Work and Travel in Madagascar
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN MADAGASCAR FOR TRAVELLERS
Madagascar is an island off the east coast of Africa. Known for its wildlife and its spectacular landscapes, it’s always been a favourite destination for intrepid backpackers. But Madagascar is also incredibly poor. If you want to really challenge yourself consider the unique selection of volunteering opportunities in Madagascar.
This travel guide for Madagascar is going to show you just some of the exciting challenges you can take on as you travel throughout the country. If work and travel in Madagascar sounds like something you’re tough enough for, this is the guide for you.
1. Marine Conservation on Nosy Komba
Madagascar’s Nosy Komba Island is home to wildlife you won’t find on the mainland. Unfortunately, human development is threatening the array of marine life present within the Indian Ocean. If you’re backpacking in Madagascar you could play a vital role in supporting these beautiful animals.
The pristine coral reefs of the country are where you’ll be based. Here you’ll help with cataloguing and research to give scientists an idea of what they need to do to protect the majestic sea creatures of Madagascar.
With professional qualifications you may even be able to secure a paid long-term position.
2. Raise Public Health Awareness in Andasibe
Knowledge of public health is sadly lacking on the world’s fourth largest island. A lack of education and adequate schooling facilities has contributed to this across generations. As a public health volunteer, you’ll travel in Madagascar whilst introducing villages and rural communities to important health issues.
In particular, you’ll focus on vaccination and basic hygiene to stop the spread of disease. These outreach campaigns offer a healthier lifestyle and save lives.
3. Construction Work in Malagasy
Work and travel in Madagascar and you’ll soon notice a huge part of the country lives in poorly constructed shanty towns. You can help change all that as you backpack in Madagascar by joining a construction project, as part of a community development initiative.
The Malagasy bush is a major focus for this project. You don’t need any experience to involve yourself in this Madagascar adventure. But if you have formal qualifications and experience you’ll be greatly appreciated.
Mercy Ships are stationed in Madagascar almost constantly. If you are interested in working in health/nursing, the Mercy Ships are a good place to go. Local translators are hired and work full-time with the crew of the ship.
Peace Corps workers are also found across Madagascar year round.
A majority of Malagasy people work in agriculture/farming, especially outside of the capitol, Antananarivo.
NOTE: Madagascar's weather is largely hot and wet, or cold and dry. It varies depending on where you are on the island. But snow does not fall in Madagascar.
The capitol and it's surrounding cities are cold during American summer months, but from October-April, the island is usually in a hot, wet rainy season.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR MADAGASCAR
Madagascar is one of the few countries that, in practice, don’t require any effort from any nationality to enter the country. Every country in the world is entitled to a visa-on-arrival for up to 90 days.
The first 30 days of your stay is completely free of charge. For everyone else, you will have to pay a small fee at the airport when you arrive. The visa-on-arrival fee is the same for every country, but can fluctuate depending on the mood of border security.
It’s quite common for young backpackers to volunteer in Madagascar, so the country is quite laidback when it comes to foreigners taking on unpaid work in the country. You should apply for a formal work visa if you expect to be paid for your work in Madagascar, however.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN MADAGASCAR
The first part of spring is the rainy season, but from April onwards the skies clear and you won’t need to worry about rainstorms as you travel in Madagascar.
Backpackers in Madagascar should consider spring as the perfect time to begin working with conservation projects. The reason for this is that during the rainy season many conservation projects taper down their operations. Their reopening is an ideal time to get a position.
Summertime is the height of the dry season and is when the majority of tourists come to the country. This is when many projects that weren’t available before take on volunteers.
One of the best projects throughout the summer is to work in a guesthouse in Madagascar. These guesthouses are located in both rural and urban areas and offer you a chance to learn the local language or French. At the same time you’ll be indulging in a cultural exchange with your host family and making friends for life.
The work is relatively easy and you get the chance to visit places off the beaten track.
Autumn is much the same as the summer until November. There are no specific backpacker skills for the autumn season that you won’t find available throughout summertime. Refer to the previous section for more information on some of the needed backpacker skills in Madagascar.
The winter is the worst time to travel in Madagascar as this is when the main rainy season hits. It lasts from November until April and it can be extremely humid. This is not the time to be volunteering in Madagascar in an outdoor capacity. Most rural and outdoor projects are suspended during the worst of the rains. Some of the storms can be extremely powerful in certain areas of the country.
However, this is a great time to teach English in Madagascar. There are lots of projects through lots of different organisations all over the island. If you possess a TEFL qualification you’ll find it easier to get a position and you may even be able to work in a high school or university as a paid teacher.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN MADAGASCAR
Madagascar is a poor country and the only real exposure for locals to the world outside of their little corner of Africa is tourism. Like most African countries, Westerners are all considered to be rich and you need to be prepared for scams, particularly in the most visited areas.
But work and travel in Madagascar doesn’t come with the same difficulties as in other parts of Africa. The people are not hostile to volunteers and they’re typically delighted that you want to help and that you want to get to know the country more than an average tourist.
You’re sure to leave a stronger person after you complete a volunteering project in Madagascar, and it goes without saying that this will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
The Malagasy people are very humble and welcoming to foreigners. They have a very respectful culture, and it is important to respect them. They often will not correct you if you are disrespectful of their culture, on purpose or on accident, so it is important to be sensitive to that.
Many Malagasy people learn French in school, so you can get by with French for the most part. Malagasy, on the other hand, is the official language, and outside of main cities, French usually isn't taught.
Malagasy people will be thrilled if all you can say is "Hello" and "Thank you" in their language, and they will love you. The harder you work to learn their culture and language, the more welcome you will feel and the harder they will work to help you in your work endeavors.