Peace Corps Partners with the Department of State to Tackle Energy and Climate Issues at the Grassroots Level

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 19, 2010 In support of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the Department of State will provide $1 million to fund Peace Corps volunteer efforts that increase rural access to energy, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in Central and South American communities.

I am pleased that the Peace Corps will play an active role in ECPA, said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. Peace Corps volunteers have been innovators at the grassroots level for nearly 50 years. This agreement will provide the support for our volunteers to work with international experts and local organizations, businesses, and community members on the ground to create efficient and green solutions to energy challenges in the Americas.

Under the partnership, Peace Corps volunteers will work with members of local communities to build infrastructure to support environmentally-friendly energy and educate communities on climate change and energy conservation. Volunteers will train host-country citizens to install, operate, and maintain energy-efficient technology including the use of alternative fuels, biodigesters, solar water heaters, photovoltaic devices, solar and fuel-efficient stoves, and wind or mini hydroelectric power generation. These efforts will make clean energy more accessible to rural communities, reduce carbon emissions, improve public health, and provide opportunities for individuals and small businesses to generate income.

In April 2009, at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, President Obama invited all countries in the Western Hemisphere to join ECPA to promote collaboration on renewable energy, energy efficiency, cleaner fossil fuels, and energy poverty. Peace Corps initial ECPA-related efforts will be implemented in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Suriname.

As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 77 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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