SEED Madagascar

Community Supporter in Rural Areas

Tolagnaro , Madagascar show on map
founded in 2000
Coordinator | Sarah
Coordinator | Sarah
The SEED Pioneer - Community Development programme delivers a variety of integrated projects that benefit the local communities and environment of southeast Madagascar This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Our Pioneer - Community Development Programme offers the chance to work on a variety of projects in the field, including construction, community work, education and conservation. Camping in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Madagascar, volunteers get an insight into community development work whilst enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.

Many villages do not have their own school so children can walk up to 20 km a day to access education in the nearby communities. We have built and repaired over 30 schools and constructed over 2000 benches using sustainable timber. Communities have limited access to toilets and clean running water. In Fort Dauphin as many as 30 families share a toilet facility and there is a lack of education surrounding health and hygiene. We work with the local government to evaluate and prioritise communities most in need. We build wells which provide clean water as well as pit latrines and hand washing facilities which have a direct impact on the health of local families.

Conservation volunteers provide vital manpower to support long-term research staff with collecting research data on the coastal forest ecosystem.

Pioneer can form part of a gap year, provide a break from boring everyday life back home, or even lead to a new career. The programme can also be undertaken as an internship for those wishing to gain experience and/or credit for a college or university course. With slightly more feedback and a final report; the internship lends itself to those who are joining the team as part of an academic course and particularly those who are aiming to be awarded credits. This will usually need to be approved in advance by your institution and any specific guidelines or documentation passed onto SEED Madagascar. If this is something you are interested in, just complete the online application form and flag your interest in joining as an intern! 

Typical projects include building or repairing community buildings such as schools and community latrine blocks.You may assist our carpenters to make classroom furniture,deliver health and environmental education, or support our forest conservation and research projects.  While the programme is designed as a ten-week scheme shorter periods (from 4 weeks) are also available. 

Working with our superb team of local guides, construction team and other specialists, you’ll be involved in the day-to-day work of the organisation in town and in the bush, getting involved where it really matters.

Typical day

There is no typical day on the pioneer programme, but volunteers can expect to take part in a varied range of activities beginning on the first day f their programme. A loose itinerary of what a volunteer can expect from their time in Madagascar is listed below. 

Arrive in Fort Dauphin

Fort Dauphin (or Tolagnaro as it is also known) is the major town in south-east Madagascar. It enjoys one of the most pleasant climates on the east coast. Built on a small peninsula, the town is bordered on three sides by beaches and backed by lush green mountains. It is a lively town offering a variety of restaurants and nightlife. When in Fort Dauphin, volunteers camp at the stunning lakeside site of Lanirano, a short walk away from town.

Orientation Stage

Before volunteers head out to work with local communities, we feel it is vital that they are fully briefed on the work of SEED Madagascar and the Malagasy culture. For this reason, during your first week as a Pioneer, you will undergo a detailed orientation about Madagascar, the Anosy region, local customs as well as an introduction to the work you will be doing over the next ten weeks. Advice will also be given on the need for cultural sensitivity when working in village communities - Malagasy communities have a complex system of fady (taboos) which it is important that volunteers observe.

Project work

Below are a few examples of projects that may be undertaken whilst on the scheme. Volunteers usually spend 2-3 weeks at a time working on projects in the bush, interspersed with a few days in Fort Dauphin to allow catching up on e-mail, shopping, eating out, etc. Only those Pioneers joining for the full 10 week programme will have the opportunity to take part in the wider variety of the projects and activities listed!

Community building

Pioneer volunteers are currently helping SEED Madagascar to address the high demand for schools, classrooms and latrine blocks, in the rural communes of Manambaro and Mahatalaky both some 20 km from Fort Dauphin. These communes cover a vast area and the small hamlets, or fokontany as they are known in Madagascar are quite isolated from each other. Many fokontany have no formal educational services and children are forced to walk up to 20km per day to attend school in other communities. Volunteers help in all aspects of the building process from clearing the site, digging foundations, building walls and cementing floors, through to giving the walls several coats of brilliant white lime wash. Activities will vary according to the build stage reached at the time of your volunteering scheme. Most volunteers will also assist in the construction of desks and benches for use in the classrooms, as well as in the provision of latrine blocks and hand washing stations. Occasionally volunteers may be involved in building or carrying out renovations or essential maintenance work to other community buildings in Fort Dauphin town.

Sanitation infrastructure

There is a severe lack of improved hygiene facilities throughout Madagascar. In Fort Dauphin itself, many of the poorer families have no access to latrines at all, whilst others may be sharing a single latrine amongst as many as 30 people. Pioneer volunteers help to build "flat-pack" latrine kits, which can then be installed by the families with a little help from our construction team. Volunteers also assist with ongoing education efforts, trying to improve handwashing practices and knowledge of everyday hygiene, which thus helps combat disease. You may be involved in painting educational murals on the side of the town or school latrine blocks as a means of reinforcing these messages!


Each Pioneer itinerary includes an educational component. This may be teaching English to children in rural villages or unemployed young people in Fort Dauphin, health education in the form of songs and roleplay to inform children about the benefits of hand washing and using latrines, or environmental education to raise awareness of the need for conservation of local forests.

Environment and wildlife

Pioneer programmes also include a visit to the SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme camp in Sainte Luce, where the volunteers assist with fieldwork, studying and monitoring lemurs, frogs, lizards and much more. This usually includes opportunities for more teaching, as well as providing a change of scene from the construction site.

