Madagascar's Zahamena-Mantadia Biological Corridor protects some of the island's last remaining
tropical forests and lemur habitats. Zahamena National Park and Mantadia National Park, located in the northern and southern ends of the corridor, respectively, are anchors for CI's corridor conservation strategy.
This Population Health and Environment project began in July 2003, with generous support from USAID. CI worked closely with its Malagasy partners, ASOS and MATEZA, to build local capacity and ensure project activities could continue after USAID funding ended in 2008. These two NGOs were selected for their ability to mobilize effective teams of health and conservation professionals on the ground, and for their experience in the field working at the grassroots level.
FEATURE: Fresh Water for Health
In 2003, the president of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, committed to tripling the surface area of protected areas in his country. In a country rich in biodiversity but socioeconomically poor, he recognized that conservation is essential for socioeconomic development. This conservation commitment presents a formidable challenge in rural areas, where the absence of alternative economic practices forces farmers to convert forest to subsistence agricultural practices, known as tavy, or slash-and-burn agriculture.
In addition, minimal access to family planning and reproductive health care, high fertility rates, poverty and minimal education levels combine to produce increasing pressures on natural resources. The project's objectives were to:
Increase local capacity in child and maternal health and improve access to quality family planning and reproductive health services in the target communities.
Enable corridor communities to manage their forest resources more effectively for both sustainable livelihood and biodiversity conservation.
Through this project, CI was able to improve the health of these local, remote communities. In addition, due to the integrated nature of the project, CI gained the confidence and trust of the communities, which allowed them to implement conservation efforts that might not have otherwise been possible. For example, they were able to delineate new protected areas under the President’s plan. Improving conditions for local communities has strengthened our ability to achieve concrete conservation outcomes at a larger scale.
The Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor (CAZ) is among the most advanced in its establishment as a protected area. Covering approximately 425,000 hectares along the eastern escarpment of Madagascar, CAZ is a region of rich biological diversity and home to hundreds of local Malagasy communities.