Agroforestry Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

Peace Corps has a rich history in Guinea. Though the first Volunteers arrived in Guinea in 1963, the Agriculture project was launched in 1990, when Volunteers piloted a watershed development project. As an Agroforestry Volunteer in Guinea, you will continue this tradition by working with rural communities to sustainably improve their food security, production of nutrition-rich foods, and diversified livelihoods. The work will involve the promotion of behavior change to increase the understanding of diversified strategies to assure long-term sustainability and strengthened resilience.

Agroforestry Volunteers work with any number of stakeholders to support this goal. Your work can include collaboration with local cooperatives, individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government field agents, and researchers. As a Volunteer, you may form strong collaborative partnerships with community members to best analyze community needs and increase your counterparts’ capacity to use new techniques and strategies for diversified and increased food production to assure food security, increase nutrition, and to promote natural resource management.

According to the needs of the assigned community, Volunteers will work to promote sustainable agroforestry practices through many activities. Volunteers may collaborate with individuals, households, government extension services and partner organizations to:

• encourage permaculture and organic methods of gardening
• improve the diversity, yield, and sustainability of crops and multi-purpose tree planting and fruit production
• promote alternative farming practices such as beekeeping, food transformation and conservation, soap making with natural resources such as herbal products or honey
• increase household incomes by working with community members to identify and develop income generating activities, develop new products and strengthen basic business practices
• increase dietary diversity through nutrition education and food preparation techniques through use of behavior change strategies

Volunteers also have the opportunity to pursue secondary projects based on the needs and resources available in their local community. Cross-sector collaboration with Public Health and Education Volunteers is encouraged, particularly in the areas of Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture and behavior change education. This includes teaching gardening skills and encouraging local preparation and consumption of nutrition-rich vegetables not commonly eaten in the community. Education Volunteers also rely on the technical expertise of Agroforestry Volunteers to develop school gardens.

Peace Corps Guinea promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges in their country and they 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. Part of your work in this area will include reporting on your efforts and their impact.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

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

The following additional skills are preferred:

• Demonstrated interest / experience in vegetable gardening, nursery work and management, tree planting and care, nutrition and/or beekeeping;
• Experience in forestry, farming management or staple crop and/or rice production;
• Demonstrated leadership experience or experience in community organizing;
• Knowledge of: natural resource management; food security and household nutrition education; and/or skills in behavior change strategies or income generation activities;
• French language proficiency

Required Language Skills

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

Agroforesty Volunteers will be taught to speak a local language based on their assignment – Malinke, Susu, and Fula (Pular) are the primary languages of Guinea. During the time that sites will be located within the 6-hour distance from Conakry, Susu will be the predominant language with some sites speaking Fula or Pular. You will receive 120+ hours of local language training during PST.

Volunteers will also be provided with an introduction to French, but it is highly recommended that Invitees participate in an intensive French course (online or in-person class) before departing the US. Between 10-20 hours of French will be taught during Pre-Service Training to provide you the language needed to navigate transportation and see to your own basic needs. Optional French tutoring will be offered two nights per week in the second half of the training.

Living Conditions

In an effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to assure your safety, Volunteers are assigned to rural villages located within a 6 hour drive from Conakry. These villages can range in size from several hundred to a few thousand people. Prior to your arrival, the villagers will be sensitized to the realities of COVID-19 and the precautionary measures that Peace Corps has made mandatory.

Peace Corps works with communities to prepare housing and assure that it is safe and secure, near a source of water, accessible to a market, and within walking distance of clear cell phone reception. Extra precautions will be made to ensure that host families and Volunteers have the appropriate understanding and space for social distancing along with identified locations for isolation in the case of any detection of COVID.

Houses are typically a simple round hut, in one to three room structures, with either metal or thatched roofs. Many are situated within a family compound and, in consideration of COVID, will be situated at a distance from the other houses. Most Volunteer houses do not have electricity or running water. Houses may have inside toilet and shower areas but most have a nearby or attached access to a private pit latrine and bathing area.

Cell phone services improve each year, but fluctuate by location. Phones work in almost all areas of the country, but internet access can be limited at the village level. Peace Corps recommends that Volunteers bring their own laptop for use at site or at the regional office. Regional offices are also equipped with computers with internet access but, to respect COVID-19 safe considerations, guidelines for proper use will be provided.

Personal appearance is important to the people of Guinea. During pre-service training (PST), the standard professional dress code is business casual. Following PST, when you are placed in the community, you will need to dress appropriately for socializing in the community and for working. Respecting Guinean culture and tradition by dressing appropriately helps you gain respect in your host community, facilitates integration and increases your credibility and effectiveness.

Volunteers are provided bikes for transport should you choose; however, many Volunteer sites are within walking distance. For longer distances, Volunteers use small passenger vehicles to go into the regional capital or to gain access to public transportation.

Rice, maize, cassava or a local grain “fonio” is eaten for most main meals, along with leaves (like spinach), with a peanut or tomato based sauce served with vegetables, meat or fish. Fruits such as mangoes, avocado, pineapples, papaya, oranges, and limes are available seasonally. Guineans do not eat many vegetables and they are usually cooked into sauces. One of your goals is to assist Guineans to educate community members on the importance of eating these vegetables in new ways.

Though people in Guinea are generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are much defined and there are restrictive laws that target certain sexual behaviors. 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 other currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

During your two year service, you will have an incredible experience that will have its many challenges, but will undoubtedly bring incredible rewards as you develop social and working relationships with a variety of people, learn to communicate in local languages, develop an understanding of local expectations and customs along with an appreciation of local foods, and learn to live and work in Guinea where the concepts of comfort and necessity get redefined.

Serving in Guinea

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

Couples Information

Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

• Public Health Educator

Regarding living conditions: Couples will likely be separated during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training as they will live in modified dormitory accommodations. Once at site, couples will share a home that meets the same standards as for all Volunteers. There will be times during service when couples will spend some days and nights apart, such as when one is attending a specialized in-service training, a meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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