Climate witness: Pierre Chrysostome, Madagascar



Posted on 30 April 2012  | 
Chrysostome showing the approaching sand dunes
© WWF / Eirik LindebjergEnlarge
My name is Pierre Chrysostome and I live in the village of Antsikoroke (Ampanihy Ouest) near Androka Vao in southern Madagascar. I am 65 years old but I still feel young. I just retired from a long service as a teacher at the local primary school. Now, I live off my chickens and my sweet potato garden. Two of my sons are fishermen, and they give me some fish when they get some. I have 12 children between the age of 35 and 7. We wanted six, but you know, it’s difficult to stop…

Antsikoroke was not always my village. My real hometown doesn’t exist anymore. Old Androka became a victim of the change in climate. As long as I can remember the sand dunes have been growing, and they started to threaten Androka Ela.

Then in 2005 came the cyclone Erneste. The cyclone made the river Linta grow big and it destroyed the whole town. We have to abandon Androka Ela, but you can still see the ruins of my old house, now covered by sand and bushes. The dunes still advance, and now they are threatening our fields in Antsikoroke.

There has been a huge change in climate in my lifetime. I remember when it rained from October to February. Now, we have rain from November to January. The rain is also not as regular as before. It can be dry for long periods, even in the rainy season. This is impacting agriculture in my region. I get less and less from my potato and tomato fields each year. Everyone involved in agriculture experience the same. A dryer climate gives lower yields, and many families go hungry. This means that more and more people turn towards the ocean to get food.

I am a Vezo. That means I belong to the fishermen’s tribe. I know how to fish, and some of my sons are fishermen. The conditions for fisheries have changed a lot as well. It is much more difficult to be a fisherman now than it was before. When I was young, 2 hours of fishing was enough to fill the boat. Now, they’re out there all day and come back with nearly nothing.

There are several reasons for this. First, the dryer climate inland force more people to fish. Second, the river transport more sand now. Deforestation and a dryer climate is the reason for that. The sand covers the reef and fills all holes that the fish, lobsters and octopus like to hide in.

It will be a lot of challenges for my children to stay here in the future. I guess they have to depend on fishing. Some of them are already educated and have moved to Toliara.

WWF Volunteer Eirik Lindebjerg

Chrysostome showing the approaching sand dunes
© WWF / Eirik Lindebjerg Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required