Forestry and Environment Specialist

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Senegal is experiencing widespread environmental deterioration that is significantly impacting people’s welfare and threatening future generations. Land in Senegal continues to be degraded, with current land use systems rapidly depleting soil fertility and increasing deforestation. These challenges are only to intensify as the area experiences rising temperatures due to global climate change. Simultaneously, much of the country suffers from food insecurity, with 50-70% of households classified as food insecure and more than 50% of the population living on less than a dollar per day. In addition, Senegal, like many of its regional neighbors, struggles under the weight of poverty, poor health, gender inequality, low productivity, and inefficient agriculture policies and practices. To address these tangled obstacles, intervention at the grass-roots level is necessary to improve communities’ management of natural resources and environment and to enhance food security. To bring about a future that provides for the needs and desires of the country’s citizens, both adults and youth need to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to both take care of the environment that sustains them and intensify and diversify agricultural production.

The goal of the Peace Corps Senegal Agroforestry program is to help individuals and communities to improve their management of natural resources and the environment and enhance food security in a sustainable way. To this effect, as a Volunteer you will work to:

• Improve the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of adults and youth 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. This is accomplished by: promoting and planting multi-purpose tree species that enhance soil fertility, reduce erosion, and protect fields against animals, establishing and managing fruit tree orchards to produce quality fruit (mainly mango, citrus, and cashews) to be sold in local markets or consumed by families, and general gardening extension.
• Increasing the capacity of communities to manage natural resources and environment in sustainable, healthy, and productive ways

Peace Corps Senegal promotes gender awareness and girls’ and women’s empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges 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. You will monitor, evaluate and report the work conducted by the farmers you work with through field visits and surveys, and report your findings.

You don't need to be a forestry expert to be successful; we will train you on the basic technical skills you will need. While serving, you will act as a facilitator, a catalyst, a liaison, and a resource person for farming communities.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Science/Associate degree in Forestry, Watershed Management, Natural Resources, Environmental Science or Ecology, or other related field
• Bachelor of Science/Associate degree in any degree plus 3 years work experience in forestry, nursery management, or other related fields

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have a love of the environment and a desire to work outdoors. They will have strong interpersonal skills, including public speaking skills. They will have interest in working with youth as well as in increasing the empowerment of women and girls in agricultural communities. French language background is a benefit, particularly speaking skills.

Required Language Skills

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

There are many languages spoken in Senegal. 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. PC Senegal does not train in French, preferring to focus on the primary language which 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 with them. This affords you an opportunity to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life, and learn the language of your community. Agroforestry Volunteers live in villages. You will have your own small room or hut in your family’s compound. Your room/hut will include a private latrine or bathroom. Although having your own room/hut provides some privacy, adjusting to family life can be a real challenge, albeit one that also brings many benefits.

Many Volunteer homes do not have access to running water or electricity. Water is collected at a community pump or well. Cell phone coverage in Senegal is fairly good and you will have a basic Peace Corps issued cell phone. Internet is becoming more widespread, 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 dongle. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop as it helps greatly in project planning, monitoring and reporting, and other important tasks. Keep in mind however 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 or the most current model; cheaper used and/or hardier models may be better options.
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. 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. You will usually travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by bike or on foot or donkey cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns or villages.

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. At site, working in farms and fields, dress is more casual, but you will continue to want to be well dressed for meetings, etc. 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.

Senegal has a proud heritage of religious and ethnic tolerance. Through inclusive recruitment of staff and Volunteers, PC Senegal seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Our definition of diversity includes, but is not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, education, and ability. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious beliefs differ from the majority of Senegalese should be prepared for curiosity and at times unwanted attention.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed in the PC Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully. It is important that you know however that same-sex sexual activity between adults is criminalized by Senegalese legal code and punishable by imprisonment. Culturally, LGBTQ are not well accepted by many Senegalese, and LGBTQ Volunteers cannot safely serve openly. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: 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

Couples are welcome. Your partner must qualify and apply for the Agriculture Extension Agent or Sustainable Agriculture Specialist position.
Volunteer couples live together, with a family, as do single Volunteers. They share a hut or room within a family home or compound.

Medical Considerations in Senegal

  • Senegal may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; gasteroenterology; 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: peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Senegal, 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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