Notes from the Field: The Beginnings of a Health and Pollution Action Plan in Madagascar
Madagascar is taking exciting steps to reduce on pollution, protect the country’s natural beauty, and promote the health of all Malagasy people. The government of Madagascar recently approached the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) to help them develop a sustainable and impactful Health and Pollution Action Plan (HPAP).
This past April, after weeks of research and preparation, GAHP joined high-level officials from the ministries of the environment, ecology, and forests (MEEF), health, mining, agriculture, industry, and energy for a series of meetings and technical workshops to begin HPAP. The participation of senior representatives from the World Bank, USAID, UNDP, UNICEF, and other NGOs and international agencies also brought important perspectives during our week together. These initial steps embodied a truly cross-sectoral effort to identify pollution priorities in the country and set a timeline for future work.
And what was born of this effort? The beginnings of a Health and Pollution Action Plan (HPAP) that is uniquely tailored to the needs and capacity of Madagascar. Our investment in a collaborative process and commitment to community ownership has laid a strong foundation for successful pollution policies and programs.
The uniform support of this initial HPAP convening received press coverage throughout the country, but even more thrilling is what is yet to come. Stakeholders formed an HPAP working group and during a “validation meeting” in September, HPAP will officially be adopted by the government.
The people of Madagascar face many pollution problems and as HPAP continues to develop it will respond to the priorities identified by communities. There are many opportunities to make a long-term impact, including: identifying toxic pollution sites; addressing lead present in household groundwater pumps; and, providing alternatives to dangerous income-generating activities like informal recycling of used lead-acid batteries (pictured above). In the coming months, GAHP will work with local and international stakeholders to ensure that the HPAP prioritizes the protection of water resources and promotes alternative, sustainable ways for the Malagasy people to support their families.
In a country with many development and health needs, constant communication and consensus-building among stakeholders to mobilize resources is extremely important. GAHP looks forward to doing our part to promote these conversations and opportunities for learning. Even more so, we’re excited about a future for Madagascar that is free from pollution.
A huge thank you to Andrew McCartor, Director of Global Policy & Planning at Pure Earth, for sharing your photos and experiences.