Categories Africa, Madagascar, Updates

Call for Action: Save the ICCA–territory of life of Sakatia in Madagascar against land grabbing

We, the Fokonolona guardians of the Indigenous Community Conserved Area (ICCA–territory of life) from the island of Sakatia in Nosy Be, Madagascar, denounce and oppose the land-grabbing project and the eviction of the population to build an infrastructure project by a company called Green Mada Land on our territory

First published on 11/23/2023, and last updated on 11/30/2023

Letter issued by Anjava Sakatia, and RAGIS (Regroupement d’Actions pour la SauveGarde de l’Ile de Sakatia) 

Supported by ICCA consortium, Natural Justice, TAFO MIHAAVO (TAmbazotran’ny FOkonolona MItantana ny HArenA VOajanahary), CRAAD-OI (Centre de Recherche et d’Appui pour les Alternatives de Développement – Océan Indien), SIF (Sehatra Iombonana ho an’ny Fananantany), Fanonga Fokonolona, and FARM (Femmes en Action Rurale de Madagascar), Réseau des Jeunes pour le Développement Durable (RJDD)

We, the Fokonolona guardians of the Indigenous Community Conserved Area (ICCA–territory of life) from the island of Sakatia in Nosy Be, Madagascar, denounce and oppose the land-grabbing project and the eviction of the population to build an infrastructure project by Green Mada Land company on our territory. This project is a threat to biodiversity and our livelihood and constitutes a violation of our human rights.

We have lived on the island of Sakatia for over a century. Our culture and livelihoods are linked to the island, its land, the sea surrounding it, and its natural resources. Our community collectively manages the island’s natural resources, which are rich in biodiversity and attract many tourists yearly.

This community management has been legally recognized through a management transfer contract with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (no. 663/22-MEDD/SG/DREDD.DIANA). In addition, Sakatia is an emblematic ICCA–territory of life recognized by its peers in Madagascar, i.e., an area managed and governed by local communities whose rules, values, and traditional practices contribute to conserving the island’s resources and the community’s well-being.     

On the 24th of May 2023, the Prefect of Nosy Be summoned representatives of our community to discuss the relocation of the population to make way for a presidential project. The project concerns a 17-hectare plot of land granted by the State to the company called Green Mada Land through a long-term lease (“bail emphytéotique”) to build a hotel complex.  

It should be noted that a ministerial decision (« Arrêté n°27 227/2019-MAHTP du 29 Novembre 2019 ») was previously adopted to cancel the long-term lease dubiously obtained by the company. Yet, we learned that a lease is currently still in operation.  We were neither informed nor involved in issuing these two long-term leases, even though they directly concern us.

The content of the previous lease involved renting seventeen hectares of land for one hundred Ariary (around 0.020 euro) per square meter with an option to convert it into a definitive sales contract. We do not have access to the new lease despite several requests for information from the administrative authorities at various levels (local and national). No precise information has been shared on this subject.

The Fokonolona of Sakatia island is opposed to this project, which undermines our efforts to conserve the island’s natural resources and threatens our way of life, culture, and livelihood. The area where the project will be built includes a turtle nesting area maintained by locals, which helps preserve biodiversity. The area also includes rice fields on which the inhabitants depend for survival.

Regarding this imminent threat we are facing, we are launching this appeal to save the island of Sakatia and its inhabitants.

We call on authorities at various levels to:    

  • Demonstrate transparency regarding the information on the long-term lease granted to GREEN MADA LAND company and furthermore,
  • Cancel the long-term lease of the company GREEN MADA LAND, which has been named a presidential project by the State; 
  • Recognise the right to land ownership of Sakatia’s Fokonolona and respect traditional values such as « teny ierana » or “free prior informed consent” before making any decisions concerning our community and our territory; 
  • Avoid any population eviction and strengthen the protection of human rights linked to Fokonolona’s land ownership; 
  • Support the community’s efforts in the conservation of the island’s biodiversity and promotion of community-based tourism;   
  • Accelerate the adoption of the draft bill on land with specific status and the draft bill on community land in a sense that respects the fundamental rights of communities;     
  • Take responsibility for respecting the individual and collective rights of the Fokonolona of Sakatia. This includes the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency, which set up the presidential project; the Judiciary authority, which is examining the current case; the Members of Parliament, who should be the first defender of the people’s interests; the various Ministries concerned (particularly the Ministry in charge of land, the Ministry in charge of the environment, and the Ministry of tourism) as well as the local authorities: Municipality, Prefecture and the Region.