Helvetas began its involvement here back in 1982, initially concentrating efforts on forestry and protecting natural resources. Today our focus is on agriculture. Thanks to its isolation from Africa, Madagascar possesses a one-of-a-kind diversity of flora and fauna. In spite of the island’s natural fertility, the people live in great poverty. Most of them are subsistence farmers. Helvetas supports smallholders in increasing crop yields by adapting more effective farming methods. The object is to enable them to feed their families and sell the surplus to earn some money.
Small farmers form cooperatives and sell their produce directly to exporters or big companies – so as to cut out the often exploitative middleman. The most successful exports include vanilla, of which Madagascar is by far the world’s biggest producer, and cacao for making chocolate; but also honey, which is carried in Helvetas’ Fairshop.
Contaminated drinking water and poor hygienic conditions give rise to diarrheic diseases and, as a result, high infant mortality in Madagascar. So the water supply and sanitation are another focus of our efforts here. Back in the 1990s, public services in Madagascar, including the water supply, were decentralized, i.e. delegated to communities. Helvetas supports the local authorities, many of which are still inexperienced and ineffectual, and involves them in planning and implementation.
Specifically, the available water sources are inventoried and the water requirements of individual families are determined. Then solutions are developed to meet those requirements – everything from hand pumps to so-called water kiosks, an equitable system of payment using tokens and run by a local company. Our holistic approach includes measures to prevent sources from drying up, e.g. by building small dams or reforestation.
Visit the website of Helvetas Madagascar.
If you would like to know more about our work in Madagascar, click on each project for details.
Lot VJ 2 Ter A Ambohimiandra
Phone: +261 20 22 611 73