Madagascar facing the COVID-19 epidemic

Madagascar aussi est touchée par l’épidémie de COVID-19. Au-delà de la crise sanitaire qui ne cesse de s’amplifier, le pays déjà fragile économiquement pourrait avoir du mal à s’en remettre. Et la nature déjà en péril fait quant à elle face à des pressions anthropiques renforcées ce qui laisse craindre la destruction irréversible de pans entiers du monde vivant si exceptionnel de la grande île.

La progression de l’épidémie à Madagascar

  • 20 mars – L’état malgache confirme 3 premiers cas de COVID-19, ferme les frontières et suspend les vols internationaux et régionaux.
  • 24 mars – Les villes d’Antananarivo et de Toamasina sont confinées. La 3ème ville du pays, Fianarantsoa, est confinée le 6 avril.
  • 8 avril – Le président annonce the discovery of a traditional remedy nommé « Covid-Organics » élaboré à partir d’armoise annuelle, précédemment mise en valeur dans le traitement du SARS en 2003.
  • 20 avril – Le confinement est en partie levé dans les villes concernées.
  • 6 juin – Madagascar franchit le cap des 1000 cas détectés.
  • June 24 – Madagascar dénombre au moins 15 décès liés au coronavirus et la courbe des contaminations ne donne aucun signe de ralentissement.
Courbe d'évolution du nombre de cas à Madagascar (28/06/20)

Evolution du nombre de cas à Madagascar (28/06/20)

Quelles conséquences pour le pays ?

La crise sanitaire liée à la pandémie COVID-19 a entraîné officiellement la mort de 15 personnes (au 24 juin) mais a surtout déclenché une crise économique et écologique qui aura des effets néfastes à long terme. Le pays, déjà économiquement très fragile, pourrait avoir des difficultés à surmonter ces nouvelles crises. Madagascar accuse en effet l’un des taux de pauvreté les plus élevés du monde : 75% of the population lives on less than 2 euros a day, according to the World Bank.

A food crisis is also looming with rice prices already exceeding their highest levels and which could continue to soar in the coming weeks. A risk that is far from being anecdotal when we know that Madagascar imports 200,000 tonnes of rice per month.

Rice is the staple of meals in Madagascar

Le secteur du tourisme à l’arrêt

Last year over 375,000 tourists visited Madagascar, spending nearly $ 900 million. Tourism represents more than 5% of the country's GDP and, with the closing of the borders, these are 641,000 local jobs related to tourism who are in peril.

To cope, a $ 347.5 million economic stimulus plan was developed by the government with financial assistance from the state, but also from the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Union (EU). The tourism sector should benefit from a small envelope of $ 15 million. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Joël Randriamandranto bet on national tourism despite a relative enthusiasm on the part of local agencies which have offers especially suited to foreign visitors.

Tourists leave for the Makay massif.

Forests even more threatened than usual

Economic disruptions have resulted in an increase in impacts on nature and COVID-19 has only reinforce an already precarious situation. Not less than 52,521 fire starts were detected between January and June 2020 in Madagascar, increasing in the same way in forests and non-forest areas. In the Atsimo Andrefana region, where is located the Makay, the latest detections reveal that in 2020, fires tripled in March and April, compared to previous years at the same period. Many natural areas are threatened (Antimena Protected Area, Kalambatritra Wildlife Reserve, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Ampanihy Domestic Forest in Sainte-Marie…).

The confinement and more precisely the ban on regional travel have favored criminal networks which have been able to act with complete impunity, especially in areas normally protected and supervised. And the loss of income linked in particular to the cessation of tourist activities in Madagascar has worsened the social and economic situation of many families, who then turned - more than usual - to the forests (which underlines that forests in good condition are insurance for times of crisis). Subsistence harvesting (coal mining, poaching, wild picking, illegal logging, etc.) are all ways of earning a little money ... and surviving.


Double peine sur les aires protégées

In this context under pressure, is added reduced income from protected areas. With the arrival of COVID-19, the cessation of tourism and the first containment measures, many protected areas, the New Protected Area of ​​Makay included, have decided to temporarily close.

Managers see a major impact of the crisis on conservation and their capacities for action, for several reasons :

  • increased anthropogenic pressures related to the loss of income linked to the cessation of tourism in particular;
  • the loss of funding from tourism (entrance fees to protected areas): tourism usually represents for example 30% of the annual income of the managing agency Madagascar National Parks ;
  • the decrease in foreign funding, most of the funding for conservation in Madagascar comes from Europe, hard hit by the economic crisis;
  • the absence of the field for a large part of the teams during this period, leaving the field open to all criminal activity.

The Makay and its plant walls.

Support the communities and forests of Makay

Faced with this economically and ecologically dramatic situation, Naturevolution is launching a call for solidarity to support the communities around the Makay in the face of the epidemic and, in fact, prevent irreversible environmental degradation. 100% of funds will go to communities impacted by the pandemic. Read more (in French).

To complete, we recommend three very good articles on this subject:

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