You've been very keen to adopt 3-D modelling. Why do you describe it as a multi-purpose tool?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: Absolutely. Initially we were just curious because it was something new, but we've been very quick to adopt the process. Our organisation has a longstanding collaboration with CTA, and in 2015 my team and I attended training on participatory 3-D mapping delivered by Farmer Technology Agriculture (FTA), an organisation supported by CTA. We followed the process of making a village model. I was fascinated by the whole setup, the work atmosphere and especially the way that people got involved in different aspects of the process. Everyone had a specific role: children and young people cut up cardboard boxes, adults did the plotting and added factual data, and older people shared their memories about the history of the village. Everyone worked together around the map, united by the same objective of reconstituting the history and showing detailed information about the village. You could see how it pulled everyone together: young and old, technicians and practitioners, members of the community and officials from modern and traditional authorities. I suddenly realised how 3-D modelling exercises could help our association, as our main concern is to promote synergy between actions and develop collaboration between members and the outside world, while strengthening everyone's technical and pedagogical capacities. This is a fantastic tool that's going to make our work so much easier. The most important thing is not the model itself, but the effect it has, the way it creates a convivial atmosphere, broadens individual values and viewpoints, confirms the identity of the community and facilitates a process of shared discovery and joint decisions about projects ...The whole 3-D modelling process involves gathering information, analysing the situation, lobbying, awareness raising, exploration, capitalisation, decision making, territorial management, monitoring ... It really is a multi-functional tool.
What is the main focus of your organisation?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: BIMTT is an association of over 90 organisations that are attached to the Council of Christian Churches in Madagascar (FFKM). These organisations may be research institutions, development agencies, NGOs, state or private technical agricultural departments, farmer groups, etc. Our main mission is to organise discussions, develop members' capacity to link up with each other and with other institutions, and strengthen their technical and pedagogical capacities so that they can work effectively to encourage initiatives and innovations in the field. We're a big network that covers the whole of the main island. It's also worth noting that the Christian community has a huge influence on development in Madagascar. Statistics show that 70% of rural training centres in Madagascar are attached to the church – although our member organisations collaborate with all farmers, regardless of their religion. What we're interested in is how activities link up with and complement each other, and how to organise interventions so that activities and organisations don't overlap. It's all about synergy – how to consolidate members, make them organisationally and economically autonomous, help them conquer local and then international markets! BIMTT provides all kinds of managerial support. Every member organisation has its own project and activities, and we're there to help them, build their capacities and strengthen their internal and external collaboration.
How can P3DM help your network? How can it improve the synergy between your activities?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: One of the current weaknesses of our network is that members work in isolation, everyone's in their own little corner. We need to work together to improve the quality and quantity of our output! As artisanal sculptors know to their cost, Madagascar is seen as a kind of test country – good for a few samples but not large orders. We've got some areas where projects are vying to do the same activity in one place, but nothing next door. Our technicians worry that local people are becoming resistant to change, especially when intervening agencies contradict each other! There's a crying need for coordination, for synergy between activities, and for people to exchange ideas. All this can be done around a 3-D map. Local people, the authorities and other actors in Ampefy have started discussing how to protect Lake Itasy, which is the second biggest lake in Madagascar and is seriously threatened by environmental degradation. 3-D maps can also help those of our members that lack the resources, enthusiasm and information to get development projects off the ground. For example, during a P3DM exercise in the village of Andranomafana Betafo Antsirabe, which had recurrent problems with drinking water, discussions started around the possibility of installing a well-placed fountain that could serve the whole village. People became enthusiastic and individuals got involved. One of our main activities at the moment is helping communities where our members work to prepare communal and village development plans (CDPs and VDPs). Most of our members are closely involved in this kind of activity, and these plans are a vital development tool for communities that are seeking assistance and funding. These communities need to take responsibility for their own future, and be committed and informed so that they can engage in the development process ... Which is where 3-D modelling comes in. Our technicians are familiar with participatory 2-D mapping and doing sketches on bits of packaging, but 3-D models are so much better because they are accurate, concrete, accessible to everyone regardless of whether or not they can read, easy to understand, participatory and dynamic. They also cost half as much as CDPs, which need expensive surveys. In fact, 3-D maps are an effective tool for designing these communal development plans because they involve different village actors, encourage exchanges and discussions, gather information and show the history of the village, preventive measures to be taken and even decisions that have been made. Over time, data are updated and everyone helps put the new information on the model. They are a quick, participatory and affordable way of getting the job done. In short, they're just what people need!
