Travel diary : Madagascar

Hi everyone,

A small step for a big country ! Mdagascar is 1,5 times the size of France and rich of 18 different ethnies officially (but there are actually more). You may have heard about Madagascar recently due to its political context… Since the end of April, there have been quite a lot of tension in the capital, Anatananarivo, where many people are protesting against the modification of the constitution that the president is trying to implement. Apparently it’s a matter of changing the electoral partitions (in his favour) in the scope of the next election expected for the end of the year. And unfortunately the protests can lead to gun’s firing, there have already been several casualties…

In this quite uncertain context, the IOC (Indian Ocean Commission) asked us to meet with the artists from the show « Azafady, ça peut pas durer » we had met in the Comoros, and to follow them in Madagascar. The program is then to start with Antananarivo (or Tana), then to go to Mahajunga and to end with Ambatoloaka (on the island of Nosy Be). So here we go for a short timing, 3 weeks for 3 towns separated by respectively one and two driving days !

Since we stayed in the Comoros and met the teachers of the french school there, we got in contact with other french schools of the Indian Ocean. And espacially a secondary school teacher who was waiting for us in Tana ! What’s more, she’s from Agen ^^ No need to tell you we were warmly welcomed at our arrival in Madagascar ! First by Pierre, our friend making the Travel Diary on Energy, who was waiting for us at the airport, and then by a nice team of teachers in Tana for the duration of our stay, a week before meeting again with the theater troup. Our planning got scheduled quickly between the primary schools and the secondary one for some animations. Too bad there was a day off in the middle…

Our first animations in Tana

To be ready sooner, we mostly re-used the activities we had made in the first two islands and adapted them to the context of Madagascar, which worked well.

Animations in the french secondary school

Here, the electricity is managed and distributed by a company called Jirama. The majority is produced in thermal plants with gasoil, fully imported. The hydroelectricity represents the second source of energy distributed on the grid (mainly in big towns), while solar energy represents the majority provided in rear areas, which have a really poor access to electricity.

A thermal plant of the Jirama on the left, a drawing from the Travel Diary on Energy on the right

The energy coming from the sun, wind and water presents a great development potential in Madagascar which would allow the country to be energy sufficient. According to the estimations, the hydropower alone could provide 7800 MW of which only 2% are currently used. Enough to easily answer the energy needs of the whole island and more.

The electrification of the country, while hard to quantify on such a large area, is one of the greatest energy challenges of Madagascar. According to the estimations it reaches a bit more than 50% in urban areas and barely more than 5% in rural areas, for a total of 15% at the country’s scale.

Because of the objectives of the New Energy Policy which aims at a goal of 70% of electrification from 2030, a better energy efficiency is essential to control and manage the coming growth in energy demand while reducing as much as possible the load-shedding issues.

The discussions with the students we met (from primary to secondary levels) were really rich ! We were amazed by the level of comprehension of the Energy challenges by 10 years old children. The students of secondary school, on their side, imagined various and relevant alternatives to our polluting transport means. Really interesting discussions !

Our stay in Tana ends with the « Voices of Ecology » day, organised by the theater troup in the french alliance of Tana. Other associations are there and it’s a chance to discover nice local projects and to talk about our’s with a whole lot of motivated people.

A looonnnng trip

Now let’s head for Mahajunga by bus : a full day trip ! We enjoy the great views from the road, we progressively leave the high altitudes to get closer to the coast. In Mahajunga the french alliance awaits us for a day of animations ending with the show. Installed in the library, we improvised different sessions of animations with the children there, depending on their age.

The red cirque of Mahajunga, beautiful.

Animations on Energy in the library of the french alliance

Then heading for Nosy Be on a 2 days trip this time ! Here again some various amazing landscapes await us along the road… seeing that much beautiful places in such little time is frustrating again but remains better than seeing it even faster from a plane. We see an incredible amount of small villages, almost all of which do not have electricity of course… From time to time we see a little solar panel on a roof 🙂

Different transport means 🙂

On the left our boat for Nosy Be, on the right a poster of the association Miaraka

Arriving in Ankify, we need to take a boat to Nosy Be and then a taxi to the city of Ambatoloaka where Manuella from the association Miaraka (meaning « together ») await us, an incredible encounter ! Their association leads many social and educational actions. We were warmly welcomed and even hosted in a house under renovation lent by a nearby hotel, a great chance in this touristic part of Madagascar which let us feel less far from the daily lives of the local people. This part of the island is unfortunately known for its tourism of prostitution, the wealth differences not helping a lot…

We organized an animation for 9-10 years old children from a school next to the « touristic center » of the town (one street). Then the last representation of the show closed the tour of the Indian Ocean for the theater troup. On the next day, we are heading back to Mauritius where we have to stop on our way to Seychelles because the direct flights have been cancelled since the beginning of the pulmonary plague at the end of last year. We stay there for a few days, the time to write down the explanations of the new animations and some news, and then we head for our last step, Seychelles islands, where our animations start on the 4th of June. We should be back to France end of June.

What will remain of this short stay, which only let us see a tiny part of the life in Madagascar (we would need years to see it deeply anyway), is that it is a beautiful country to which we would wish less difficulties. The complexity of the local context makes this island an incredible place of which the many faces are hard to apprehend and of which many remain unknown to us at the time we are leaving.

See you again for our next adventures in the Indian Ocean 😉


SolaR’hythm Team