Health Extension Volunteer

Project Description

Health Extension Volunteers support community mobilization and complement and enhance existing community health services through the training and capacity building of community leaders, community health workers and groups. Volunteers promote health and nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers, infants, and young children and encourage healthy behaviors among youth in their communities.

Volunteer duties include working with local health clinics, as well as community groups. Project interventions focus on behavior change for healthy lifestyles and communications aimed at raising awareness and action around topics such as HIV/AIDS, maternal and child nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and malaria. Volunteers also conduct programs in schools and support out-of-school youth.

Volunteers always work in partnership with community leaders and community members to assess local knowledge, resources and needs of the community, and then collaboratively determine the best and most appropriate interventions. This work involves selecting sustainable projects that the Volunteers can undertake with their communities during their two-year service. Integrating into the community, developing relationships with neighbors and key community members such as teachers and religious leaders, and building trust is of great importance to a Peace Corps Volunteer’s work.

Examples of Volunteer activities include but are not limited to:

• Working with community health workers to run health education sessions.
• Conducting sessions with community groups addressing common health issues.
• Working with peer educators to commemorate global health-related days (e.g. Malaria Day, World AIDS Day).
• Working with health teachers to conduct health education lessons at local schools.
• Hosting youth clubs at local schools (i.e. health club, gardening club, life skills club).
• Designing and developing inexpensive instructional materials (i.e. health murals).

In collaboration with a community counterpart, Volunteers also can undertake secondary projects that address additional community needs. Examples of secondary projects include teaching English or science at local primary schools, promoting healthy behaviors through sports for boys and girls, improving school or health center facilities, supporting rainwater catchment projects, rehabilitating latrines, or working on local capacity building projects.

While much of the work takes place during weekday daytime hours, some activities, particularly in the community, may take place at night or on weekends. Key dates such as International Malaria Day and World AIDS Day are opportunities to implement social-mobilization activities, and many Volunteers work with their village government to prepare a community-wide awareness event.

Peace Corps Tanzania promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges in Tanzania and have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate, to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these activities and results achieved.

Corporal punishment is legal and a common way teachers discipline their students. While the government has regulations regarding permissible forms of corporal punishment, these rules are not always followed or enforced at the local level. Volunteers will most likely encounter corporal punishment, which may or may not adhere to the legal restrictions. Many Volunteers find this aspect of life very challenging, particularly when it is necessary to develop good working relationships with colleagues. Peace Corps Tanzania has implemented a Student Friendly Schools program to open a dialogue between Volunteers and their colleagues, and to explore culturally appropriate and acceptable alternatives to corporal punishment.

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

Per Government of Tanzania request, candidates cannot have a degree, minor, concentration, or certification in Political Science, International Relations/Affairs, or History. To receive work authorization, they MUST have a degree or certification related to the Health Sector. Eligible degrees include the following:

• Nutrition
• Social Welfare (Social Work)
• Environmental Health and/or Water and Sanitation
• Health Promotion
• Public Health or Community Health
• Community Development
• Community Medicine
• Medical Doctor
• Nurse or midwife
• Community nurse

Due to mandatory retirement limitations by the Tanzanian government, applicants to Tanzania’s Peace Corps program must conclude their Peace Corps service prior to the age of 60.

Desired Skills

• Demonstrated experience mobilizing communities.
• Demonstrated experience working with youth, women, and community groups.

Required Language Skills

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

Trainees will receive 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training in the predominant language spoken in Tanzania, Kiswahili, and are required to attain an Intermediate-Mid oral proficiency level before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Volunteers are expected and encouraged to continue improving their local language skills throughout the service, and Peace Corps Tanzania provides a local language tutoring allowance during service to facilitate continued learning.

Living Conditions

Tanzania is a large country located in East Africa and is known for Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti Wildlife National Park. It has a diverse geography, ranging from hot and dry in the central part of the country, hot and humid in the coastal areas, and highland and mountainous areas in the South and North which have cool to cold temperatures depending on the season.

During the hottest months (November-February) temperatures in the lowlands range from 90-105 °F, and 70-80 °F in the highlands. During the cold season (June-August), temperatures range from 60-75 °F in the lowlands and coast, and from 40-50 °F in the highlands. There are shorter rainy seasons in November or December, and longer rainy seasons between March and May.

Volunteers are placed primarily in rural communities. These communities are generally within a few hours of small to mid-size district towns, with banks, a variety of shops, markets, local restaurants and guesthouses. Travel to Dar es Salaam can take anywhere from five hours to three days depending on where a Volunteer lives. Volunteers generally use public buses as a main mode of transportation.

The host village provides Volunteer housing. This is typically a stand-alone house. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers use pit latrines, outdoor bath facilities, and fetch water from a village water source. There may be no electricity, in which case solar lamps will be the main source of lighting, and charcoal stoves or gas stoves are used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Tanzanians keep their homes and courtyards clean and tidy, and Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to do the same.

Personal appearance is of great importance in Tanzania. Female Volunteers are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (well below the knees, with upper arms and shoulders covered) and nice flat shoes or sandals in their communities. On the island of Zanzibar or in other coastal Muslim communities, females tend to be more accepted when they cover their heads, as is the custom for women in those communities. When out running or exercising, females should wear a sarong or cloth tied over shorts or yoga pants. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them during the beginning of the integration process in their new schools/communities. A Volunteer’s professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will go a long way towards helping them gain the respect of their community.

Volunteers will encounter very different social and cultural norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, the American sense of privacy in terms of information-sharing or physical space, doesn’t really exist in many Tanzanian communities. Volunteers are frequently asked personal questions, e.g., one’s religion and marital status, and people will wonder why a Volunteer might want quiet moments alone. There is also the added element of curiosity from children as well as adults.

Tanzania has some 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 will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information:

Serving in Tanzania

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Tanzania: 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

Peace Corps Tanzania can accept couples who wish to serve together. To serve as a couple in Tanzania, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following programs:

-Health Extension Volunteer
-Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer
-Secondary Math Teacher
-Secondary Science Teacher

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for short-term field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together in a village house. Due to Tanzania’s cultural expectation that whenever couples live together, they are by default married, unmarried couples should be prepared to present themselves as married throughout their service.

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:

Medical Considerations

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


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