Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, Int

Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, International, a US-based 501(c)3 organization, helps subsistence farmers displaced by the formation of national parks establish new livelihoods that restore and sustain protected habitats.
Aug 16, 2012

Tango-ing with the Tangalamena

SEPALIM honored by Tangalamena visit
SEPALIM honored by Tangalamena visit

Tango-ing with the Tangalamena In June, SEPALIM met with the traditional village leaders or “Tangalamena” at the Maroantsetra demonstration site. We consider this meeting a historic event as the willingness of the Tangalamena to come together in Maroantsetra gives new credibility to the project in the eyes of the villagers.  Also, meeting at the demonstration site allowed the Tangalamena to brainstorm new strategies for increasing membership and ways to collect more reliable data from each of the lead farmers in their village sites.

Also in June, SEPALIM hired local farmer Eddy Mangamanana who will help SEPALIM both in the field and in the office. Eddie will work with SEPALIM full time to spread awareness about the program, attract new farmers and facilitate the establishment of new farmer groups. Eddie has already begun working in two new SEPALI communities (Ambatofotsy and Mahalevona, check out the attached map) under the supervision of other staff members and will soon be able to visit each community on his own.  

Phase II How does Phase II differ from Phase I?  We are focusing on extending our work to new areas but only with communities that approach SEPALIM for help. Hence we spend less time making "cold" calls to villages to introduce the program. Instead, village representatives arrive at the demonstration site and request a training visit. We are excited as we need to do a lot less convincing - the villagers are already convinced.  

Our second initiative is to build the skills of our textile producers to meet the increased cocoon that we anticipate. We plan to find new ways to make the textile more efficiently.  Currently the textile is made in Maroantsetra where we have electricity.  The farmers have decided, however, that only those producing the cocoons will qualify for making textiles since the fabrication step can be lucrative. This means that the fabricators, who are mostly women, will need to travel to town and will need a place to stay. We would like to relocate our demonstration farm to a new site and build a dormitory where workers can stay for as long as a week to make the fabric. In the future of our future, we hope that the fabricators will be able to use solar-powered sewing machines and set up shop at home in their villages.  We would like to provide loans (based on collateral built at the cocoon bank) to especially industrious women,to allow them to purchase a sewing machine, solar panels and hire others. These women should be able to add the cocoons they produce to cocoons that they purchase in the villages to make textile. Of course our goal is that local women will begin to establish their own enterprises independent from CPALI/SEPALIM.  We will, of course, still continue to provide a market - but who knows, maybe they will come up with their own!

Planning a trip to Madagascar?  We hope so! In response to popular demand, SEPALIM has been hard at work this month preparing the demonstration site and office to host tourists.  The tours can be largely self-guided, which minimizes their impact on the work of the project. But be assured, there will be plenty to see. The site now includes educational signs, a butterfly garden, a tree nursery, demonstrations of rearing techniques, and a display case for our artisans. Please come visit our demonstration site in Maroantsetra and meet the team and larvae up close. The team is looking forward to meeting GGivers up close and personal!

All the best,



Eddie Mangamanana joins the SEPALIM team
Eddie Mangamanana joins the SEPALIM team


Jul 27, 2012



Thanks to our extended CPALI/SEPALI team (that means YOU!) and a very generous donation from the Paul Charitable Trust, we have reached our funding goal of $50,000 and then some.  The "then some" is $678 from the Paul Trust that is dedicated to Stage 2 of our project.  But, before I get into that, here are only some of the things we, together, have accomplished:

12 communities, 8 farmer groups/networks, 6 women’s groups/networks
146 registered farmers, 45 trained breeders, 29 actively raising larvae
11 SEPALI recruiters
Farmers independently established chrysalis and tree sharing networks allowing non-landed famers to participate in income generation

Restoration and protection
>17,000 trees inter-cropped on family farms  by 48  SEPALI farmers living in the border forest of Makira Protected Area
48 farmers pledge to not use Makira Protected Area in exchange for a cocoon market
X kilos of added protein (pupae - X equals number of chrysallides produced minus 200 for the next season seed crop) to replace bushmeat, use for fertilizer or poultry feed)

