• Madagascar
    • Fort Dauphin

Program Details

Year Round
Weekly Hours


Starting Price
Price Details
To have the opportunity to participate in Community Development Madagascar, we ask volunteers to raise a minimum donation. This is a direct charitable donation, and you can be sure your funds are going to help our projects in Madagascar with 90% of all our donations going towards the direct pursuit of our charitable aims.

Jul 02, 2019
Jun 09, 2018
8 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The Community Development program gives you the opportunity to work on-the-ground in three interrelated project areas; development, conservation and sustainable livelihoods, while living and working within the local community. Activities include building schools in rural villages, constructing wells to improve access to clean water and building fuel-efficient stoves. Volunteers then join our conservation team for 2-3 weeks in St Luce to assist in collecting data on lemur behaviour and on reptiles and amphibians,may assist in our tree planting programme and also deliver environmental education at the local primary school.

The programme is offered as an internship for those wishing to gain experience and/or credit for a college or university course. The major difference between whether you take the programme as an intern or a volunteer relates to the amount of mentorship and self-evaluation available to you during your time on the programme.

For programme dates see website.

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from SEED Madagascar.

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Program Reviews

9.82 Rating
based on 17 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 94.12%
  • 7-8 rating 5.88%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 8.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 17 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pioneer changed my life

I wanted to do some volunteering overseas before I went to uni. My two pre-requisites for choosing who to go with were 1) the org must do genuine community-based and where possible community-owned work 2) it had to be completely off the beaten track (who isn’t tired of listening to stories about the SE ASia / Aus / NZ gap year circuit?!). SEEDMadagascar’s Pioneer programme completely hit these out of the park AND the 10 weeks I spent there opened the door to a 12 year and counting career in development and humanitarian work that has taken me not only back to Madagascar over four times (with SEED!) but around the world to other incredible places and to Geneva where I am now working with the UK Department for International Development at the United Nations. None of this would have been possible without that foundation in real community based development work that SEED provide... and as far as I am aware they are the only volunteer organisation out there that are not only based but deeply rooted in the communities they work in. If you want to work hard, have fun, gain great experience and make a difference - look no further than pioneer!

What would you improve about this program?
By being brought to the attention of more people, so more can share in the great experiences I have had! Everything else is there.
10 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Privileged and humbling experience - thank you!

Just over 9 years ago, by the recommendation of my Alma matter, I volunteered for 8 weeks with the then Azafady, pioneer program. As the projects were identified, developed and delivered by Malagasy folks, you knew the work being done was genuinely needed. However in my naivety, I didn't realize that I would gain much more from this experience than I could ever give.

One memory that stands out, is the welcome we received when arriving to the village we would be building a school and latrine for. The singing, dancing, and drumming will forever resonate with me. In that moment, it solidified for me, that what we were not exacerbating a problem but very much a part of a solution.

The program was set up in a way that really valued each volunteer, and the uniqueness of their experience. Staff were very supportive and open to your concerns and questions. There was flexibility in the programming to allow for free time to explore on our own and accompanied by staff through organized excursions.

It was a privilege to experience just a small fragment of Malagasy culture and am so thankful to all the staff, volunteers and people of Madagascar.

11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pioneer program - School building

I was on the Pioneer program for a total of eight weeks and loved almost every minute of it! The construction work challenged me just enough to drive me to improve my own skills, and if there was something I did struggle with the local construction team and the guides were always there to help. I found that the nature of our work meant that the volunteers worked together well as a team and therefore I have now made (hopefully) friends for life from across the globe.

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the chatting that we all started when we were working, because it wasn't just the volunteers and the Malagasy guys in separate groups, there was a lot of overlapping between everyone, resulting in me learning a lot of Malagasy while I was there.

Another benefit of doing the Pioneer program is that if you are volunteering for 6 or more weeks, the last two weeks are spent at the conservation permanent location in Saint Luce, which meant I was able to get a view of the consvation efforts that SEED undertakes as well as making an immediate difference in the construction side of the program.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly don't think I can think of anything that wasn't out of their control!
11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience without equal

Spending ten weeks in Madagascar meeting such wonderful people, doing such amazing work and enjoying such a beautiful place is one of the best decisions I have ever made - join the programme!!

The variety of tasks that the charity is engaged in and which I was able to assist with is truly staggering and paints a picture of an organization which understands the interconnectivity of the problems affecting the people of the region. During the pioneer programme I assisted with conservation and climate change research, reforestation projects, community consultations, English teaching, sanitation projects, construction and probably more which I have forgotten. One particularly memorable task involved trekking up a remote river system in search of a critically endangered water palm to assist in a doctoral thesis.

