Socieconomic baseline study of the situation for families producing algae in Nosy Ankao and in Andovonkonko - Emerald Bay (North-East in Madagascar)
Background Original document was produced in French, and translated to Norwegian with the title Sosioøkonomisk aktualitetsstudie om situasjonen til algedyrkende familier i Nosy Ankao og i Andovonkonko - Emerald Bay (nordøst i Madagaskar). The SPIM project was started up in 2004. The development objective of the project is to: Contribute to poverty reduction in coastal regions of northern Madagascar through introducing cultivation of the seaweed cottonii as a cash crop and obtain sufficient production levels to maintain viable commercial enterprises in the business of buying and exporting dried cottonii on Madagascar. The immediate objectives are to:Strengthen and support the cottonii production on Nosy Ankao, and to introduce and support seaweed farming in Emerald Bay and at Nosy Be until the production reaches commercial sustainable levels at each site.The project needed increased socioeconomic information to measure developments for the algae producers and their families both in terms of economy, sociocultural aspects, education, health, organisation, gender relations - in addition to the economic development of the algae production. Purpose/objective To get baseline data to measure socioeconomic development. Methodology To conduct this study, a methodology that was participative had to be used. The study was fulfilled with 3 weeks of fieldwork in addition to analysis of documentation. During fieldwork there were meetings with the local project coordinator, the local partner with responsibility for fulfilling the project, interviewing/ discussing/ observing the work of the algae producers - included as parts of visits to the two geographic locations of the project, visiting local governmental institutions and organisations. To obtain information the common techniques for social studies was used: documenting, observing, interviewing, and in addition to this; life histories. But concerning the study of the social and economic realities for the algae producers and their families, it was necessary, due to time constraints, to use a section of the population and interview 1/5 of the algae producing population through a representative selection. Key findings The main conclusions from the external consultant was:- Algae production in the North-East of Madagascar is a relevant activity on the environmental level and profitable at the economic level.- The social relations present various favourable factors for algae production- The general profile of the algae producers is that they are well placed for this activity. Especially when looking at the activities that the producers have been involved in before starting up with algae production which is a new activity: agriculture, industry, mining, handicrafts and commerce - where the mode of ife is close to the mode of life related to algae production- The economic situation for the algae producers are the following at the upstart of the project: 54% of the farmers cover own expenses for food, while 25% in addition have funds (money) to transfer money to family and make investments (mainly within house construction/ amelioration and others related to the family). In addition 38% have a monthly income which is approximately the same as the average income for producers in the countryside (= MGF 2 300 000). Some problems are indicated:- The lack of organisation of the farmers blocs for an open dialogue in the project- The price to the farmers of the algae should be higher. This is the reason for the project: increased training in algae production and how to combat diseases and increased production materials should lead to increased production - which in turn shall lead to increased payment also per unit. Recommendations Based on the finding as indicated above, the following recommendations were given. The study was a socioeconomic and baseline study at the start of the project which initially should solely document the present situation - but the recommendations given have nonetheless helped and supported initial ideas about additional work that needed to be done in the project:- Parallell to the present technical and professional training and counselling, a permanent system for training of the farmers should be established.- The creation of an association should rapidly be motivated for the algae producers in the two geographic areas.- Some of the main tasks of this organization should be to negotiate the prices of the algae to the farmers, discuss improvements of the socioeconomic living conditions of the farmers (building infrastructure, implementation of a further credit system, etc) Comments from the organisation Generally, Norges Vel is of the opinion that the study contributes with good socioeconomic information since it specifies traditional modes of living for people in the region where the algae project is located, mechanisms for integration that are common, it specifies certain important taboos, shows possibilities and constraints in the algae production, gives basic economic data on the algae producers, gives indications on their level of food security and suggests certain points for further consideration in the project. The local consultant suggested quantitative indicators for sociocultural effects and for socioeconomic results in the project. Sociocultural effect indicators include to which degree the group that is in a stronger position understands and respects the main taboos and takes into consideration the most important structures of the group that is in a weaker position (scaling it from 3 with max. understanding to 1 with low understanding); to which degree the algae producers have developed a feeling of ownership to the project and level of application of instructions given by trainers (by looking at level of algae production and income from algae production per farmer). The study has generally contributed to increased understanding of the sociocultural situation. In practice this is shown through further reinforcement of the training (in how to respond to damage from fish/ other problems and focusing on how to increase production). Project personnel took contact with local organizations working with health and education - in 2005 a doctor visited the site every month and establishment of complementary projects focussing on health centres was discussed with possible partners. The algae producers themselves were involved in starting up local schools. This should contribute to increased ownership to the new sites of living. In 2005 there was observed an increase in algae producers which is above expected project results for the year.