Environment and Food Security Educator
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.
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.
The Environment Sector is unique in that much of the work is seasonal and is driven by the needs of the communities in which the Volunteers are working. You might find yourself and community members being very busy at certain times of the year (for example, between July to March during the rainy season) establishing tree nurseries, preparing gardens for planting, taking care of the crops in the fields, and finally harvesting -- while other months (i.e., April to June) are on the slower side as most of the major farming activities have been completed. This gives an opportunity for the Environment Volunteer to engage in other activities in areas such as malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, girl’s empowerment programs, nutrition, cooking demonstrations, cook stoves, seed collection, and planning for the ensuing seasonal activities. The many varied issues in relation to environment inherently make the work of an Environment Volunteer less structured. Volunteers who have motivation to seek that structure and/or thrive in an unstructured environment work most successfully. The sector is very open to innovative, creative, and productive ideas - you are encouraged to learn, unlearn and contribute.
As an Environment and Food Security Educator, you will help to address some of Malawi’s most critical environmental and food security issues. Some of the major environmental and agricultural challenges that you will certainly come across include deforestation due to agricultural expansion and fuel wood consumption, climate variations like floods and drought, and soil erosion. You will work as a representative of an agricultural extension office within the catchment area and teach environmental education at schools and to youth groups in your community to foster the youth knowledge of, and values for environmental conservation and dietary diversity. You and your students will plant and take care of trees and conduct lively community campaigns to promote environmental awareness throughout your community. The central focus of your work with students will be the construction and maintenance of 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 share and 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 nutrient 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 serve as fuelwood and timber. Also, you will encourage the use of less firewood by working with women to construct and maintain fuel-efficient cook stoves with locally-found materials.
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.
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
Applicants with bachelor’s degrees in environmental sciences, forestry, ecology, agriculture, or 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 applicants will also 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 benchmark level of local language ability before being sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Environment and Food Security Educators typically live in housing provided by a governmental agricultural extension office. If the institution does not have adequate housing, a rented house is identified within the village close to the office. Most of these houses are constructed with bricks and have 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 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 open minded, 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 also 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, and Volunteers are advised to take cues from Malawian colleagues and dress to their standards of professionalism.
Serving in Malawi
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Malawi: 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.
Peace Corps Malawi welcomes couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Malawi:
- Youth Health Advisor
- High School English Teacher
Couples have the same living conditions as single Volunteers.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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