Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition Facilitator
Peace Corps has been operating in The Republic of Vanuatu since 1989 with over 900 Volunteers who have served throughout the islands. Home to the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu and over 100 native languages, Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of 83 islands with 6 provinces. Vanuatu is often referred to as the “happiest place on earth” and has a rich diversity of culture across the islands. The simplicity of life, island style and pace, and strong expression of collectivist cultural values is a beautiful strength of the country. Tourism is a main source of income and many tourists visit the main island Efate, and some key outer island destinations, from neighboring Australia and New Zealand. Occupied by both the British and the French until its independence year, Vanuatu has lasting influences from both cultures. From Black-birding connections with Australia, to Christian missionary presence in the 1800s, to U.S. military presence during World War II, Ni-Van culture and tradition is uniquely expressed with these influences, while custom culture is strong and maintained through oral traditions.
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.
WASH and Nutrition Facilitators 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. They establish household health baselines and work with their partners to improve healthy household practices storing water and promoting hygiene. They may also engage in activities surrounding gender equity and other related disparities, and 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 request 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.
WASH and Nutrition Facilitators may also work closely with healthcare providers at local health centers, aid posts, or dispensaries which helps ultimately strengthen Vanuatu’s healthcare system. Conversely, this benefits in the Volunteer’s understanding of the crucial foundations of healthcare interventions via behavior change models. WASH and Nutrition Facilitators may assess community health needs collaboratively with their counterpart or with other community leaders by utilizing tools and training provided during Pre-Service Training (PST) and In-Service Training (IST). With the ultimate goal of behavior change, Volunteers and their community counterparts will raise awareness about healthy water and sanitation practices, balanced nutrition, benefits of exercise, 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, or co-facilitating exercise clubs. WASH and Nutrition Facilitators may also work with their host communities to identify and address environmental health issues and to promote access to infrastructure such as water delivery systems, latrines, and waste management. They frequently work with local schools on health education activities and may also provide technical support to Ministry of Health partners and other Volunteers.
Peace Corps responds to requests for assistance from the most remote corners of Vanuatu. Most Volunteers live on outer islands with limited resources and 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. All 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.
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 also have one or more of the following additional skills:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing
• Master of Arts/Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse
• Experience with or degree in social work
• Experience with water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) and/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
• Experience in developing and facilitating afterschool or extracurricular youth programs and clubs
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
The national languages of Vanuatu are French, English, and Bislama, though Bislama is most commonly used in formal or business scenarios. In addition to the national languages, there are over 130 vernacular languages in Vanuatu, used almost exclusively at home or in social situations between Ni-Vanuatu people. Bislama is a pidgin language, meaning it is derived from several languages, mostly English and French.
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 Peace Corps office support for ongoing language learning throughout service for both Bislama and local dialects in the communities in which they serve.
Volunteers serve on a variety of different islands where communities range from isolated rural areas to urban provincial centers, though Peace Corps tends to place Volunteers in rural communities. All Volunteers should be prepared to live and work in an often undeveloped rural, tropical island environment. Volunteer communities on the same island are arranged in clusters, but may be separated by several hours of walking, a boat ride, or a truck ride. Air travel by small plane is required to reach some Volunteer communities. While air travel between islands can be expensive, Volunteers are brought into the capital at no cost to them for required trainings and learning events. Volunteers should be open to learning to swim and feel comfortable traveling in boats, canoes, or small planes. Severe weather and natural disasters may limit, delay or interrupt transportation.
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 assigned host family in a way that facilitates community integration. Host families often refer to Volunteers (of all ages) as their adult children. 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 and enjoying similar diets as their community. Other activities vital to integration may include extended conversations with family or community members, attending church services, as well as drinking kava at community nakamals (village meeting place).
Electricity might be available via a generator or 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 may not be available in some communities. Provincial centers have more access to goods and will have an ATM and post office. Staff train Volunteers to prepare accordingly and allowances are made where necessary. 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 are 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, and proximity to a market. Some Volunteers plant a garden or help with their host family’s garden to diversify their produce. Trainees will receive guidance and practice during Pre-Service Training for sustaining healthy diets in Vanuatu and cooking island food (aelan kakae) with traditional stoves and on 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 and village church attendance will likely be encouraged within communities. Most communities have multiple denominations of Christianity and there is a large predominance of Seventh-day Adventists. While Volunteers will not be pressured to join in religious traditions, participation can aid in understanding cultural values and some Volunteers may attend church with their families on Saturdays. Volunteers are encouraged to seek understanding of and respect for the role of Christianity in the lives of the people they serve and will have support from staff cultural informants to navigate these differences.
Serving in Vanuatu
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Vanuatu: 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.
Vanuatu prefers couples to work in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for: Literacy Education Facilitator position.
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 medical clearance process.
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