10 June 2024
Local essential services Madagascar

Sustainable and fair water management in Madagascar

Projet de gestion durable des ressources en eau à Madagascar

Water is a vital resource for populations. In Madagascar, across the vast expanses of the Haute Matsiatra and Amoron’i Mania regions (in the centre of the country), managing water is difficult. Conflicts around use are frequent between inhabitants sharing the same watersheds. In this context, GRET and Agrisud International are combining efforts to promote fairer management of water resources through the Marindrano project, which was officially launched in April 2024.

Water management, a system raising many challenges

In three communes in the Haute Matsiatra and Amoron’i Mania regions, inhabitants source their water from the Ifanindrona and Ivato basins. These resources are mainly used for agricultural and livestock farming activities, and by a hydroelectric plant. However, lack of regulation in water distribution generates conflicts between users in the same commune when activities upstream of the basin are detrimental to activities downstream. Some restrict access to water sources in their territory or divert the flow from the dam, causing a decrease in available water flow for users downstream. These conflicts can spread between two different geographic zones, especially during low-flow periods.

The environmental dimension is also alarming. Deforestation, charcoal production, use of chemical pesticides and gold mining all have an impact on water quality and reduce available resources.

Integrated water resources management, an alternative for inclusive water management

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is a holistic approach aimed at coordinating water resources management among the various users. The objective is to optimise the latter’s economic and social wellbeing, without compromising the integrity of the natural environment.

The “Marindrano” project  follows on from the Rhyviere[1] project, initiated in 2014 by GRET in the Sofia and Haute Matsiatra regions. This project marked significant progress in rural electrification via hydro-electric micro-plants, integrating the socio-economic and environmental aspects in its approach. Measures to protect the Ifanindrona watershed were implemented, including the creation of the RAISAHA platform, which brings together associations working for the protection of watersheds. An agreement on sharing of water was also concluded, with this same objective. These experiences laid the bases for more sustainable, fairer management of this vital resource.

The principles of order for the implementation of the new integrated water resources management project conducted by GRET and Agrisud International are joint, participatory and concerted management.

The first stage of the project is focusing on strengthening the mechanism for Payment for Environmental Services (PES) in order to fund environmental protection actions across the Ifanindrona basin. This phase also aims to improve management of the RAISAHA platform.

Technical and socio-environmental studies will be conducted in Ivony for the installation of a future hydroelectric site, in the Amoron’i Mania region. Taking an inclusive approach, this action actively involves all stakeholders in the development of an IWRM action plan – in particular local communities: farmers, gold miners, livestock farmers, energy producers, and all users of these water resources.

Informing reflection on IWRM

GRET’s position consists of facilitating dialogue, and putting local and national institutional IWRM actors in contact with each other. Agrisud International is providing agricultural support to farmers, delivering training on agricultural techniques suited to soil characteristics and agricultural practices influencing water resources.

By producing indepth knowledge on the water resource and its uses in the Ifanindrony and Ivony watersheds, the teams working in the Marindrano project are feeding into reflection on IWRM at national level. The commitment made by public institutions is strengthening the implementation of this management.

The Marindrano project is funded by the Rhône Méditerranée Corse Water Agency, with the support of Agence Française pour le développement.

[1] Rhyviere is the French acronym for “Réseau hydroélectrique villageois : énergie et respect de l’environnement” (Village-based hydroelectric network: energy and respect for the environment)

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