from Criss Juliard
The FCE (Fianarantsoa Cote Est) railroad cuts across some of Madagascar's most mountainous regions, from the high plateau to the coast on the Indian Ocean, and is located in the the SE part of the country. In early 2000, two powerful cyclones within two weeks of each other dumped heavy rains on the region that were devastating to the railroad: 280 landslides (a total of 150,000 cubic meters) and several washouts that left the track hanging unsupported for distances of 100 meters or more.The line was closed for 3 months. But after a massive reconstruction effort by the Malagasy train system, FCE staff, the local populations who have no alternative transport, and support from the US government and private donors, the line was able to reopened, but not after serious disaster mitigation measures were put in place.
Top image of collapse at tunnel entrance being cleared and opened up. Lower image of rail bed being cleared of fallen debris
The above three images are of the road bed being opened up, new rail bed being formed.
Railway, local farmers and project workers involved in the reconstruction
Vetiver had been introduced on the RR line since 1998, but many of the hillsides beyond the right-of-way had not been protected. Over the past year, a major effort to stabilize adjoining mountains and hillsides with vetiver has succeeded in planting over a million plants, again with the assistance of local farmers, and firms that specialize in vetiver system application. The accompanying photos show the result of this effort. Two vetiver specialists from Thailand provided indispensable guidance on vetiver engineering technologies to be applied
Vetiver hedgerows were planted not only on the railraod cut slopes but also on adjacent agricultural lands to prevent future slippage. The above image shows intercropped pineaples and coffee.
The above three images shows the arrangement of vetiver hedges to protect a double convex hillside, and herring-bone pattern to deflect water away from the hillside base. Railroad trucks delivered containerised plants to sites for planting
Railroad cut slopes planted with vetiver hedgerows
Vetiver has also been used to beautify some of the 17 stations along the line!
The Railroad recently was granted $9 million financing by the World Bank for its rehabilitation and privatization.
A road bridge abutments washed out by cyclone flood runoff
Bridge stabilised with vetiver grass to prevent future washout
Roads culverts were regularly washed out prior to Vetiver System application. This particular one has now survived two cyclones without any damage.
Vetiver grass is used in Madagascar to protect ponds and rice paddy field banks and bunds.