After long discussions on all the peculiarities of the different African countries, we finally chose our destination for this year’s study trip: Madagascar.
With amazing landscapes, an incredible biodiversity, and a welcoming and friendly population, it is still one of the world’s poorest countries. The objective of our study trip was to see how the development was undertaken, from a governmental and non-governmental perspective.
We spent the first days between Antananarivo and Andasibe, visiting Social and Environmental NGOs, embassies, National Parks and local community promoters. This gave us an initial understanding of the life of Malagasy people, especially in the capital, and of the projects launched by associations and NGO’s in the area; one in particular was ENDA, an NGO which deals with issues regarding housing, waste management, education and women empowerment. It was interesting to see the extent of involvement and commitment of the local people in improving their own conditions of living.
We then started our journey towards the South, passing a variety of beautiful scenes, ranging from forests, to savannahs and beaches. We visited local villages, other National Parks and craft made shops, until we reached Tulear and Ifaty, on the South-West Coast. The two days spent there gave us the opportunity to learn about the NGO’s who specialise in marine resource protection, as “Reef Doctors” and “Blue Ventures”. We were also able to discuss with fishermen and to see how different life on the coast is from that in the capital city.
Madagascar is a wonderful country, but its potential has not yet been realized due to political, social and health problems, which are all still very present. There is also a lack of basic infrastructure and foreign investments. To a large extent the citizens of the nation have a general dearth of exposure. This can be attributed to political instability over the last two decades. However during an exchange with the French Ambassador to Antananarivo, we discussed the possibilities of growth for the nation. Mining, tourism and fisheries are most certainly bright prospects for indigenous growth. Tourism is revealing itself as a substantial first step towards the discovery of this potential.
Vittoria Groh & Anukriti Dixit (Class of 2015).