Holly Rakotondralambo promotes growth initiatives focused on communities
by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Madagascar, which sits off the southeast coast of Africa, is the fourth largest island in the world. More than 90 percent of its flora and fauna are found nowhere else on Earth, including more than 8,000 plant species. Yet for all its natural resource richness, Madagascar is among the world’s least developed countries, according to the U.N. Nearly 90 percent of its residents live on less than $2 a day and only one-third have access to safe drinking water.
Holiniana (Holly) Rakotondralambo is the program director for the Development Department (SAF) of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM). SAF/FJKM is a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose mission is to bear the witness of the church in the field of social and economic development and promote development initiatives.
“Communities are at the heart of all our project or program activities,” Rakotondralambo said. “Communities are both the key stakeholder and the ultimate beneficiary. As an NGO we work inclusively with the whole community but target the most vulnerable. Our vision for 2050 is to see all Malagasy citizens enjoying basic human rights and able to access fairly managed resources in a sustainable way.”
This fall, Rakotondralambo is one of 10 International Peacemakers visiting the U.S. as part of the annual Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s initiative. They will speak at churches, seminaries and other gatherings from Sept. 21 through Oct. 15. In her presentation to U.S. audiences, Holly will describe her country’s natural beauty juxtaposed against its significant social and economic challenges, and will speak about how her organization is addressing those challenges and building peace in Madagascar.
The Development Department manages five integrated and complementary programs that address the country’s issues around food security and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); community health; environment risk management and disaster risk management. According to Rakotondralambo, food security and community health are critical because healthy well-nourished households can contribute to the management of environmental change and improve livelihoods for more climate change resilience.
“The PC(USA) has been a long-time partner with our work on health, WASH and environment programs,” she said. “For WASH we’re focused on providing local communities access to safe drinking water. With health, they partner with us on the ‘health for all’ project, which trains doctors in clinics. On the environment programs the emphasis is on addressing the food insecurity gap and protecting our sensitive environment.”
In November 2017, Rakotondralambo presented her office’s programs to a group of Presbyterians visiting Madagascar as part of the Peacemaking program’s Travel Study Seminar series.
“Holly manages an active development program for a 5 million-member denomination,” noted Carl Horton, coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “She has deep expertise in the fields of human rights, environmental care and economic justice in the context of poverty and environmental degradation.”
Since 1984, more than 300 International Peacemakers from more than 50 countries have been hosted by Presbyterian organizations. The International Peacemaking Program is made possible by gifts to the Peace and Global Witness Offering.
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