Ilafitsignana is located 6 kilometres to the south-west of Fort Dauphin, near to the QMM quarry that provides stone for port and road construction. The local mountain to the west of Fort Dauphin is the source of the rock and its rapid disappearance is changing the landscape beyond recognition.
Of the 1,500 people living in Ilafitsignana, at least 124 households have been displaced by the quarry and road building (PIC statistics) and many others have lost their lands. These people are known as ‘Personnes Affecteés par le Projet’ (Persons Affected by the Project) or ‘PAPs’.
In 2005/6, QMM began a compensation programme to PAPs for loss of land. They were offered a choice of land or money but, as villagers perceived the new land offered to be sandy and not good for cultivation, they opted for money. Reported amounts for compensation to villagers who lost land vary according to whether it was fallow, cultivated or titled, but range from 100 MGA/square metre to 400 MGA/square metre.
The compensation process is currently under review as World Bank guidelines are closer to 2,000 MGA/square metre for untitled cultivated land.
In addition to land compensation, villagers also received new housing. The first house was built by QMM and the model largely accepted, but subsequent building contracts were given to local enterprises, which made houses of lower quality with walls that leak when it rains.
The greatest challenge for the community is the lack of livelihoods. The construction phase of the mine – which gave employment to approximately 36 people in the quarry – is now over. Ten people from Ilafitsignana are currently hired as forest guards in the QMM eucalyptus plantation.
QMM has undertaken to fund a variety of social programmes for PAPs through local agencies to help promote vegetable cultivation and livestock projects, sewing, weaving, artisanal products, nets for fishermen, and other income-generating projects, as well as literacy for children excluded from public primary school.
The nearest health centre is Lohalovoky (in Ambinanibe) although it is currently without a doctor. Drinking water is available through seven hand pumps and five taps but these are frequently broken and awaiting the construction of shelters.
Education is available from a public school, built by QMM in 2005, which educates approximately 300 students under five government-paid teachers.