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WWF Office in Madagascar © WWF

I am Richard NIYOMUGABO, 24 years, coming from Rwanda. I studied biology at the National University of Rwanda in the option of zoology and conservation.
At the end of my studies in October 2012, I started searching for a place where I could get the opportunity to apply my skills and hence acquiring much experience in conservation. I really wanted to know how big institutions like WWF are dealing with conservation issues.

One day, my friend told me that there is an opportunity with WWF Explore program to participate in their volunteer program around the world; then I went to WWF’s website and applied in the placement country of Madagascar. Finally I was selected in the 2nd group of 2013 to work on the project MJO946 “INNOVATIVE COMMUNITY FINANCE MECHANISM’’ which was based in the District of Fandriana.

At WWF Office in Madagascar 
© WWF / Richard Niyomugabo

About the project
Fandriana District is located in central Madagascar. It is part of Amoron’i Mania Region. Its city is Fandriana. The district is further divided into 13 communes. Our group worked in two communes: Ankarinoro and Miarinavaratra.

The main objective of the project was to improve the livelihoods of local population living around the Forest Corridor Fandriana-Marolambo.
The Corridor Fandriana-Marolambo is on the list of WWF’s ecosystems to be protected due to its ecological importance.

We worked with the associations which are working with WWF-Fandriana in different sites of the District of Fandriana.

We participated in different activities of the project such as: Participating in income generating activities and surveys about capacity development and household incomes; installation of nurseries, identification and inventory of autochthonous plants; restoration activities like reforestation and follow-up of restoration.


It was a great experience to work with WWF. During this program I had time to learn a lot of things about conservation and about the planet’s degradation not only that but I also had chance to discover a new culture which was unknown to me, Malagasy culture.

Before joining WWF-Explore program, I thought that conservation was all about policies and rules to protect our environment but I discovered that I was wrong because conservation is a long process, it takes time to teach people about conservation, tell them why they need to protect their nature, what the consequences of deforestation, why to use sustainably their natural resources and what they have to do to stop that degradation.
I enjoyed and liked to work with local communities in different activities of the project. In our daily activities we shared our knowledge with local associations which are working with WWF in FANDRIANA.

During my stay in Madagascar, I learnt a lot about Malagasy culture. I saw kind people with always smiles on their faces that are really willing to help you anytime. Looking on how you could find in the same association children, parents and their grandparents was a great indicator to me that their families are much more linked and they are really attached to their families.

 I would like to thank WWF for the opportunity they gave me to discover a new life, to enrich my experience as a future conservationist, to explore the challenges our nature is facing and how WWF is dealing with those issues in developing countries. I am grateful for the chance I got to explore Madagascar especially its biodiversity.

My deepest gratitude goes to all the volunteers for the moments we passed through together, for the knowledge we shared, working with them was very fruitful for me, I learnt a lot from them.
Last but not least, I want to thank all Malagasy people for their hospitality, for their kindness and for their support; you made my stay much more pleasant.


Video on Environment Day in Vatomitsangana