Sunday, 3 March 2024
Sunday, 3 March 2024

Empowering Madagascar’s Mangroves for Sustainable Development

Jaz Counsell, Programme Support Officer, Feed the Minds

In light of the recently held United Nations SDG Summit 2023 and UN SDG Action Campaign, Feed the Minds’  Programme Support Officer Jaz Counsell shares how one of Feed the Minds’ projects directly contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In partnership with Tanjona Association, Feed the Minds’ project on improving biodiversity and livelihoods for women in Mandrosoa village in Madagascar started in February 2023. In a remarkably short span of time, the unwavering dedication of project participants has propelled us towards the successful attainment of numerous project objectives, marking a promising stride towards the realisation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. 

Jean Jacques, Project participant said:

“We thank you for implementing this project in our remote village. We have been waiting for such initiatives for a while. We gain more than money by learning literacy!”

Challenges in Madagascar 

Madagascar holds a wealth of extraordinary biodiversity but is also a place of unique challenges. With a Human Development Index (HDI, 2020) ranking of 164 out of 189, the country struggles with poverty, environmental threats, and limited access to education. The occurrence of natural disasters, exemplified by the recent Cyclone Freddy in February 2023, has significantly compounded the multifaceted challenges faced by Madagascar.  

Mangrove ecosystem and silk production in Mandrosoa village

In the remote village of Mandrosoa, 90% of the community relies on the mangrove ecosystem for their livelihoods. Madagascar’s mangroves are essential for the survival of both local communities and the planet; the carbon-rich biomes provide natural infrastructure to help protect nearby populated areas by reducing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather events. Despite this, the mangroves are under threat from unsustainable timber harvesting and charcoal production. 

Remarkably, silkworks emerge as one of the most sustainable activities that can be undertaken in these ecosystems. With international demand for silk and its favourable market price, it has become a vital economic opportunity for the Mandrosoa community, who prior to this project, were mostly unaware of its economic importance. In light of Cyclone Freddy and other natural disasters, the importance of a sustainable, resilient livelihood cannot be overstated. 

Empowering Madagascar's Mangroves for Sustainable Development
Pictured: Silkworm cocoon found in Mandrosoa mangrove.

Aligning Our Project with UN Sustainable Development Goals  

The SDGs, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. They consist of 17 interconnected goals, each addressing specific global challenges.

In the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, our aim is to meticulously illustrate how this project seamlessly aligns with them.

SDG 1: No Poverty – Our project directly addresses this goal by providing comprehensive silk production training to 90 beneficiaries from a women’s association group. This training offers an environmentally friendly source of income, empowering communities to break free from the cycle of poverty, which is particularly critical in a country with such a low HDI ranking. 

SDG 4: Quality Education – The project fosters skills development and knowledge sharing, contributing to increased literacy and numeracy skills within the community. The project has already delivered two months of literacy training to 98 beneficiaries and 40 community members.

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – But that’s not all! We are not only empowering women with silk skills but also with financial literacy and numeracy skills. The project is equipping them to kickstart and manage microbusinesses, enabling them to not only transform silk into valuable products but also transform their lives and those of their families through better financial decision-making. 

SDG 15: Life on Land – By shifting from harmful practices like timber harvesting and charcoal production, our project is helping to protect the mangrove ecosystem. The project has appointed 98 beneficiaries as ambassadors for mangrove protection and 700 individuals have already been sensitised about mangrove plantation. 

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals – Through the formation of a pro-poor value chain, our beneficiaries are gaining access to a wider network of traders across Madagascar. This ensures sustainable growth and access to key knowledge and production techniques. 

The project in Mandrosoa isn’t just about silkworms, it’s about economic and female empowerment, resilience, and sustainable development. It demonstrates that sustainable practices, empowerment, and environmental protection can work hand in hand, bridging the gap between conservation and economic growth. 

In conclusion, the project in Mandrosoa is a testament to the convergence of our objectives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It not only embodies our commitment to SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 15 (Life on Land), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) but also showcases remarkable progress. 

Our project in Mandrosoa demonstrates our commitment to important SDGs, and it serves as an inspiring model for future initiatives.

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