Established cocoon bank; 28131 cocoons produced
20 m2 textile sold $80/m2; 

•Support from NGS, Rufford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, IRG, private donors
•SEPALI Madagascar receives SEED award (UNEP UNDP, IUCN)

I know that you realize that the accomplishments above are just a start to all we have really gotten done - the most important being building trust between the SEPALI Madagascar organization and farmers living around the protected area.  As a result of this trust, farmers are finally beginning to produce cocoons although the road has been long and arduous.  

We will be continuing to support the farmer production by providing a market for their cocoons.  Phase II of the project is focused on building a textile production site and stocking it with solar powered sewing machines.  The site will not only let farmers know that SEPALI family members will be able to make money from sewing the cocoons into a textile but at the same time illustrate that the farmers' market is insured.  Hence, farmers will have a reason to expand their investment in building a green zone around the Makira Protected Area (MPA), inter-crop host-trees with fruit trees, endemic trees and food crops and respect the MPA boundries. Women who have produced cocoons (either on their land or on "rented" trees) or who are immediate members of a farmer's family, will have an independent means of income, that is textile production.  

Farmer's limited access to markets goes in two directions - farmers can't buy the goods they want and they can't sell what they produce. CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar have plans to address these problems directly. As part of our future planning we are hoping to be able to extend the textile production site to include a SEPALI store where solar stoves, solar lights, solar radios, water filtration equipment and family planning services, for a start, are available. Hence, the deposits that farmers make into the cocoon bank can be used to save for valuable products that have not been previously available. Of course the vision of our training site, store, expanded farmer participation is just a twinkle in  our eyes-- - but don't forget that in just 3 years ago, enabling 50 farmers to produce cocoons and build a green zone around Makira created a similar light.  Thanks to you, we did it and are encouraged by your strong support to move to Phase II to insure sustainability.

All the best and let the adventure continue!!


Jun 13, 2012

Farmer cooperation pushes program forward

Sand soils before treatment
Sand soils before treatment


We dedicate this newsletter to Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) who received a Nobel Prize for her recognition of the cooperative ability of communities to increase their financial assets through the sustainable and cooperative management of their environment.  Her work is our inspiration.

CPALI/SEPALIM has worked hard to develop cooperative approaches that are paying off.  The first years of our work in Madagascar were dedicated to building trust among community members and our team,  and building farmer networks within and across communities.  We are now working in 14 villages and have registered 140 farmers. SEPALI Madagascar's latest newsletter records some of the results of our efforts: first cocoon deposits made by 9  farmers into our cocoon bank; 11 successful breeders;  6 m of non-spun textile made in record time by the Ambinanitelo women's group. 

Farmers are taking the initiative too.  Those that have planted trees but that do not have time to rear larvae are "renting" their trees and pupae to landless farmers in need of earning opportunities.  No money is exchanged between renter and worker but farmers share the proceeds from cocoon sales.  The farmers  are enabling all community members to participate in the SEPALIM program. 

DWELL on Design ( contacted CPALI for a sample of our textile to display in their June design fair in Los Angeles. We are excited not only because DWELL is THE top contemporary home design company in the US but also because they will be introducing our textile to west coast designers.  If you live in the LA area, stop by and ask to see our textile! 


We are proud to illustrate our soil improvement program. The team has been mulching soil in the demonstration site for  5 years and the result is over a foot of rich, topsoil that replaces the original black sand at the demonstration  site where Talandoha and food crops have been planted.  Improved garden soils are increasing garden productivity.
In October, Dr. Lydiah Gatare will set up a long term soil monitoring program in selected communities (with the help of the SEPALIM team) to quantify  the effects of silk moth host plants on farms.  We are grateful to Professors Drew Harvell and Christopher Barrett from Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future for funding to support this initiative. 


Fertile soils after treatment
Fertile soils after treatment


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