Learning from each other - Rural Women micro-entrepreneurs of two Indian Ocean islands come together – Day 4

Rodrigues… an island situated 560 km east of Mauritius, named after a Portuguese explorer, hosts a population of 38,000. Though mostly dry, we arrived at the rainy season period, and were welcomed by lush and green vegetation all gently rippling with the sea wind. Our first stop as soon as we arrived was at the Chief Commissioner’s office at Port-Mathurin, where the IFAD Rural Diversification Programme is hosted. There we met with the Advisor to the Chief Commissioner, Mr. Moustapha Jeetoo, who warmly welcomed us and gave us a most complete overview of Rodrigues.

Rodrigues, though a dependency of Mauritius, is decentralized and autonomous in 47 sectors like fisheries, social security, etc… since November 2001. The Rodrigues Regional Assembly is led by 7 commissioners, comprising a Commissioner on Women’s Rights. The economy of the island is essentially based on agriculture, where small farmers rear livestock and fish in the lagoons. They also cultivate and harvest a few vegetables like onions, cassava and maize. Fishing is the principal activity involving more than 2000 individuals. Literacy rate is at around 50%, where schooling is compulsory until the age of 15. Health care works relatively well with several medical centres peppered around the island. Rodrigues faces merging problems like higher unemployment rates and over-exploitation of its lagoons. Though crime rates are very low, it might very well be on the rise with increasing unemployment.

Rodrigues has recently adopted a Sustainable Integrated Development Programme (SIDPR) which encourages small farmers to diversify their activities by setting up micro-enterprises. The IFAD RDP project supports the latter programme by providing micro-credits to women farmers by recognizing that women are much more active and contribute more to the economy of the island. The Malagasy women and officers were very interested to learn more about the SIDPR, and how such a programme could be tailored in Madagascar. Mr. Jeetoo kindly offered a copy of the document that the group can take back and study. Such a programme could be tailored to Madagascar and contribute greatly to its development. It is therefore important for the beneficiaries to grasp the latter concept in order that they can take their own development in hand by becoming much more capable in influencing their policies in an informative way.

Yasmina Oodally
IFAD Madagascar Portfolio


Les Femmes Entrepreneurs de l'Océan Indien s'échangent leurs Expériences4ième Jour

Temps ensoleillé, condition climatique encourageante, environnement géographique très enrichissant et accueil chaleureux de la part de l’assemblée Régionale Rodriguaise ; voilà en gros les premières visions de la délégation de femmes rurales entrepreneurs issus de deux Projets FIDA à Madagascar (PROSPERER ET PPRR) pour sa première journée à Rodrigue. Bien que petit (108 Km²), Rodrigue donne plus d’importance aux femmes et elles sont beaucoup plus encouragées - et pour cela actives - pour mener les activités d’entreprenariat. Le concept genre est inclus dans la politique générale du Gouvernement – les veuves par exemple bénéficient d’une allocation sociale du Gouvernement – le plan de développement intégré du Pays, et ainsi le plan de développement triennal de la Région prévoit la promotion et l’encouragement du partenariat privé et des petites et moyennes entreprises dont les femmes en sont les cibles prioritaires.

Martin Zafy
Responsable de la Gouvernance Locale et Organisation Paysanne