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World Bank Approves $52 Million for Conservation in Madagascar

The World Bank approved $52 million for conservation projects across 30 national parks and three newly protected areas in Madagascar.

The funds, approved by the executive board of the bank yesterday, do not signal the bank is renewing contacts with Madagascar’s government, the bank said in an e-mailed statement. Most foreign donors suspended aid to Madagascar following President Andry Rajoelina’s military-backed coup in March 2009.

“Biodiversity in Madagascar is a globally significant resource and an irreplaceable public good,” Haleh Bridi, the bank’s country director for Madagascar, said in an e-mailed statement. “We can’t walk away from protecting it. This does not signal the World Bank’s reengagement with Madagascar.”

The funding will be channeled through independent organizations such as Madagascar National Parks and not through the government, the World Bank said. Disbursement of the money will be halted if the government fails to prohibit exploitation of illegally logged timber or protect national parks, it said.

“The additional financing approved today by the World Bank will cover the costs of avoiding further environmental deterioration as a result of the political situation,” Jamal Saghir, the World Bank’s director for sustainable development in Africa, said in the statement.

Alliance Voahary Gasy, comprising 27 conservation groups in Madagascar, urged the World Bank to pressure the government to crack down on the plunder of natural resources, including wildlife and precious woods, in a May 10 statement.

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