Episode 2 of the highly publicised BBC2 current affairs series “Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve” featured Blue Ventures’ integrated approach to addressing the challenges facing the indigenous Vezo fishing communities of southwest Madagascar.
The BBC series followed explorer and author Simon Reeve’s mission to travel the entire circumference of the Indian Ocean. Starting in southwest Madagascar, the second episode featured Reeve on a spearfishing trip with local fishermen and later at dinner with a fisherman’s family. He witnessed first-hand how heavily the Vezo rely on their marine environment and listened to his host’s emphatic account of the increasing difficulty of feeding his seven children because of dwindling fish stocks.
Blue Ventures’ Gildas Andriamalala , a Malagasy national, acted as guide to Simon Reeve. He discussed the issue of population growth with Reeve, who in turn described to the audience how rapid population growth, caused largely by an unmet need for family planning services, drives unsustainable resource use. With increasing numbers of fishers chasing fewer and fewer fish, environmental degradation becomes more apparent and contributes to deepening poverty.
Gildas explained how Blue Ventures originally focused on protecting the marine environment, but took the logical and courageous step of actively addressing the lack of family planning options for remote communities in southwest Madagascar. Although Reeve described this foray into the health realm as a “controversial” and “radical move” for a marine conservation organisation, he spoke in glowing terms about Blue Ventures’ attempt to tackle the interrelated challenges of reproductive health, population growth, food security and biodiversity conservation.
The success of Blue Ventures integrated Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approach has not only been praised in the BBC series ‘Indian Ocean’ but also led to an invitation to Rio+20 to showcase and promote innovative PHE approaches to conservation work.
The programme was watched by nearly 2.5 million viewers in the UK.
With viewings on the BBC iPlayer, repeat broadcasts and worldwide sales of the series, this number is likely to climb much higher, and represents the most high profile coverage of its work Blue Ventures has ever enjoyed. It is hoped that the widespread exposure of Blue Ventures’ integrated approach to conservation will encourage other organisations, particularly those working in isolated regions, to examine innovative ways to put their resources to further use and help to tackle underlying sources of poverty and environmental degradation.
A huge thank you to everyone who supported the BBC in the planning and filming of this programme.