Accès Eau: Enhanced Water Access for Bio-diversity Conservation and Community Well-being on the Mahafaly Plateau, Madagascar
The Mahafaly Plateau in southwestern Madagascar has a high rate of poverty and some of the lowest rainfall in the country. Over the last 40 years, the central and eastern parts of the plateau have experienced increasing variability in precipitation and longer dry spells. Due to water scarcity, people living here are forced to spend much of their income buying water. The lack of access to water is influencing decisions around income-generating activities. Increasingly, people are choosing to earn money through unregulated charcoal production and are clearing trees for agriculture and livestock. While both bring in quick revenue, they degrade protected areas, increasing the vulnerability of the population in the long run. Local regulations for the management of natural resources usually fail to consider water scarcity issues. Meanwhile, mapping of water resources in the plateau has been limited and the future impact of climate change on water resources is unknown. This project aims to address these gaps in knowledge by mapping groundwater and surface water resources. Using rainfall variability data and predictions, researchers will assess current and future water quality and availability. They will also analyze how cultural practices and management structures at the village and communal levels regulate and influence water use. Based on the results of these studies, water management approaches will be tested in three pilot sites in the communes of Beantake, Masiaboay, and Itampolo to determine effectiveness, and environmental and socio-economic impact. In collaboration with the regional water authority, research and case study results will be used to build a model of enhanced water management. This model will be shared and discussed with the Ministry of Water, regional and communal boards, and village water committees.