Biodiversity conservation in Madagascar : NGO involvement, experiences and outcomes

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202007093725
Title: Biodiversity conservation in Madagascar : NGO involvement, experiences and outcomes
Author: Voorsluis, Nina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies (2010-2017)
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202007093725
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/317641
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Kehitysmaatutkimus
Development Studies
U-landsforskning
Abstract: Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract In this Master’s thesis I investigate Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involvement, experiences and outcomes in Madagascar, including the limiting and enabling factors for impact of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The focal point of the research is the lived experiences from the field, including identification of processes and forces shaping the preconditions for NGO interventions. As part of the research I explore experiences of NGOs from their interventions and from engaging with local communities, government, policy makers and other NGOs in Madagascar. Many NGOs are active in biodiversity hotspots like Madagascar, but evaluation outcomes and lessons learned tend not to be extensively shared across organizations and thematic focus areas. This in turn affects preconditions to influence outcome determinants not only in isolated interventions but also across organizational borders. This study aims to define the situation and the issues faced by NGOs in Madagascar to suggest how the landscape could be navigated to improve the preconditions for long term intervention impact. The purpose is not to evaluate specific projects, but to assess the mechanisms through which the NGO sector can make a significant contribution to conservation, as well as the challenges in doing so. As the analysis seeks to broaden and contextualize the discussion of NGO involvement in conservation interventions, the theoretical framework for the research is based on theory on Non-Governmental Organizations and grounded theory. The theoretical framework facilitates the analysis of the findings, understanding of the results, as well as structuring and highlighting new insights. The theory is complemented with a background assessment of the environmental context in Madagascar, reviewing other research on conservation and its challenges in the country. This helps to understand the dimensions of the challenges, as well as the avenues open for exploration. Insights are gathered from representatives of long-term in situ NGOs to better understand the wider playing field in which they operate. The empirical research is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 representatives from 12 international and local NGOs working with biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. The data was transcribed and analyzed through thematic network analysis and constructivist grounded theory analysis. The interviews were combined with a literature review, a group interview, a field visit to a project site, and more informal conversations with academic researchers and experts in the field. As part of the study, a two-week field trip to Madagascar was undertaken. To present the findings from this research, thematic categorizations were used to illustrate factors that affect outcomes of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The categories are related to internal organization specific factors, cooperation with other actors (including other NGOs, government and actors in the local communities), as well as the Malagasy environment and politics (including government, laws and policies). The findings reveal challenges especially with systematic coordination of NGO interventions, NGO evaluation practices, resources, as well as issues with implementing sustainable community involvement in project design and decision making. Local community involvement is considered important, but in practice is not fully scaled up and inclusive in terms of decision making and consistent involvement. Findings indicate that the cooperation between NGOs and their key stakeholders works reasonably well from the NGO perspective, but still has potential to be better utilized in order to improve long-term sustainability. Consideration of external constraints is important to assess the potential of different types of interventions and approaches, allowing NGOs to focus their efforts according to the context and their capacities. While acknowledging and navigating the diversity of viewpoints, it is essential to be aware of the impact of structural challenges, the political complexity and the often-conflicting interests between conservation, the commercial and extractive sector, as well as local livelihoods and practices. Findings indicate issues with policy implementation and harmonization, and with conservation prioritization and law enforcement by the government. Local and national ownership and leadership backing is seen as essential for biodiversity conservation, pushing for stronger leadership from within the society. My research provides insights, recommendations and conclusions from which NGOs and conservation actors can gain better understanding of factors impacting interventions, as well as on the Malagasy playing field and its dynamics. This can be helpful in order to capitalize on opportunities and counter challenges, focusing actions on areas that make a difference. The findings can also be of value to other biodiversity conservation researchers, funding agencies, associations, communities and government stakeholders specifically focused on Madagascar. The research may also benefit NGOs and conservation actors involved in other countries, which confront similar challenges concerning conservation, governance, NGO involvement and interventions.
Subject: Conservation
biodiversity
Non-Governmental Organizations
NGO
ENGO
interventions
impact
evaluation
protected areas
local communities
participatory approaches
environmental governance
conservation policy
Madagascar
grounded theory


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