community members better understand the laws in order to protect both themselves and the environment, ultimately increasing adherence to the law. With support from the USAID Hay Tao project, a similar environmental legal clinic was opened by AVG in Maroantsetra in 2019. To date, that clinic has served nearly 300 community members seeking legal support on environmental and land tenure laws and regulations.

These legal clinics are one part of the U.S. government’s efforts to work side-by-side with the Government of Madagascar and the Malagasy people like “mpirahalahy mianala” to secure the nation’s natural resources and biodiversity from illegal and unsustainable practices that threaten its environmental heritage and economic future. Madagascar’s unparalleled biodiversity is significant globally, and its natural resources play a critical role in the nation’s economic and human development. Since 2013, the U.S. government has committed more than $55 million for environment programs that promote sustainability, improve livelihoods for local communities, bolster governance of natural resources, and protect thousands of hectares from illegal and unsustainable exploitation.