Madagascar: support on important and complex issues

Rémi

Madagascar: support on important and complex issues

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Rémi Alliot has just returned from a three-month assignment with our National Office in Madagascar. Thanks to his experience in association management, he supported our local team as a volunteer. He talks to us about the experience.

LC: Why did you want to carry out this mission?

RA: I've worked in Nancy for over ten years, and I'm currently on a gap year. I want to travel, meet other people, discover other initiatives and ways of working... And I also want to find out how an NGO works. I sent an unsolicited application to Louvain Coopération. As I knew Madagascar and my profile coincided well with the needs of the Madagascan team, I joined them for a 3-month assignment.

LC: What were your objectives on the ground?

RA: There were 3 missions to carry out. The Morondave team is in a transitional situation, with a new director, a new five-year programme that has been validated and put in place... So the first priority was to take stock of the situation, the projects, the way things were working... As part of this, I set up and led a participative workshop with the team, which enabled us to define an action plan. The second area was to support the director in his management duties and in the search for funding, which were new elements for him. Finally, I was responsible for supporting the search for funding, developing links with funding bodies...

LC: What are your general impressions following this assignment?

RA: I found myself faced with a fairly complex organisation, with national management, head office and local partners who are sometimes a long way away. There are only 4 of them to manage important and complex issues. Overall, I'm very happy to have supported the team with a collaborative and participative approach. During the participative workshop, I was impressed by the positive content that emerged, with everyone making their own contribution. Our work enabled us to take stock of the situation and draw up an action plan for the coming months. It will also be a management tool for the director, to bring the team together. If they manage to implement half of what's set out in this plan, that will already be great!

LC: So it's been a pretty positive experience?

RA: Yes very positive for me. I was very happy to discover how a university NGO works, with the added value that brings, and to work within the Madagascan team with whom it went very well. I'm also leaving with the feeling and hope that I've made a contribution. I hope that this will bear fruit and prove positive in terms of fundraising over the coming months.

LC: What did you think of the projects on the ground?

RA: There are significant needs in the region. Louvain Coopération operates in a specific region that presents several problems. The work focuses on the protection of mangroves, where the stakes are very high, particularly in overexploited areas given the migration of populations from the South. It's a very interesting and promising project, and one that should be maintained. The second area of work is around agriculture and agroecology, also very important in a region that is becoming a little drier every year.

LC: You arrived on the scene at a time when cyclones had wreaked havoc on the island...

RA: Yes, in the first few weeks, there was a lot of wind, rain, it got dark at 4pm... I have to admit that at first I wondered a bit what I was doing there... The town was flooded: in the most precarious dwellings, the inhabitants were up to their knees in water. The small fishing villages were also badly hit. The team tried to get closer to the various communities, to go to their homes to support them. The added value of Louvain Coopération is that we are really on the ground, so we can react quickly to incidents like this. That's a real strength!

LC: What are the major challenges ahead for our Madagascan team?

RA: There's work to be done to establish how the team operates, how it's organised, in particular to be responsive to calls for projects. I also think that if we want to develop the structure, the team needs to grow. The needs and projects are there, but we also have to take into account a certain political instability, with the presidential election coming up, the climatic and economic crises, the insecurity, and so on. The region is fragile...

LC: What are your plans for the future?

RA: I'm going to go back on a similar type of mission in Italy for a social enterprise that also works on agriculture, on a very local scale. And then continue to mature my projects...

LC: Any final words?

RA: I really hope it works out for the Mada antenna, for their projects. I could see that the team was really invested so I hope it will pay off!

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