Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker

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Project Description

Volunteers participating in the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Project make it a priority to teach smallholder farmers new and improved techniques in home gardening, poultry, beekeeping, and nutrition. As Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers serving in rural villages, Volunteers help improve farmers' food security.

Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers are assigned to farmers’ training centers located in small towns ranging from 500-3,000 inhabitants. Working with local Development Agents, Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers work directly with smallholder farming families to increase the availability of diverse and nutritious foods; resulting in farming families improving their nutrition and food security. To do this, Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers undertake many tasks, including:

• Building demonstration gardens using bio-intensive gardening techniques, including: composting, fencing, water management, plant nursery, bed construction, and organic soil amendments
• Teaching local farmers bio-intensive gardening practices at their homes
• Constructing poultry demonstrations promoting improvements in nutrition, sanitation and management of stock
• Establishing beehive demonstrations promoting best practices for maintaining sustainable bee colonies
• Teaching smallholder farmers improved poultry management and beekeeping at their homes
• Organizing and delivering nutrition lessons paired with cooking demonstrations, using locally available and affordable foods; including the home garden produce, poultry, and honey

The Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers and their counterparts spend a substantial amount of time in the field working directly with farmers. In the early stages of the assignment they may work directly with their counterpart one or more days a week at their office and in the field, and later in service, they will spend the majority of their time in the field with the farming families. This is a hands-on assignment where you will be working directly with at least five farming families to help them establish and/or improve diverse garden production, adopt new or improved small animal husbandry practices, and increase consumption of more diverse and nutritious foods.

Along with their agriculture and nutrition work, many Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers are involved with school clubs, youth camps, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Peace Corps Ethiopia also promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Ethiopia and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

During Pre-Service Training, Agriculture and Nutrition Development Workers will spend 12 weeks living with a local family and being trained on technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the rural Ethiopian context. Peace Corps staff will measure your achievement to determine if you have successfully achieved competencies before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in agriculture and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will also have some degree of professional and/or volunteer experience with at least one of the following qualifications:
• A high level of comfort working outdoors; AND,
• Experience in small income generation activities; OR,
• Experience in large scale or family-run organic vegetable gardening; OR,
• Experience in poultry rearing or beekeeping; OR,
• Comfort working with bees and chickens; OR,
• Knowledge of basic family nutrition; OR,
• Experience in facilitating trainings.

Our most competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, Animal husbandry or other related fields
• At least 3 years full-time farm experience

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Learning the local language is the key to integration and successful service. You need to arrive with a strong commitment to learning the local language of the village to which you will be assigned. Volunteers will receive 12 weeks of pre-service training in a local language (Amharic, Oromifa, or Tigrinya) and must attain an intermediate level of spoken proficiency before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language resources will be offered to you at Peace Corps training events and through independent tutoring during service. Most of the people Volunteers will work with will not speak English, so it is extremely important to understand and be able to communicate in the local language.

Living Conditions

Volunteers live in rural villages (pop: ~2,000) in the Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and SNNP Regions. Ethiopia’s climate is cold in the mountains and hot in lower regions. Volunteer housing is commonly a mud house, with a dirt floor, and a corrugated iron roof. Peace Corps will provide you an allowance to purchase modest furniture and household items. Houses are typically located on a compound with the landlord. A pit latrine is shared with the compound family. Water is commonly from a dug well or protected spring that may be a 20 minute walk away.

Within the community, cell phone service is fairly reliable, but electricity and internet are lacking. Internet can be found in larger towns, generally within a day trip. The closest shopping town may be 30 miles away, though basic foodstuff will be available in your community. Volunteers must be prepared to accept the living conditions to which they are assigned as they will be living under the same conditions as the people they work with. Pre-service training will help you adapt to the lifestyle.

Your diet will be local foods such as injera, a spongy pancake made from tef, and eaten with sauces, vegetables, and meat. Vegetables and fruit are available. Vegetarians will find that it is generally easy to maintain your diet.

Transportation will be by foot, bicycle, or local public transportation. Public transportation is available near Volunteers’ sites and, in most cases, goes several times a week to and from the nearest urban area or trading center. Public transportation is likely to be crowded and uncomfortable. Travel to farmers’ homes, demonstration sites and the farmers’ training center may require walking 30 minutes or more each way or riding a bike for 5 to 10 miles (a helmet will be provided to you, which must be worn when riding). Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Ethiopia prohibits the use of motorcycles or vehicles by Volunteers.

You are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop to enable you to complete required reporting and access digital resources.

You will do physical work with farming families and Development Agents. This could include digging garden beds, building compost piles, or making chicken coops. Many sites are over 8,000 feet high. The position requires a good level of physical fitness for you to be successful in the work.

Ethiopians are conservative in professional and casual attire. Although your counterparts' resources may be limited, they will present themselves professionally. Volunteers are looked upon as role models, and as such their appearance and clothes need to be clean, neat and mended. Throughout training and service, the dress code is business casual.

Sexual mores in Ethiopia are very conservative and strict, and you are expected to respect them. Public displays of romantic affection with members of the opposite sex are not socially acceptable. Ethiopia has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify support mechanisms for trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of Ethiopians may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share their American values, and deepen local community members understanding of Americans.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ethiopia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Ethiopia cannot accommodate couples where both partners work in Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker positions. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for:
• Community Health Educator

Couples with one Community Health Educator and one Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker will be separated during the 12 weeks of Pre-Service Training and live with separate host families. Peace Corps staff will ensure the opportunity to visit with each other periodically; however, couples should be prepared to spend most of the Pre-Service Training time apart.

After Pre-Service Training, couples will live together at their permanent site. Usually couples are provided 2 small rooms at their site so that they can have their own space.

Medical Considerations in Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons:  Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve:  none identified. 
  • After arrival in Ethiopia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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