Details on Arrival

Dates for 2019

  • 8th January - 18th March
  • 2nd April - 10th June
  • 2nd July - 9th September
  • 1st October - 9th December

Dates for 2020
  • 8th January - 17th March
  • 1st April - 9th June
  • 1st July - 8th September
  • 30th September - 8th December

You can join each scheme for 4 - 10 weeks. We are fairly flexible about dates so do get in touch at if you'd prefer to start at a different point in the scheme!

Free-time activities

Swimming / Surfing - Beaches surround Fort Dauphin and they are all worth exploring. Ankoba beach is close to the office and is good for swimming. The best place for swimming is Libanona beach, 20 minutes walk from the office, although you may be hassled with people trying to sell their wares. Some beaches are well-used defecation sites and the team in Madagascar will ensure you are aware which ones so avoid swimming or surfing there, as faecal contamination is not unheard of.

Local Excursions - Nahampoana Reserve - private reserve close to our Lanirano Campsite - optional visit is offered at an extra cost (50000Ar) on most schedules. A great chance to get close up to Shifaka, Ringtail and Brown Collared lemurs. St. Luce and Evatra have beautiful beaches. They are both definitely worth a visit if they are not on your schedule. Talinjoo Hotel on the edge of town provides a boutique style luxury pool and restaurant for relaxation! 

Dancing - Panorama is a popular spot, complete with indoor toilets.

Pool – There are local places to play pool.

Shopping - There are a few small shops in town to buy gifts and souvenirs. There is a ‘Maki’ brand souvenir shop that sells more commercial gifts such as branded t- shirts, sun hats and bags. There will also be people following you around town with their silver bracelets, shell necklaces, vanilla pods, baskets, spears and table cloths.

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Criminal Background Check
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 08:00 - 16:00

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if SEED Madagascar cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by SEED Madagascar.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
SEED Madagascar (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by SEED Madagascar

Don't let the size of the required donation put you off! SEED Madagascar is there to support volunteers in raising this donation, with a wealth of fundraising experience and resources available to volunteers. You may of course donate from you own savings.Your donation supports the charitable work of SEED Madagascar. Funds generated by the programme support the charity's projects in Madagascar, with 92% of all donations being spent in direct pursuit of our charitable aims in 2015.

Airport pick-up, accommodation and food are all included in the programme as follows. 

Airport Pickup at Marillac Airport

We strongly advise all volunteers to travel to Fort Dauphin by taking an internal flight with Air Madagascar . Although it is possible to travel from Tana to Fort Dauphin by Taxi Brousse (Bush taxi) we do not recommend volunteers use this method of transport without speaking to us beforehand as there have been security threats along this route recently, and the journey can take 2-3 days of hard travelling.

We ask you to be in Fort Dauphin on the First Day (Day 1) of your programme and it is ok for you to fly in on this day. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our camp on the edge of town.


Pioneers will also spend most time on camp sites but may also on occasions live in Home Stays.

Facilities at campsites are basic, especially when working in the bush, and you will be using long drop pit latrines and washing in cold water drawn from a well ( water warms quickly in a bucket placed in the sun!)

Fort Dauphin Camp Site – Lanirano Camp – All programmes

A 10 minute taxi ride (4000 MGA day / 8000 MGA night per person), or a 40 minute walk (but never walk at night!) from town centre and the charity office, Lanirano Camp Site is in a beautiful setting next to a lake. Facilities include electricity, western style toilets, and cold water showers. Pioneers usually return to this camp site every 3 weeks for about 4 days at a time, whilst Conservationists can return to Fort Dauphin at 4 weekly intervals in line with our programme schedule. Construction volunteers may return for a weekend break if the school build is close enough to town for this to be practical. Laundry can be done for around £1.50 per plastic bag full

Home Stay Accommodation

English Teaching and Pioneers working in Fort Dauphin will be provided with home stay accommodation which is a great chance to live with a local Malagasy family and be immersed in the local community. One of our home stay options is to stay with our Head of Volunteering, Tsina, in a traditional Malagasy house, next door to her family home. The family speak English, and will warmly welcome you into their home. The accommodation here is basic; you will have your own room, a flushing toilet, cold shower and electricity. Bedding is provided but if you plan to spend time in the bush you will also need a sleeping bag and mat. You can hire a tent locally. Issues with electric and water supply in Fort Dauphin are not uncommon!

Food & Beverages

On camp a team cook prepares 3 simple, tasty and nutritionally balanced meals a day for the duration of your programme. Breakfast options usually include local ‘mofo’, (crispy fried donut balls), bananas, rice pudding, local honey and cake. Lunch is a filing portion of rice and beans, varied daily. Dinner is normally rice or spaghetti with a vegetable sauce or vegetable curry and meat, fish or eggs are usually on the menu once a week. The best possible chlorine treated drinking water is always available. In the bush we collect and treat water from rivers and wells.

When volunteers are based in town there are some excellent local restaurants serving traditional Malagasy food, and an abundance of great international standard restaurants serving French cuisine such as steak & frites, seafood, fresh salads and excellent pizza!

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Marillac Airport (FTU) in Fort Dauphin. We assist you to find cheap flights to Madagascar.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Madagascar provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Madagascar you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Madagascar.
Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,836
5 weeks
$ 1,968
6 weeks
$ 2,100
7 weeks
$ 2,232
8 weeks
$ 2,363
9 weeks
$ 2,495
10 weeks (max. stay)
$ 2,627
Average fees
$ 361 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tolagnaro /Madagascar between 4 weeks and 10 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. SEED Madagascar will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Madagascar.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with SEED Madagascar during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Africa Eastern Africa Madagascar  Tolagnaro , Villa Rabemanda

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The SEED Conservation Programme works to integrate scientific research with community conservation to build knowledge and capacity for sustainable conservation efforts.
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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