Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Ethiopia is an ancient land, known for its coffee, rock hewn churches and rugged landscape. The Peace Corps program was re-established in Ethiopia in 2007 and since then Volunteers have been working with the Ethiopian people on various initiatives. One priority is combatting food insecurity; Volunteers serve as Agriculture and Nutritional Development Workers to help address widespread nutrition challenges through the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture program.

As an Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker you will be assigned to a farmers’ training center located in a small town ranging from 500-2,000 inhabitants. Assisting local partners, you will work directly with smallholder farming families to increase the availability of diverse and nutritious foods.

To do this, you might undertake any of the following tasks:

• Organizing technical trainings on: home gardens, building chicken coops, management of stock, building transitional bee hives, bee colony management, and food diversification
• Building demonstration gardens using bio-intensive gardening techniques, including: composting, fencing, water management, plant nursery, bed construction, and organic soil amendments
• Constructing poultry demonstrations promoting improvements in nutrition, sanitation, and management of stock
• Establishing beehive demonstrations promoting best practices for maintaining sustainable bee colonies
• Organizing and delivering nutrition lessons paired with cooking demonstrations, using locally available and affordable foods, including the home garden produce, poultry, and honey
• Facilitating agriculture club at local schools and/or creating school gardens

To do this, you will spend a substantial amount of time in the field working directly with farmers. In the early stages of your service, you may work directly with a local Development Agent one or more days a week at their office and in the field. Later, as you become more comfortable in your community and your language skills improve, you will spend the majority of your 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 your primary work assignment, you are encouraged to be involved with school clubs, youth camps, sports, and other extracurricular activities that are of interest to both you and your community.

In addition, Peace Corps Ethiopia prioritizes gender awareness, girls’ education and empowerment. During your service, you are highly encouraged to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency in all your activities, as contextually appropriate.

You will learn all the skills and knowledge you need to accomplish these tasks during Pre-Service Training (PST). This is a 12-week-long intensive training period where you will live with a local family and be trained on technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the rural Ethiopian context. Once you have demonstrated your proficiency in these areas, you will be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Serving in Ethiopia’s Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture project is the quintessential Peace Corps experience and
an excellent opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience in a variety of areas including community organizing, leadership, inter-cultural communication, problem solving, behavior change, food security and international development. Using the skills you have, and the ones you develop in country, you can have a significant impact on your community.

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 field
• At least 3 years full-time farm experience

Required Language Skills

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

During Pre-Service training, you will receive twelve weeks of intensive instruction in either Amharic, Oromifa, Tigrinya or another regional language. Few people in your community will speak English, so a strong dedication to learning your new language is essential to having a successful service. You must attain an intermediate level of spoken proficiency before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language resources to improve your fluency will be offered to you at Peace Corps training events during service and through an independent tutoring program.

Living Conditions

Ethiopia’s climates and cultures vary widely with more than 80 separate ethnic groups inhabiting areas from the Ethiopian Highlands to the Great Rift Valley. Your living conditions will depend on where you are assigned to work; however, most Volunteers are assigned to a small town in the Amhara, Oromia, Tigray or SNNP Regions

As a Volunteer you are expected to live at the same level as your local counterparts. Volunteer housing is commonly a mud house with a dirt floor and a corrugated metal roof located on a compound with a landlord. A pit latrine is shared with the host family. Water will likely come from a well or protected spring that may be a 20-minute-walk away. Peace Corps will provide you with money to purchase modest furniture and household items. Within the community cell phone service is fairly reliable but electricity and internet are unreliable or non-existent. Internet can be found in larger towns generally within a day’s trip. PST will help you adapt to this lifestyle through sessions that cover topics from bucket-bathing to storing food without electricity. Many Volunteers grow to love this simple lifestyle.

Your diet will be local foods such as injera, a spongy pancake-like bread eaten with sauces, vegetables and meat. Vegetables and fruit are available though there is seasonal and regional variability. Vegetarians will find that it is generally easy to maintain their diet. The closest shopping town may be 30 miles away though basic foodstuffs will be available in your community.

Transportation will be by foot, bicycle or public transportation. Public transportation will be available near your site and in most cases goes several times a week to and from the nearest urban area. 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). Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Ethiopia prohibits the operation of motorcycles or vehicles by Volunteers.

This position requires a good level of physical fitness as your work could include digging garden beds, building compost piles, making chicken coops, etc. Many sites are above 8,000 feet in elevation.

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 and neat.

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 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 handle these subjects. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. This can be uncomfortable, but Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity by sharing their values and experiences. Peace Corps recognizes that this is challenging. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address identity related concerns during PST. There are multiple support networks within Peace Corps Ethiopia including specially trained staff and several Volunteer led initiatives like a Peer Support Network for general support.

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

Peace Corps Ethiopia welcomes couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for:

• Community Health Educator

Couples with one Agriculture and Nutrition Development Worker and one Community Health Educator will be separated during the 12 weeks of Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps staff will ensure the opportunity to visit 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

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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