Project Sekoly Construction of a Primary School

Project location: Madagascar, Anosy Region
Project start date: January 2009 - Project end date: October 2009
Project number: 2008-30
Beneficiary: AZAFADY


There is great need for resources throughout the Malagasy educational system. Children in rural communities forgo rights to formal education because there are simply no schools to attend. As a result only 27% young people 11-14 are enrolled in school, one of the poorest records globally, lower than average for sub-Saharan Africa. A key challenge of the government’s Madagascar Action Plan is to create a successful primary-lower secondary education system by “increasing school capacities in vulnerable zones, through development of infrastructures and recruitment of teachers.” This project fulfills a priority objective for Anosy Region: a primary school for Volobe village, Mahatalaky Commune. Fort Dauphin, where Azafady is based, is an isolated town in the southeast of Madagascar, in Anosy Region. The region is one of the most impoverished in the country due to 40 years of almost no intervention or investment by the state or service providers. The majority of people live in extremely isolated rural communities surrounding the regional capital. Communities lack even the most basic services and are isolated from their neighbours. The region’s population suffers one of the lowest per capita incomes and highest rates of disease, infant mortality (34% in some communities) and illiteracy (over 80% in rural areas).
The rural Commune of Mahatalaky is made up of 16 fokontanies, or villages, each of which is made up of several outlying hamlets. The Commune is vast and communities isolated from each other. Several fokontanies have no access by road. The primary school system barely reaches village level here - many fokontanies have no formal educational services and children 6-11 years old are forced to walk up to 20km per day to attend the already-overcrowded primary schools in neighbouring communities – buildings themselves desperately in need of repair. It is no surprise that illiteracy in this area is among the highest rates nationally. Yet schools in the area are heavily over capacity such is the desire among children to learn.
In 2006 in response to numerous requests from communities across the Commune, Azafady entered into collaboration for a school building programme with the Mayor of Mahatalaky and the education authority CISCO, since several communities also lacked teaching staff. The authorities were extremely enthusiastic since the programme is helping them to achieve the Madagascar Action Plan’s objectives for education. A list was drawn up of priority projects in the commune; it was agreed that for each community ONG Azafady assisted with building a school, CISCO would source a qualified teacher. Azafady have so far supported 7 communities in provision of primary school buildings, enabling children 6-11 years old to be taught for at least a half day, every day.

In this project Azafady aim to address high demand for schools in the rural commune of Mahatalaky through provision of a primary school building in the village of Volobe Sud which presently has no state-provided school building. This is in response to requests received from the community and the commune Mayor and is a priority outlined in the Mahatalaky Communal Development Plan 2004. It is one of the priority villages of the education authority CISCO. Volobe Sud is a community made up of 4 outlying hamlets in the mountains of Mahatalaky. The population makes a living from subsistence agriculture. It is 60km from Fort Dauphin and more than 20km from the main road and the Commune hub, across crocodile infested rivers. The village has no health centre or electricity and few safe water sources. The village has never had a state-provided school building. There are currently over 300 children of primary school age (6-14 years old) in the village. The village relies on a 2 room shack built over 40 year ago to serve as a school. This is now in a state of extreme disrepair and is no longer accessible. For these pupils there is no alternative available, the nearest village being over 17km walk away across rivers which become impassable in the wet season.
With funding for this project, Azafady will be able to assist the community in provision of their own furnished school building along with a permanent school latrine (with separate cubicles for boys and girls in line with internationally-recognised good practice), a closed, clean water source and a head teacher’s house/office. CISCO have committed to sourcing a teacher for the village The construction of this school, as well as being of benefit to the 450 children currently under 15 years old and the wider community of over 1,300 people, is contributing towards the government’s regional objectives in the fields of education and health. Over 40% of children currently of school age are girls. The provision of a water source accessible to the village, and latrines with private access for girls and boys, are both factors proven to increase attendance of girls in formal education (UNICEF 2007), and it is hoped this project will reduce the disparity of gender in education.
Schools built by ONG Azafady consist of tin-roofed, wooden buildings with a timber frame, on a stone foundation. The finished building has 2 classrooms of 5m x 6m each. These buildings are simple, strong and easy to clean, maintain and repair. They utilise materials available locally either cheaply or (in the case of rock, sand and gravel) freely, keeping costs to a minimum. All wood used is eucalyptus which is a widely used and sustainable source of timber in this region. ONG Azafady construct closed drinking water sources fitted with simple hand-operated pumps. These comply with the Government of Madagascar’s guidelines for water infrastructure, utilise locally available materials and simple, low-tech construction techniques and are easy for village water committees to maintain and repair. Azafady use a double pit, ventilated improved pit latrine for school sanitation infrastructure. These are simple and cost effective to construct and are easy to maintain. Pit A is used for 2 years followed by Pit B, whereupon the faecal matter in pit A is pathogen free and can be safely removed – thus the latrine can be used on a continual rotation basis for years and years.
The Nando Peretti Foundation has approved funding for purchase and delivery of equipment and materials and will fund the technical staff necessary to oversee implementation of the project. ONG Azafady is able to present costs in a much reduced way since the labour required will be volunteer labour through ONG Azafady’s overseas volunteer programme and support made as a donation in kind by the beneficiary community. Costs associated with the volunteer input to the project will be borne by ONG Azafady.

