Join SEED Madagascar's award- winning sustainable development

Support community development and conservation to tackle extreme poverty and preserve one of the planet's most unique and endangered environments.

SEED Madagascar is a vital local charity which relies on overseas volunteers to support its grassroots projects and offers a number of ways you can support and have an unforgettable experience in hands-on supporting development, working alongside Malagasy communities on their own sustainable solutions for health, conservation, education and livelihoods, in an amazing place:

This is the story of what happens when a set of animals and plants are cast away on an island for millions of years. This is how this curious wonderland came into being
— David Attenborough's opening piece to camera, Madagascar, BBC broadcast February 2011



Be an Earth Changer:

Donate to SEED Madagascar

  • Personal or organisational grants and fundraising

Volunteer to help SEED Madagascar's sustainable development

  • Short term biodiversity research and conservation (2-10 weeks)
  • Short term construction (2-3 weeks)
  • Community Development (5-10 weeks or as an internship)
  • Teach English (2 weeks – 1 year)

The Places

Madagascar is the Earth's fourth largest island and is among the world's most significant biodiversity hotspots.  Geographically isolated for 80 million years, it is home to an astonishing variety of plant and animal species: The general level of endemism among its flora and fauna is estimated at over 80%, with 8 out of every 10 species found in Madagascar not found anywhere else on Earth, many species yet to be named or even discovered. This represents about 5% of Earth's plant and animal species found within 0.4% of the planet's land surface.

The best known is probably the lemur, with around 100 species and subspecies, but they face different degrees of threat through loss of habitat, hunting for bushmeat and capture for the pet trade. Some may even go extinct prior to even being identified. Six lemurs are listed among the "Top 25 Most Endangered Primates".

Of around 12,000 flowering plant species, some 10,000 are thought to be found nowhere else on earth. Six of the planet's nine baobab species are native to Madagascar, a seventh being found both on the island and in mainland Africa.

Despite being one of Earth's top biodiversity hotspots, Madagascar has so far lost an estimated 90% of its original forest vegetation. Limited livelihood options for the Malagasy people often means traditional ‘slash-and-burn’ subsistence, along with fishing, for land for agriculture and wood for fuel and timber.  Protected areas, although important for conservation, have been imposed with little or no community consultation, and negatively impact local people by restricting access to vital livelihood resources, imposing fines, creating more pressure on unprotected areas and not addressing the root cause: forest-dependent communities lack access to alternative resources.

Added to that, resource extraction operations of Madagascar’s rich minerals, often dominated by foreign interests, add pressure to deforestation and natural environment and habitat loss, with the remaining forest more and more threatened, fragmented, and unable to sustain life.

The People

The vast majority of staff and resources are located in south east Madagascar, with a skeletal staff including SEED Madagascar's Managing Director, Mark Jacobs, in London to manage the scope of the organisation's projects, funding and international-facing side.

To support its work, SEED recruits specialist volunteers to add value to the team in Madagascar, ensuring best practice is developed and the professional skills of the local team are developed

SEED is responsible for the overall financial management of grants, with ultimate accountability for all SEED funded operations, keeping administration costs minimal to ensure 87% of income is spent directly on the projects for maximum destination impact.

As a result, it is estimated that over 125,000 people have benefited from the projects implemented by SEED in southeast Madagascar over the last fifteen years, building a healthier and more educated and skilled region whose socioeconomic progress complements rather than harms the uniquely rich natural environment.

Awards & Accreditations

SEED Madagascar projects have been supported by numerous grant-giving bodies such as the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief, as well as small businesses and individuals through one-off or regular donations, and various awards including:

2014       British Youth Travel Awards
"Best Volunteering Organisation"
2010       Vodafone World of Difference competition – HIV Awareness
2009       Prix Pictet - photography commission and coverage by Ed Kashi for conservation.
2007       Virgin Holidays' Responsible Tourism Awards “Best Volunteering Organisation”
2005       Virgin Holidays’ Responsible Tourism Awards “Best Volunteering Organisation” Highly Commended
2001       Sustainable Livelihoods Initiative awarded The Sting & Trudie Styler Award presented by HRH Princess Anne.

