Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with over 175,000 endemic species (Thompson 2011). Madagascar also has a high level of poverty and underdevelopment, ranking 158 of 188 countries on the 2016 Human Development Index. Over 75 percent of the population lives below the World Bank’s poverty line (World Bank 2018). More than 80 percent of Madagascar’s population depends on natural resources for agriculture, fishing, and forestry livelihoods (Hay Tao Statement of Objectives). However, the natural resource base has declined sharply due to unsustainable use. Madagascar’s forest cover and coastal and marine ecosystems continue to deteriorate with a 19 percent decrease in tree cover occurring between 2001 and 2017 (Global Forest Watch Madagascar n.d.). Madagascar is susceptible to climate stressors that threaten its biodiversity and natural resource base, such as cyclones, sea level rise, droughts, and floods.
Climate stressors have increased in frequency and intensity and are affecting water supply, public health, food security, natural resource management, and livelihoods. Madagascar’s risk of cyclones is one of the highest in Africa, with an average of three to four events per year. Increases in temperatures and longer periods of drought could result in major reductions in biodiversity, food production, and food security (World Bank n.d.-a). Nonclimate stressors exacerbate the climate stressors and include food insecurity, pollution, population growth, stagnant economic growth, political instability, and governance weaknesses. To help sustain the economy, livelihoods, and culture associated with biodiversity, the Government of Madagascar (GoM) has set development goals to support natural resource and biodiversity conservation and manage climate and nonclimate stressors.
To help the GoM achieve these goals, USAID/Madagascar’s Environment and Climate Change Office (ECCO) funded two activities under the Conservation and Communities Project (CCP): Hay Tao (Knowledge Management for Biodiversity Conservation) and Mikajy (Site-based Interventions for Biodiversity Conservation). Both activities are based on the Nature, Wealth, and Power conceptual framework and integrate biodiversity, natural resource management, livelihoods, and climate change. The Hay Tao Activity “support(s) the enabling environment for improved community-based biodiversity conservation and sustainable development approaches for natural resource-dependent communities” (USAID n.d.-a). It focuses on approaches that can benefit a diversity of stakeholders both within and outside of Madagascar and supports other activities including the site-specific conservation work under Mikajy.
The Mikajy Activity “work(s) with local partners in targeted zones of high biodiversity value (HBV) to assist local communities in improving their natural resource management practices to reduce threats to biodiversity and establish the groundwork for more sustainable biodiversity-friendly and climate-resilient economic development” (USAID n.d. b). The Mikajy activity is implemented in the landscapes and seascapes of MaMaBay and Menabe. USAID/Madagascar has also engaged in the country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process. The NAP process has a three-step planning phase: 1) preparatory work and gap management; 2) establishing elements of the preparatory phase; and 3) setting priorities for adaptation options. USAID/Madagascar will support elements of the plan through training, regional consultations, research, studies, meetings, and workshops.