General Safety


No swimming in areas of bilharzia. You can swim in the sea on long weekends, though ask local advice about sea conditions, tides, currents and sharks before swimming.

Safety matters

Never wander off alone. It causes immense worry to your Host Agent if you do not say where you are going.

Any trekking, excursions, or weekend outings must be in a pair. Leave a note under your host agents door saying where you have gone.

Volunteers may not climb up ladders or on to buildings or structures, nor use machetes, axes, dangerous knives and any dangerous tools.

Volunteers may not drive motor vehicles.

Safety of belongings

The rural Malagasy are very honest but do not lay out temptation. Put valuable things out of sight. Don't take anything to Madagascar that you don't mind losing (leave grandma's gold chain at home). Malagasy are generally very honest, please do not carry expensive goods as temptation.


Everyone tries to look at your money out of curiosity, when you open your wallet. Only keep a few notes of local cash visible in your wallet. Keep the rest in your money-belt or in a secure place, with cash maximum of £50 equivalent.


The only place you are likely to find pickpockets is in the market-place or taxi-brousse station or crowed places in larger towns and cities - put your passport and money in a money-belt where they cannot be stolen. Never carry a bag at night in Tana.


Keep a copy of your passport and page with visa on you, especially when out and about without your original - occasionally you may be stopped and asked to show your ID by the police.

Personal Holidays

Volunteers may wish to add on a personal holiday to their time in Madagascar. Either a weekend, week or extended period of time, the volunteer must realise this is their responsibility. Access Madagascar Initiative can accept no responsibility for volunteers during any personal vacation time, or arrange, book or act as a travel agent.

N.B. When using taxi-brousse services it is possible to pre-book your return ticket - (date and time) upon arrival at your chosen destination.

N.B. If you decide to go on vacation / personal holiday we advise you contact your family to inform then of your plans. Additionally you may wish to inform the office in Tana - so that they are at least aware of your plans.

Important: When travelling on personal vacation time please be aware of the risks in using certain local transport - particularly local boats in coastal areas - as there have been accidents and some boats are not as seaworthy or carrying adequate safety facilities. The same may be true in crossing larger rivers - if you have to cross a large river / lake - where possible look for large local ferry service and not local canoes/small craft.
Additionally in all coastal locations check with locals as to any dangers for swimming (currents, rocks, sharks etc...).

Safety of young women

Malagasy are kind-natured and respectful of women. Treat people with respect. Don't go around semi-naked in inappropriate places. Do not behave in a non-professional manner, your volunteering is a job.
Use good common sense for all situations.

After washing your underwear, dry it in a private place.
If your house does not have an internal toilet, at night you can avoid going out to pee by adopting the Malagasy family habit of keeping a piss-pot under the bed.

For all volunteers sexual fraternisation is not permitted while volunteering.

Local customs

Show respect for elders and for tombs. If you need to get past someone, use the Malagasy word azafady which means excuse me. And use the word tu-pu-ku to show respect to elders. Be sensitive when taking photographs.