Four things you didn’t know about Madagascar

Zibran Choudhury uncovers Madagascar. Our Communications Coordinator met young entrepreneurs learning skills and building networks to help cope with climate change.

What do you think of when I mention Madagascar? Most of you will think of a popular holiday destination with diverse wildlife. Or a successful movie franchise with an incredibly catchy theme tune.

It’s an island facing huge environmental challenges. I met a few of the young people determined to overcome them.

Did you know?

1. Madagascar has the highest risk from cyclones in Africa

In the last 20 years alone there have been 35 cyclones. Despite facing regular shocks young entrepreneurs are learning to adapt.

Andre explained to me how a cyclone almost destroyed his business.

“Cyclones have had a big impact on my business. I had 40 ducks when I started my business, but about 34 ducks died during a cyclone.”

This was a huge blow for Andre. He dropped out of school at 14 because his mother couldn’t afford it. His business was a lifeline as he didn’t have many opportunities. But he didn’t give up, and made use of his networks to come back stronger.

“The YMCA provided me with advice and support. They advised to me to use special plants to mix with duck food to make the ducks stronger. That is how the ducks are still alive.”

2. About 90% of the population already lives on less than $3 a day.

That’s a few cups of coffee in my working week. This means young people are left with limited skills, resources, and little hope of building a secure future.

However, young people who have received tools or livestock to establish businesses in relevant markets are thriving. 75% of the young people who received business start-up kits last year now earn more than £75 a month.

Standing by a half-built house Nambine explained she was given 20 chicks and 10kg of feed to start her business after her training.

Her poultry business was so successful that she bought pigs and expanded.

Then used the profits to build a house for her young family.

These inspiring young entrepreneurs are not only helping themselves, they are creating opportunities for others. Nambine explains: “All the young people who took part in the poultry training want to be in a co-operative since the training and we are in the process of doing it.

The YMCA is helping with all the paper work to form the co-operative. It will help the young people access the big markets where there are more customers.”

3. Agriculture employs up 80% of the workforce

Although agriculture is vital for employment, the country doesn’t grow enough food to feed its population. Young people are learning skills in relevant agricultural markets and to increase their crop yields.

I met Farasoa and her daughter who she was struggling to provide for by selling charcoal. After learning to raise ducks and receiving a starter kit she’s grown her business to make enough money to save for her daughter’s future:

“I will do her best to avoid my daughter to live how I lived. I hope that she continues to study and goes to University and gets a job.

4. Madagascar is facing a food security crisis

Over 1.4 million are facing food insecurity.  It’s because of a prolonged period of drought and now the country seems set to suffer due to El Nino and the threat of climate change.

I met young people who formed disaster networks to empower their communities. Young farmers have become more resilient by accessing assets like seedbanks.

Young people are often best placed to respond to disaster. That’s why we’ve helped train more than 16,000 young people around the world on disaster risk reduction last year.

Find out more about our work in Madagascar.

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