Community Food Security and Nutrition Facilitator

Project Description

By working alongside the people of The Gambia, Volunteers serving as Community Food Security and Nutrition Facilitators will have the opportunity to improve food and nutrition security of farmers in rural communities through these core activities:

• Supporting farmers/individuals to improve agroforestry production management practices or technologies
o Encouraging creation of tree nurseries and tree planting using improved techniques, and helping establish woodlots and orchards
• Supporting farmers/individuals to improve crop cultivation management practices or technologies
o Promoting new and improved gardening and vegetable production techniques
o Improve the diversity, productivity, and/or sustainability of crop production;
• Supporting farmers/individuals to improve small animal husbandry management practices or technologies
o Promoting and training farmers in poultry management
o Promoting and training farmers in bee keeping
• Supporting farmers/individuals to improve post-harvest management practices or technologies
• Supporting women of reproduction age (WRA) and/or key household decision makers to increase dietary diversity of households
o Educating farmers and community groups on nutrition and nutrition-sensitive agricultural production
• Supporting individuals/groups to make sound decisions about the feasibility, management, and sustainably of their small-scale economic activities
o Collaborating with farmers on activities that generate agriculture-related income

The Gambia has a short rainy season (3-4 months) and a long dry season. Most traditional agricultural activities are done during the short rainy season. Therefore, to enhance the productive capacity of a community, the project focuses on establishing and improving dry season vegetable gardens and tree nurseries. Most farmers are highly skilled in field crop production, but may have less experience with these dry season activities, so Volunteers have a unique opportunity to have a substantial impact by supporting community members to appreciate and practice these new techniques in a sustainable manner.

Malnutrition is common in The Gambia, especially among children and pregnant women. In addition to working with farmers to address this challenge by implementing nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects, Volunteers will work with mothers and children to improve nutrition education within their community especially at the household level.

Volunteers may also work to promote and support beekeeping and poultry management in their communities. Bees are essential for pollination and thus enhance gardening and farming efforts. Additionally, products made from beekeeping can be a source of income, and this income also inspires the new beekeepers to protect existing trees and woodlots which house the hives. In every community there are chickens but minimal or zero management is given to them. Communities rely on imported poultry products which could easily be produced at the household level with improved management practices. Food and nutrition security could significantly be improved if poultry production at the household level is encouraged.

Peace Corps The Gambia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in the country and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency.

As part of their work, Volunteers will monitor and report on their efforts and impact.

The Peace Corps enjoys a long and positive history with The Gambia. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in 1967, and since then more than 1,800 Volunteers have worked with Gambian men and women to build strong relationships and make a lasting impact on their communities.

Climate Change Activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental context within which smallholder farmers seek to maintain and improve their livelihood and support their families will continue to change. This will add significantly to the challenges of smallholder farming, particularly for the most disadvantaged 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. As an Agriculture Volunteer, you will be trained to use this local knowledge in engaging smallholder farmers in a climate-smart approach that:

• promotes the adoption of improved, appropriate, and adaptive agricultural practices and technologies that sustainably increase productivity;
• builds and strengthens household resilience by integrating and diversifying existing and new agriculture-related income-generating opportunities; and
• reduces greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ineffective and carbon intensive farming practices and encourages adoption of agricultural practices and activities that sequester carbon.

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 working in agriculture 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

Preferred Candidates will have experience, interest, and/or passion in one or more of the following:

Gardening
Tree nurseries and tree planting
Beekeeping
Environmental Education
Subsistence farming
Poultry Management
Agroforestry
Working with youth on agricultural activities
Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy Horticulture, or other related fields
Full-time farm experience.

Required Language Skills

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

While the official language of The Gambia is English, Volunteers are expected to learn the predominant local language of the village to which they will be assigned. Instruction in a local language will be provided during Pre-Service Training and additional language support will be available at your work site if needed. Languages taught at Pre Service Training are: Pulaar, Mandinka, Wollof, Jola and Sarahulleh.

Agriculture sector volunteers work mainly with community members that do not speak any English. Therefore, volunteers must have strong desire to learn the local language of the community to which they are assigned.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities, without electricity, and where transportation can be infrequent and unreliable. Volunteers will live with local host families identified by the community and Peace Corps staff. You will live in private quarters of local standards on the property of a host family for your entire service. Houses in rural areas are usually made of mud block and are round with thatched or corrugate iron sheet roofs. They are generally situated in or near a family compound which contains several other such houses. You will have a private pit latrine, and will likely need to fetch water from the village water source, up to 300 yards away. You may need to walk or bike up to 3 miles to access public transportation and may cycle up to 6 miles to a larger town for shopping. All incoming Volunteers are placed in rural environments, so you must be prepared and able to live in these conditions.

There are a few internet cafes in some of the larger towns, but access is slow, patchy and depends on unreliable electricity. There is internet access at the three Peace Corps offices; the main office near the capital, the Massembeh Training Center and in the regional office in Basse, upper River Region of the country. Communication between staff and Volunteers, as well as among Volunteers, is mainly by phone and text. You will receive a SIM card on arrival and will be able to call or text other Volunteers or staff without charge. The Gambia is a small country. Contact between staff and Volunteers is high and this is well appreciated by the Volunteer community.

Many vegetarians have managed to maintain a healthy diet here. However, as the supply and range of vegetables in the country is limited, this can present challenges and requires some flexibility.

The Gambia 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 the host country at large. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees and throughout a Volunteer’s service.

The influence of colonialism and other countries in The Gambia shapes perceptions Gambians may have of outsiders. Americans may be assumed to be wealthy. Black/African-Americans may blend in and initially be seen as Gambians; people may assume that they know local languages and culture. Asian-Americans may be confused as Chinese citizens working in The Gambia. Peace Corps staff are aware of many of the challenges faced by Volunteers and strive to find meaningful ways to support Volunteers to navigate the complexity of living and working in The Gambia.

Serving in The Gambia

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in The Gambia: 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

The Gambia cannot accommodate couples within the same sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for the Community Health Facilitator position in The Gambia

Couples will live and serve together in a common site that might be in either a larger community or in a village where one partner would focus their work in a neighboring village.

In the past, this arrangement has worked well especially when the going gets tough. Couples motivate each other and supplement each other’s work at their respective communities and have been model Volunteers.

Peace Corps The Gambia cannot place same-sex couple’s because there are anti-LGTBQI+ laws in The Gambia. 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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