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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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Living Conditions in Botswana

Communications

Mail 

Mail from the U.S. to Botswana takes two to four weeks. Advise your family and friends to keep all documentation related to the packages that they send to Botswana so any package that does not arrive can be traced. Most mail will come with a tracking number that can be tracked online and will show when a package from the U.S. clears customs in Botswana.

During Pre-Service Training, your mail should be sent to the Peace Corps office address. Packages that arrive after Pre-Service Training will not be accepted.

PCT Name
c/o Peace Corps/Botswana
Private Bag 00243
Gaborone, Botswana

Telephones

Domestic and international phone service is available throughout Botswana. All Volunteers are eligible to receive an allowance to purchase a basic phone, laptop and/or tablet to support their IT needs. If you choose to bring a smartphone from home, be sure to unlock it for use prior to arriving in Botswana.

Internet

Larger villages and towns in Botswana have internet cafes. You should be able to access email at an internet cafe during off-hours and on weekends. Approximately 25 percent of Volunteers only access the internet once a month when they visit larger nearby villages for grocery shopping. Data is available in most larger villages and towns. If you bring a computer or other valuable equipment you should consider purchasing personal property insurance and ensure that you have anti-viral software.

Housing and site location

You will be living with a host family during your 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training in Botswana. You will soon discover that families are very important to the people of Botswana and that living with a host family can be both enjoyable and challenging. Going into the experience, you should set learning goals and make sure you are getting the most out of your host family experience—including language, culture, and other adjustment issues.

Your housing is identified by your host organization in your community and must meet Peace Corps’ housing standards. There is considerable variation in Volunteer living situations. You should come prepared to accept the Peace Corps’ minimum standard for housing: within a family compound, a single room that is clean and can be secured with a lock, with access to clean water and sanitary bathroom/pit latrine and cooking space. Electricity and piped-in water are not required by the Peace Corps. Some rural communities do not have access to electricity. Electric current is wired at 220-240 volts, 50 hertz. Outlets take plugs with three round pins.

Living allowance and money management

Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For this, credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.  

Food and diet

The absence of basic food items is not an issue in Botswana. In fact, Volunteers may be surprised to find a large variety of familiar items, although all might not be accessible at your site or given the Volunteer living allowance. Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually available, although variety may be quite limited. Those posted to district-level villages or large towns will be able to buy food items in their immediate vicinity. Those posted to villages, particularly in very rural spots, will be limited to periodic shopping trips in the larger towns. The traditional diet in Botswana relies heavily on meat and starches (notably corn or maize, beans, rice, potatoes, and sorghum). Starches are usually served in a stew or with gravy, made of vegetables such as cabbages, tomatoes, greens, and onions. Beetroot and butternut squash often give color to a dish. Committed vegetarians will find it relatively easy to maintain their diet but will have to find a way to convince meat-loving Botswana of the healthiness of their choice. Note that consumption of meat is given particular importance in some cultural celebrations.

Transportation

In general, it is not difficult to get around in Botswana. Common and inexpensive forms of public transportation include buses and private taxis. Buses travel on a fairly regular schedule throughout the country, although transfers may be necessary to reach one’s destination. Buses range in size from combis (10- to 12-seat minivans) to large luxury buses. While most transportation is reliable, the Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to assess the condition of both the vehicle and the driver before boarding.

The Peace Corps’ recommended mode of transportation among Volunteer sites and the capital is a large bus.

Social activities

In Botswana, socializing often revolves around communal activities such as cooking and sharing meals, visiting neighbors, and attending community gatherings. Volunteers have opportunities to engage with community members through informal conversations and participating in local customs.


Botswana celebrates a variety of traditional and cultural festivals throughout the year, including weddings and harvest festivals. Volunteers may also participate in national holidays and celebrations, such as Independence Day or Botswana Day, which often involve community gatherings, parades, and cultural performances.

Dance and music are integral parts of Botswana's cultural heritage, with traditional dances like the Setapa and Tsutsube performed during celebrations and social gatherings. Volunteers may have the opportunity to learn traditional dances, participate in drumming circles, or attend live music performances featuring genres such as Afro-pop, gospel, and traditional Setswana music.

Sports and games play a central role in social bonding and recreation in Botswana, with activities such as football (soccer), netball, and volleyball popular among both youth and adults. Volunteers may also participate in traditional games like Morabaraba (a strategy board game) or Diketo (stone throwing game), which provide opportunities for intergenerational socialization and friendly competition.

Social activities in Botswana are inclusive and accessible, with opportunities for Volunteers of all backgrounds to participate and engage with community members. Peace Corps Botswana promotes cultural exchange and understanding, encouraging Volunteers to embrace local customs and traditions while also sharing their own cultural heritage with their host communities.

Professionalism, dress, and behavior

Professionalism in the Peace Corps requires an awareness of the host community workplace culture, community values, and your self-presentation.  To maintain a positive, culturally appropriate professional standing within a host community or workplace, Volunteers may need to adjust their style of dress, hair style, facial hair, make-up, piercings, manner of greeting others, etc., to demonstrate respect for local culture and customs.  How you present yourself, in both informal and professional settings, is a reflection of you as an individual and of you as a representative of Peace Corps and the United States. In the U.S., dress (and other elements of personal appearance) may be seen as an expression of personal freedom and identity. In many host countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve, the way you dress and present yourself may be interpreted as an expression of regard—or disregard—for those host community members around you.

Volunteers are encouraged to spend time in their communities, to develop their language skills, and to get to know the individual members of their community to better understand their traditions, culture, and local norms. As mutual trust is established over time, there may opportunities for Volunteers to adjust their personal appearance and dress outside of the more rigid local standards. Volunteers are encouraged to discuss these potential adjustments with staff and other cultural mentors.

Botswana places a strong emphasis on respect, politeness, and professionalism in all interactions, both in the workplace and community settings. Dressing modestly and conservatively is generally expected, especially in rural areas, where Western-style clothing may be less common.

Communication in Botswana tends to be polite, indirect, and respectful, with an emphasis on maintaining harmony and avoiding confrontation. Volunteers should strive to communicate clearly and effectively, while also being mindful of local customs and cultural sensitivities.

Volunteers are expected to integrate into their communities and adapt to local norms and customs, including participating in community events and ceremonies. Demonstrating punctuality, reliability, and professionalism in their work and daily interactions helps Volunteers build trust and credibility within their communities.

As role models for youth, Volunteers play a crucial role in demonstrating professionalism, integrity, and positive behavior. Volunteers should be mindful of their actions and language, recognizing that they are influential figures within their communities and can have a lasting impact on youth.

Volunteers should be aware of their surroundings and respectful of local traditions and customs, including during cultural events and religious ceremonies. Peace Corps Botswana provides training and resources to support Volunteers navigate cultural norms and expectations, ensuring that they can effectively integrate into their communities and contribute to meaningful change.