Situated 46 kilometres to the north-east of Fort Dauphin, St Luce is home to approximately 1,400 people living in three hamlets: Ambandriky, Ampanasatomboky and Manafiafy. It is primarily a lobster fishing village, which sells produce seasonally – at prices set by middlemen – to two locally based French operators, Madapeche and Martin Pecheur.
The forest cover here is part littoral forest and part humid forest, which is owned by the de Heaulme family and used for tourism (private access). The forest area will be mined for ilmenite and 1,900 hectares are in project custody; 274 hectares are protected (‘Ala tahiry’) and completely off limits. There is a further area run by COBA (Comité de Base) for use by villagers under ‘dina’ arrangements, for example, gathering firewood, cutting certain trees and collecting mahampy reeds, but the size of this area is unclear.
Clean drinking water is more widely available in St Luce, with three wells built by FID (Fonds Internationale pour le Developpement – a World Bank project) in 2000 (two of which are still working). QMM built one well in 1999 and two hand pumps, one for the primary school in Ambandriky, and one for the health centre in Manafiafy.
The health centre was built by QMM in 2003 with a midwife paid for by the government, but there are problems with the supply and cost of medicines. And in the primary school that QMM built for Ambandriky in 2004, there is just one teacher to 185 pupils. A second teacher has been requested at government level but villagers await a response. Older children have to travel to Mahatalaky, 15 kilometres away, to take their secondary level entrance exams. There is also a primary school in Manafiafy built by FID in 1986.
Some market gardening projects have been set up by local and international agencies, as well as by QMM, but there are difficulties transporting goods to market in Fort Dauphin as road conditions are very poor, especially in the rainy season.