The Purpose

SEED Madagascar (previously Azafady UK) is a British-registered charity established in 1994 mission is "To enhance the capacity of individuals, communities, organisations and government in fulfilling sustainable environment, education and development goals in southeast Madagascar", with the ultimate vision ofCommunities and ecosystems thriving across Madagascar”.

The acronym SEED (Sustainable Environment, Education and Development) reflects the organisation’s holistic approach to needs-based sustainable development projects; all are built around the most pressing and directly expressed needs of disadvantaged communities.

SEED’s four programmes – Community Health, Sustainable Livelihoods, Environmental Conservation and Education – collaborate to maximise progress towards SEED’s central mission: To enhance the capacity of individuals, communities, organisations and governmental bodies in fulfilling sustainable development and conservation goals in south-east Madagascar.

SEED Madagascar’s projects are increasingly designed to complement each other and support people’s livelihoods, reduce pressure on the environment and consolidate health improvement in parallel, addressing the complex and interlinked nature of the multi-dimensional poverty faced by people in rural Madagascar.

SEED is the founding member of the Anosy region’s maternal and child health platform as well as an active participant in regional and national committees for water and sanitation, reforestation and biodiversity, child protection, HIV/AIDS prevention and education. SEED has also acted as a consultant to the Malagasy government in the publication of several papers on the state of the environment.

70% of people in Madagascar live in multidimensional poverty
— UNDP, 2011

Madagascar has experienced a 10% rise in temperature and a 10% decrease in rainfall over the last 50 years, and is one of the top three countries considered most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with frequent and severe erratic weather patterns with droughts and cyclones.

These issues impact heavily on the Malagasy people, who mostly work in subsistence agriculture; two thirds live in rural areas, with limited education or secure food sources. Inadequate diets lead to 50% of children under 3 malnourished and suffering retarded growth, with 10% dying (40% in rural areas) before the age of 5 from easily preventable diseases, such as diarrhoea. Poor hygiene also leads to typhoid, polio, acute respiratory infections and trachoma blindness.  Just 35% have improved water sources, and just 11% adequate sanitation facilities.

Poor health was recognised by the Malagasy government as one of the key challenges to Madagascar's future development in the Madagascar Action Plan of 2007-2012, a national strategy developed in response to the Millennium Development Goals, but the situation became notably worse during this period. Since 2009, political crisis saw government spending on public services cut 40%, on health cut by 75%, on education cut by 82%, the price of basic food staples like rice double, the value of saleable assets like cattle halved, jobs lost and the trade in endangered species accelerate.  Sadly, such increases in poverty and environmental damage occurred at the same time as major cuts in international donor support, which previously formed half of the total national budget. As such, Madagascar is one of the world's least developed countries, and most impoverished, ranking 155/187 in the 2014 UN Human Development Index – although hopeful for the future with a new, democratically-elected government coming to power in January 2014.

At only $22 per day, the Malagasy national health system is amongst the worst funded in the world
— World Health Organisation, 2014

In Madagascar, SEED works on the ground to design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate projects, either with local staff teams or alongside local partner NGOs. SEED support teams of Malagasy specialists with International staff to provide projects and programmes with the vital expertise and regional knowledge necessary to achieve conservation and development goals. This close collaboration in which community needs assessments, project evaluations, government plans, and organisational identity and capacity assessments are evaluated determines the optimal positioning of projects within the local context, and the optimal role of SEED in providing on-the-ground and remote support to enable strategic goals to be met..

Madagascar is an unrepeatable experiment; a set of unique animals and plants evolving in isolation for over 60 million years. We are still trying to unravel its mysteries; how tragic it would be if we lost it before we even understood it
— David Attenborough’s closing piece to camera, Madagascar, broadcast February 2011