jeudi 6 mars 2014

My experience as Volunteer for the program Youth Volunteer Program with WWF Madagascar

From left to the right Oliver Sommer (Germany); Sahala SOAODA (Madagascar) and me
During a three months period (from September to December 2013), I was enrolled as volunteer with an amazing intercultural team for the project MG200901 – Climate Change Adaptation in Madagascar, Vulnerability Analysis at Baie d’Ambaro with World Wide Fund for Nature.

The marine and coastal ecosystems of Madagascar are rich in biodiversity and this biodiversity is increasingly threatened by climate change and anthropological impacts. Close interactions exist between coral reef systems, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and coastal forests. Therefore, it is important to focus attention not only on one ecosystem type, but rather to analyse the vulnerability of all ecosystems involved. The objective of WWF Project MG200901 is to analyse these vulnerabilities and the adaptation to climate change. The September 2013 WWF Explore Volunteer program focussed on the mangrove ecosystem in the bay of Ambaro, situated on the northwest coast of Madagascar, DIANA region. There was two groups of three volunteers based in the villages of Ankazomborona (Tatiana SAADE from Lebanon, Guilaume Lippinois from Belgium and Michael Murunga from Kenya) and Antsatrana (the group on the picture).
Activity goals given by WWF

a.      First activity: Fishery Catch Monitoring
            Objective: support the WWF intern to collect data on fishery
            Activities: Assist the intern in collecting statistical evidence on species type, weight, number per species, length of each specimen, etc.
      b.      Second activity: Re-enforcement of women associations’ capacities
            Objective: support and mentoring women groups
            Activities: Teach and practice English and French
                              Give cooking lessons
                              Raise awareness on hygiene and waste treatment
                              Develop family vegetable gardens
      c.       Third activity: Environmental education on mangroves
            Objective: Educate the village population on the importance of mangroves by using different types of communication and visual support
            Activities:  Establish or bring along teaching material like films, posters, songs, etc.
                               Organize a public event every two weeks (film projection, theatre, songs, etc.), in order to explain the ecological importance of mangroves and the anthropological threats for this ecosystem

Fishery Catch Monitoring
We worked with WWF Intern Felix Saidale from Madagascar. We learn the Malagasy name of local fish, different kind of fish who live in the channel and the sea. We met also some fishers, with them we talked about how they fish, what they fish and their difficulties. In fact our work consisted to weight what the fishermen brought from the sea, and to measure some of them.

Me weighing shrimps (Photo by Oliver SOMMER)

Re-enforcement of women associations’ capacities
The women association were divided in two different associations; the first was for old women and the second for young women. The main goal of this activity was to educate and support members of the women’s associations in order to develop alternative income resources. Suggested activities included language courses, cooking lessons, and hygiene and waste treatment awareness-raising and establishing vegetable gardens.
We had language classes every Wednesday and Friday at 3 pm, for about one to two hours, depending on the punctuality and concentration of the students.

Language course with women at the Primary school of the village (WWF canon/Walter TAPONDJOU)

We did a cooking class where we showed a possibility of international cooking with ingredients one can buy in Antsatrana. The recipe was Empanadas Argentina’s, where the filling can be chosen to be any filling with meat, seafood or vegetables they are already familiar with.

Volunteer Oliver giving cooking lesson (Empanadas from Argentina) (WWF Canon/Walter Tapondjou)
On the other hand, in the course of a ROSEDA project, a WWF partner organization, beneficiaries amongst women were chosen to obtain equipment for establishing a new vegetable patch.

Volunteer Sahala helping a woman with her garden (Photo by Oliver SOMMER)

Environmental education on mangroves
The principal objective of this activity was to educate the population on the importance of the mangroves surrounding them.
The villagers do not use their resources on a large commercial scale, but rather only for local commercial or private usage. However, they generally lack the comprehension for the larger picture, such as the impact of trash in coastal and marine ecosystems as well as secondary problems, such as erosion caused by deforestation. Also, general notions of ecosystem, climate, food chain, etc. were mostly unknown. We attempted to close these gaps and educate the population. At the same time we raised awareness on hygiene and the use of basic composting toilets, the sorting and treatment of trash and a sustainable use of natural resources. The overall environmental situation in and around the village of Antsatrana, however, was not too bad.

  Public environmental education  (WWF Canon)  

Mangrove course for college children   (WWF Canon)  

Environmental education for primary school (WWF Canon)

We organized and carried out an environmental education session in Bengolo. This is a village near Antsatrana, it is only accessible by foot during periods of neap tides and is located right on the sea. During a visit to this village we made contact with the sage of the village and scheduled a session. Due to its extreme proximity to the sea and its accessibility only outside spring tide periods, this village is another fisher community like Antsatrana and Ankazomborona.
Villagers from Bengolo during an environemental session (WWF Canon)
In this village it is not possible to set up basic composting toilets due to the tide levels. There is also a huge problem of batteries that are tossed around in the village and even in the ocean, and finally piles of garbage near homes and the entrance to the village. During this session we showed them our film Rakoto I: Garbage. Then we presented an awareness session on Climate Change (causes and consequences) and how to straighten the bar. We also distributed leaflets about sorting waste to the women. At the end of the session the villagers had some questions such as how to have access to safe drinking water like their neighbours in Antsatrana. And we encouraged them firstly to create an association and then to approach the one from Antsatrana to be informed on how to receive support for their development.