Peace Corps' Y2K Plan for Volunteers and Staff Around the World
December 20, 1999December 20, 1999
NOTE: The Peace Corps will have an operations center in place to answer questions from families and friends of Peace Corps Volunteers during this crucial Y2K period. For more detailed updates on specific countries, please review the U.S. State Department's Web site: travel.state.gov/y2kca.html. The International Y2K Cooperation Center will also provide real-time information on countries as they roll over to 2000: iy2kcc.org
¥ While the timing of Y2K is well known, the exact impact on more than 7,000 Volunteers serving in 78 countries where the Peace Corps operates is uncertain. However, over the past year, the Peace Corps has planned extensively for Y2K, adopting precautionary measures and developing contingency plans to minimize potential risks to ensure the safety of its Volunteers and the continuity of its operations into the new millennium.
¥ Country directors are working with Volunteers, host country staff, Embassy personnel, and other organizations in each country to ensure that contingency plans address potential problems. Each country plan indicates policies developed for leave and travel of Volunteers, a communications plan for contacting all Volunteers in the case of disruptions, and a staffing plan to provide essential coverage and support during the critical Y2K period. Country staff members have developed comprehensive testing plans and will have conducted tests before the New Year.
¥ In all countries where Volunteers serve, Peace Corps staff members have provided Volunteers with Y2K preparedness information at mid-service training conferences, all volunteer conferences, and at Volunteer pre-service training. All Volunteers received a Y2K checklist specific to the country where each is serving, and an emergency action plan. In a few countries, Peace Corps Volunteers will be provided with a Volunteer Emergency Kit, which will include a sleeping bag, flashlight, batteries, extra clothing and food items, and additional medical supplies.
¥ Peace Corps offices around the world have made preparations for incidents which may occur around Y2K, including maintaining a generator for electricity back-up; upgrading communications to include satellite telephones; and reviewing emergency action plans with Volunteers. Where the Y2K prognosis makes it prudent, some have even stockpiled fuel, water, and food supplies.
¥ All Volunteers who are taking leave between December 20, 1999 and January 15, 2000 (whether at another site in host country, at another Peace Corps post, in the U.S., or in another country) have been required to submit a leave request, a detailed itinerary, and emergency contact numbers one month prior to their departure. They must check in with headquarters or overseas staff before returning to their countries in January.
¥ In some cases, Volunteers who plan to remain in their host country will be instructed to remain at their sites with host country friends and colleagues. Other Volunteers may congregate in small groups in a regional center or may be consolidated in one large group with Peace Corps staff to welcome the New Year. Peace Corps staff members at headquarters in Washington are reviewing each country's plan and will monitor the situation to ensure that the best plans are adopted. As always, the Peace Corps will consider the suspension of operations where the safety and security of staff and Volunteers are severely compromised or the program is no longer viable.