Introducing Project Komba

Everything you need to know about Project Komba, the team behind it, and how you can make a difference for communities living on Nosy Komba.

Madagascar is a place of incredible people and undeniable beauty. But it also comes with more than its fair share of struggles. According to data from the World Bank, Madagascar, despite a wealth of natural resources, is one of the poorest nations in the world and has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition. And this was before the pandemic hit. 

As COVID-19 spread across the globe, the Malagasy government acted swiftly, shutting down its airports and restricting domestic travel. In an already fragile economy, this disrupted markets in every industry from agriculture to tourism. Areas in southern Madagascar are most vulnerable and so far hardest hit. As such, most humanitarian assistance is focused in the south and previously locked down urban areas. This leaves the north, an area heavily dependent on income from tourism, more vulnerable than ever. 

Though the government has begun lifting some restrictions as of July 2020,  international air travel to Madagascar remains banned. The tourism sector has been heavily affected with the number of tourists plummeting by 100 percent between April and June compared with 2019 numbers. Compounding the problem, prices for basic food staples are rising. This problem is two-fold: First, harvests, especially in the south, were poor this year due to low rainfall, leading the Malagasy people to rely more heavily on imports. Second, depreciation of the Malagasy Ariary and increased transport costs push import prices even higher. 

A view of Nosy Be from Nosy Komba, Madagascar.

Project Komba

Off the northwest coast of Madagascar, both the tiny island of  Nosy Komba and its much larger neighbor Nosy Be, rely heavily on income from tourism. An income source that evaporated practically overnight. Prior to the pandemic, Nosy Be boasted Madagascar’s number one beach destination according to Lonely Planet. Until the ban on international flights is lifted and tourists return, people in the area need help for basic necessities. Right now on Nosy Komba, rice prices hover around 160,000 MGA per 60 kg bag. That comes to around $40-45 USD (€35-40). Less than fifty dollars buys enough rice to feed a family on Nosy Komba for a month!

Through a partnership with Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute, an NGO based in Northern Madagascar, we seek to provide relief, in some small way, through Project Komba. Our purpose is two-fold: 1) Provide some income for the furloughed Malagasy staff of MRCI who support many people within the numerous villages in the area. 2) Provide additional aid to area communities in the form of needed food, medicine, or other necessities as requested by the communities to help mitigate some of the lost tourism income. This fund is meant to be a temporary boost, until airports reopen and tourists return. And we need your help to make it happen.

The Project Komba team at their weekly meeting. Fom left to right, Emily Whitton-Borth (prev. MRCI Director of Operations), Kristina Graves (prev. MRCI Terrestrial Science Manager), Beth Evans (prev. MRCI Terrestrial Science Officer), Niamh Flynn (prev. MRCI Community Officer), and Lucy Prescott (prev. MRCI Director of Operations).

How can you get involved?

You can help us provide communities on Nosy Komba with much-needed financial support by:

  1. Attending one of Project Komba’s fundraising events.

Every month, the Project Komba team will be putting on a fun, online event to raise money for Nosy Komba’s communities. Join us for our launch event, the Komba Quiz, on the 25th July at 8pm (GMT+1) and bring everyone you know!

  1. Becoming a fundraiser

Make an even bigger impact for Nosy Komba’s communities by organising your own event or challenge fundraiser. We’ve got plenty of fundraising ideas you can tap into, or you can come up with your own.

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