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Zahana Effective non-profit by GlobalGiving

Zahana Vetted non-profit by GlobalGiving

Zahana Top Ranked non-profit by GlobalGiving

The November report illustrates our definition of “success”: our Zahana teacher reported that since he has been living in Fiadanana no death of a child was reported. The only death in the village was a woman who had surgery in the hospital of Tsiroanomandidy for appendicitis some 2 months ago. Berthine, a member of the women’s group, confirmed that before Zahana in the époque dure', the 'hard times period' between October to December it felt like almost every day one child passed away from diarrhea. She said 26 deaths in 2 months. She explained that people from Fiadanana now have to carry their clean water with them if they have to go to another village, since their stomach didn’t feel well drinking the water from the other villages.” (More in our November Newsletter or Results.)

PS: This report from 2010 on our website, is fortunately still accurate in January 2022!

Solar water pasteurization and cooking

More School Links

Building our schools:

Building the first school (2006)

Reforestation in Action




Zahana: Rural Transformation through Participatory Development in Madagascar

Boy and reforestation in MadagascarBoy and tree grw up in Madagascar

The tree and the boy are growing

What is the Zahana Cup?

Our first master gardener jean

Remembering our Master Gardener Jean

Throw a seed ball for reforestation

Seed ball for reforestation in Madagascar -


What makes our work possible?

Zahana is largely driven by volunteer work. We spend all the money we raise on our programs. Zahana does not have the costs of supporting an office in the capital or a car or other things many NGOs have and consequently need to fundraise and pay for. For almost two decades, small donors have made our work possible. We are fortunate that while we operate on a lean budget, it has worked well for us. We believe instead of chasing grants and other funding sources, we rely on people like you, who like what we do and consider supporting us in any form and amount that feels comfortable for you. It truly takes a global village. Please visit our donate page to learn more.

A short 4 minute video about our activities

In 2019 we launched our most ambitious project to date: improved cook stoves. We teamed up with a group from the Lycee Technique et Professionnelle Tsiroanomandidy in Madagascar. The team developed and improved cook stove built exclusively with locally available resources, where nothing needs to be bought from the outside. We have added thos video that visualized our effort in the context of the Zahana philosophy.



This endosement from GlobalGiving had been re-issued for 2024:

Effective Nonprofit GlobagGivingZahana vetted Non-profit by GlobalGivingZahana top ranked non-profit by GlobalGivingZahana visited non-profit by GlobalGivingZahana Project of the month non-profit by GlobalGiving

Most innovative improved cookstove

Most innovatiove improved coostove of 2020 in Zahana villages in Madagascar

This innovative improved cookstove was invented and designed by on of the villagers. Not only can it be used for two cooking pots at once, such as cooking e.g. rice and soup next to each other, but the warming chamber in the middle can keep e.g coffee or rice hot for a long log time MORE. (2023 Note: Since then we have a few more people who have developped their own models that they are selling in their community and beyond.)

Bicycles mean mobility

Bicycles mean mobility

Maybe the proud faces with their brand-new bikes (December 2020) tell more than words? More

Improved cookstove project continues despite COVID-19

Seeing this picture is just a sheer delight. Children making toy improved cookstoves out of clay, imitating their parents’ activities is incredibly reassuring. More

Imprived cookstove made as childrens toys in Madagascar

Handwashing Video formZahana Madagascar as part of COVID-19 Prevention

Click on the image to watch the handwashing video on YouTube

A Reforeatation video on YouTube by zahan

Click on the image to watch the reforestation video on YouTube

Zahana on ARTE Reportage

May be in these strange COVID-19 times a movie documenting our work in Madagascar, now finally available with English subtitles as well, might provide a welcome insight into a rural village in October 2019. If anything good is coming out of this COVID-19 roller-coaster is the fact that the inequalities for humans on our beautiful planet become more obvious every day and rethinking the so called 'normal', and if we ever would like to return to it in the first place, is in order. May be the needed change could be a few steps away from your front door and/or half around the globe, because they are indeed not mutually exclusive. In my book access to clean water should be a given, if you live in Flint Michigan, a slum in Brazil or in rural Madagascar.

The documentary was made by Eberhard Rühle, who joined us for a site visit to Madagascar in 2019. It is available in French and German through ARTE Reportage. In a very twisted, bizarre way COVID-19 might been helpful for Zahana, since many more people watch TV documentaries lately and we may reach a wider audience. Doctors for Madagascar, another non-profit from Germany with personal ties to us, does amazing work, and we are honored to feature in the same movie with them. But that you can see for yourself if you click on the ARTE in English documentary Madagascar: fighting poverty.

