There are positive changes [such as] improvements in the houses… Roads have been repaired and widened. Travel is not our main concern any more.
Say Louise, female, 38, Ilafitsignana
Narrators mention a few NGOs that assist them with various things, including agricultural development, road improvement and water supplies. There are also some initiatives funded by QMM to assist with development of new livelihoods for example, especially in Ilaftisignana with PAPs (project-affected persons).
Many see the construction of primary schools and health centres as positive contributions made by QMM, although they say they often lack adequate staff and equipment. Training and education are seen by many as crucial to development but the standard of teaching falls very short of expectations. Many of those who eagerly attended adult literacy classes had to give up because of poor eyesight, for which no help was provided.
QMM has installed water standpipes in most communities, an initiative that is generally welcomed. However, according to some narrators these are not properly maintained. Some narrators point out that neighbouring villages have also suffered from pollution of their natural water sources as a result of QMM’s mining activities, but have not been supplied with piped water.
Narrators also discuss the poor road conditions and the consequent difficulty in reaching local markets and other facilities. Many narrators appreciate the improvements to some local roads, resulting from QMM’s presence in the area. They say they can now use buses to take their produce to markets, for example, even if the cost means they still have to follow on foot. Others have reservations about progress in this area, saying that only those roads serving QMM’s vehicles are properly maintained.
Whilst people are grateful for QMM’s development initiatives, their belief is that these were primarily to assist QMM with its “manoeuvres” in the area.
We used to drink water from a well. This was the practice of our ancestors. They did not use medicine to clean the water but after one or two months, they scooped out the mud in order to let the water become clean again… people did not become sick when they drank it. Now we use a cistern. But the government did not provide medicine to clean the water. Now the water is polluted because kids…do laundry next to the cistern and the used water goes back in and causes diseases. What we have done though is to set up a dina (traditional agreement) to protect the cistern from pollution. We prohibit people from doing laundry or washing dishes there.
Alter, male, 65 years, St Luce
What makes me happy is that there are now three or four water standpipes available in the village. In the past there used to be just one tap and our children and wives suffered a lot, because there was a long line to fetch water and sometimes they only got home after midnight. Now…they can just get water any time they want and not have to wait.
Damy, male, 29 years, Ambinanibe
I am sure that if QMM decides some day to build a school here, it will be like what happened after they asked for permission to build a road giving them access to the port. QMM is not going to give that school for free… Maybe I am too pessimistic, but I don’t trust what QMM has been doing. QMM should first have built a school for this village before they thought about constructing the port… I know these things that QMM has done are good and that people need them…but QMM use these things as manoeuvres, to claim something.
Ilay, male, Ambinanibe
Even if QMM took our land and restricted our fishing activities, people received some benefits from them as well, such as the rehabilitation of our road…. [This] brought many tourists to our village. QMM also contributed to improving the villagers’ houses. In the past, people built their houses with forest products such as raty (woven mats), but now many people own houses with roofs of corrugated iron.
Felicia, female, 19 years, Ambinanibe
The issue that I have with the water standpipes is that they need attention and care but knowing sometimes how clumsy some people are in the village…I fear that the effort allocated to putting up these faucets are worthless… Since QMM has said that they do not provide technical or management assistance…in a few months people will go back to drinking water from wells because the faucets will be broken.
Ilay, male, Ambinanibe
Since QMM came here, they instructed people door to door in how to take care of our lives. They helped us in getting clean drinking water, preparing healthy meals, and advising us how to keep our yards and houses clean. As a result, our lives have improved and there are no more illnesses.
Julienne, female, 46 years, Ambinanibe
If there are people who think that QMM has contributed to the development of this area, maybe they have done so elsewhere – but not in Ilafitsignana… Now they are building a port, so soon they will be able to export black sand or whatever they want… I should point out though that the port is being built on our land, and QMM will receive the benefit from it. How about us?
Paulette, female, 37 years, Ilafitsignana
I can tell you now that all the children in the village go to school. The only problem we face is that the teacher is not committed. Maybe he thinks that people in the village are ignorant and he can do whatever he wants… It is not QMM’s fault anymore. The teacher, as a public servant, already has the assurance that he will receive his salary, whether he works or not. Unlike teachers in private schools, his paycheck does not depend on how much time he actually works. I think the teacher takes advantage of being appointed to work in a rural area where no one has the authority to monitor his work.
Benagnomby, male, St Luce
… I don’t see how I can say that QMM has contributed to the development of our village …I can say that QMM has only done one (positive) thing in the village; they helped to build the road. And even the road they built was not paved. I think the main reason why QMM built the road was to just facilitate the passage of their vehicles, which pass by here everyday bringing QMM’s staff to work on their projects. I don’t believe that QMM built the road because they care about us… the only advantage we have is that children in the village can take a bus now to go to school and people can use the bus to get to the market in Fort Dauphin.
Flogone, female, Ambinanibe
Yes, we do have clean drinking water. The first one is from the Sakava, a natural spring, and the second one is the well build by QMM. Very often, we use the well because it is closer to our village… In the past, we didn’t have a school. But now we have one and our children can go to school nearby. I think that is a benefit, isn’t it? I think school is something good that happened to our life; besides this, I think everything else got worse.
Manintsy, female, 40 years, Petriky