Article

Malagasy Challenges in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Security, Competing Jurisdictions, Land Access and Livelihoods


L. Modeste Rakotondrasoa, Malagasy coordinator of ICMAA/VU/ICCO research project, ICMAA.
Sandra J.T.M. Evers, Project director, VU Amsterdam, lmodesterakotondrasoa@gmail.com.

Date de mise en ligne : 29 janvier 2010

Texte intégral

In January 2005, a multi-disciplinary research project jointly carried out by the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (VU) and the Institut de Civilisations/Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie (Université d’Antananarivo) was initiated. During the project’s five year existence, fifteen Dutch master students and fifteen Malagasy students jointly carried out fieldwork in Madagascar on PNF (Plan National Foncier), decentralization and poverty.

Further to issue No. 18, which dealt with the issue of access to land, Taloha, the review of the Institut de Civilisations/Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie de l’Université d’Antananarivo (ICMAA) is pleased to pursue its ongoing cooperation with the VU University Amsterdam with this issue No. 19. This issue was inspired by the international colloquium on Madagascar contemporain et les objectifs du millénaire pour le développement (Contemporary Madagascar and the Millennium Development Goals) which was held in Antsirabe from 20 to 22 September 2007. This conference focussed particularly on land access and management questions in Madagascar. The conference was financed by the ICCO (Interchurch organisation for Development Cooperation) and was jointly organised by the ICMAA and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the VU. It brought together approximately fifty researchers and representatives of non-governmental organisations working in Madagascar.

The Millennium Declaration, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during the Millennium Summit held in New York from 6 to 8 September 2000 (resolution 55/2 of 8 September 2000), constitutes a framework of development-related goals. It establishes a specific number of quantifiable measures and precise deadlines concerning the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, health, sustainable development, and a worldwide development partnership. The target date set for these goals is the year 2015. The Millenium Declaration is the result of several major conferences and meetings held under the auspices of the United Nations over the previous ten years, including the UN conference on Environment and Development, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995).

The Millennium Development Goals are mirrored in the Madagascar Action Plan (MAP), which sets out eight major aims: reduction of poverty by half and improvement of sustainable nutritional security among underprivileged populations, universal education of children, promotion of equality between men and women, reduction of the child mortality rate, improvement of maternal health, combat against HIV/AIDS and malaria, protection of the environment and the realisation of a global partnership for development. The deadline for the Madagascar Action Plan is 2011.

The MDG Monitor registration concludes that for the 2002-2006 period, Madagascar managed to achieve satisfactory progress in terms of the human development index. Poverty dropped to 67.5 per cent in 2006, due largely to improvements in the sectors of education and health. Other encouraging results include: the net rate of primary school enrolment increased from 67 per cent in 2000-2001 to 87 per cent in 2005-2006; the under-five mortality rate dropped from 159 (EDS 1997) per 1,000 in 1997 to 94 per 1,000 in 2004; immunization coverage increased from 70 per cent in 2002 to respectively 92.2 (DPT3) and 83.8 per cent (measles) in 2006; and the prevalence of HIV has held steady at 0.5 per cent (http://www.mdgmonitor.org/factsheets_00.cfm?c=mdg)

Achieving the Development Goals is indeed a challenge for a country such as Madagascar. The objective is admittedly ambitious. Three-quarters of the population dwell in a rural environment, and among those rural dwellers, 71% live below the poverty line. During the first quarter of 2009, a street protest movement led by Mr. Andry Rajoelina deteriorated dramatically, eventually forcing incumbent President Marc Ravalomanana out of office and into exile. Peace talks designed to pave the way towards "reconciliation" and eventual presidential elections have been rocky. Political stability is not yet on the horizon. The United States recently withheld trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) available to Madagascar since becoming eligible in October 2000, as the country failed to make sufficient progress in terms of reestablishing a constitutional democratic government and the rule of law. Other business deals have been put on hold and donors have adopted a "wait and see" approach. NGO’s also find it difficult to pursue their development agenda in a political setting where the government is not democratically elected and insecurity and uncertainty prevail on the ground. These realities naturally impact negatively on the possibility of attaining the Developments goals set for Madagascar.

