Behind the scenes

Madagascar is the most beautiful country I have ever experienced, the beauty is not only held and shown by the landscape, but by the astonishing wildlife and in their welcoming communities. Unfortunately, upon spending time there you begin to realise that landscape is sparse, the wildlife is minimising and the welcoming communities are massively struggling, whilst other inhabitants use their resources rapidly in an unsustainable way.

The once steadily increasing tourism industry has not been able to lift the country out of poverty, especially as this being what the country relied on more than anything, covid has well and truly put a stop to this. And you and I think we’ve had it bad. Pre-covid more than two-thirds of the population in Madagascar were living below the poverty line, with most living on less than £1 a day and only 13% of the population having access to electricity. What would you think the statistics are now?

The hope of education

Madagascar has its unfair share of natural disasters too, on average having three or four devastating cyclones every year, which I can say from my own experience is one hell of a wet and scary ride, they make a thunderstorm in the UK look and feel a light breeze on a summers day. Cyclones cause massive structural and property damage.

The country has the world’s fourth-highest rate of malnutrition, with 50 percent of children growing up stunted or undergrown, which alongside having the fifth-lowest education rate in the world, gives them one of the smallest opportunity potentials for their next generation. The country has one of the lowest Human Capital Indexes of the world, at 0.37. Human Capital Index (HCI) quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. Countries use this to assess how much income they forego because of human capital gaps, and how they can turn these losses into gains, if they act now.

80% of the population of Madagascar earn through the agricultural field. Despite improvements to the economy in some areas, this sector has grown smaller by 0.8% every year since 2014. Most farmers are unable to use modern technologies, and weather implications make farming difficult. However, Madagascar has an excellent climate for growing certain crops like clove and vanilla. Vanilla exports have increased significantly since 2017. From helping out vanilla farmers whilst I’ve been there, I can say first hand that this is a very difficult and time consuming way of earning a living.

Madagascar has one of the largest numbers of endemic species on the planet with more than 250,000 on the island. But since the 19th century, the rainforests in Madagascar have been depleted by 85% leaving ONLY 15% of what was. 18 million people in Madagascar depend on natural resources. They use the forests from everything from food to medicinal remedies.

On top of global warming having such a negative impact on the natural forests and seas causing their resources to minimise, the deforestation in Madagascar represents a huge threat to the way of life for the people who live there too. The biggest hope the people of Madagascar have is EDUCATION, and to pass the knowledge they learn of how to look after, conserve and grow their resources, onto others and their children and for this to cascade through the generations.