“To all young Malagasy, stand up and speak”
As 22-year old Mailinantenaina (Nanti) Andriantsoavina traveled around Madagascar she kept seeing the same image over and over again – burnt out landscapes, sections of forest blackened by bushfires, ribbons of smoke rising up over woods in the distance. A curious and passionate student of communications, Nanti realized that in school and in everyday life there was little to no education provided about the destructive practice of setting bushfires to create farmland. This realization motivated her to join Liberty 32, an organization that seeks to strengthen values and a sense of citizenship among young people.
In 2015, Nanti and Liberty 32 led a campaign of civic education with three schools and colleges. Nearly 150 college kids were brought by the association to the Alley of the Baobabs to learn lessons on the importance of nature conservation.
She says that conservation awareness must begin from an early age. “I think that society lacks understanding of the realities youth. My heart breaks a little more each time I see these fires, burning everywhere. I have only seen a tiny part of the island, but already I feel that the work is immense. These challenges are particularly close to my heart because the landscapes and wildlife of my island are being destroyed and beginning to disappear. ”
Changes all around
“We always hear about climate change, but many people do not understand what it really is. I started looking around me, I realized that the effects and impacts were already more serious than I thought.”
Nanti says that the temperatures in Morondava are now noticeably hotter than before and she also sees changes in the ecosystems. “The forest of the alley of baobabs has changed, even in the few years that I have lived in Morondava. It is sparse or nonexistent in many places. And the worst part is that nobody really seems interested. So I decided to take action to change things. I told myself, if nobody wants to do, I should perhaps start and lead the way.”
Nanti and Liberty 32 have been active members of civil society in Morondava, organizing groups of people and meeting with representatives of various associations of the city and grassroots communities on climate issues. “They have already identified a lot of the effects of climate change on agriculture, climate, farming. It was encouraging, and it pushes me to work harder.”
A Call to Action
Nanti says that young people cannot be afraid to express themselves because the country needs their voice.
“To all young Malagasy, stand up and speak, do assert your ideas. Together we can get things done faster. Together, we can think big. Do not wait for others to act and be followers, but be the change you want to see. Bring this change.”
“The fact that many young Malagasies are interested in this cause is already a small victory. For me, we must first rally people to the cause, then empower them in a way that people can have a maximum impact. The most important thing is to have faith in what we do. “