Combatting poverty in Madagascar

Helping people lead a life of dignity through access to housing, education and healthcare


Mothers & children








In progress


The Mérieux Foundation has been active in Madagascar since 2006. In 2014 we began working with Akamasoa (meaning “good friends”), a local association founded 30 years ago by Father Pedro Opeka to fight extreme poverty on this island in the Indian Ocean. Three out of four Malagasy live on less than $1.90 per day .


“A roof, a job and education to lead a life of dignity” sums up Father Pedro’s philosophy and the ambition of the programs that Akamasoa has developed since 1989. When Father Pedro arrived in Antananarivo, the capital city, he was horrified to find people living in an open garbage dump, digging through rubble to find bits and pieces of anything they might sell: metal, batteries, textiles, etc. He set up a school for the children. As the son of a mason, he helped create a quarry on a hill near the garbage dump, where people earn a living by digging into the granite to make stones and pebbles that are used to build homes, cobblestone streets and schools. Brightly-colored houses now dot the hillside around the quarry. “From a mountain of garbage, we have created an oasis of hope,” says Father Pedro.


Combatting poverty in Madagascar

Today Akamasoa forms a community of 18 villages. Since 1989, homes for 25,000 people have been built, in addition to 100 schools, 6 clinics and other infrastructure. We support several Akamasoa projects to meet basic needs and improve access to hygiene and healthcare, especially for women and children.

Results to date

Our support has helped:

  • Build a center in the village of Mahatsara to provide daycare for destitute children, with capacity for 150 children
  • Create a laboratory in the center at Manantenasoa, a suburb of Antananarivo, to provide an income-generating activity and access to quality diagnostic testing
  • Expand a homeless shelter in Manantenasoa
  • Build a medical testing laboratory and convalescence home in Mangarivotra where patients with infectious diseases can recover
  • Cover the cost of medical care and hospitalization for children in need
  • Develop education initiatives to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and improve hygiene and other factors impacting the health of women and children

What’s next?

We plan to expand programs to provide care and monitoring for pregnant women while further developing laboratory activities. We will continue to cover healthcare and hospitalization costs for the neediest children.

Education is one of the pillars of Akamasoa and we are supporting the construction of a five-level high school in Mahatsara, the last Akamasoa village that doesn’t have one.



  • Akamasoa (Father Pedro’s association)


  • Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux