Community Gardening and Agroforestry Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Volunteers serving as Community Gardening and Agroforestry Facilitators will work alongside the people of The Gambia to improve food security in rural communities through these core activities:

• Encouraging creation of tree nurseries and tree planting using improved techniques, and helping establish woodlots and orchards;
• Promoting new and improved gardening and vegetable production techniques, especially in collaboration with women’s groups or village development committees;
• Promoting and training farmers in beekeeping;
• Educating farmers and community groups on nutrition and nutrition-sensitive agricultural production;
• Increasing the capacity of smallholder farmers, particularly women and youth, to:
1. Improve the diversity, productivity, and/or sustainability of their agricultural production;
2. Generate agriculture-related income
3. Allow household decision makers the ability to increase dietary diversity of households

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 work of Volunteers 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 helping community members 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.

Volunteers may also work to promote and support beekeeping 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.

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.

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

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 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
• Working with youth on agricultural activities

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. Volunteers will work with many counterparts that may not speak English fluently, so it is extremely important to understand and be able to communicate in the local language.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities, without electricity, and where transportation can be infrequent and unreliable. You will live in simple, private quarters 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 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 Peace Corps office near the capital, and in the transit houses on either side of the country. Communication between staff and Volunteers, as well as among Volunteers, is mainly by phone and text. Volunteers will receive a cell phone on arrival and will be able to call or text other Volunteers or staff without charge.

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 is a small country. Contact between staff and Volunteers is high and this is well appreciated by the Volunteer community.

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 and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees and throughout a Volunteer’s service.

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 can accommodate couples serving in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

Community Health Facilitator

Couples will live together in the same community. They might both work in the same larger community or one person might work in the village where they live while the other works in a neighboring village.

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

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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