Sustainable agricultural and husbandry systems in the Manakaravavy watershed, the breadbasket of the Mahafaly Plateau

2013 Winner

The project put forward by WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Programme Office (WWF MWIOPO) aims to improve farmers' access to water for production and to better technologies and production resources, thereby enhancing food security, access to income and pasture while taking pressure off the surrounding natural environment by developing and implementing a holistic watershed management plan.


1. To implement a holistic system to manage and protect the Manakaravavy watershed including riparian forests and river banks by the local community and authorities. 2. To double the production capacity of Maniry Valley by promoting and adopting irrigation technologies and improving farming techniques. 3. To double the capacity of grazing land within the watershed by accommodating transhumants from the Mahafaly Plateau.

Project description

The landscape of the Mahafaly Plateau, which includes the Manakaravavy watershed and Maniry Valley, the region’s breadbasket, is important for its rich biodiversity, its cultural specificity and the dire poverty of the population. The health and welfare of the Manakaravavy River and its tributaries’ watersheds determines the sustainability of development actions in the area.

Country / Region

Maniry Municipality, Mahafaly Plateau, Atsimo Andrefana Region, Madagascar



Reduction of uncontrolled migration to Tsimanampesotse National Park will take significant pressure off the park and its surrounding areas, including all its users. The watershed management plan will set an example for other regions.


Cultivation of 500 hectares of rice and inter-seasonal crops will increase wage labour, inject extra liquidity into the local monetary system and add capacity to address food-security and self-development needs of farmers.


Greater social stability is achieved by increasing resources for transhumance. This is especially relevant since cattle-breeding constitutes an important social value for the Mahafaly people.

Participation of the communities

Communities were/are involved in all the relevant steps of this project, such as planning, implementation, evaluation and improvement/adaptation. The working principle of the project is to regularly refine proposed Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices based on the test results. Farmers are the main stakeholders involved in performing these assessments.

Long term viability

The long-term viability of this project will depend on watershed and water stewardship at the regional and local level. This project aims to improve some of the most important challenges of this region. Moreover, the project will develop and implement a capacity-building programme on the above issues to empower the stakeholders concerned to sustain the activities beyond the project's life.

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WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Programme Office
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Maniry Municipality, Mahafaly Plateau, Atsimo Andrefana Region, Madagascar
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Sustainable agricultural and husbandry systems in the Manakaravavy watershed

First local watershed management in the Mahafaly region established

With the support of Swiss Re Foundation, WWF implemented the first local watershed management in the Mahafaly region. It involves local committees from 6 villages surrounding Manakaravavy Valley. During the project, a watershed management plan was developed to identify and restore sensitive areas. 6 kilometres of river bed were cleared to maintain the waterway's flow allowing the irrigation of 500 ha of rice fields. Over 100 irrigation kits were installed. They allow women to develop counter-season vegetable cultivation as an income generating activity. A grazing area management was established and over 100 ha of grazing fields are improved with firewalls and hay storage facilities. Farmer to farmer exchanges, training and demonstration of smart water management practices and the cultivation of adapted seeds are implemented, thanks to a new exchange centre funded by the project. The centre also houses a solar fruit dryer as well as threshing and weeding equipment. The Ministry of Agriculture and the World Food Programme expressed their interest in working with the centre until 2019.

WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Programme Office
Près lot II M 85 ter, Antsakaviro
101 Antananarivo

Simon Rafanomezantsoa