Tany Meva FoundationAntananarivo, Madagascar
Published April 10, 2008
Balancing Conservation and Human Needs on the "Eighth Continent"
Madagascar, sometimes called “the eighth continent,” has a remarkable ecosystem, home to five percent of the world’s plant and animal species. The island has 12,000 native plants; 90 percent of them are found nowhere else on earth. Almost 20 million people live on Madagascar, most of them in poverty.
Tany Meva, created in 1996, is the nation’s first environmental foundation. One of its principal goals has been to generate consistent funding for community conservation. It seeks to increase sustainable use of the environment, to educate and empower communities, and to save threatened forests. The Foundation helps local people manage their natural resources, promotes development, and encourages the use of renewable energy sources.
Almost all families in Madagascar use firewood and charcoal to cook and to heat their homes, putting the island’s forests under extreme pressure. Using microcredit loans, Tany Meva has helped hundreds of families acquire better energy kits that enable them to use solar, ethanol, and fuel-efficient wood stoves, and hydroelectric battery chargers for lighting. These kits save money and improve the quality of air within houses. The loans also bring broader access to credit and banking services to areas that have had almost no access to financial institutions.
Based in the capital, Antananarivo, Tany Meva works in all six provinces and fourteen regions of Madagascar, with a particular focus on the province of Toliara in the southwest. Toliara is the island’s poorest region, with a weak infrastructure and distinctive culture that separates it from the mainstream. The climate is largely arid and the landscape dominated by the spectacular spiny forest and its endemic species, including the ring-tailed and sifaka lemurs. Vulnerable to desertification, the effects of climate change, and a loss of biodiversity, Toliara is one of the top conservation priorities in the country.
Tany Meva is making conservation part of life in Madagascar, giving it reliable funding, consistent administration, and relevance to the lives of ordinary people. Its work is helping to preserve life on earth’s rarest treasures.
Tany Meva will use its $350,000 award to establish a regional training and information center in southwest Madagascar, and to create a revolving energy fund that assists poor households to purchase renewable energy kits.
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