Madagascar RAP: Village Visit in Ambodivahibe

As part of a CI-organized Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) off the northeastern coast of Madagascar, an international team of marine scientists is spending three weeks exploring ecosystems, documenting species – and reporting back to us about what they’ve found. Read all of the team’s posts from the field here.

It’s 5:30 am and we are getting ready to leave Ambodivahibe Bay and move south. But before we go, Monica Tombolahy and I go to pay our respects to the nearby village.

As regional conservation coordinator for CI-Madagascar, Monica has spent the last two years in this area, helping CI support the national government in the establishment of a marine protected area to conserve the region’s incredibly diverse corals, fish and seagrasses.

Village visits are an important part of our expedition, as they allow us to both inform local people about what we are doing and learn about the environmental changes they have observed in the bay.

Monica knows everyone in the village–where they live, their names and their children’s names. They wonder who I am.

We sit with the village president, report about our work and listen to his point of view on the bay’s health. Always with a polite smile, the president is cautious about any outsiders entering the village’s land, as he is responsible for the whole community.

We discuss issues such as coral bleaching and how climate change might affect life in this remote part of the country. Most villagers rely on fisheries for their livelihood, and they protect what they need to survive. However, resources are becoming scarcer and the lives of the 150 people living here are in peril.

Eventually the president sends us off to our next destination with his blessing. It was a short visit, but it allowed us to connect with the local community and discuss how our work can help secure their future.

A small crowd of children on the beach waves us off as our boat heads for the next stop on our expedition. We hope to return again before the end of the RAP to capture few more glimpses of this amazing village and its inhabitants.

Giuseppe Di Carlo is the manager of CI’s Marine Climate Change program.

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