Close schools and kids are hungry in covid-19 times

A closed school forces most of our students to go hungry. Zahana decided to assemble our students every day at school to continue to offer the daily school meal.

Distibuting school food during COVID-19 times in Madagascar

As a response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government of Madagascar closed all schools* and declared a lock-down for major cities, including the capital of Antananarivo in April 2020.More

Improving Cookstoves

We proudly announce the first short documentary about Zahana ‘Using eco pellets to stop Madagascar's deforestation”. Sorry for the ads you need to edure, thanks to DW. There is also a long strech of black screen before the video start.It was produced by Eberhard Rühle for Deutsche Welle’s series Eco Africa(Sorry, the DW embed code does not work for our website).


The improved cookstove is built by hand, exclusively with locally available resources, that can be gathered in and around the community where people live. Nothing needs to be bought or brought in from the outside. Read more about improved cookstoves

July 2019: Inauguration of our second school building in Fiadanana, Madagascar

The inauguration of our second school building June 2019 is exciting news and a major milestone for Zahana in many aspects.This is the rural university we had always envisioned. Zahana has great plans for this school. It is designed to become a focal point for community wide education, including agriculture know-how transfer. The intention is to go beyond the scope of our current primary school(s) educational focus. Learning the ABC or math will be complemented by ‘real live skills. We want to further involve and encourage adults to come, many of whom might have never attended a formal school before. More

This endosement from GlobalGiving has just been issued:

 effective non-profit vetted by GlobalGivingZahana is vetted by GloablGivingZahana top ranked by GlobalGivingSite visit verified


Reforestation by zahana from 2013 to 2018

Hopefully he will be standing under a mighty ironwood tree one day, maybe with somebody who will be his size when he planted it, by his side.

Reforestation can be successful. Your timeframe just requires decades for big trees to re-grow (again).

In the current climate of social media, touted by the experts as the demi-gods of fundraising, posting along the lines: “cute boy with seedling, come back in five years and check” may not be a strategy for success for this giving season. But to continue steady with reforestation, despite all the odds, might be – see picture to the left.

We are currently exploring options and funding sources to update our website. The fist step: https is accomplished. This herculean task requires to switch from the now ‘old’ Dreamweaver to most likely WordPress. Please ‘make do’ with the current format for the time being.

August 2018:
It is a great pleasure and exciting for us to announce: Our second village and our school in Fiarenana now has clean water, too! More

a clean and safe water supply for Fiarenana in Madagascar

A communal faucet in Fiarenana

November 27, 2017

CARMMA Fiadnanana Madagascar

Our CARMMA (health center) in Fiadanana was awarded the ‘Prize of Excellence’ by Madagascar’s First Lady!

With great joy we congratulate all of our community health workers and the paramedic for their outstanding work that qualified them for the prize of excellence!

Our paramedic, head teacher and all community health workers undertook the once in a lifetime journey to the capital of Antananarivo to receive the reward and their certificates from the hands of the First Lady.

Our community health worker Ms. Laza was chosen to receive the CARMMA award from the hands of the Director of her Regional Health District and the First Lady.

October 2017

First baby born in our CARMMA health center in Madagascar

These pictures mark a very happy occasion: the first baby born in our maternity clinic in Fiadanana! Everybody in her village has been congratulating her that she was able to give birth in a bed in one of the two brand new rooms we just built, especially for mothers and their newborns. Our Health Center is a CARMMA with a trained paramedic that also serves the role of a midwife (the acronym stands for: campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal mortality). There are currently 25 health facilities designated as CARMMA by the Ministry of Public Health of Madagascar. 

May 2017: Video:

Please make sure you select 1080HD for best quality if you have a fast Internet connection.

The tender young leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree are very nutritious and make a great omelet (or omelette). The step-by-step process uses only 5 ingredients: Moringa leaves, eggs, turmeric, garlic and black pepper. Our video keeps people in mind, who may speak English as their third or fourth language.

March 2017

We are happy to report that two kilos of Moringa seeds arrived in Madagascar at the end of February. In the meantime the seeds have been hand delivered by our outstanding volunteer “Santa” to the gardeners in both of our villages.

Moringa Olifeira Seeds in Madagascar - Zahana

December 2016

Merry Chistmas from Zahana in MadagascarSanta come bearing gifts to rural Madagascar -Zahana

A Refrigerator for our Health Center

November 2016

Zahana's 10th Anniversary - an Amazing Headline

...with the number '10' (yes, ten years!) in there. It marks a milestone that would not have been possible without your support.

