Health Extension Volunteer
Akwaaba! (Welcome!) Volunteers in Ghana will serve in a stable democracy with a rich history and hospitable and diverse cultures. Ghana recognizes over 70 languages and tribes throughout the sixteen regions, all of whom co-exist harmoniously. Welcoming visitors is a point of cultural identity and the ultimate expression of Ghanaian culture. Acknowledging the presence of another human being by greeting them, honors their existence. In the local communities, visitors will be welcomed into families and quickly be made to feel at home. Ghana is Peace Corps’ oldest post, hosting volunteers since the Agency’s first cohort in 1961.
Peace Corps Ghana has three objectives under the Health project:
• Increase the knowledge and skills of community members to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices and reduce diarrheal diseases.
• Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education.
• Increase the knowledge and skills of women and caregivers to adopt practices that contribute to healthy pregnancy, healthy newborns, and children under five.
The purpose of the Peace Corps Ghana Health project is to support national efforts to ensure that communities in Ghana lead healthier lives through improved health practices. The focus of this project is to work with community members—especially children, youth (up to age 19), women, men, caregivers of children under five, pregnant women and newborns-- to promote better WASH practices, and to improve their health and well-being.
Peace Corps Ghana has both semi-structured projects with international and local partners, as well as postings where individuals are expected to work exclusively in their community with relatively little structured support. Both settings provide exciting opportunities for Volunteers to promote positive behavioral changes in support of the three objectives of the Health project. Action planning, implementation, and capacity building form the foundation of the project’s mostly rural community health outreach.
As a Health Volunteer, you will promote positive behavioral changes under some or all three objectives to achieve a common goal depending on the community’s needs. The intention of these community focused activities will be to improve overall health standards in rural communities.
Peace Corps/Ghana promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Ghana 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. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
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.
Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Experience working in any public health endeavor such as nutrition, malaria prevention, reproductive health/sex education, contraception and family planning, counseling, youth outreach, COVID-19 as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene
• Flexibility to address community needs in structured and unstructured settings
• Positive attitude and willingness to live in a rural community
• Ability to culturally adapt and integrate into a new setting
• Experience in project planning and management
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Ghana is a country with a plethora of local languages although English is considered one of the national languages. As such, Peace Corps Ghana will teach everyone a local language during PST. More than a third of Volunteers end up acquiring a second local language when living at their site. Acquiring a local language will endear the Volunteer to community members as well as other host country nationals. While English may be sufficient in professional settings, many community members may be more comfortable in their local language. Developing a deep understanding and proficiency in local language will make it easier for a volunteer to navigate and work in the local culture and community.
Volunteers are placed in rural communities that are safe and secured and are expected to live at the same socio-economic level as the people with whom they serve. Volunteers’ sites vary widely due to several factors including geography, amenities available at each site (electricity, water), distances to travel, proximity of other Volunteers, and general remoteness. Some Volunteers will live in self-contained concrete houses while others will have one or two rooms inside a family compound or nurse’s quarters.
Peace Corps/Ghana requires the community to contribute housing that meets the minimum standard of at least one room with a porch/sitting area. Housing is to be adequately ventilated with a roof, a solid floor, walls, secure doors and windows, and access to year-round water supply (via boreholes and wells). Some Volunteers will have private latrines and bathing facilities (often a bucket bath). Others will share latrines and bathing facilities with not more than 6 persons in the household. Volunteers will be issued a cook stove to be used in a designated cooking area and all housing will maintain the high standards of household safety. Peace Corps and Host communities will ensure that you have safe cooking environment and equipment.
Pre-Service Training (PST) PST is an 11-week training that is intended to ensure that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for a successful service. PST in Ghana will be community-based. Volunteers will receive training in their technical area, language, personal health, and safety and security, as well as a practicum. Volunteers will be held accountable for competencies in each of these areas. Outside of formal training there will be opportunities for Volunteers to interact and/or live with community members, to provide an immersive approach to understanding Ghanaian culture.
Climate: The climate of Ghana is tropical, with two main seasons. Generally, the dry season is from November through April and the rainy season is May through August. It is hot and comparatively dry along the southeast coast, hot and humid in the southwest, and dry in the north. During the dry season, the Harmattan winds are most extreme in the five northern regions with days of continual cool air, haze, and fine dust.
Communication & Transportation: Communication systems have been steadily improving throughout Ghana.. The level of reception, clarity, and speed of internet (where available) varies greatly throughout the country.
Transportation: Volunteers live and serve in rural underserved communities. Transportation to and from your permanent community is primarily via public vehicles, which, depending on the remoteness of the site, can have irregular schedules and may or may not be well maintained. Often, travel requires long hours on rough roads in buses and minivans. Volunteers generally walk or bike around their communities. Volunteers are not permitted to drive or ride on motor bikes.
Dress: Ghanaians are very meticulous about their dress and personal hygiene in the workplace and cleanliness is a sign of respect. Volunteers are expected to dress and behave accordingly. During PST, the dress code is business casual. Following PST, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from your Ghanaian colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism.
Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. Keep in mind that Peace Corps Ghana staff may ask you to be flexible regarding personal appearance to facilitate integration in training & during your service. Remaining flexible is key to Peace Corps service in any country.
Serving in Ghana
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ghana: 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.
Peace Corps Ghana welcomes couples serving in any combination positions. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following programs:
Agriculture Extension Agent
Community Health Extension Agent
Couples with one Community Health Extension Agent and one Agriculture Extension Agent will be able to reside in the same community during Pre-Service Training (PST), if desired. This arrangement would involve one individual “commuting” to their sector training facility – departing early and using public transportation to arrive on time. There will be a 2-week field-based training for each sector and during that time couples will reside separately.
When both partners are part of the same project (ex. Community Health Extension Agent with Community Health Extension Agent), they will reside together in the same community during Pre-Service Training and no one will need to commute to a separate training location.
During service at your permanent site, couples living conditions are the same as other Volunteers’, but couples will share a house or living quarters.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
Does this sound like the position for you?
Get started on your journey.