National Geographic : 2010 Sep
same way," says Manon Vincelette, a forest engi- neer hired in 1996 to direct Rio Tinto's biodiver- sity program. ough the residents of Tôlanaro have a new road, new and renovated schools, and, in some cases, new jobs at the mine, local skepticism remains as to whether the foreign company is looking a er any interest other than its own. "Rio Tinto is doing good things," says the ethnologist Jean-Aimé Rakotoarisoa. "But I've heard the rumors in that community---and from a social standpoint, rumor is more impor- tant than facts. You can't just deal with engineers and experts. ere is no other way; you must know exactly the mind of the people." is small and wholly unadorned. Dogs and chickens poke around for scraps of food. Several dozen people await the incoming ight from Antananarivo. rough the doorway steps Roger unam, accompanied by his assistant. e timber baron walks from one side of the building to the other, shaking every- one's hands, hugging women, trading fond words. en he strolls outside and, until the arrival of the plane, leans contentedly against a fruit stand and drinks from a coconut with the other villagers---no di erent from the rest of them, a man of the people, one who knows their mind... and one who provides, at least for today. j A FARMER AND HIS OXEN haul children to family rice plots near Morondava, along a path obscured during a flood. Madagascans are trying to figure out how best to survive in uncertain terrain.