It marks an excellent reason for festivities in the village and an opportunity to celebrate our achievements with the community. It also allows us to take a step back and look at the last decade. more

August 30, 2016

Solar eclipse in Madagascar 2016 -

This photo is just too adorable and we want to share it right away. We got it with the following email on August 29:

“We [in Madagascar] will have a total eclipse of the sun on Sept. 1st from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Our work currently at the Ministry of Health is to sensitize people to protect their eyes by wearing special glasses for that. It's funny some people told us why this eclipse will take place now and but not in June or July. Some preachers claim that it is an announcement of the end of the era as mentioned on the Holy Bible, or a prediction of bad news. We will just have to wait and see.

Zahana bought hundreds of special eclipse glasses for our kids in our schools, both in Fiarenana and Fiadanana. This is an excellent “teachable moment” for our teachers to talk about astronomy and the celestial bodies. We sent our “Santa” to deliver the glasses and explain to them in person that we will meet again after the eclipse. We also wanted to emphasize and encourage the villagers (or their parents) to learn the facts, so they don’t sell all their belongings out of fear.
See you after the eclipse”

PS: On Sept. 1, the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating a brilliant ring of sunlight visible from areas around the southern Indian Ocean. When the moon creates a ring of sunlight during an eclipse instead of completely blocking the solar disk, it's known as an annular eclipse or "ring of fire" eclipse.

August 2016: In Memoriam of Dadaleva

Dadaleva the traditional healer in Fiadanana Madagasscar - Zahan

Dadaleva, the tradipractioner (traditional practitioner), passed away in the night of 8 July 2016. Having permission and blessing from his family we went through a simple Zahana celebration a months later (see the photos). The celebration was held in his house. Even he himself didn’t know his own age, and he used to say “more than 60” for the last two decades. But I think he was older than my mother who passed away at 89 a few years ago, so he must have been way over 90 years old. The Famadihana, a traditional Malagasy funeral service was held in the village itself with his entire extended family” [A big event when Malagasies wrap again the bones of their deceased loved one with new shrouds.]

Lovingly referred to as the ‘father of the village” by our founder Dr. Ihanta, Dadaleva was not only the heart and soul of the village but also our biggest Zahana supporter. Our work would not have been possible without his unwavering support and blessing from day one, way back in 1998 when Zahana was founded. In 2005 he donated the land on which Zahana’s first school still stands. He was an amazing traditional healer whose skill and ability was sought after from people hundreds of miles away. It was an open secret that when Western doctors in the area “ran out of options” they recommended to see Dadaleva, because if he could not help, nobody could.

We will dearly miss this amazing healer and humble wonderful human being.

He has been in many photos over the years, since he was pivotal for many events. Always discretely in the background shying away from the camera, you see him always wearing the traditional Malagasy lamba, regardless of the occasion. - more -

November 2015 In Memoriam

Zahana Donne and Dore with Dad"The bad news we learnt about returning made us deeply sad. The dad of our ‘boys’ Donné and Doré (water police*) passed away last Thursday. He walked to town to see his sons using ‘the shortcut’ to bring them a bag of rice. He had hoped to get back home the same day as one way, using the shortcut, takes less than 2 hours. On his way back, too late in the day, at nightfall he missed a ravine and fall down. People from Fiadanana were worries when he did not return home and they went looking for him.  Unfortunately when he was found, he was already dead at the bottom of the ravine. He passed away all alone, without any help.

When you look at the photos you can see that he (in the middle) was very proud of his 2 sons and in the firm believe that that they are in the way to success. At the time he did not realize that passing that BEPC is just the beginning of a long road of study ahead from them."

Update August 15, 2015

With great pride we post this update for Zahana. Email and SMS makes it possible to share the good news almost in real time. “Our brave country boys passed their exam! They are among the 51% in the entire region of Tsiroanomandidy who successfully passed their BEPC (high school entrance exam). I`m really happy, we will celebrate with them. They will be living in Tsiroanomandidy and go to high school. There is no better tenth anniversary gift for Zahana. In October 2005, when Raleva our traditional healer donated the land to built our community school nobody even dreamed of such a wonderful result.” More

waiting for the high school exam to start in Madagascar

Update: July 2015

The BEPC (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle) exam starts this coming Monday, August 3 from 3 to 5 PM. The three day long test will be held in Tsiroanomandidy*.

They will go to high school in Tsiroanomandidy if they pass the test. Once again, they will stay there by themselves like they were in Bevato for middle school. So let's pray for them they will be successful not just in school but especially as a reward for their exceptional behavior, they are so humble and understand where they came from. They are the best role model Zahana could wish for. As I couldn't be with our courageous students, our Zahana Santa agreed to do that for them. He is leaving Friday to drive them from the village of Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy and find a temporary housing for them. We already sent new clothes I got more donated from colleagues for them, everyone seems to admire our brave country-boys.

