After four years championing the rights and needs of Madagascar’s small-scale fishers, Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy has won the prestigious Whitley Award for local conservation leaders in the Global South.
Rakotondrazafy received this award on 1 May 2019, in recognition of her work coordinating the MIHARI Network, Madagascar’s network of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs).
Coastal communities in remote areas of Madagascar are amongst the poorest in the world, many lacking basic infrastructure and services. Fishing is often the only income-generating activity these communities can rely on for their survival.
MIHARI was created in 2012 as a platform for sharing best practice in sustainable fishing practices between fishers, LMMA members and NGO partners, and to develop management guidelines to safeguard Madagascar’s marine resources.
Under the coordination of Rakotondrazafy, who joined the network in 2015, MIHARI has grown into an important civil society organisation connecting over 200 community associations and NGOs, empowering Madagascar’s coastal communities and giving them a voice.
“I feel incredibly privileged to work on behalf of Madagascar’s small-scale fishers and help them to defend their rights at a national scale.” – Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy
In 2017, community leaders representing LMMAs from around the country presented three motions to Government representatives at the 4th National MIHARI Forum. These motions were the result of extensive consultations with communities and NGOs across the Network, which gathered together the voices and votes of more than 400 fishers. In 2018, MIHARI presented one of these motions to Madagascar’s Ministry of Fisheries, inspiring a commitment from the government to work towards establishing a reserved fishing zone for the country’s small-scale fishing communities.
With the Whitley Award, MIHARI intends to expand its operations to cover three more coastal regions in Madagascar, work with government partners to secure legal status for LMMAs, and support community leaders with comprehensive training in governance and management of their marine resources.
Blue Ventures is proud to be an active partner of the MIHARI Network, along with 20 other conservation and development NGOs. We were a founding member of this civil society movement in 2012, when we hosted the country’s first LMMA forum in partnership with the Velondriake LMMA association in Andavadoaka, southwest Madagascar. We congratulate Rakotondrazafy and the rest of the Network for their achievements, and look forward to supporting the expansion of their work in the coming years.
Read how Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy is getting women’s voices heard in the MIHARI Network.
Read more from the Whitley Fund for Nature about Vatosoa and the MIHARI Network.