Promoting environmental community based organisations

Background and objective

In order to meet the challenges of Madagascar’s commitment to triple its protected area coverage, WWF has invested important efforts to support farmer or fishermen associations, community associations and networks in order to strengthen decentralized management of natural resources and civil society role in shaping natural resource management policy at local, regional and national levels. To date, WWF is working with more than 230 CBOs in its priority ecoregions.

As a part of the WWF MWIOPO Initiative for Sustainability Programme, the three-year project (01 August 2008 – 31 December 2010) aims at strengthening the capacity and competence of environmental civil society organizations in Madagascar. Its objective is that WWF and its CBO partners are supported to become effective change agents, able to actively promote transformational changes that are beneficial for the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources management in Madagascar.
Local population 
© WWF / Martina Lippuner
Local population
© WWF / Martina Lippuner

Project description

To reach its objective, firstly the project promotes capacity development as a crucial approach to achieve the WWF long-term conservation goals within WWF and reinforces the capacity of WWF staff at all levels in integrating capacity development in their work.

Secondly, the project provides direct support to 20 pilot CBOs supported by WWF in the Toliara, Taolagnaro and Fianarantsoa region with the objective to strengthen their organizational and institutional capacity for resilience and develop a cadre of trainers to ensure that longer-term support is available for CBOs in these important biodiversity areas.

Finally, the project seeks to internally reinforce the capacity of WWF staff in advocacy and lobbying in order to be able to influence national policies relevant to the environment in Madagascar and support the development of the environmental civil society of the country.

Project Data

  • Executant: Rachel Senn Harifetra
  • Managing Office: WWF Madagascar and West Indian Ocean Programme Office
  • Address: WWF Madagascar and West Indian Ocean Programme Office B.P. 738 - Antananarivo - 101 Madagascar +261 20 22 348 85

Achievements and Outcomes

  • Develop the capacity of the personnel of WWF
The training module, kit and manual on advocacy process were developed for the WWF staffs in order to help them initiate advocacy process on key themes relevant to their work. Fifty (50) participants were trained. Agrofuels, Climate Change and Oil and Gas have been identified as priority areas requiring advocacy for WWF Madagascar. Moreover, WWF is actively involved in advocating for improved natural resources governance in relation to the current political crisis. Additionally, advocacy processes on six (06) issues at regional and local level have been launched with the support of WWF trained staffs.

To equip socio-organizers and field agents with knowledge and tools to facilitate their support to CBOs, eight (08) training modules were developed and implemented. Eighty-two (82) socio-organizers and field agents benefited from the support of the project.

  • Develop the capacity development within WWF work

As a result of the two reflective workshops on “Capacity Development” organized between the WWF staffs, a common definition of “Capacity development”, its objectives and strategies for WWF MWIOPO have been established. Seven projects have integrated capacity development activities in their work plans. Furthermore, the new conservation strategies of WWF MWIOPO (2010-2015) have given particular importance to capacity development activities.
The project has developed a newsletter, named “Tohiravina”. This communication tool is intended for WWF, its partners and its target groups to share information regarding the capacity development at their respective levels.

  • Develop the capacity of CBOs

Two hundred and thirty-two (232) CBOs working with WWF projects were identified and 24 among them were selected as pilot CBOs. The tools for capacity assessment of CBOs were developed and implemented. To optimize the transfer of skills to the CBOs, four (04) capacity development tools for illiterate target groups were designed. Twelve (12) training modules were developed and facilitated. Two hundred and one (201) CBO members were trained.
Attended by 44 participants, an exchange visit of pilot CBOs, whose purpose is to share experiences for mutual reinforcement, was held in December 2009.
In general, the pilot CBOs have significantly improved their organizational capacity : some CBOs have developed their visions, missions and work plans; the others have improved their internal organization, management of activities and partnership.
Local population after a meeting at Ampitanake 
© Malika Virah-Sawmy
Local population after a meeting at Ampitanake
© Malika Virah-Sawmy
© Martina Lippuner / WWF Madagascar
Kids in Ambatoriha, Northern Madagascar
© Martina Lippuner / WWF Madagascar


The main challenges of the project are to:
  • develop and implement training modules and tools well adapted to local context, particularly to address the problem of illiteracy of target groups (CBOs);
  • successfully integrate capacity development as a key conservation approach in all WWF work;
  • develop system and partnership to ensure that ongoing support to CBOs is available beyond the life of the project.