Food Security Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Food Security Project aims to improve the food and nutrition security of rural families. The target communities of the project are rural smallholder farming families, particularly women and children. The project focuses on nutrition-sensitive agriculture. The key components of the framework are soil conservation/management, bio-intensive gardening, fruit tree cultivation and nutrition education. The project framework has also outlined four anchor activities: composting, establishment of fruit tree nurseries, improved cook stoves, and mushroom cultivation. You will be a catalyst on a wide range of activities including, but not limited to:
- Train and coach smallholder farming families so they can establish bio-intensive gardening practices (compost making, green manure, vegetable nursery, use of bio-pesticides) to meet the daily dietary requirement Train smallholder farming families on seed production and guide them to establish community seed bank;
- Conduct nutrition education with community people and school students;
- Train and follow up with smallholder farming families and community members to further the adoption of improved nutrition-related behaviors;
- Train smallholder farming families on fruit tree nursery establishment, vegetative propagations (grafting, budding and layering) and promote fruit tree cultivation;
- Train smallholder farming families on mushroom cultivation;
- Assist smallholder farming families on construction of improved cook stoves.

There is good potential for PCVs to contribute to improving the food security situation of rural community people, however the work is not structured. We encourage Volunteers to make their day-to day-work more structured through proper planning and developing work plans with their Government Liaison and community counterparts. Working on a food security project in a rural area requires motivation and commitment.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following criteria:
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with experience in gardening or related activities which may include nursery work/management, tree planting, tree care, cultivation/production. Candidates must have a strong interest in nutrition education and the promotion of improved nutrition related practices and behavior change.

Most competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following criteria:
-Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree in Agronomy, Horticulture or other agricultural discipline; or
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with one year of farm experience; or
- Bachelor of Science degree in Botany or Entomology, with 6 months practical experience growing vegetables or fruit or working in a nursery; or
- Bachelor of Science in Biology including 15 semester/ 22 quarter hours in an agriculture science, botany, entomology, with 6 months practical experience growing vegetables or fruit or working in a nursery.

Desired Skills

- Experience with fruit tree cultivation
- Experience in mushroom cultivation
- Training and experience on organic farming
- Experience in nutrition education
- Experience in working in School clubs and organizing camps

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Volunteers will be doing the majority of their work in Nepali language. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Volunteers are expected to attain a level of Nepali Language that will allow them to effectively integrate into their communities.

Living Conditions

Houses in Nepal are generally built of bricks, mud and/or cement and have passed minimum earthquake-safe inspections conducted by the Peace Corps staff. Majority of homes have a separate bathroom from the main house.

Integration is a key element to Peace Corps and a successful Peace Corps service. All Volunteers will live with a host family throughout the entire duration of their service. At your permanent site, Volunteers will eat meals with their host family. Volunteers may be able to shop and cook for themselves after being at site for three months. Apart from having their own room, Volunteers will probably have very little privacy.

Nepal 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 host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Volunteers usually walk several miles every day on hilly terrain to work with their communities. Travel may take up to one hour, and a few Volunteers may be placed in hilly areas where use of bicycles may be challenging.

Nepal has four distinct climatic seasons and the average summer temperature ranges from 73-95 F and 41-68 F in winter. June-September is the monsoon season when it rains almost every day. The average rainfall during monsoon season is around 14 in.

A well-groomed and clean appearance is very important to Nepali. Women wear Kurta-Suruwal (Sari), pants and a business-casual shirt, or a long skirt with blouse with a sweater or shawl when it is cold. Men wear trousers, and button down shirts with collars. Male Volunteers may want to bring a pair of nice pants, a jacket, a tie and closed-toe shoes for special functions. Female Volunteers are encouraged to bring long skirts or dresses (ankle-length and nontransparent) or buy Kurta-Suruwals for such functions.

Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. Having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community. Peace Corps Nepal staff may ask you to be flexible in regard to it to facilitate integration in training and during your service.

Applicants should be aware that in Nepal 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 regrow their hair after a period of acceptance in the community.

Most Nepali eat rice, flat breads and legumes as their staple. Corn, potatoes, or other tubers are also eaten where available. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are consumed when available. Bread and noodles are available in most towns. Imported goods are available in the cities, but they are expensive. Meat is not often consumed, and maintaining a vegetarian diet would not be as challenging as it would be in other countries.

Volunteers can expect to encounter cultural challenges. Many Nepali people expect Volunteers to be white. Most Nepali are unaware of American diversity, and people are often curious about the nationalities of racial and ethnic minority Volunteers. Volunteers will need to be mindful of social attitudes about what is proper for girls and women in Nepali culture context. For instance, certain communities may have the perception that women are considered impure during the period of mensuration and may prohibit them from participating in normal activities.

Intimate relationships outside of marriage are not considered normal in rural villages, and dating while living with a host family requires a delicate cultural balance and respect.

In Nepal, government offices are open 6 days a week and Saturday is off. Peace Corps expects you to work at least 30 hours a week on your primary job.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Nepal: 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

Nepal can accommodate couples within the agriculture sector and as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

Food Security Volunteer

Couples will be living together with a host family during Pre-Service Training as well as in the permanent site during two years of their service. They will be working in different communities or working in different thematic areas in the same community.

Medical Considerations in Nepal

  • Nepal may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; some types of gynecologic 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.
  • After arrival in Nepal, 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 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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