How has the network appropriated the P3DM process?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: After the FTA training, which was supported by CTA, our board of directors unanimously supported the idea of sharing this tool with different members of the network. BIMTT produced a documentary film about the P3DM process, which was shown on national TV, and sent every member a DVD of it. This tool is generating a lot of enthusiasm, but it'll be a few years before we have the budget or capacity to scale up the process among all our members. BIMTT has selected the first five localities where models will be produced. Three will be of mid-western villages – Atalata Vaovao, Mahiatrondro and Ampanasanatongotra in Itasy region; one model will cover the commune of Andranomafana in the central highlands of Betafo, and the last one will be of Sahoragna fishing village in the east coast of Toamasina province.
How will these models be funded?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: BIMTT has not received any funding for these models apart from pedagogical and documentary support from CTA. We're not expected to fund their production – that's up to each member institution. But as I said, members are interested, and I'm hoping that this will be reflected in their next investment budget. BIMTT's mission is to support its members, and this includes helping them find financial partners for 3-D modelling. At the moment we're trying to find ways of helping with the overall costs of modelmaking. We managed to limit the time spent on 3-D mapping to two days (plus preparation) without compromising the participatory spirit of the process, and after lobbying CTA our technicians received training on ARCGIS software so that they can produce the contour maps that are needed to make the models. This is really important because these maps take up almost half of the overall budget for producing a model: the total cost per model is 1.4 million ariary (650 Euros), and the national mapping centre (FTM) sells contour maps for 800,000 ariary (250 Euros).
What are your plans for the future?
Rajoelisolo Kotondrajaona: Over the next two years we plan to train at least one technician for each of our 91 member institutions. That should give us at least 200 trained technicians and about 200 models. The idea is to start training trainers so that every member will get on-the-job training as they go through the participatory model-making process, and can then train the people they go on to collaborate with. The ultimate plan is for the whole network to make 3-D models that can be used for communal and village development plans so that member organisations and communities can use them to take charge of their own development.
Interview by Mamy Andriatiana
Strength from synergy: Bringing communities together to better support them
Financial partners and technical ministerial departments believe that support for rural Madagascans will be more effective if it is delivered to clusters of village and community groups, associations and communes. In 2014 the government opted for a market economy-oriented policy to promote rural development, and adopted various measures to improve the quality and quantity of outputs. One idea was to promote village associations – the bigger, the better – with associations of groups, federated associations, platforms for federations and clusters of communes. These groupings make it easier to coordinate activities and strengthen synergies between actions, and are favoured by partners and country managers as they tend to result in more secure and efficient projects and businesses and more flexible and harmonious arrangements for training, credit, finance, repayments, skill transfers and monitoring of activities. They also enable support organisations to collaborate on assistance to large associations that work in various fields. In the region of Itasy in mid-western Madagsacar, the Swiss Cooperation co-financed inter-communal cooperation through the SAHA programme and the American development agency USAID. Three communes (Ampefy, Analavory and Anosibe Ifanja) formed the 3A Miroso association. There are about 100 groups of associations listed in this region, including a group of village associations supported by the Regional Directorate for Rural Development, the Lutheran NGO FAFAFI, the Protestant NGO SAF Fjkm, the Catholic NGO ADDM, and BIMTT... The 3-D modelling process encourages community solidarity and collaboration between support organisations, and in doing so helps create greater synergy between their actions.