A dam project in Madagascar’s central highlands, still in its planning stages, would submerge several villages, forcing hundreds or thousands of people out of their ancestral homes.Residents at risk of being displaced oppose the dam, and civil society groups argue that its potentially large size and social impact are not justified by the relatively small amount of power it would produce.The Italian company behind the project insists it’s not yet clear if the project is feasible and has made no definitive plans to build the dam. SAHANIVOTRY COMMUNE, Madagascar — The village of Farihitsara in Madagascar’s central highlands was littered with straw from the rice harvest when Mongabay visited in May. But people weren’t able to enjoy the relief that comes with the end of the hungry season. Instead, they were anxious about a dam project that could put their village permanently under water. A farmer named François Rakotonirina urged this reporter to take as many photographs as possible. “Show them everything we have here,” he said. “Our rice fields, our houses, all the things we don’t want to give up.” François Rakotonirina (far right), encouraged a Mongabay reporter to take as many photographs of his village as possible. “Show them everything we have here,” he said. “Our rice fields, our houses, all the things we don’t want to give up.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay. The dam project, run by an Italian firm and still in its planning stages, would create a large lake and force hundreds or thousands (the number is disputed) of people out of their ancestral homes in Farihitsara and neighboring villages. It comes as Madagascar’s government tries to keep its electricity sector afloat. Jirama, the state-owned electricity and water company, has been beset by corruption and mismanagement. Less than one-quarter of the country’s population has electricity, a figure that a recent World Bank report indicates has declined in the last decade and is now among the worst in the world. Several large hydropower projects run by foreign firms are set to come on line in the next few years. Many are in remote locations where civil society groups are not able to operate. Tozzi Green, the Italian energy firm working on the dam near Farihitsara, happens to have chosen a location where people know how to make their voice heard.