Madagascar conservationist receives Georgetown Masters for pioneering work in coastal conservation

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Madagascar conservationist Gildas Andriamalala has been awarded a Masters degree in Communication from Georgetown University, Washington DC, for his work promoting community-based marine conservation in his home country.  As part of his Masters, Gildas developed an ambitious social marketing campaign to reduce destructive fishing in southern Madagascar.  The campaign, developed with support and training from US-based social marketing NGO Rare Conservation, is the first campaign of its kind to reach this biodiversity hotspot, and uses innovative social marketing solutions to tackle entrenched problems of unsustainable fishing in this remote region of the Indian Ocean (Campaign for Sustainable Fisheries Management)

Rare believe that while conservation has long been science-driven, success will ultimately come down to changing the way people relate to nature. Their social marketing campaigns aim to find innovative methods for sustained behaviour change to fill this need.

Gildas’ social marketing campaign in Velondriake, the Indian Ocean’s largest Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA), started in March this year following a year of socio-economic research, community consultation and preparation. As Velondriake’s Rare Pride Campaign manager, Gildas undertook four months of classroom training in the US with Rare over two years, alongside extensive workshops followed online from Madagascar.

Using a range social marketing techniques, including posters, community theatre, and festivals, Gildas’ ongoing campaign is working to reduce destructive fishing practices such as beach seine netting and poison fishing.  The campaign’s  slogan  “Vezo aho”, meaning “I am Vezo” inspires local pride in traditional Vezo ethnicity, celebrating the sea-faring, fishing-dependent lifestyle that defines Vezo culture and identity.  Gildas’ work also educates communities in how responsible coastal management is essential for future generations and sustainable economic growth.

Following the completion of his academic study, and having demonstrated that his two-year campaign has made a difference to the way Velondriake’s communities relate to their coastal resources, Gildas passed his Master’s with flying colours in a ceremony in Washington, DC.


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