Environmental Education 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

The friendliness of its people has given Malawi the title of the “Warm Heart of Africa.” As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, you’ll work alongside many Malawians to create a better and more secure environment for themselves and their children.

As an Environment and Food Security Educator, you will help to address some of Malawi’s most critical environmental and food security issues. You will teach environmental education at schools in your community to foster your students’ knowledge of and values for environmental conservation and dietary diversity. You and your students will plant trees and conduct community campaigns to promote environmental awareness throughout your community. The central focus of your work with students will be constructing school gardens that teach and demonstrate sustainable agricultural techniques, such as composting, intercropping, bio-intensive planting, and organic pest management. You will work with your students and school to devise a system to share the produce grown from these gardens and encourage the students to use the sustainable agricultural techniques at their homes to support their own families.

Additionally, you will educate mothers in your community on the importance of nutrition and dietary diversity by promoting production and consumption of vitamin rich foods. You will create a demonstration garden to teach mothers how to grow and consume nutritious foods at their own homes. You will also work with them to grow trees at their homesteads that can provide nutritious fruits. And you will work with them to construct efficient cook stoves with local materials that use less firewood.

This work is vitally important, but not easy. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and people have very few resources to work with. The training you receive from Peace Corps combined with your expertise, experiences, and the relationships you build in your community will aid you in being flexible and creative when approaching your work. Be prepared to commit yourself to two years of challenging yet highly rewarding work, and take part in the important effort of creating a sustainable environment in Malawi.

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
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Applicants with bachelor’s degrees in environmental sciences, forestry, ecology, agriculture, natural resources are strongly encouraged to apply.

Previous experience in gardening, farming, natural resource management, environmental education, conservation and/or a demonstrated commitment to community development are highly valued. Ideal candidates also have experience in training and facilitation as well as monitoring and evaluation.

Ideal applicants will have some or all of the following skills:

• Teaching or coaching youth

• Coordinating or implementing individual, group, or community level trainings or interventions

• Hands-on training and facilitation experience

• Monitoring and evaluation experience

Required Language Skills

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

During Pre-Service Training, Volunteers will receive training by Malawian language instructors to communicate in the local language used in their assigned community. At the end of Pre-Service Training, Trainees must achieve a functional level of the local language ability before swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Living Conditions

Environment and Food Security Educators typically live in housing provided by a government environmental office. Most of these houses are constructed of bricks with concrete flooring and corrugated metal roofs. Homes are often located on an office compound or nearby in the surrounding community. Like most rural residences in Malawi, the homes of Peace Corps Volunteers typically do not have electricity or running water. Volunteers utilize candles and solar lamps for lighting, cook with wood/charcoal stoves, and collect water from a nearby communal pump. Toilets are typically in the form of outdoor latrines, or squat toilets, and bathing is done using a bucket. Mobile phone coverage is available, but spotty in some areas. Basic necessities such as vegetables, grains, and household goods can be purchased in the community or at a nearby market town.

Travel in Malawi can be strenuous, involving long bus rides on dirt roads. Peace Corps Volunteers may need to walk long distances on a regular basis or cycle between villages for their work. Peace Corps can provide a bike to assist with these daily routines.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace: It is important that you respect and earn the trust of the people in your community and be motivated, patient, and flexible in ambiguous situations. An important aspect of your work will be your ability to communicate with your community members. It is essential that Peace Corps Volunteers work within the hierarchical structure of the community to conduct their work in a culturally appropriate way. Your professional appearance and work habits, along with the respect and deference you demonstrate for your fellow Malawians, will go a long way toward gaining respect and credibility in the workplace.

Dress Code: Personal appearance is very important in Malawi. During pre-service training, the dress code is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress professionally for work situations in your community. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. Peace Corps will provide dress guidance, but more importantly Volunteers are advised to take cues from Malawian colleagues and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Tattoos/Piercings: Peace Corps Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them. In Malawi, tattoos are not common. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into your community. Keep in mind that Peace Corps Malawi staff may ask you to be flexible with regard to personal appearance to facilitate integration during your service.

Male Hair: Applicants should be aware that in Malawi hair such as beards and long hair on men are unusual. In some cases, Volunteers have chosen to shave their facial hair or cut their long hair to facilitate integration, and regrown hair after a period of acceptance in the community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Malawi: 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 Malawi can accommodate couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Malawi:

- Youth Health Advisor

or

- High School English Educator

Couples have the same living conditions as single 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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