Conservation International – Madagascar Health-Population–Environment (HPE) Project
Conservation International (CI) has been working in the Zahemana-Mantadia Biological Corridor in eastern Madagascar for five years, supporting the government and the biodiversity conservation goals in its National Environmental Plan. Since 2003 the HPE Project has worked in partnership with local NGOs MATEZA and ASOS to deliver health and reproductive health services, educate farmers on sustainable agricultural practices, and establish systems for community natural resource management (NRM) which contribute to improved biodiversity conservation in key biodiversity areas.
Madagascar is the third most densely populated country in sub-sarahan Africa, with 21 persons per square kilometer and the lack of access to reproductive health and family planning (RH/FP) services is critical in the rural and remote areas, which are also some of the most pristine biodiversity areas. Demand for RH/FP services is high in rural areas, while contraceptive use is low at 18 percent (Madagascar DHS 2003/2004).
Economic security for these growing rural populations is based on largely unsustainable land use practices which contribute to habitat loss and reduced biodiversity. Many farmers still practice slash-and-burn farming or “tavy,” despite the fact that it is illegal. Since many poor people in remote areas do not have adequate protein in their diets, people practice bush meat hunting in the forest zones. Income is also generated thorough the illicit exploitation of forest products. Other economic factors such as rising gas prices increase pressures on biodiversity in Madagascar, by increasing the reliance of the utilization of charcoal in urban area, and of fuel wood in rural areas.
The HPE project collaborates with the principal stewards of natural resource management -- the population or communities living around the areas of key biodiversity -- to implement interventions that improve community awareness of health care, demonstrate links to natural resource management, and provide alternatives to environmentally destructive agricultural practices. To ensure sustainability, the project partners build local community capacity and ownership to ensure that activities continue after the project ends. CI does this by building relationships and support for integrated health and conservation programs that deliver tangible economic and health results to participants.
• HPE increases local demand for RH/FP services and commodities through targeted communication (e.g. theater groups,) and training activities (focus on adolescents and health volunteers) that link family planning and environmental outcomes.
• HPE strengthens systems for and promotion of community-based distribution of appropriate RH/FP products.
• HPE trains communities in NRM planning, provides NRM and agricultural extension services, and promotes conservation of important ecosystems.
• HPE collects data on hunting practices and human nutritional demands for protein
• HPE trains Women’s Nutrition Teams in alternative livelihood and nutrition.