How do you find ways to make a living as a young generation which government does not care for?

I would like to share how complicated schooling and university education is in Madagascar, and how people are going about it, trapped between history and modernity. This big Island to the right of  Africa hosts20 million people, the majority still living under  1 £ a day. They have a lot of opportunities which still need to be explored. And those opportunities are in the hand of the future generations who need some rejuvenation.

Malagasy parents used to tell stories and legends to give wisdom, advice and knowledge to their children. When there were some schools appearing they thought that a story is not enough to raise their own child. Wisdom came before knowledge for Malagasy people. As Malagasy are saying “Let your behavior be like a tree: if the roots are strong enough, leaves can shake as they want.”  Parents decided to send children to school and encourage them to go further as long as they can support them. In fact having a son or daughter graduate from University is an honor for parents and children, it means that both are successful. In that time, to accept a job opportunity easily, leaving the familial cid and flying with their own wings is easier.

Nowadays, child education is a must until the 6th grade, to be exact. Knowing how to count, writing one’s name or read, that’s enough in some suburban places. Somewhere in the South of Madagascar kids have to travel 3 hours through village or dunes. Sometimes walking 15 km from school and going back and forth, sometimes students get a half day of school. There has never been a bus school or transport, and even if students get a student car they don’t get reduction.

It’s happened that teachers don’t get paid for three months, become lazy and don’t teach classes. Sometime parents and someone in charge on school find a solution, telling parents to give some amount of money or telling his child to bring some rice for the canteen. In small villages school is far, college and high school is even farther, University is more in the province.

It’s happened also that parents are less educated and don’t know how to guide the child, in fact the essential for the children is to manage their own life insurance.

Graduating from University doesn’t make sense anymore for young people. 

As a young Malagasy person I know where we have been, but I don’t know where are going…

After finishing your studies you need to line up behind millions of jobless for a job opportunity.  After investigation ; Many those young people struggle and move on the street working as a “taxi phone” mobile cheap call, bus driver, gold digger… any available job in general. Some get influenced by easy money called “bizna”: it means selling anything, from a friend or relative, like cell phones, computers, tyres, cars. Those who have funds to run their business can invest into something short term or permanent like restaurants, jewelry, imports etc.

Let’s talk about it: 67 % of Malagasy people are about 15 to 25 years young.  Statistically 15 % of graduates get an exact job for the position that they prepared for in University, 65% remain jobless and 10 % know someone high placed and get to work for an unsuitable job and that they don’t have any idea what it is about or how to do; about the last 5% have something  planned for, and finally the 5% remaining help  parents at home. Many foreign companies like to employ people from Sri Lanka or Indonesia because they are more skilled and less corrupted… We have more and more foreigners who are coming here to get rich. It’s also another gate for economy and illnesses from both sides.

There are some good things in progress. Recently I met some people from Christian missionary called ADRA “Adventist Development and Relief Agency”  using techniques to improve farming for those who have land or what to farming it was only a campaign. NGOs like USAID who have been here since 32 years to help Malagasy people to realize goals of development, recover from natural disaster like cyclones, health care like malnutrition, sponsoring on project used to be only for educational like “youth and reproduction”,  “Youth against HIV”. But it’s only in the capital or on a regional campaign for few times and not long enough to be remembered by people. They are trying to give free training, help and support for young people in suburban areas but … sometime with no success . Youth Volunteers like Peacecorps almost every year whose giving free teaching, help and give some supplies like pen and copy book, chalkboard  etc… if they have something to give.

All those things are looking good for a while, but they have no impact on their lifetime. There is no precise political with systematization or screening. There is not enough community who cares especially for young Malagasy. Insecurity, infrastructure and corruption are principal factors which still exist since long time and drag in deep water the majority of those young people. When I was asking them to give their thoughts, they say: " We felt abandoned by the government, they only thinking about how to full they pockets. As we learned from school: “I” is going first and “YOU” is after, that’s how people in government are thinking. Our daily duty is to wake-up, go outside chilling with friends, and go back home at lunch time”.

Finally, Malagasy people cannot lean on their own government, it doesn’t have enough budget to overcome this or: the budget is going somewhere else which is more important, like towards health. Private school is plenty even if some of them don’t have the right character as a normal school: no playing ground, no gates… Parents like it because the teaching method is quite modern and up to date, teachers are quite professional.  Some of those private schools belong to someone on the Government. The good thing is that teachers in private schools are at least able to do their job smoothly and actually finish school programs.

