Forestry and Environmental Change Agent

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 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 and skills necessary for the preservation of the environment and the productivity and diversification of agricultural production systems.

The goal of the Peace Corps Senegal Environment 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.)
• Supporting the establishment and management of 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 do need to be an 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.

Flexibility and adaptability are important for Volunteer service, especially during these unprecedented times post-COVID.

Climate Change Activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental context within which smallholder farmers seek to maintain and improve their livelihood and support their families will continue to change. This will add significantly to the challenges of smallholder farming, particularly for the most disadvantaged communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. As an Agriculture Volunteer, you will be trained to use this local knowledge in engaging smallholder farmers in a climate-smart approach that:

• promotes the adoption of improved, appropriate, and adaptive agricultural practices and technologies that sustainably increase productivity;
• builds and strengthens household resilience by integrating and diversifying existing and new agriculture-related income-generating opportunities; and
• reduces greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ineffective and carbon intensive farming practices and encourages adoption of agricultural practices and activities that sequester carbon.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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 degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have a passion for the environment and one or more of the following skills/experiences:

• Leadership experience (e.g., public speaking and partnership building).
• Experience working with youth/adults for environmental awareness and the promotion of gender equity.
• Experience working outdoors in challenging weather conditions.
• Experience developing/managing tree nurseries, grafting, pruning and planting for food production.
• Experience building live fencing windbreaks or firebreaks.
• Experience working to improve energy efficiency, the soil and teaching water management techniques.
• Experience with agroforestry and natural resources management practices.
• Experience/interest in forestry
• Experience with tree propagation and maintenance technologies(agroforestry).
• Experience/Interest in beekeeping.
• Experience/Interest in value chains (cashew, moringa and mangrove products).
• Bachelor of Science/Associate degree in Forestry, Watershed Management, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Ecology or related field.

• French language skills are desirable but not required. Candidates with French language skills, especially 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

Most Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families; however, some Volunteers will live in independent housing and will be connected with a resource family. Sharing meals and camaraderie with your host/resource family will help you to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life and learn the language of your community. When living with a host family, Volunteers have a private room/hut and private latrine/toilet within the family living environment. Volunteers with independent housing will have a basic house/hut or apartment with cooking facilities and toilet and bathing area.

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 Peace Corps-issued smart phone. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. You may be able to access 4G. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

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; cheaper used and/or hardier models may be better options. To support all Volunteers to have the basic tools necessary for their work Peace Corps will provide an optional one-time grant as part of the settling-in allowance to help Volunteers purchase a laptop.

Senegalese dishes consist of a staple of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces and sometimes with fresh or dried fish. Meat is also available but more of a rarity. Access to produce is seasonal and variety is often limited by geographic locations. Determined vegetarians can 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/horse cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns or villages. In all cases, Volunteers are expected to observe Peace Corps Senegal’s transportation policy.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed. 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. There is a lot of beautiful cloth available in Senegal, and many Volunteers have clothing made by local tailors. Plan to wear clothing that is not overly tight and that covers you to below the knee. Long shorts are acceptable for 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 (LGBTQI+) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQI+ 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 these topics 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.

Peace Corps Senegal cannot place same-sex couple’s because there are anti-LGTBQI+ laws in Senegal. The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

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

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