Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition Facilitator
Vanuatu has embarked on a 15-year National Sustainable Development Plan. The Plan, which is titled “Vanuatu 2030, the People’s Plan,” provides a more in-depth look at the previous national plan, which sought to deliver a just, educated, healthy and wealthy Vanuatu. The current National Sustainability Development Plan follows three main pillars: social, environmental, and economic. A critical priority for the government of Vanuatu is to remain focused on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and nutrition. This community health assignment addresses key issues in all three pillars, while focusing on reducing the incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCD’s), and promoting healthy lifestyle choices that improve the population’s health and well-being.
Volunteers work with community partners, including but not limited to, nurses, health committee leaders, and village health extension workers to assess individual household needs in WASH and nutrition. Volunteers establish household health baselines and work with their partners to improve healthy household practices storing water and promoting hygiene. Volunteers may also engage in activities surrounding gender and other related disparities. Volunteers generally work with community-led health committees to define and bolster their functions by building on already present strengths. Some Volunteers may join communities that are in the early stages of developing water and health committees and may find it exciting to help the community start the group. These groups often need additional assistance and training in project design and management, identifying roles and functions of participants, and incorporating sustainability plans into the construction of small scale, community-based water and sanitation systems.
Volunteers may also work closely with healthcare providers at local health centers, aid posts, or dispensaries which helps ultimately strengthen Vanuatu’s healthcare system. They may assess community health needs collaboratively with their counterpart or with another community leader by utilizing tools and training provided during Pre-Service Training (PST). With the ultimate goal of behavior change, Volunteers and their community counterparts will raise awareness about healthy water and sanitation practices, balanced nutrition, as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This may include facilitating workshops focused on creating hand washing stations, conducting household hygiene assessments, and disseminating information on proper nutrition practices.
Volunteers may also work with communities and health service providers to identify and address environmental health issues and to promote access to infrastructure such as water delivery systems, latrines, and waste management. Volunteers frequently work with local schools on health education activities and may also provide technical support to Ministry of Health partners and other Volunteers. Volunteers are typically clustered (placed within a reasonable proximity of one another) for safety and security considerations and due to the remote nature of living in an archipelago. WASH and Nutrition Facilitators may be placed in an area that complements the service of a nearby Literacy Education Facilitator. Both Peace Corps assignments encourage cross-sector engagement, however Volunteers are not typically placed in the same community. Volunteers may take on secondary projects in areas such as climate change, gender equality, youth development, or volunteerism.
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.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelors of Science degree in any field
• 5 years’ professional work experience
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing
• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Experience with social work
• Experience with water, sanitation, and hygiene or nutrition education
• Experience with sexual and reproductive health education
• Experience with communicable and non-communicable diseases prevention education
• Experience in training, facilitation and/or capacity building
Required Language Skills
Trainees will receive Bislama language training during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and must achieve an Intermediate-mid level of proficiency in order to swear in. Volunteers may enlist office support for ongoing language learning throughout service.
Most Volunteers will live in or near the compound of a host family. All Volunteers will have their own house but should be prepared to interact with their host family in a way that facilitates community integration. Volunteers often share meals with their family and participate in culturally relevant activities like weaving mats, fans or baskets. In addition, Volunteers will likely find themselves working in the garden, fishing/spearfishing, and preparing meals with family members. Other activities vital to integration may include extended conversations with family and/or community members, attending church services, as well as drinking kava at community nakamals (village meeting place).
Electricity might be available via a school generator or health center solar grid, however most Volunteers don't have running water or electricity in their house. Village stores have limited goods, while services such as formal banks, mail, or internet are not available in most villages. Provincial centers have more access to goods, and will have an ATM and post office. Transportation from villages to a Provincial center may be unreliable and Volunteers often rely on relationships built with key community members to manage accessing transportation. Cell Service such as 3G or 4G is increasingly common across the outer islands of Vanuatu.
Volunteers with non-medical dietary restrictions may have to be creative to ensure that a well-balanced diet is sustained. Locally available produce may not be regularly consistent and access is determined by the planting and harvesting seasons as well as Volunteer proximity to a market. Some Volunteers elect to plant a garden or help with their host family’s garden to diversify their produce. Trainees will receive guidance and practice during PST for sustaining healthy diets in Vanuatu and cooking island food (aelan kakae) with traditional stoves and on an open fire.
Longstanding traditions and customs are still strong outside of the major urban areas. Christianity has been accepted in Ni-Vanuatu culture since missionaries first arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century. Village church attendance will likely be encouraged within communities and will aid in integration. Most communities have multiple denominations of Christianity and there is a large predominance of Seventh-day Adventists; some Volunteers may attend church with their families on Saturdays. While Volunteers will not be pressured to join in religious traditions, participation can aid in integration and understanding cultural values. Volunteers are encouraged to seek understanding of and respect for the role of Christianity in the lives of the people they serve.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Vanuatu: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Couples may not live together during the 10 week Pre-Service Training, but will live together once assigned a community for their 24 months of service.
Couples that are not married may be assumed to be married or expected to be married because of the commitment to live together. Marriage commonly happens after a couple cohabitates and has children in Vanuatu because the cost of paying a bride price is expensive and it take time to save up. Many Ni-Vans living together may not be married but are working toward it; a US American couple that is not married will be asked questions about their plans to get married as it is a goal for Ni-Vans and being single or divorced is frowned upon.
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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