Food Security Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Togo in 1962, the year after John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps. Over the course of 54 years, more than 2,850 volunteers have served in Togo. Peace Corps/Togo is very proud to be one of only 10 Peace Corps posts in the world with a record of continuous and uninterrupted service.

Food Security Educators are part of the Peace Corps/Togo Environmental action and Food Security (EAFS) project. Working with the support of both the Togo Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment, Food Security Volunteers and local counterparts support capacity-building efforts targeting individuals (youth, women, and adults), village development committees and their communities in general. Counterparts include model farmers, government extension agents, and members of local non-governmental organizations, as well as other agriculturally-related groups.

At the request of the Togolese Ministry of the Environment as well as the Ministry of Agriculture Peace Corps/Togo has worked in the environmental and agricultural sector for over a quarter of a century. In consultation with governmental and other stakeholders, the focus of our Environmental Awareness and Food Security project has changed over time to reflect priorities within Togo.

Subsistence farming methods dominate the agricultural sector of Togo's economy. Heavy demographic pressure has put great strain on this traditional system. Slash-and-burn agriculture is no longer a viable farming option. Lands that were once left fallow are no longer given time for regeneration. Marginal land is rapidly being cultivated to meet food needs. The introduction of cash crops, such as cotton, compounds the problem of overusing limited farm land.

Togo's meager forest reserves are being quickly depleted. Wood and charcoal provide the greater part of the country's home fuel needs. Field waste, precious organic fuel for delicate tropical soils, is no longer left on the land but is used as an alternative fuel. In extreme cases, some people will simply reduce their fuel needs by eating fewer cooked meals.

In response to Togo's environmental conditions, the EAFS project's current goals are:
1. Community members will increase understanding of environmental issues to protect natural resources.
2. Community members will use improved Natural Resource Management practices in order to enhance food security outcomes.
3. Community members will use agricultural-based income generation activities to improve their food accessibility.

The EAFS project’s core activities are:
• Reforestation through planting trees
• Gardening/ Permagarden techniques
• Improved nutrition through food transformation (especially mango and moringa) and small animal husbandry (rabbits)

Togo is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in Let Girls Learn, an important initiative promoting gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. During your service you will find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and the promotion of youth- especially girls- into your work. As part of the initiative, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

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

• Experience and/or interest in agricultural or forestry outreach desired. Knowledge in a field related to sustainable farming systems preferred.

• Experience in gardening, seed conservation, nutrition education, food security program management or food processing methods is desirable.

• Strong candidates will have had experience in commercial or family-run business including vegetable gardening, nursery work/management, tree planting, tree care, urban forestry and fish production.

• Facilitation and/or public speaking skills are an asset.

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language
B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language
C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study prior to arrival.

Additional Language Information

Togo has dedicated Language and Cross Culture Facilitators to teach French and local languages during Pre-Service Training (PST). Volunteers are expected to learn French and achieve an intermediate level by the conclusion of Pre-Service Training. The French language proficiency requirement must be attained before Trainees can begin learning local language.

In addition, having an interest in learning a local language for basic communication with rural community members is helpful.

Living Conditions

Accommodation
Most Volunteers live in two-to-three-room houses within a Togolese family compound. Sanitation amenities will be modest, but adequate. Some Volunteer houses have tin roofs; a few have straw roofs. You will probably have no running water, electricity, or cooking gas. Water sources in villages could be traditional wells, a bore hole equipped with a pump, cisterns, or natural water sources, including rivers. Whatever your source of drinking water, you will have to boil and filter it or filter and bleach it. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a water filter and provide training on use and maintenance of the filter.

Food
Your diet will consist of locally grown foods or a combination of local and imported packaged foods. A typical Togolese meal is corn or millet ‘pâte’ (paste), accompanied by a hot, spicy sauce. Rice and beans, usually eaten for breakfast, is another common meal. Meat is available throughout Togo, as is dried fish, but fresh fish is only available in larger towns. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, limiting the diversity of a strictly vegetarian diet at certain times of year, especially in more remote areas. However, tofu (soy) is available throughout the country. Volunteers are encouraged to plant vegetable gardens to supplement their diet.

Transportation
Distance between villages and regional capitals vary, but can be as far as sixty kilometers. Some Volunteers like biking these distances, others prefer local public transportation (bush taxis) to the nearest mail point, bank, and shopping locations. You will be provided with funds to purchase a bicycle to facilitate work and enable you to have greater access to nearby villages and towns. Alternatively, as a Volunteer you will be able to ride as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle on certain prescribed roads provided that you comply with the Peace Corps/Togo helmet policy and wear a pre-approved motorcycle helmet (with full face mask) any time you are riding on a motorcycle. Peace Corps/Togo will provide you with a helmet.

Communication
Volunteers are encouraged to rent their own mail box at their local post office in order to receive mail from family members and friends during their service. Regional capitals and some larger towns in Togo have internet connections (though these connections are often very slow). The large majority of Volunteer communities are villages without electricity, and therefore do not have such luxuries. You will, however, have access to internet at least once a month when you travel to your regional capital to do banking. Periodic access to the internet has greatly influenced Volunteer life by allowing limited technical research and contact with friends and family, as well as with the Peace Corps office in Lomé. Most Volunteers bring their own small laptop computers.

Cell phones are operational in most parts of the country.
You will be required to dress appropriately and respectfully for training as well. Wearing less modest clothing can diminish the respect community members have for you and can make your work much more challenging.

Diversity
Peace Corps Togo provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Togo 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 judgement to determine how to approach topics to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving volunteers will discuss this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support systems.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Togo: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Togo

  • Togo may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons:  none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, lactose, and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Togo, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.


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