The Rural Observatories were first set up in Madagascar in 1995, as part of the MADIO (Madagascar-Dial-Instat-Orstom) project. There were four sites, each working on specific issues. Annual surveys track changes in living conditions, activities, and agricultural and non-agricultural incomes in rural households.
From 1999 onwards, in response to demand for new observatories expressed by stakeholders in development, a new initiative — the Rural Observatories Network (RON) — was introduced, overseen by national institutions.
At one time, this network comprised 17 observatories in all. It was still active in 2016, some 20 years after its first survey work, with four observatories.
The data from these rural observatories have been used to produce memorandums and bulletins, and to feed research work. They have helped to improve understanding of the diversity of family-run farms in Madagascar, to make comparisons, track changes and identify response strategies in the event of shocks of economic or climatic origin.
The UMI Résiliences and UMR DIAL research units worked with staff from the Rural Observatories Network and the Rural Development Action Plan (PADR) to organise a colloquium to mark the 20th anniversary of Madagascar’s Rural Observatories on the 9-10 November 2016 in Antananarivo.