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

Telephones

Cell phone reception is still expanding throughout Togo thus international calls are quite expensive. Most Volunteers end up bringing unlocked smartphones and using online messaging services such as Whatsapp or Facebook messenger. 

Internet

There is Internet connectivity in most of Togo’s larger towns. Cyber cafes have popped up all over the country and are relatively inexpensive. Internet connections are very slow and prices vary. It is recommended to insure laptops or other devices prior to arrival in country.

Workstations are located in regional capitals and usually equipped with one desktop computer with internet access as well as Wi-Fi.

Housing and Site Location

Volunteers in Togo are provided housing as part of the community’s contribution to their work. Most Togo Volunteers live in villages in a two- or three-room house, most likely in a compound with a Togolese family.  Togo is on a 220-volt system as is found throughout much of Europe. It is unlikely that you will have running water or electricity, although they are more common in larger city posts. Water sources in communities can be traditional wells, bore-holes equipped with pumps, and cisterns. Whatever your source of drinking water, you will have to treat it before use.

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 imported tinned foods. A typical Togolese meal is a carbohydrate-base rice, yams, pâte (boiled corn meal or flour) or fufu (pounded white yams), accompanied by a variety of hot, spicy sauces. Rice and beans, usually eaten at breakfast, is another common meal. Meat is available throughout Togo, but it is expensive; fresh fish is only available in larger towns. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, occasionally making it difficult for vegetarians to adhere to a sound diet, especially in the more remote areas. Some Volunteers plant vegetable gardens to supplement their diet. If not, you can find most of your food in the nearest cities or weekly markets. Smaller villages often provide only basic food supplies. You may need to travel to larger towns for vegetables and specific items, especially during dry season. Take advantage of your host family’s hospitality during pre-service training (PST, also referred to as “stage” in French). Learn how to cook, see how ingredients can be reinterpreted, etc.

Transportation

Currently revising this section.  Updates will be available by March 2,  2018. 

Social Activities

Togolese 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 well appreciated. In addition, Volunteers get together on different occasions, even if it is just for a regional meeting. Your social life will be as busy as you care to make it.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

Dress in the West African context is a sign of respect and professionalism–you show respect for colleagues by how you dress. You will find that your Togolese counterparts are invariably well groomed and wear pressed, clean clothing. Tight, form-fitting clothing for women or clothing exposing the stomach, back, shoulders or knees is almost never appropriate. The same is true for shorts and rubber flip-flops for both men and women during professional meetings, whether in your village or in the regional capital. To guide you, Peace Corps Togo Volunteers have established the following dress code for work situations:

  1. No shorts 
  2. No rubber flip-flops
  3. No halters/spaghetti straps, etc. for women 
  4. Collared shirts for men/clean T-shirts 
  5. Supply of shoes/clothes in Volunteer lounge at the office.

Examples of formal work situations: Everywhere in the office, excluding PCV lounge, “sensibilisations” (i.e. community training), Peace Corps training with counterparts, Peace Corps Volunteer training and pre-service training.