Togo

Living Conditions

Communications

Mail

In general, letters will take two to five weeks to arrive, sometimes longer depending on a myriad of influences as diverse as seasonal slowdowns to Paris airport strikes. Packages will take longer so you should suggest to family and friends to send only small packages under 5 pounds. There are import duties levied on packages arriving in Togo based on the stated value of the contents. During your pre-service training you may receive letters and packages at the following address: 

PCT “your name”
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 3194
Lomé, Togo
West Africa

Following pre-service training Volunteers are encouraged to rent their own mail box at their local post office in order to receive mail.  Peace Corps cannot forward your mail to your new address, loved ones should consider this and not send mail too close to the end of training.

Telephones

Simple cell phones are operational in almost all parts of the country.  Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a simple cell phone and SIM card.  Many Volunteers decide to bring unlocked smart-phones and use online communication applications to keep in contact with fellow Volunteers.  

Internet

Regional capitals and some larger towns in Togo have internet connections (these connections are often very slow and/or unreliable). Peace Corps/Togo also maintains one workstation for Volunteers in each region that has an internet connection.


Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop which not only increases options for internet access, but also enables Volunteers to complete required assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. It is recommended to insure laptops or other devices prior to arrival in country. 

Housing and Site Location

Most Volunteers live in two-to-three-room houses within a Togolese family compound. Living within a shared compound affords Volunteers a valuable opportunity to truly observe and be a part of the culture, enjoy the benefits and security of communal living, and learn the language of their host community.  Sanitation and other amenities will be modest, but adequate. Many Volunteers live in communities without electricity. Although access to electricity is not guaranteed, Togo operates on a 220-volt system as is found throughout much of Europe. Access to cooking gas is usually consistent, but there may be times when it is necessary to cook on a charcoal stove in the event of gas shortages. Water sources in communities could be traditional wells, a bore hole equipped with a pump, and/or cisterns. Whatever your source of drinking water, you will have to treat it. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a water filter and provide training on use and maintenance of the filter.


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

Your diet will consist of locally grown foods or a combination of local and (usually imported) preserved foods. A typical Togolese meal is corn or millet ‘pâte’ (paste), accompanied by a sauce that is considered by most to be hot and/or spicy.  Rice and beans, usually eaten for breakfast, is another common meal.   There is far less variety in meals than many Americans are accustomed to having. Meat is available throughout Togo, as is dried fish, but fresh fish is only available in larger towns. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, limiting the diversity of a strictly vegetarian diet at certain times of year, especially in more remote areas. However, tofu (soy) is available throughout the country.

Transportation

Distance between communities and regional capitals vary, but can be as far as sixty kilometers. Some Volunteers like biking some of the shorter distances, others prefer local public transportation (bush taxis) to the nearest mail point, bank, and shopping locations. You will be provided with funds to purchase a bicycle to facilitate work and enable you to have greater access to nearby communities. You will also be provided with a bicycle helmet.  Alternatively, as a Volunteer you will be able to ride as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi on certain prescribed roads provided that you comply with the Peace Corps/Togo safety policies and wear a pre-approved motorcycle helmet (with full face mask) any time you are riding on a motorcycle. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a motorcycle helmet.
Violation of this policy will result in administrative separation. 

Social Activities

Togolese people are extremely social, and most social activities center around community events. Various ceremonies and “fêtes” are held throughout the year and Volunteer attendance is always appreciated. Your social life will be as busy as you care to make it.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

Dress, appearance, and cleanliness are of great importance in the West African concept of professionalism. While a “relaxed” or disheveled appearance may be an expression of individuality in the United States, in Togo it is viewed as demeaning and disrespectful. People’s appearance indicates their own status and demonstrates their level of respect for those they encounter. You will be required to dress appropriately, professionally, and respectfully once posted to your assigned community as well as during pre-service training. Wearing revealing clothing and/or dressing in an unkempt manner can diminish the respect community members have for you and can make your work much more challenging.