07.11.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Sandwatch activities in Madagascar and Comoros to address climate change for sustainable development

Beach monitoring as a practical approach to the trainer of trainers, in the beaches of Village Touristique and Maroala beacges (c)UNESCO

UNESCO has been developing and strengthening Sandwatch activities since 2001 around the world using the proactive "measure, analyse, share and take action" to monitor the coastal regions and enhance knowledge to identify long term solutions. In the Eastern Africa region, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar are active countries. A trainer of trainers workshop was organized in Madagascar in October 2018, with participants from Comoros.

Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts on coastal resources and ecosystems such as coastal erosion, coral bleaching and mangroves degradation.

Lack of long-term data and monitoring in the coastal region is precluding in depth studies to enhance knowledge to identify long term solutions.

UNESCO has been developing and strengthening Sandwatch activities since 2001 around the world using the proactive “measure, analyse, share and take action” (MAST) approach, to enable school students, teachers and local communities to work together, to monitor the coastal environments and develop sustainable approaches to address problems and conflicts facing them.

In the Indian Ocean region, Seychelles and Mauritius are among countries actively participating in the Sandwatch programme. To initiate and promote Sandwatch in other parts of the region, a “Train the Trainers” workshop was organized in Madagascar by UNESCO, in partnership with The Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Ministry of National Education of Madagascar (MEN), from 15 to 19 October 2018 at Majunga, the second seaport of Madagascar located on the northwest coast of the country.

The workshop took place at an appropriate moment. The Malagasy Ministry of National Education is currently reviewing and updating its education curriculum. The workshop thus provided a good opportunity to enhance the knowledge of education planners of the National Education Ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests on original and innovative ideas that could be considered to be integrated in the new curriculum.

There were 38 participants from Madagascar comprising high officials of concerned Ministries, including the Ministries of Education and Environment, and Educators of primary and secondary schools and Lecturers of Universities, representatives from UNESCO and GIZ. In addition, 4 participants were from Comoros, representing the Ministry of Education and Universities. The main trainer was Mr. Sachooda Ragoonaden, an experienced scientist on climate change from Mauritius who is familiar with the Sandwatch methodology.

The workshop was officially opened on the morning of the first day by Mr. Sandy Hoavy, Education Regional Director in the Boeny region. Dr. Julie Rakotoson, Coordinator of UNESCO antenna in Madagascar and Mr. Jean Fabrice Mahavatra, acting coordinator of Page GIZ region, Boeny, also addressed the participants.

The approach for the training was a mix of inside and outside the classroom activities. Participants were motivated to participate actively in the training, share knowledge about local context, discuss problems encountered in their regions and propose solutions. Additional information from many experts among the participants in fields relevant to coastal issues and climate change helped to consolidate knowledge.

The first two days focused on Power Point (PPT) presentations on each of the 14 chapters in the Sandwatch manual and Sandwatch training videos on each of the chapters to provide a visual demonstration of the methods shown in the Sandwatch manual. After the introduction, the following areas were covered: Climate change adaptation and education for sustainable development; MAST Technology, Observing and Recording, Erosion and accretion, Beach composition, Human Activities on the beach, Beach debris, Water quality, Waves characteristics, Currents, Plants and animals and Creating your Sandwatch network and taking action.

After each presentation, there was a wide exchange of valuable and added value information relevant to Sandwatch among participants, consolidating thus knowledge. The use of the UNESCO International Database, as a valuable tool to archive data and information collected during Sandwatch activities on the field, to facilitaTe exchange between Sandwatch practitioners in different parts of the world, was another focus of the workshop.

Two days were devoted to beach monitoring through a practical hands-on approach at two nearby beaches - Village Touristique and Maroala beaches. Participants put into practice what they have learned in class. They were initiated to analyzing sand grains, colour and composition; measuring beach width; monitoring water quality and identifying beach animals and plants.

On the last day, an action plan, for implementing Sandwatch activities in Madagascar for the next three years, was discussed and finalised. The UNESCO Antenna Team, led by Dr. Julie Rakotoson, would be responsible for promoting and developing sandwatch activities. In the immediate, a consultative meeting, coordinated by the National Ministry of Education (MEN), would be organised with the participation of all Ministries and institutions concerned, to discuss how to integrate sandwatch activities in the school curriculum and implement sandwatch at national level. To this end, MEN has already shown much interest as articulated during the workshop. The action plan includes also to:

· Divide the coastline of Madagascar into several regions and identify regional coordinators for each region to implement regional sandwatch activities;

· Organise a national workshop to discuss and plan sandwatch activities at regional levels;

· Prepare projects proposals for submission to potential sponsors and funding agencies including private sectors, international and regional organisations and friendly countries. A project proposal model was circulated during the workshop.

It was, however, highlighted that some basic observations such as weather, sea state, beach characteristics, animals and plants, human activities and beach debris, which require no equipment and, hence no funding, could be made without much delay.

At the end of the 3 years, it is expected that several schools and communities located on the coastal region would be well advanced in the implementation of sandwatch and a system for sharing of data and information at regional and national levels established to create a strong networking and encourage harmonisation and standardisation.

All participants were provided with a DVD, which comprised various documents including the Sandwatch manual and Sandwatch step by step training videos on how to implement the 14 chapters of the manual. It included also a tutorial in French on how to use of the UNESCO Database and working sheets to facilitate data collection during beach monitoring exercises. The intention was to facilitate access to all useful documents that would be needed to conduct training on and implement Sandwatch, even if no internet connection is available.

They all found the workshop to be very beneficial. The training workshop has, indeed, inspired and motivated them to consider seriously undertaking coastal monitoring activities in their local beaches. To this end, an evaluation carried out through a questionnaire revealed that participants had acquired sufficient knowledge and strong confidence to introduce Sandwatch activities in their respective institutions and organizations. Most of the participants expressed the wish that similar workshops be replicated in other regions of Madagascar to reach a larger spectrum of beneficiaries. The Comoros participants also proposed that a Sandwatch training workshop is organized in their country. UNESCO and Comorian stakeholders are already planning a follow-up action.

Based on the evaluation exercise and feedback from participants, some recommendations are made on follow up actions and way forward to strengthen and consolidate sandwatch on a long term basis. These include:

· Organise an annual sandwatch event at the regional level whereby schools/communities will present their activities and achievements with prizes awarded to the best candidates.

· Organise an annual sandwatch event at the national level with the participation of all winners at the regional level

· Establish a sandwatch website as a platform for the publication of sandwatch activities and events taking place in Madagascar for wide dissemination

· Prepare articles on sandwatch activities in Madagascar for publication in the “The sandwatchers” to make the sandwatch community around the world aware of Madagascar participation in sandwatch

The workshop recognised that data and information generated by sandwatch would have wide operational and research implication. It is true that it is almost impossible for national authorities to establish a holistic coastal monitoring system around Madagascar in order to obtain a comprehensive set of data for shoreline management purpose.

The school and local communities constitute a potential source whereby a wealth of coastal data and information could be obtained for further scientific investigation and identifying shoreline changes. It is a win-win situation: students will obtain an enhanced science education, coastal communities will become more aware of the changing environment to be part of the action for remedial measures and Government authorities will receive valuable data and information for managing better coastal resources and ecosystems for the welfare of the population of the country. The partnership between students, local communities and Government authorities will thus develop and strengthen for a common cause and mutual interest.

This workshop has generated adequate interest and enthusiasm to develop the Sandwatch programme in Madagascar and Comoros and thus provide opportunities to expand the networking with other countries in the Indian Ocean and outside the region to contribute to adapting to climate change and educating for sustainable development.

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