Tapping into young people’s energy is key to shifting from conflict to coexistence, according to Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka.
Julie is Executive Director of Madagasikara Voakajy (MAVOA): a two-time SOS Grantee focused on working in the Mangabe new protected area in north-central Madagascar. The NGO’s most recent project aims to save lemurs by developing sustainable alternative livelihood opportunities for Mangabe’s young people and represents the ultimate win-win deal, she asserts.
Having assembled her project team from local young adults, the grassroots NGO is ready to implement the first-phase of its innovative Youths for Lemurs and Lemurs for Youths project: attracting volunteers for the competition that is the central activity for 2016-2017. Currently, the team draws on a mix of expertise: agriculture, forestry, and skills in leading youth teams as well as a primatologist.
Blending gamification with practical skills training and coaching, the project aims to empower local young adults by participating in team-based contests in improved agriculture, improved poultry husbandry and tree planting.
Aligning the conservation message with the benefits of these activities, the project hopes to inspire a new generation of lemur conservation ambassadors driving social and economic development in the villages around Mangabe.
This will help protect both Indri and Diademed Sifaka species which rely on habitat that suffers from increasing fragmentation, driven primarily by a reliance on slash and burn agriculture and a growing human population. The top ten teams will be invited to present their initiatives to a panel during the Alaotra-Mangoro Region Fair in 2017.
The success of this project however relies on its inspiring leadership team, reminds Julie “and how they impact the targeted youth teams with their passion”. To this end, recruiting locally was important and strategic - developing career opportunities as well as livelihood prospects. For example Youth Project Officer Jessica Raharimalala and Youth Project Assistant Falinirina Berthino Rakotonandrasana joined MAVOA in December 2015 and February 2016 respectively, recruited for their attitude as well as abilities.
“This project will enhance my future career: It is an opportunity for me to get to know the way young people think and see life in Mangabe while working closely with them and helping them address their livelihood challenges” elaborates Jessica.
For Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka, gamification may be a novel way to engage in sustainable nature conservation initiatives, but picking the right team stacks the odds in her favour and it seems she is off to a good start with Jessica and Fali in support.
This is just one of 11 projects supported by the SOS Lemurs initiative. Lemurs are the most threatened group of mammals on the planet- almost 90% of species are threatened with extinction. They only live on Madagascar. SOS is working to fund even more lemur projects like this one. With your continued support we can.
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