What would you improve about this program?
I did not have a single complaint.
10 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

I volunteered with SEED Madagascar in the Autumn/Winter of 2011 for 10 weeks. In this time I was part of a team helping to build a school in a rural village outside of Fort Dauphin, and towards the end of my time, we built fuel efficient stoves in remote communities in the surrounding area. Living in the areas where the projects were based, we met and worked with the people that these projects directly effect, making the work ever more rewarding.

I cannot recommend this programme enough, having come straight from sixth form at the time, I did a lot of developing and learning, the experiences I had will stay with me forever. The teams in the UK and Fort Dauphin are very supportive of all staff and volunteers before and during their time in Madagascar, they are always happy to help. We learnt the local language with lessons from our local guides, whilst getting involved with the local communities and culture. In short, I wouldn't think twice about returning to do this project again, this experience above and beyond anything similar.

11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic experience with SEED Madagascar as a Pioneer Intern

I had the opportunity to take a career break at the start of 2016 and I wanted to spend some time volunteering in Africa, putting my environmental health and safety career expertise to good use and be a part of making a small difference to communities that would benefit from sustainable development initiatives. SEED Madagascar gave me the opportunity to do just that. Firstly, they are one of the only sustainable development charities that offers a short-term 3 month program, which fitted in with my schedule perfectly. They were also incredibly friendly, helpful in talking thrugh the different options available to me and flexible in their approach. I enjoyed the 10 week program so much, that I extended my stay for 2 weeks to offer my assistance in reporting projects back in the office.

The Pioneer offers something for everyone who is interested in international sustainable development. You get to be involved in education, health sanitation, sustainable livelihoods and conservation projects, which gives a great insight into the different types of work and a good understanding of the different interconnected factors at play when it comes to development and cultural behavioural change.

At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to spend 6 weeks on a construction site building a school building. However, this turned out to be my highlight and was so rewarding. You really get to live and work with the local community and can see that your efforts will actually make a real impact to a certain number of people. Within 6 weeks, we had almost completed a full school building and finished off painting the first and built 40 desks, so that an additional 160 students could attend the lycee. Whilst here, I also got the chance to teach the students English, which was a great experience. We were greeted through town each evneing as we went to get a cold beer at Lily's Bar with cries of our names from the children as we passed. It was a truly enriching experience and I couldn't recommend it enough.

12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing, wouldn't change a thing!

I was a volunteer back in 2012 with Azafady, and can honestly and with no exaggeration say it has changed my life.

As a short-term volunteer I joined the Pioneers for just 3 weeks, working on a school refurbishment project out in rural Madagascar. The local staff were lovely, caring people, and the long-term international volunteers who acted as co-ordinators were great too - hands on, got involved in the work and really made you feel valued.

The benefit of the work we were doing was obvious - a school which was barely usable, leaking and not a good learning environment was transformed over the course of just a few weeks! Although almost none of us had any prior construction experience, the professional local team taught us well, and by the end of it I was a cement mixing master.

It's no picnic though - as Azafady tell you before you go, you do need to be prepared to work hard, to eat plain food, and to brave long drop latrines. We also had issues some days with delayed construction supplies or last minute changes to plans - things don't work as smoothly as we're used to. However, given how tough the situation is in Madagascar most of the time, little issues like this are to be expected, and for me they are part of the adventure!

This experience reignited my love of travel and volunteering, and I've returned to Madagascar since to work with Azafady again - and I wouldn't be surprised to go back a third time!

Fantastic charity doing great work. Be a part of it!

What would you improve about this program?
Genuinely difficult to say!

Perhaps give short-term volunteers the chance to learn more about the projects/charity before they get there - it's interesting stuff but tough to absorb it all in a hot office with the distractions of Madagascar outside the window.
11 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

lemurs, laughs and life-changing

Hi, I was on the Pioneer Programme two years. All the people in our programme came for different reasons and I think all of them gained much more than they expected. Azafady go out of their way to provide a safe but authentic experience, giving you a real insight into the lives and problems faced by ordinary Madagascan people. The countryside is beautiful, the people warm and friendly and many of my group extended their stay to go travelling together.
It's a demanding programme, but you get out much more and feel you have made a real contribution - so go for it ; I know 16 people who thought it was one of the best decisions of their lives

What would you improve about this program?
More time to meet local people and travel more widely in the region.
11 people found this review helpful.

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