By James Herrera, Ph.D.
Published February 17, 2023
The Duke Lemur Center (DLC) at Duke University houses the most diverse population of lemurs outside of Madagascar. In Madagascar, the DLC has many conservation and research activities, including the DLC-SAVA Conservation project, a community-based approach to safeguarding biodiversity and human livelihoods in the northeast.
In February 2023, it was with great honor that the DLC-SAVA program welcomed US Ambassador Claire A. Pierangelo, delegates from the Embassy, USAID Mission Director for Madagascar Anne Williams and her team, as well as representatives from the National Cooperative Business Association.
Ambassador Pierangelo and her team visited the DLC headquarters in the city of Sambava before taking a trip to the New Generation School Garden (NGSG), an interpretive center and demonstration site for sustainability and conservation. DLC-SAVA collaborates with partner Evrard Benasoavina, the owner, founder, and operator of the NGSG, who graciously hosted the Embassy visit. (Videos of NGSG, as well as other DLC-SAVA Conservation projects, can be viewed in this curated series of short films.)
Ambassador Pierangelo and colleagues were introduced to the goals and educational programming of the NGSG, followed by a tour of the ~10-acre property. Evrard’s mission with the NGSG is to demonstrate for the people of SAVA region how agroecology and agroforestry are used to restore landscapes while generating abundant and diverse products. Planting thousands of trees on his land, Evrard now exhibits more than a dozen species of fruit and spice trees, such as the cinnamon used to make tea for the visitors while they toured the garden.
Evrard also demonstrates proper animal husbandry, with poultry, goats, and aquaculture. The NGSG hosts visits by primary schools in which students from around the region come for a three-part sequential learning lesson plan. Other valued contributors include local youth groups, as well as international stakeholders at multiple levels interested in conservation, research, and development.
In addition to visiting Evrard and his team, the Embassy team learned more about the DLC-SAVA program from staff members James Herrera and Lanto Andrianandrasana, on-site coordinators for all activities. Other participating stakeholders were Christophe Manjaribe, the Director of the university in the SAVA region, CURSA, and teachers from CURSA who are also pursuing Ph.D. degrees with fellowships from DLC. Ambassador Pierangelo and her partners learned about the diverse subjects taught at CURSA and the research being conducted by its faculty.
The visit concluded with a traditional Malagasy lunch, and more time for discussions in smaller groups. The DLC and CURSA representatives learned a great deal about the diverse projects in Madagascar spearheaded by the Embassy, USAID, and other partners. Together, they identified several areas of overlap in which they can forge future collaborations, including development for rural communities in diversified farming and livelihood strategies.
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