Malagasy people still believe that education is the best legacy.

How do you find ways to make a living as a young generation which government does not care for ?

Please go ahead, ask questions and add your comments :slight_smile:

The production of this article was supported by Op3n Fellowships - an ongoing program for community contributors during May - November 2016.

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Alternative schools

Hi @Mishel! What about alternative schools? Solidarity teachers and maybe school from distance. Through radio or internet if it’s possible. And not only typical lessons but also music, dance, poetry e.t.c. What about libraries in Magadascar?

Ambiguity and initiative

Hi @Aravella,  Alternative school is never been taken before.  The Malagasy government was hiring some substitutionals teachers five-year ago to give some help others teachers, it was efficient,but fact is they’re still unpaid since 7 mouths, about solidarity teachers is quite far if they don’t get hired or paid again.  Some parts of Madagascar doesn’t get electricity yet, Internet access is limited and expensive sometime.  Communal Library is rare, there are old books since 70’s to 90’s sometime  no book but lot of dust and ruins.

Pocket University?

Wow, @Michel , that seems to be a difficult problem. Infrastructure as basic as what you describe for Madagascar is out of my experience (I lived in Europe my whole life).

All I can say is that the whole opencare thing is really not relying on government. The stories you read here are all stories of self-sufficiency somehow.

Education, peer to peer, in a developing country: this sounds like a project @Matthias is developing in Nepal. He calls it “pocket university”. Matt, do we have a link to the idea yet?

The 58 ideas for businesses in Nepal might be worth looking into

@Michel do you have friends involved in running their own small shops or local businesses? You might enjoy this inventory if only for being inspired - from dry toilets to recycled plastic materials, to low energetic household items… great stuff. Also courtesy of @Matthias .

Probably a huge step for big changes for Malagasy people.

I know some friends who own small business like hardware store and probably interested about this @Noemi.

As I mentioned in my article some of us still using woods and charcoal as a combustion. This inventory that @Matthias mentioned in Nepal looks great. It’s can avoid a massive destruction of lives and nature.

Actually there is no “wasted garbage” here in Madagascar,  there is no specific garbage for glass,paper or plastic here, no recycling program.

Nowaday almost 8 of 10 Malagasy people are living under extreme poverty if  we refer to the UN statistics. In 4 years only,  a new cohort of population ( more than 24 %) was falling in extreme poverty. They search inside garbage and rubbish try to find some used bottle and stuff which still sellable. Statistically. It’s about 5.6 million of people, more than the people on the capital and some suburban areas. In general, about 18 millions of Malagasy have to get 4 000 Ar per day less than ~ 1, 25 $ /1€ according to the International Pauverty Line.

What does such a sum for these very poor household ? Since a kilo of white rice grew 1 200 Ar /20 cent of euro  a bag of charcoal is about 20 000 Ar /5 €,  the scholarship of a child for the 1St grade is about 60 000 Ar / 15€  even in public school this amount is including supplies and other overhead … Still, nothing concrete is well engaged to alleviate a little bit sufferings of this high proportion of the population.

Change begin by everyone of us.

What to say? It’s really difficult …

@Michel this looks like a very dire situation in Madagascar :frowning: I’m glad the business ideas list provided some inspiration, but you’ll have to see how much impact DIY business ideas can have on poverty at first. I did not go ahead with any of these ideas in Nepal because @Dipti_Sherchan advised me that in her country, ideas involving new technology will have a hard time to be accepted in the villages. Something like a DIY backup system with used Li-Ion batteries is just over their heads, for example.

Instead, the EDGE Academy (“pocket university”) concept that @Alberto mentioned came up (it is here by the way). It’s about providing the education that will later enable citizens in Nepal’s countryside to solve their other issues by themselves, including with new appropriate technology like the ideas from my list. I still really want to implement the pocket university in a large scale, but have not yet found a funding partner for the project so far. So for the start, there will be just a coffee growing course in combination with a project for international direct sales for Nepali coffee. (Edgeryders LbG provided some seedfunding for that project.)