*Explanatory note: Tsiroanomandidy is the next (and only) bigger town in the area. Tsiroanomandidy can be reached via a paved road from the capital (a five hour’s drive) and has such amenities as a hospital, electricity and a high school. It takes about four to five hours to walk from Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy.

Update: March 2015

"Madagascar has experienced an exceptionally devastating cyclone season in early 2015. The severe weather and rain caused a lot of damage. Our team had tried to visit our villages in late January to make sure they were OK after the first big cyclone. They were unable to reach the villages and the driver had to turn around, since the roads were impassable and unsafe. We later sent our founder’s nephew, a strong young man, who had to walk the last 20 kilometers on foot to reach our villages and give us and update:

“The roof and the door of our school in Fiarenana was damaged by the cyclone (it will be repaired by the community, financed by their school treasury). The parents’ association and students are in the process of replacing, respectively replanting, some trees in the school yard that were broken down by the cyclone. Some rice paddy were invaded by sand-flooding”


Christmas tree at Zahana’s school in Fiadanana 2014 more

Ocrober 2014: Potatoes - a failure story with a happy end

June 2014: Inauguration of the new Health Center in Fiadanana

Minsiter of Health Madagascat visits Zahana

It is our great privilege and honor to announce that the Health Center in our village of Fiadanana has been officially inaugurated at the end of May 2014!

Now, after an official ribbon cutting ceremony, the healthcare center is ready to see patients. One of our proudest achievements is that the new health center will host the community’s own traditional healer Raleva to work side-by-side with a Ministry of Health certified trained midwife. To have such a true healing center in our village has been a dream for the community and Zahana since our very first community meeting over a decade ago. (See health center’s groundbreaking 2013.)

New health center

DECEMBER 2013: Reforestation Assessment

JULY 2013: The visit of the honorable Madame Minister of Health Dr. Johanita Ndahimananjara was the biggest event in the history of the villages that collaborate with Zahana. In this photo Madame Minister of Health of Madagascar is laying the foundation for the new Health Center in the village of Faidanana.

Villagers were informed about the upcoming visit ahead of time. If a minister in Madagascar announces such a visit she is coming with bodyguards and is accompanied by all the representatives of ministries at the region level. Villagers were notified especially about the presence of bodyguards so they would not get afraid. More

Zahana issues with our village partners are interconnected, three example, that hopefully will make you curious:

Planting a school garden is agricultural education, science curriculum and tackling the need for school lunches (or food security) at the same time.

Introducing new edible trees or crops, such as Moringa oleifera in March 2010, combines the need for firewood, improved nutrition and microcredit.

Planting trees and introducing improved cookstoves and solar cookers addresses deforestation, public health and climate change.

By the same token trees need years to grow and many projects need time to show lasting result. A constant challenge in the 20-second sound byte era (the video below for the visual learners). We hope you may spend some time exploring our site's many links further. Thank you. Zahana's YouTube channel: click here

Access to clean, safe water was the first priority for the community of Fiadanana in working with Zahana. The current running clean and safe water system in their village was built collaborative. 2.5 km long from the mountain to the village, it provides clean safe drinking water for over 1000 people. Learn more

ZAHANA is a community benefit organization in Madagascar. Zahana is dedicated to participatory rural development, education, reforestation, revitalization of traditional Malagasy medicine, and sustainable and environmentally-friendly agriculture. The goal of Zahana is to develop a community-based rural development project focused on priorities set by the villagers themselves. It is Zahana’s philosophy that development must be based on local needs and solutions proposed by local people. It is important to start small and stay focused on local priorities rather than on agendas set somewhere else by national or international bodies.

water supply built by zahana

Zahanas activities are ongoing. We started working in Fiadanana in 2005, assisting the community to build their communal water system (link). Zahana attempts to address all issues vital for a community development, an approach we call 'integrative development'. It remains a constant challenge to present all of our activities on this website in an easy to navigate format. We try to improve it constantly (hence the quick links on top or the menu to the right). Your feedback is very much appreciated.

New community school in Fiarenana, Madagascar

Inspired by their neighbors the community of Fiarenana invited Zahana to work with them. Their community built school has been inaugurated in March 2010. Learn more

Building a school for its children was the community second priority for Fiadanana. Since 2006 two teachers, hired and trained by Zahana are teaching in the community built school. Learn more about the school in Fiadanana


This page was last updated March 7, 2024