Targeting the remote Androy and Anosy regions – about four hours from the capital, Antananarivo – WFP’s Rapid Rural Transformation initiative provides solar energy hubs, a sustainable water source and digital health checksin collaboration with the government.
The benefits to communities are many and welcome: energy, water and digital platforms, all delivered in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, the UN agency said.
Equally important is that the project strives for it promote basic development, while at the same time responding to the most pressing needs of rural communities. If successful, WFP plans to take the idea to other villages and regions.
“With this pilot project we will facilitate the transformation of the countryside, even in geographically isolated areasthrough the provision of clean water for irrigation, the operation of healthcare facilities, the expansion of entrepreneurial opportunities and the development of their agricultural value chains,” said Jocelyn Raharimbola, Governor of Anosy Region.
“After years of food insecurity, data on the ground show an improvement in the nutritional situation thanks to emergency interventions and cooperation with authorities like WFP.”
The initiative is managed by regional authorities and allows partners to provide additional services, including entrepreneurial training for women and younger members of the community.
Online classes are available on sustainability, business skills, and farming, enhanced by easy-to-install solar-powered drip irrigation and hydroponic systems. The program environmentally responsible and sustainable approach is a game-changersaid Tomson Phiri, WFP Regional Communications Lead and spokesperson for Southern Africa.
“If there’s one thing the people of the South have, it’s the abundance of sunlight; it’s hot, it’s dry…we are setting up solar powered hubs that will provide a sustainable source of water to the sites I have visited, we have introduced ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to these remote areas, making essential services can be provided be it energy, green energy, be it water and digital platforms for community members.”
Mr Phiri, speaking via Zoom from the capital, Antananarivo, told journalists in Geneva that while cyclone season was in the north, the south was experiencing near-drought conditions.
Food insecurity remains an ever-present threat, the WFP spokesperson continued, with 2.2 million people in the southern and southeastern regions of Madagascar experiencing high levels of food insecurity during the pre-harvest period between now and April 2023.
Mr Phiri said the hubs provided digital classrooms for students: “I saw young people, we have dreams there, I met people, we even started craft businesses. I saw a welder who was just starting to use solar energy for his own business, saw a barber shop, I saw a community brought together by technology.”
Madagascar is among the 10 most vulnerable countries in the world to disasters and is considered the most cyclone-exposed country in Africa, according to the WFP.
The UN agency added that the regions of Androy and Anosy joined the sharp end to the climate crisis and have high rates of chronic malnutrition in children under five years of age.
The Rapid Rural Transformation (RRT) initiative combines two climate risk mitigation strategies to help people: better management of natural resources through improved agricultural techniques to protect food production and diversification of their livelihoods to withstand climate shocks.
The UN’s WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization that saves lives in emergencies and uses food aid to pave a path to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disaster and the impacts of climate change.