by Luciano Andriamaro, Madagascar, ELP 2015
Written on August 6, 2015.
As the person in charge of one department at an international NGO, Conservation International…
As the person responsible of at least 3 associations working on environment and health…
As a member of the international platform and network belonging to UNEP and a national representative of international convention…
After my self-evaluation, I am convinced that I am still weak at leadership, even though all activities that I was leading reached the desired outcomes. This is the beginning of my story with the ELP because the summer course offered by UC Berkeley corresponded to my need.
From the ridge to the reef
With my background in freshwater biology, my organization assigned me as the head of an entire project on wetland conservation and marine activities. This role did not carry me on to the sinking or drowning but allowed me to become closer to local communities in the wetland and marine sites where CI has been supported. I was working with Birdlife International and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for the protection of the natural infrastructure from the watershed to the coastal ecosystem in the Western (Mahavavy-Kinkony Complex), Southern (Mangoky-Ihotry Complex), Eastern (Nosivolo River) and Northern (Ambodivahibe) regions of Madagascar. My adventure required a passion and a big convection because all of those sites are not easily accessible and some of them are only reachable by at least two days of walking. Because of their importance to biodiversity and natural capital, those wetland and marine sites represent the wealth of our country. From the Sakalava Rail and Madagascar Fish Eagle to the Songatagna and Napoleon fish, the diversity of wildlife in the four sites is breathtaking. This is why the protection of those sites is very crucial. Despite the long process for protected area implementation, since three months ago, these sites have definitive status of protection.
Bottom-up approach to becoming Ramsar sites and LMMA1
My main occupation during this project supporting wetland and marine sites is to work closely with local communities. To convince people in the remote areas with different cultures was not a gift, but my satisfaction during my fieldwork was the local community’s ownership of all activities undertaking in those sites. Can you imagine the youngest and the oldest people to “slam” endangered species and the importance of conservation during the World Wetland Day or during the fishing opening? All initiatives came from them and they are jealous of their wealth. This motivation has led to the nomination of Nosivolo River in September 2010 and the Kinkony Lake in June 2012 as Ramsar sites. For Ambodivahibe, after an exchange-visit of local communities in Andavadoaka, south of Madagascar, they decided to implement LMMA in 2009. Keeping incentives and sustainability of livelihood for the local communities is a way to involve them in the management of the sites and remind them that those four sites are protected areas.
I was grateful to be with ELP Program, a way to improve my work…
Given this stage is completed in developing a country, the current situation deserves to be improved, acknowledging the progress of technology and the universal approaches. So, what a good reason to attend this summer course, the ELP, at UC Berkeley! With detailed information on environmental policy, different faces of economic development through agriculture and farming, climate change and carbon, I can improve my approach on working with local communities with sustainable livelihood activities. Our main concern in the site is around the market access for community products, so the workshop on corporate and company with marketing sessions might help me to solve these problems with communities. Apart from the lectures, exchanges with participants from all continents in the world was the richest for me in terms of extent knowledge about the water-food-energy nexus with a representative from UN-Water in Germany and seascape and marine world heritage sites with a UNDP representative from Belize. The group of 40 multidisciplinary people was total in strong cohesion because the common interest is “Mother Nature.” They promised to keep in touch after the course, not only to continue the reflection as ELP Alumni, but also to share important documents and other exchange opportunities.
Particularly for me, being very far away from Berkeley, most of the participants only know my country through the movie “Madagascar.” My attendance was an opportunity for them to discover another shape of my island, rather than just the lone song “I like to move it, move it.”
1 Locally Marine Management Area