Historically, land access and the competing land access regimes (positive law and customary law) have been at the core of development debates and realities in Madagascar. Land registration has been one of the cornerstones underlying the Malagasy government plan to decentralize and accelerate the economic development of Madagascar. Acting under strong pressure exerted by the IMF, the Malagasy government launched the PNF (Plan National Foncier) in 2004 to implement a national land registration system. From the outset, land registration has proven to be complex and problematic, due in no small part to the difficulties in reconciling the dictates of positive law and customary law. These issues include questions related to land access techniques, community environment management, natural resources and development, insecurity, educational reforms, etc. Some of those issues are addressed by authors appearing in this volume, particularly in light of local developments in the Malagasy setting.

Ten conference contributions have been selected for publication in the present special issue of Taloha.

Frank Muttenzer's article is titled "Legal recognition of customary tenure in Madagascar against a background of legal pluralism and land securisation in a post-colonial context"1

The law recognises customary land tenure through two procedures. The first is contractualisation - used principally for the purposes of community management of forest areas. The second is the recognition by communal land registry offices of family properties, particularly rice lands. These two procedures entrench the separation of forestry land rights and agricultural land rights. Although this does not imply replacing one solution by another but enriching the range of supports likely to ensure the reinforcement of rights, the legal recognition of customary tenure excludes community management contracts which apply to family properties or where ancestral rights to forest lands are certified as customary properties.

Chantal Blanc-Pamard and Hervé Rakoto-Ramiarantsoa argue in favour of "Sustainable development of local communities: The challenge of the Renewable Natural Resource Management Transfer (RNRMT)". The environmental concern is reflected in the Renewable Natural Resource Management Transfer (RNRMT) in favour of local communities to manage their territories, with the double objective of protecting the environment and fighting against poverty. The degradation of forests is both a sign of poverty and a factor of impoverishment because it reduces natural resources available to populations. The institutional innovation of RNRMT commenced in 1997 in Madagascar with Environmental Programme 2 (EP 2), imposes other means of governance of forests. However, it is difficult for groups deprived of territories and power to develop strategies to improve their position by gaining prestige and therefore wealth through the use of management transfers. These transfers often lead to socio-spatial inequalities which are particularly sensitive and do not operate in favour of Sustainable Development. How to construct fairer environmental policies? This is the question raised. The territory is an entry point to analyse the process of reconfiguration related to the creation of forest spaces to community management with a view to conservation. Within this framework, the local scale of territorialisation of environmental policies remains at the heart of the issues. The study relies upon the RNRMT within the Betsileo forest corridor and the eastern zone of Imerina.

Isabelle Droy, Jean-Etienne Bidou and Patrick Rasolofo speak of "Poverty and land security: advantages and uncertainties of decentralised management in Madagascar". The first of the millennium development goals is to reduce by half the number of persons living beneath the poverty line and suffering from famine between 1990 and 2015. The question of access modes to renewable resources represents an important issue for the reduction of poverty and a decrease of nutritional insecurity. Since 2004, Madagascar has set into motion a process of land securisation through the Programme National Foncier: the objective is to put land access regimes into a legislative framework; however, progress has been paralysed for a number of years. The new land policy seeks the involvement of local communities and based on this local land registry offices have been created. The study examines the advantages or limitations of this reform and the impact that it may have on reaching the millennium goals.

Ralalarimanga Honorine Claire Soa deals with "From the oral to the written: law and sustainable management of renewable natural resources in the Merikanjaka forest". Faced with the importance granted to traditional law by descendants of Andrianefitany in the preservation of renewable natural resources located in the forest of Merikanjaka. Since 1999, legislation has reflected an intent to harmonise with the cultural identity of the local community. Local securised management of renewable natural resources (GELOSE) initiated in the rural commune of Merikanjaka, District of Manjakandriana, takes into account local practices. As it is applied in a flexible manner to preserve the traditional spirit of fihavanana and dina, the number of contracts signed has increased. But certain problems, including those related to members of the base communities, persist and have to be resolved.