Perhaps you know of agricultural and / or handicrafts products from Madagascar that are interesting for export to Europe (storable, high value per weight)? I can tell you what we have found out about direct sales of food items from Nepal to Europe. Customs etc. is very doable, and revenues for farmers will be about 200% of what they get in the traditional trading system (and even that is very high for coffee because Nepali coffee is traded as a specialty … so it can be a 400-500% improvement for some “more ordinary” coffees from around the world). Let me know if you want any more infos on that.

I came across a REALLY long article full of advice

I read that one of the most pressing issues is the water crisis. Before anything else can work I suppose this is one key issue that needs to be addressed. A question is if there is a cheap desalination technology that could be applied at scale in one area, and then build on that. I’m asking around, but perhaps others. @trythis might know?

Recently I came across an article that points out a lot of practical advice for building livelihoods. But most of it is probably not applicable outside the US/Europe. That said here it is:

“Gaza man Fayez al-Hindi has created a small rooftop mounted device that can produce about 2.6 gallons of clean water per day

Not aware of any silver bullet re desal. Different options exist but most need lots of energy. Check Australia for viable approaches.

The may be less centralzed options using air dehumidification (israeli tech?). You can also evaporate and chatch the “distilled” water - but you still need lots of energy (which possibly could come from desertec style overproduction). So instead of charging batteries you charge your cistern.

Another issue is cost effective and clean transportation/distribution. There is a reason mankind mostly spread along rivers for a very long time.

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The Bhungaroo water manaement system

Had forgotten I met Biplab a couple of years ago. He was telling me about an approach they had developed for Gujarat (India).

The way it works is ver simple: they pierce the ground with thin funnels that “suck in” water from the surface and stores it in an underground reservoir (during the rainy season/floods). So you don’t get salt deposits on the topsoil which is the case if rainwater is left standing on it. During the dry season farmers use this reservoir of water to continue farming for up to eight months (according to Bipaul) after rainfall has stopped.

The underground reservoir can hold up to 40 million litres of rainwater.

" Drought is a serious issue in the western Indian state of Gujarat, particularly for underprivileged female farmers whose livelihood depends on the monsoon. Limited rainfall in the state leads to water logging in peak cropping season. For the rest of the year, farmers experience severe water scarcity. But thanks to a life-changing technology, poor farmers are now converting crises into opportunities. Bhungroo is a water management system that injects and stores excess rainfall underground and lifts it out for use in dry spells. "

Perhaps the schools could be a good distribution centre, including the building of these reservoirs as part of the childrens science education. Not giving the solution but having them figure out how to do it, with local materials etc. And then teaching their parents and others in the society. @Michel what do you think, could this work?

This is much better than desalination

Before eventually tapping into desalination, it’s best to do proper water management like in this example. Just let sun and rain do the desalination :slight_smile: Plus, with proper forest cover, rainfall will increase as well, further decreasing the water shortage.

It’s amazing how much ecosystems can be restored with just a few water management techniques: erosion control, soil buildup, aquifer replenishment. I was a fan of high-tech solutions like desalination just a few years ago, but became more and more convinced we better collaborate with nature where possible. A friend recommended me this documentary about ecosystem restoration on a massive scale (30,000 km² in China).

It’s not that humanity is out of solutions. The problem is, as always, about spreading knowledge and organizing collective action on a massive scale. That’s why I like that @Michel focuses on the education part. Yet nobody has cracked the collective action problem yet (and not just because we’re up against strong capitalist “collective destruction”) …

The South side of Madagascar

Thanks for your Idea @Nadia, water really Important for some people leaving on South of Madagascar. Where you  need to walk around 30 to 70 km to access to the "nearest "source, It’s about 3 times/year of raining. A place between desert and sea.

The government haven’t find solutions until now.

People mix ashes with cactus for eating on dry season,donations and sanitation are more rare than raining in a year. The color of the collectable water is like mustard. Kids with big belly is not fat but undernourished or full of worms called " tenia",“ascanis”.

It’s really needs to get top water, some people pay 1€ for one gerican (20 liter) only on market day for it. Teaching sustainable technics is an issue, for me it’s a key to overcome this situation.

With this Climate Change Impacts, there was a flood on that place a couple years ago, but people didn’t think to store water ; We were occupied to save lives and giving hands to the survivors. As @Matthias says nature is impredictable, when it’s come you can’t prepare for it.