Forestry and Environment Change Agent

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

Senegal is a beautiful and ecologically diverse country but is experiencing natural and human induced environmental degradation that affects ecosystems vital to local communities. This degradation negatively affects people’s welfare and undermines sustainable management of natural resources for future generations. Senegal’s current land use system contributes to deforestation and a decline in soil fertility and water quality only exacerbated in a context of climate change with rising temperatures and sea levels. With well over a third of the population living below the poverty line, Senegal, like many of its regional neighbors, is affected by high rates of food insecurity, health vulnerability and gender inequality. To address these constraints and ensure better food security, intervention at the grass-roots level is necessary to improve communities’ management of natural resources and the environment. Adults and youth need to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the preservation of the environment and the intensification and diversification of agricultural production systems.

The goal of the Peace Corps Senegal Agroforestry Project is to help individuals and communities in Senegal sustainably manage their natural resources ensuring food security and a healthy environment.

To this effect, Volunteers will work to:
• Increase youth’s and adults’ capacity to be good environmental stewards.
• Increase the capacity of communities to plant and care for trees in order to increase access to nutritious foods, generate income and restore and protect land.
• Increase the capacity of communities to manage natural resources and the environment in sustainable, healthy and productive ways.

Volunteers will work to meet the objectives above by engaging in the following activities:
• Conducting environmental education with youth and adults both within and outside of school settings
• Promoting and planting multi-purpose tree species that enhance soil fertility, reduce erosion and protect fields against animals (shade/beautification trees, live fence trees, nitrogen-fixing species, etc.)
• Establishing and managing individual/community gardens and fruit tree orchards to produce quality fruits such as mango, various citrus species, papaya, guava, soursop, sweetsop and cashew. These fruits are sold in local markets or consumed by families supporting both improved nutrition and access to revenue
• Engaging in general gardening extension and promoting community engagement in the management of their natural resources and challenges (e.g., fire management, reforestation/forest protection activities, erosion control, water management, animal grazing, solid waste management, beekeeping, etc.)

You don't need to be an agroforestry expert to be a successful Volunteer. While serving, you will act as a facilitator, a catalyst, a liaison and a resource person for farming communities.

As an actor in the development of Senegal, and as part of the wider Peace Corps effort to share our story with our counterparts and host governments as well as to bring that story home to the US, you will monitor and report on your work activities throughout your service through field visits, surveys and stories.

Peace Corps Senegal promotes gender awareness, gender equity and girls’ and women’s empowerment. You will receive training on gender dynamics in Senegal and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency.

Due to COVID-19, there may be some changes to the activities and living conditions stated here. Flexibility and adaptability are important for Volunteer service, especially during these unprecedented times.

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 in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following degrees and/or sector-specific experience:
• Bachelor of Science/Associate degree in Forestry, Watershed Management, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Ecology or other related fields
• Bachelors/Associate degree in any discipline plus 3 years work experience in forestry, horticulture, nursery management, or other related fields; including practical field based experience

Competitive candidates will also have a passion for the environment and one or more of the following qualifications and qualities:
• An interest in sharing agroforestry technologies
• A strong desire to work outdoors in challenging weather conditions
• Good interpersonal and leadership skills (e.g., public speaking and partnership building)
• An interest in working with youth as well as adults for environmental awareness and the promotion of gender equity

While it is not necessary to be an agroforestry expert to be a successful Volunteer, Peace Corps Senegal welcomes applicants with experience in the following areas:
• Experience developing tree nurseries, grafting, pruning, and planting for food production
• Experience building live fencing, windbreaks, or firebreaks
• Experience working to improve the soil and teaching water management techniques
• An interest in sharing agroforestry technologies
• Experience in beekeeping
• Interest in cashew, moringa and mangrove value chains
• An interest in working with youth as well as adults for environmental awareness and the promotion of gender equity
• Environmental Education

Applicants with a French language background, particularly those with strong speaking skills, are encouraged to apply.

Required Language Skills

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

The dominant languages in Senegal are Wolof and Pulaar, but there are many other smaller language groups as well. You will receive intensive training in the most common language of the village where you will be based and you will attain a proficiency level in that language by the time you complete your Pre-Service Training. Most of your work will be carried out in a local language.

Peace Corps Senegal does not train in French, preferring to focus on the primary language that the Volunteer will speak. French language skills are, however, very useful in Senegal, particularly when traveling or when working with people from other parts of the country. You are encouraged to learn as much French as possible prior to arrival in country.

Living Conditions

All Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families, sharing meals and camaraderie. This affords you an opportunity to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life and learn the language of your community. Volunteers will live in a mix of urban, peri-urban and rural areas. You will have your own small room or hut in your family’s compound with a private latrine or bathroom. Having your own space provides some privacy but adjusting to family life can be a challenge, albeit one with many benefits.

Many Volunteer homes do not have access to running water or electricity. Water is usually collected at a community pump/well. Cell phone coverage in Senegal is fairly good and you will have a Peace Corps issued cell phone. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. You may be able to access 4G if you own a smart phone or invest in an internet USB. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop for project planning, monitoring and reporting. However, keep in mind that the dust, heat, and humidity of Senegal are hard on electronics. It can be very useful to have a laptop and a smart phone, but you may not wish to invest in the most expensive model.

Senegalese dishes are tasty, usually consisting of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces, and sometimes with fresh or dried fish. Meat is also available but more of a rarity. The quality of food you eat daily depends on the size of your host family and their level of income. There is far less variety than many Americans are accustomed to having. Determined vegetarians are able to make arrangements to maintain their diet, but this usually further decreases variety.

Senegal enjoys a good primary road system, but transportation remains a challenge, especially for rural communities. Volunteers usually travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by foot, bike or donkey cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns. All Volunteers are required to follow Peace Corps Senegal regulations on transportation, including any COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed, and a neat and dignified appearance will say a lot about your desire to be accepted as a colleague. During Pre-Service Training, the dress code is business casual. For working in farms and fields and while in your community, dress is more casual, but you will want to be well dressed for meetings and formal occasions. There is a lot of beautiful cloth available in Senegal and many Volunteers have clothing made by local tailors. If you are a woman, plan to wear clothing that is not overly tight and that covers you to below the knee. If you are a man, long shorts are acceptable for farm labor and sports, but otherwise are rarely worn.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority may experience curiosity and unwanted attention from Senegalese nationals.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully. Senegal has 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 former Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Serving in Senegal

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: 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.

Couples Information

Senegal can accommodate couples serving together but working in different projects. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

Sustainable Rural Agriculture Extension Agent

Couples will live together during Pre-Service Training as well as the two years of service. They will share a hut or room within a family home or compound, as do single Volunteers.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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