Randrianarison Mino and Philippe Karpe discuss: "The contract as a forest resource management tool: case of the Didy region" in Ambatondrazaka.

For more than a decade, the GELOSE contract constitutes one of the essential tools of the policy of rational management of forest resources. It involves the State, rural populations and communes. By its creation, it allows for compensating for material shortages of the forestry administration and increases involvement of rural populations in the sustainable development of resources. Due to the context of application in Didy (in particular the maintenance of the oral tradition), the effective and efficient implementation of the contract depends less on its form (drafting of clauses, penalties etc.) than the process followed prior to its conclusion and its ritualisation.

Radison Rakotoarisoa Célestin, Ramananarivo Romaine and Ramananarivo Sylvain expose the results of their research on strategy for sustainable development for land in Madagascar: "The land issue, an ancestral affair". The development of large surface area production zones has always been a concern of the Administration since colonisation. These zones present economic problems due to land saturation and/or under-exploitation implied by the notion of ancestral lands. The objective is to show that the application of the Torrens system by the ancestral management of land constitutes a tool for the exploitation of potentialities of arable lands in Madagascar. The zones under study, strongly marked by the history of land, constitute real case studies of the system. The historical approach allowed a determination of the basis of the concept of real property law and the appropriation of land. The necessity of a rural development plan becomes apparent. This plan determines the destination of lands based on their potentiality by typology to allow for a better climate of investment. This approach is recommended in the Regional Development Plans to upgrade agricultural investment zones. The present study refers to the role of the State in decentralisation of land management faced with the default of the domanial system.

Caroline Worth Seagle presents: "Deforestation and impoverishment in Madagascar: the government, degradation of land and nutritional insecurity over time. She is drawing up a balance sheet of successive policies in Madagascar. Ms Seagle describes successive policies; not only those of the government and their impact since the Merina empire, but also current development policies such as those of the IMF and the Word Bank, and commentary on the impacts on local populations.

Gaëtan Feltz and Mirana Razafimandimby disclose their investigations on "Sapphire and local development in the rural commune of Ranohira: the fokontany of Andohanilakaka and Manombobe (district of Ihosy, Ihorombe region)". The rush towards sapphire in the Ilakaka region started in 1998. The phenomenon contributed towards the creation of mid-sized communities and triggered the influx of foreigners and numerous migrants seeking to improve their condition. It thus gave rise to a new social environment, which had repercussions throughout the region. The question examined is whether the exploitation of sapphire may assist in the improvement of the standard of living of the population.

Rakoto Ignace presents his findings on "Rural insecurity related to cattle theft: a few solutions proposed". The zones of insecurity due to cattle theft are becoming larger according to surveys carried out in 2001 at the level of the communes. Insecurity related to the dahalo phenomenon (gangs of thieves) constitutes an important blockage of economic activity and obstacle to human development. Why has the repression of the theft of cattle proven to be so ineffective, notwithstanding the State's law enforcement arsenal and non-State instruments used since independence? Should the theft of cattle remain criminalised under current law? Should cases of cattle theft continue to be referred to special criminal courts? Is the application of the law satisfactory? What is the place reserved under informal law corresponding to the dina community convention?

Raminoharimalala Lisy Miadanirina discusses "New approach of basic teaching in Madagascar: performance and perspectives". The improvement and base teaching is one of the MDG in Madagascar. The approach by specialties (APC), implemented since 2005, aims to improve the quality of teaching. It in fact is a form of inventory: shortages and aging of teaching personnel, lowering of the dropout rate and increase of the success rate. She argues that the APC requires also some adjustments to improve basic education.

We hope that the ICMAA findings will contribute towards expanding the horizon of research and development in Madagascar.



Notes de bas de page

1  All titles with the exception of Ms Caroline Seagle’s article are translated here from the original French.

Pour citer cet article

L. Modeste Rakotondrasoa et Sandra J.T.M. Evers. «Malagasy Challenges in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Security, Competing Jurisdictions, Land Access and Livelihoods». TALOHA, numéro 19, 29 janvier 2010, http://www.taloha.info/document.php?id=892.