Trouble in paradise
WWF in Ivohibe
WWF recognizes the interconnectedness of the health of the environment and the well-being of the people in the communities around Ivohibe, including my little paradise Ihorononda, and aims to protect the environment and villagers by giving people the tools to use the forest responsibly and improve their quality of life. Here are some of the activities the WWF does to help. First of all, WWF supports local organizations (COBAs) to make an impact on the community as a whole and not just a few individuals. Working with these organizations, the WWF introduces new intense rice cultivation techniques, which are up to 6-7 times more productive and require less water compared to traditional methods. WWF teaches locals how to cultivate different vegetables, fish and bees in order to introduce more variety into their diet and give them an alternative income to charcoal production. To protect the forest, villagers are given the tools necessary to plant new trees, including fast growing eucalyptus trees for their own use in cooking and building, and native species to restore the natural forest.
Our work as volunteers ran parallel to the ongoing work of WWF in the area. Our first goal was to get everyone involved. Toward this end, we held workshops on how to organize, plan and realize new projects both with the support of WWF and independently. As a practical example, we built tree nurseries with the villagers to grow new trees. Looking to see if everybody was participating, we noticed that women were left on the sidelines and upon a suggestion coming from the women we decided to help create women’s organizations. One of the most rewarding moments for me was to see the establishment of two new women’s organizations by the time we left. To motivate vegetable planting and improve health, we talked about the importance of a balanced diet. When we say everybody, let’s not forget the children. There is an incredible number of children and it is their future that is at stake. To increase the children’s interest in nature, we organized painting activities, staged a play written by one of our group members with a chameleon as the main character, taught songs about animals and made movie projections. In order to strengthen the ties between neighboring villages and to increase awareness, the volunteer group made radio programs talking about the activities of WWF, success stories from the communities and the local news, and broadcast them from a local radio station
The future of the paradise I found beyond the mountains and many others like it is still unclear, but my hope is that with the efforts of WWF in the area, it will be a bright one. I hope to see the communities become self-sufficient and the people live in harmony with the unique nature around them. As a volunteer, it was an honor to work with the motivated WWF agents in the area and to be part of this effort.