This project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation,  aims at achieving the following goals.

Project Goal: Contribute to implementation of the Madagascar Action Plan Engagement 4 (Education), challenge 2 ‘create a successful primary education system’ and Engagement 5 (Health), challenge 8 ‘provide safe water and widespread use of hygienic practices’ - Project Aim: To enable access to formal education for children 6-11 years old in the Rural Commune of Mahatalaky in order to alleviate poverty, enhance the quality of life and build towards gender equality in Anosy Region. - Outcomes: 1. Completion of a new primary school building enabling all children 6-11 years old in Volobe village to be taught for a half day, every day
2. Completion of drinking water and sanitation infrastructure on site, ensuring good health and attendance of pupils.

Azafady was established as a Scottish charity in 1994 and became a registered charity in England and Wales in 1999. The organisation is based in the UK and Madagascar. Azafady works in Fort Dauphin and surrounding rural communities in the impoverished Anosy region in the extreme South East, which has approximately 600,000 inhabitants. Azafady’s mission is to alleviate extreme poverty and protect a unique and biologically rich but greatly endangered environment by empowering the poorest and most marginalised people of the region to establish for themselves sustainable livelihoods and improve health and wellbeing. Since 1997 Azafady has worked with local partner organisation ONG AZAFADY, a non-profit Malagasy association created under the laws of Madagascar in 1997 with its headquarters in Fort Dauphin. The work of ONG AZAFADY is intended to assist the Malagasy people to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as defined in the Madagascar Action Plan (MAP).
At the heart of Azafady’s work is an integrated approach to the needs of the Malagasy people and their unique environment, sensitively built around what are
directly expressed to be the needs of local populations and which maximises their direct participation. Azafady utilise the Sustainable Livelihoods Model for poverty reduction, which aims to reduce vulnerability by strengthening communities’ Human, Natural, Financial, Social and Physical assets. In all projects Azafady work to empower communities and households through provision of inputs, participatory training and education, with a priority for the most isolated and/or marginalised groups of people including women, young people and children. Projects follow one of 3 axes of intervention (Community Health, Livelihood Diversification and Environment) in line with priority intervention areas for the region identified with participation from grassroots communities. 3 programme departments ensure integration and coordination of these axes. Departmental objectives are as follows:
Community Health – Primary healthcare through establishment of community pharmacies, a mobile doctor, water and sanitation infrastructures, provision of health education (HIV/AIDS, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and nutrition). Achievements include:
• Provision for over 24,000 people with community-based health and sanitation infrastructures and training to manage these infrastructures
• Provision of appropriate health education to mothers, midwives, teachers and children in 5 rural communes
• Education and capacity building in the field of nutrition for pregnant women and mothers of children under 5 in seven rural communes
• Improving awareness and understanding of 10,000 young people, their parents and teachers of HIV/AIDS, transmission and preventative measures
• Elected to be regional coordinator of WASH Anosy (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All - pan-African health initiative and part of the national health strategy of Madagascar); government’s regional partner in the national elimination strategy of lymphatic filariasis and malaria
Natural Resource Management – Conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources for the wellbeing of the local population. Work focuses on the endangered littoral forest tracts in the region, zones of which are now included in the government’s New Protected Area scheme. Achievements include:
• Support for grassroots communities in the transfer of forest management process from state to local control
• Ex-situ propagation and in-situ planting of over 10,000 individuals of native, endangered tree species
• Research into the behavioural ecology of endangered lemur species in the forests of southern Madagascar, in collaboration with the national zoological research centre
• Building capacity of households in 2 Communes to construct and operate fuel efficient stoves
• Elected government partner in the national reforestation programme (Reserve Fonciere pour le Reboisement), supporting 3 communities in essential reforestation of over 80 hectares
Livelihood Diversification - Addressing poverty and environmental degradation through training in and development of small-scale income-generating and food security activities for marginalised communities and individuals. Achievements include:
• Construction of seven school buildings, bringing access to primary education to over 12,000 people
• Building capacity of over 1,000 farmers to improve food security and/or generate income
• Provision to 600 associations and individuals of instruction in association management and book keeping
• Provision of training and financial support to over 200 groups and individuals, allowing them to establish small enterprises
Azafady are the recognised regional specialist in grassroots capacity building. It is estimated over 100,000 people have benefited from one or more projects implemented by the NGO in the last 10 years. Of relevance to this proposed project, since 2006 Azafady has had a collaboration with the Ministry for Education CISCO for a school building programme, during which time they have provided 7 priority communities who had no access to education with a new school building and made repairs to a further 3. For each school, CISCO has provided teaching staff.

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