MADAGASCAR

Friday 15 December 1995

-- Environment and business often make good partners. This has been amply demonstrated by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Madagascar. The Organisation there buys up commercial debts available at a discount in minor markets. It then pressurises the government to allocate funds to protect Madagascar's ecosystem. This arrangement has numerous beneficiaries - 30 species of lemurs, eight types of baobab trees and 235 varieties of reptiles.

The scheme, launched by WWF in 1989, provides a lifeline to commercial banks eager to offload debts. The crisis-hit Madagascar government has reneged on servicing for many years now. This scheme will enable the country's credit rating to recuperate in international markets. And they can repay foreign debts in local curren-Cy. WWF too benefits by receiving more money than it spends on projects. Funds are channelised into recruiting and training of personnel to patrol the island. It is also used to compel villagers to end bush-clearing.

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