Madagascar jared Leveson

Current Status of Development

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a collection of data to summarize long term progress in three distinctive areas: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. A long and healthy life is indicated by life expectancy at birth. Access to knowledge is expressed by mean years of schooling. And standard of living is measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Human). Madagascar's current HDI is 0.51 which puts them in the low development category (United). Madagascar ranks in low the lower tiers for all the criteria involved in the Human Development Index. They are currently ranked 154 out of 188 countries and territories (HDRM). Addressing the criteria of the Human Development Index, Madagascar's mean years of schooling is six years and ten years of school is expected (HDRM). In addition, Madagascar's life expectancy is 65.1 years (United). Finally, Madagascar's GNI per capita is 1,382.3 which ranks in the lower tier of GNI (United). Due to Madagascar's failure to meet the criteria of the Human Development Index it remains low.

Trends in Madagascar's HDI Component Indices from 2000-2014 (United).

Causes of Underdevelopment

Many countries struggle to develop because of geographical reasons. Madagascar is one of these countries. Madagascar is located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It's location leaves the northern part of the island vulnerable to Monsoons and trade winds devastate the island with heavy rainfall which leads to mass flooding (Gall). Meanwhile, the southern part of the island is a semi desert due to a lack of rainfall (Gall). In addition, Madagascar's economy is mainly agricultural, however, much of the land is unsuitable for cultivation because of its mountainous terrain, extensive lateralization, and inadequate or irregular rainfall (Gall). Madagascar's geography has played a major role in their inability to develop.

Map of Madagascar's climate zones and population densities.

Man made environmental issues have also hindered Madagascar's ability to develop. Due to their isolation Madagascar has one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. This has allowed the environment to truly evolve with little human interference. Sadly, Madagascar is destroying their forests and polluting their water (Gall). By 1994, 75% of Madagascar's forests had been eliminated (Gall). In 2000, about 20% of the total land area was forested (Gall). In regards to clean water, only 34% of the people living in rural areas and 75% of all city dwellers have access to pure drinking water (Gall). Madagascar has failed to provide itself with adequate arable land for their economy and drinking water for their people.

A Lemur, one of Madagascar's most recognizable species that are affected by the man made environmental issues that are plaguing the country.

Internationally, Madagascar has had a long history of colonization. The Portuguese first discovered the island in the 1500s (Gall). Besides the Portuguese, the Dutch, English and French all attempted to colonize Madagascar. Many of these attempts failed setting up an unstable foundation for Madagascar's development. Eventually, France colonized Madagascar, the island remained under french control until 1960.

French propaganda depicting french control over the island nation.

The poor foundation set by these European nations, especially France, hurt Madagascar's development significantly. To start, in the 1800s kingdoms were established in Madagascar. These kingdoms all had very differing opinions on whether to modernize the country through French intervention or to expel French influence all together (Gall). This inconsistency in policy has even hurt Madagascar in the 20th and 21st century.

The end of French rule in the 1960s lead to many issues for the newly independent Madagascar. After a twelve year presidency by Philibert Tsiranana, a leftist coalition of teachers, students and unionists lead riots across Madagascar demanding for more social change. In result, another change of power occurred and shortly after the newly appointed head of state was assassinated during a military coup. After the coup, a Military Directorate took over and was suspended within a few years of power. A referendum ensued and a constitution was approved making Madagascar into a democratic republic in 1975 (Gall). Since the first constitution four more have been approved because of economic decline, corruption and abuse of power (Marcus). Constant changes of power lead to the slow development of Madagascar.

Philibert Tsiranana, the first president of Madagascar who was removed from office after a 12 year term.

History of Development Attempts

Due to Madagascar's unstable and ever changing government they have had little chance to develop themselves through export oriented industrialization or import substitution industrialization. In result, they have relied heavily on foreign aid to jump start their economy and began development. To begin, in the 90s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $100 million credit, and $40 million to Madagascar. Adding on to that, the World Bank approved a structural adjustment credit of $70 million. This helped reduce Madagascar inflation from 45% in 1993 to 6.2% in 1998 (Gall). In the 2000's Madagascar continued to be aided by the IMF and World Bank. They were approved $1.5 billion in debt service relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, an initiative run by the World Bank and the IMF (Gall). Again in 2001, Madagascar negotiated a $111.3 million three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility agreement with the IMF (Gall.)

Even today the World Bank has continued to support Madagascar's development. Madagascar has recently been invited to join the International Development Association’s Turnaround Facility, a financial mechanism for developing countries that have proven a desire and ability to develop themselves (World). Plus, the world bank's current portfolio with Madagascar totals 13 investments totaling in $758 million. The largest proportion of these commitments is for transportation and infrastructure. While education, health and nutrition, fiscal support, and rural development follow (World). Once Madagascar situates themselves with a stable Government the help of organizations like the World Bank will greatly benefit their development.

Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars) from the World Bank. $758 million has been fully committed, however, $400 million is yet to be dispersed (World).

Policy Suggestions to Encourage Development

The first step for Madagascar to begin successful development is to improve governance. Recently, the fifth Republic of Madagascar "appointed Olivier Mahafaly Solofonandrasana as Prime Minister. His main task is to implement the National Development Plan, which focuses on three areas: improving governance, fostering economic recovery, and expanding access to basic social services." (World) This will work because with a stable government in place and clear objective(s) Madagascar will finally be able to make progress for the developing nation.

Recently appointed Prime Minister of Madagascar Mahafaly Solofonandrasana.

Next, Madagascar must develop human capital and they must do this by funding public education with the money received from foreign aid and investment from the World Bank. This will work because Madagascar already has a population of about 22 million people. Due to their large population and surplus of natural resources, Madagascar could have the potential of becoming an economic powerhouse in Africa with the education of their younger population.

Funding public education is crucial for Madagascar.

Another way to successfully develop Madagascar is to use a portion of foreign aid to kick start Madagascar's tourism industry. A sub-equatorial island with one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world has the potential to become a large source of revenue for Madagascar. This will work because once Madagascar becomes a large tourist destination they could open themselves up to large hotel chains and other multi-national corporations that will create jobs and invest in Madagascar. Only stimulating their economy further and enchanting development.

Nosy Be Beach in Madagascar.

Works Cited

Human Development Report: Madagascar. Rep. United Nations Development Program, n.d. Web. <>.

Marcus, Richard (August 2004). "Political change in Madagascar: populist democracy or neopatrimonialism by another name?" (Occasional Paper no. 89). Institute for Security Studies

Madagascar Overview: Strategy." The World Bank. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

United Nations. United Nations Development Programme. United Nations Development Programme. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Ed. Timothy L. Gall and Jeneen M. Hobby. Vol. 2: Africa. 12th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2007. P401-415.


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