Keeping the Fianarantsoa Railway Steaming Ahead, Madagascar

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the past, the Fianarantsoa Railway Line used to be closed for months most years on account of damage done by cyclones. This railway stretches for 200 Km. in Madagascar. All this landslide sediment eventually reaches and pollutes downstream waters. After extensive rehabilitation and stabilization along the rail line using Vetiver grass, the railroad has not been closed again when hit by tropical storms

In stabilizing the railway cuts with Vetiver grass special social issues had to
be taken into account. Farmers cropped along the right of way and they could not be removed. So, farmers were given a long-term right of occupancy of the land in return for their involvement. With some training, farmers adopted cropping models that combined crops with Vetiver hedges.

To stop fu
ture landslides, the slopes in these pictures had to be replanted with Vetiver hedges using the new farming models. This image shows the combination of the Vetiver System and farm crops. In many cases, local communities must be involved with planning and executing these types of programs if they are to be successful.

The travel article, Making Tracks in the Jungle, from the British publication
The Observer, briefly mentions the Vetiver plantings. It is, otherwise, an interesting story on the adventure of train travel in Madagascar.

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