Community Environmental Promoter

Project Description

Paraguay is home to priority ecosystems. The agriculture-based economy is heavily dependent on natural resources. Peace Corps Paraguay’s hosts and partners have invited Volunteers to 1) strengthen the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of youth to become effective environmental stewards and 2) increase the adoption of practices by individuals and communities that lead to an increased number of trees. All work is done through collaborative efforts with community stakeholders. Volunteers work with primary schools (up to 9th grade) to co-design, co-plan and co-facilitate environmental education with teachers and recycling initiatives like “Basura Cero” (Zero Trash), a behavior change-based framework that aims to improve waste management practices. They also co-implement structured eco-clubs (in or out of school) and other environmental events, using the Voices of Nature curriculum created by a partner organization. Many Volunteers work with the Paraguayan Forest Service to start and/or manage tree nurseries. Volunteers also promote forestry with native species while working with manageable solutions that address rural, low-resourced communities’ economic realities. All Volunteers should feel comfortable working with groups if diverse stakeholders including teachers, youth, local elected officials, and government/non-government organization workers. Environment Volunteers are placed in host communities ranging in size from rural villages to small towns.

Climate Change Activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental conditions faced by local communities will become increasingly problematic, particularly for vulnerable households in low-lying areas and historically marginalized communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. The types of interventions undertaken will be guided by national and local priorities for climate change adaptation as identified in your country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and those environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15) that have been identified for local action. As an Environment Volunteer, you will be trained to use this knowledge to work with government, local, and community stakeholders to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of climate change while promoting resiliency, and engaging in projects and activities that:

• strengthen the ability of vulnerable households and communities to respond to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons;
• enhance local and community capacities for effective implementation of NAP and SDG priorities;
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies;
• support the development of sustainable mechanisms that incorporate the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of effective solid waste management practices; and
• work with Volunteers in other sectors to integrate climate change adaptation practices into their activities (e.g., work with Health Volunteers to reduce respiratory health issues of women and girls through use of improved cook stoves; work with Education Volunteers to mitigate the impact of heat waves on local teaching or establishing tree nurseries and planting trees to reduce the time that students use in collecting firewood).

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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 promoting environmental awareness in schools and communities, and one or more of the following criteria:
•Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
•5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

• At least one year of eExperience working in a rural area under challenging conditions
• At least one year of sService/volunteer work in a community
• At least one year of eExperience implementing behavior change methodologies
• Interest and skills in people-focused environmental work regarding environmental education, tree planting and trash management
• Demonstrated successful experience in organizing and/or planning community events
• Background in environmental education, science, or studies
• Experience working directly in community training for environmental conservation
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with teachers, students and youth groups as well as with local elected officials, other elementary school staff and local government workers
• Strong interest to learn an indigenous language

Required Language Skills

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

Paraguay is a bilingual country where both Spanish and Guaraní are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asunción (and other large urban areas), Spanish is the most common language. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Environment Volunteers will be placed, Guaraní or “Jopará” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Trainees/Volunteers need to learn/know both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective. Pre-Service Training will include Spanish and Guaraní training. Trainees who start PST with limited Spanish language skills may struggle to learn the two languages. It is important to maintain an open and positive attitude about language learning, as well as being willing to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing both languages outside of formal language class during Pre-Service Training. Trainees will not be able to swear in as a Volunteer unless they meet benchmarks in both Spanish and Guarani. Guaraní is key to integration and ultimately your effectiveness as an Environment Volunteer. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of Peace Corps service for you, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living Conditions

Host-communities range from rural villages to small/medium-sized towns. In many communities temporary electricity outages are common. Most Volunteers will have limited cell phone coverage and as a result limited internet access. Following 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training during which all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their community for at least two months. Volunteers are expected to adjust to the host family in a respectful and thoughtful manner. Conditions in rural areas can be very basic (i.e. you may have to use a latrine; water is not treated). Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be shared with neighbors. Environment Volunteers walk and/or bike up to five miles a day as well as work in the fields under hot and humid conditions (often over 90 degrees and 70% humidity). Working situations range from outdoor manual labor to co-facilitating in front of a classroom. In Paraguay, there isn’t a clear separation of personal and professional life, as many on a community level are related and personal relationships heavily influence professional relationships. Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some communities will require up to a 10k (6 mile) walk or bike ride to the closest bus station or main road where public transportation picks up passengers. Peace Corps staff will identify private transportation options in each community for emergency situations and Volunteers will be reimbursed for the use of private transportation when it is required by Peace Corps. The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat therefore it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates - many meals involve more than one starch at a time, for example manioc and pasta or manioc and rice. Manioc and meat are eaten at least once a day almost every day. Fruits are available by season. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers; but have limited or no access to other vegetables. Many Volunteers have gardens in order to increase access to vegetables. Many Volunteers do not have access to a supermarket near their community. Please be prepared to have a diet that does not depend on access to a supermarket.

Serving in Paraguay

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: 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

Paraguay cannot accommodate cross-sector couples. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for: Community Environmental Promoter
Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities. During service, couples will live together with the same host family.
In the context of an opposite-sex couple working in a rural Paraguayan community, local cultural norms may represent initial challenges to both members of the couple in terms of working with the opposite sex. During PST there will be multiple training sessions about culturally appropriate strategies for success as individuals and as a couple.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

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

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