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 Nepalese families. The target communities of the project are rural smallholder farming families, particularly women and children. The project focuses on nutrition-sensitive agriculture and 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:
1. Composting
2. Establishment of fruit tree nurseries
3. Improved cook stoves
4. 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 recommendations.
 Train smallholder farming families on seed production and guide them to establish small scale community seed banks.
 Train and follow up with smallholder farming families and community members to further the adoption of improved nutrition-related behaviors.
While there is strong potential for Volunteers to contribute to improving the food security situation of rural community people, working in rural communities can present certain challenges. For example, Nepali government supervisors assigned to work with Volunteers are located outside the communities where Volunteers work, and this can prevent supervisors from regularly meeting with Volunteers. To remain effective, Volunteers must demonstrate a high degree of motivation, commitment, and initiative to properly engage with relevant community stakeholders to develop and implement work plans.

Required Skills

- 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.

Desired Skills

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; or
 Degree or experience in nutrition education;
 Experience with fruit tree or mushroom cultivation;
 Training and experience in organic farming, personal gardening, or greenhouses;
 Experience with after-school programs, clubs, or camps related to behavior change education.

Required Language Skills

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

Volunteers will be doing the majority of their work in Nepali language. Speaking Nepali is critical for Food Security Volunteers. 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, and Volunteers are expected to build on this throughout their service.

Living Conditions

All Volunteers will live with a host family throughout the entire duration of their service. This aspect of living in Nepal is key to integration and language acquisition. Volunteers share meals with their family and also have the option to cook for themselves after 3 months. While Volunteers have their own room, privacy is limited so individuals should prepare for a communal style of living. Houses in Nepal are generally built of bricks, mud or cement and have passed minimum earthquake-safe inspections conducted by the Peace Corps staff.

Regarding diet, most Nepalis 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 usually walk several miles every day on hilly terrain to work with their communities. Travel may take up to one hour. Many Volunteers are placed in hilly areas where use of bicycles is not possible.

Nepal has four distinct climatic seasons. The average temperature ranges from 41-68 F in winter to 73-95 F during the hot season. June-September is the monsoon season when it rains almost every day. There are great variations between districts where Volunteers are placed, and Volunteers should be prepared to live in both hot and cold weather.
Diversity Challenges
While Nepal is generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgement to determine the best way to approach 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 can expect both challenges and rich opportunities in their cultural exchanges during Peace Corps service, as many Nepalis in rural communities are unaware of American diversity, and people are often curious about the nationalities of racial and ethnic minority Volunteers. Stereotypes do exist.
Dressing appropriately shows your community, colleagues and students that you are treating them with respect and that Volunteers, in turn, deserve respect. Women wear Kurta-Suruwal (Sari), pants and a business-casual shirt. Women also can wear a long skirt with a blouse along with a sweater or shawl when it is cold. Baring shoulders is not considered appropriate. Men wear trousers and button down shirts with collars. Both men and women wear closed toed dress shoes for meetings with government supervisors and other formal events. For both male and female Volunteers, pants and a business-casual shirt can be used during your Peace Corps training events. Pants and more casual shirts can be worn during your down times.

While piercings of any kind for males is prohibited, it is generally acceptable for females to have pierced ears and/or a nose stud piercing. Volunteers will be expected to keep tattoos covered during their service. Peace Corps Nepal staff will expect Trainees/Volunteers to demonstrate flexibility in regard to appearance so they can successfully integrate into their communities and so they can positively represent Peace Corps throughout Nepal.

For men, both long hair and long beards are unacceptable. Beards must be short and trimmed. Male Trainees/Volunteers will be expected to maintain the same groomed, professional appearance practiced by their Nepali counterparts.

While the country of Nepal offers a variety of trekking routes and extreme sports, applicants should be aware that for safety and security reasons, Peace Corps Nepal has restrictions the routes Volunteers can use.

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

Peace Corps/Nepal can accept couples where both people will serve in the same sector. The couples will be involved in similar activities that contribute to food security. Peace Corps Nepal cannot accept couples serving in Education and Food Security.

PCV Couples will be living together during Pre-Service Training as well as in the permanent site during two years of their service. Couple PCVs could be assigned in the same office or different office of the same location. 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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