Madagascar—HARENA Activity

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2024-2029

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Madagascar

Solutions: Environment Climate Governance

Madagascar has endured significant loss of biodiversity and forest cover as well as high levels of land degradation over the past 50 years. Unfortunately, traditional conservation and land use approaches have had little impact on these trends. Corruption, insecurity, and lack of transparency and accountability have further exacerbated the threats, root causes, and drivers of these issues.

Impoverished people with few options practice unsustainable forest clearing for subsistence agriculture and cash-crop production to support their livelihoods, leading to dramatic land use change. This is one of the most pervasive direct threats to Madagascar’s biodiversity and forests. Other widespread threats include unsustainable natural resource extraction, mining, and the illegal wildlife trade.

The Holistic Actions for Resilience of Environment and Advancement (HARENA) of communities activity, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), works to reduce these threats to biodiversity and forests, improve conservation, and build resilience to climate change; develop sustainable, economic opportunities for the poor; and improve environmental governance in Madagascar.

Taking a multisectoral approach, HARENA (also Malagasy for “wealth”) works across local economic and social systems to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity—drivers that lead communities in Madagascar to rely on areas of high biodiversity for their basic needs.

HARENA has three themes, encompassing nature, wealth, and power: natural resource and protected area management, and biodiversity and forest conservation (nature); improved, climate-resilient livelihoods and private sector engagement for enhanced human well-being and socioeconomic outcomes (wealth); and natural resource and protected area governance (power).

Focused in three geographic zones with high biodiversity value and high potential for land-based climate change mitigation, HARENA implements five strategic approaches:

  • Improving the sustainable management of natural resources, with a focus on biodiversity, land, forests, and protected areas;
  • Promoting sustainable, climate-resilient, market-led, diversified agricultural livelihoods—including complementary natural resource products (such as tree crops)—to improve livelihoods and ecosystems services;
  • Enhancing national, regional, and local governance, advocacy, and anti-corruption efforts around natural resource, land, and water management;
  • Increasing local resilience to prepare for and adapt to climate change and other shocks; and
  • Strengthening land use management through spatial planning at the communal level and securing land rights through effective implementation of Madagascar’s land tenure policy.

Sifaka Lemur Park.JPG

Sample Activities

  • Support the design and implementation of community-based land management plans.
  • Support seed and input systems to enhance farm resilience.
  • Advance business and marketing skills (with climate-smart approaches); promote contracts or other mechanisms with market-ready farming associations and cooperatives.
  • Improve smallholder producer access to a wide range of financial products and services along the value chains that allow them to engage fully in mutually advantageous market transactions.
  • Leverage social enterprises for reforestation, forest restoration, and agroforestry.
  • Provide technical assistance to large corporations to help them improve the intended impact of corporate social programs on their communities’ economic well-being while conserving the surrounding environment.


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