Junior ReefDoctors Tackle Littering

Junior ReefDoctors dancing at a presentation in Ifaty.Junior ReefDoctors provided an energetic presentation to Ifaty residents this weekend, aiming to address the problems of littering. The event was well attended by the children’s families, village Elders, teachers, fisheries association Fi.Mi.Ha.Ra, villagers and ReefDoctor representatives.

A poor and remote area of Madagascar, Ifaty lacks infrastructure for waste collection and management which inevitably results in the spread of litter across adjacent land and coastline. Through weekly classes at ReefDoctor and active participation in regular beach-cleans, the children learn the negative effects of littering and it’s impact on the marine environment, and are keen to spread awareness throughout the community.

Junior ReefDoctors make a powerful conduit for communicating the message of conservation to their families and wider community, who might otherwise not have time to give it much consideration. Presenting to a large audience also helps the children to gain self-confidence in public speaking and affords them the opportunity to share their beliefs with a wider audience.

Junior ReefDoctors dancing at a presentation in Ifaty.The event held at Ifaty’s school, opened with an enthusiastic speech by the school’s Director, followed by songs written by Junior ReefDoctors, individual presentations, performance and dance. Labelling the day a great success, Rinah Rakotondrazaka, ReefDoctor’s Head of Community Education said: “This was a great opportunity to teach the community about the dangers of their actions to the environment, through the Junior ReefDoctors. The children had a great time, as did the audience who’s feedback was universally positive. As a result of the event, there has even been talk of introducing new dina [local law] specifically addressing littering!”

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Seaweed Farming Reaches Amboaboaky

ReefDoctor’s alternative livelihoods project continues to grow, with ten farmers from the village of Amboaboaky this week receiving training to start their own seaweed farms. Encouraged by the success of seaweed farming in the nearby villages of Mangily and Ifaty, the community of Amboaboaky have embraced the activity and are enjoying learning the skills necessary to be successful seaweed farmers.

Seaweed farmer trainees from AmboaboakyAnd they have good role models. Their trainers are themselves successful seaweed farmers from the village of Ifaty. These trainers underwent intensive education in seaweed farming with technicians from ReefDoctor, and upon successful completion, graduated to the position of Seaweed Trainer. As a seaweed trainer, farmers engage with new communities, guiding and teaching them in the skills required to set up their own farm, with support from ReefDoctor. After assessment of this training period, trainers may advance to the position of Community Seaweed Technician. Community seaweed technicians have demonstrated the skills necessary to act as independent seaweed specialists, advancing their job prospects wherever seaweed is farmed.

For the new farmers of Amboaboaky, who also have the potential to advance through this training program, starting their own seaweed plot may be just the beginning of a truly sustainable alternative livelihood.

New Classroom is Almost Complete

ReefDoctor Volunteers raising the floor of the new classroom.In April 2015, a team from ReefDoctor and the villagers of Ifaty held a swimming relay race from the ReefDoctor camp to Rose Garden and back (that’s about 3km!), raising funds to refurbish an ageing classroom. This important project will provide a better place for Junior ReefDoctors, adult English classes and other community projects to take place. The Ifaty team enjoyed a comfortable win and a great day was had by all. The event was generously supported by Mangily-based businesses Atimoo Dive School, Hotel Princesse du Lagon, Hotel Les Dunes d’Ifaty and Hotel La Plage du Lagon and raised a grand-total of £750.

The refurbishment of the classroom began in July with ReefDoctor volunteers and interns helping to demolish the walls and roof. It took quite a few pairs of hands and some hard work to strip the classroom back to it’s shell.

Tradesmen laying a new vondro roof on the revamped classroom.Once this was done the staff, volunteers and interns set to work on a design for a bigger and better space with an outdoor area so that classes can be conducted comfortably all year round. Wood and vondro (reeds) were ordered for the rebuild and it was all hands on deck when the materials arrived. In August the walls were up and ReefDoctor members helped local builders to raise the concrete floor and extend outside. Some volunteers even got a lesson in thatching a vondro roof.

Boys on a Zebu cart deliver materials to the new classroomNow the classroom structure is almost finished and everyone is excited about putting the finishing touches to the project. The paint is on the way!

ReefDoctor, and all who use the classroom would like to thank the many friends, family and supporters who gave so generously and made this project possible. It will provide a wonderful learning space for all the community based projects conducted at ReefDoctor.

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1st MPA Day a Huge Success

Good attendance at the 1st MPA day in Mangily.On 17th August, the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) committee for Rose Garden and Ankaranjelita hosted a special event to present the great achievements of these successful marine parks in the touristic centre of Mangily. The MPA committee members ReefDoctor, FI.MI.HA.RA; the fisheries association for the Bay of Ranobe and local stakeholders (dive-shops and hoteliers) delivered an entertaining and informative afternoon.

Together, the committee manages two MPAs; Massif de Rose (Rose Garden) and Ankaranjelita. Both sites are coral reef systems situated within the Bay of Ranobe, where fishing is forbidden and tourist access is controlled in an effort to promote and aid their natural recovery. The MPAs also provide the local tourist industry with unique sites where shallow-water snorkelling and diving are easily accessible by boat or Pirogue (a type of out-rigger canoe). Tickets for entry can be purchased locally, the proceeds from which are directly invested into ongoing conservation and protection efforts.

ReefDoctor Juniors perform at the 1st MPA day in Mangily.The establishment of MPAs has become crucially important for the marine environment worldwide, particularly in areas of gross overfishing and exploitation. MPAs provide refuge to a wealth of otherwise declining species, allowing them to develop and thrive within a relatively safe environment. Evidence suggests that the proper management of MPAs can also help to increase and sustain fisheries stock in adjacent, unprotected areas.

Environment and fisheries government ministers, fishermen from the north of Madagascar on an exchange program funded by WWF, local fisherman, hoteliers and other businesses attended the MPA day, which aimed to promote the support of MPAs and to educate attendees on the continued work undertaken by the MPA committee within these areas. Presentations were given both in Malagasy and French to a well-attended audience. A special appearance was also made by the Junior ReefDoctors, who made their own presentation followed by the performance of a song written specifically for this event.

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Seaweed Taking Off in Ifaty

ReefDoctor’s alternative livelihoods project continues to grow, with the seaweed farmers of Ifaty celebrating their second harvest in July. Together, the farmers sold almost 900 kg of dried seaweed. Despite reduced growth rates due to cooler winter water temperatures, a number of farmers increased their level of production from their first sale, highlighting their commitment to this activity. In fact, since their last harvest, ReefDoctor helped farmers to double their capacity to process seaweed, as the farmers were growing more than they could process.
The second sale allowed farmers to appreciate the kind of regular income they can generate from farming seaweed. And it is beginning to make a difference. As one farmer said, he can supplement his income, improve his way of living and be more comfortable. “I used to dive for fish in the morning and afternoon, but now I only dive in the morning”, he said. By reducing the economic incentive to fish, there is less pressure on the ecosystem, and fish stocks have the chance to recover. A win-win situation for the people of Ifaty, and the coral reef.

Farmers having their dried seaweed weighed

Farmers having their dried seaweed weighed