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Peace Corps Volunteer

Community Development Facilitator in Coastal Resource Management

Project description

Community Development Facilitators (CDFs) work in Local Government Units (LGUs) at the provincial, city, or municipal level. The LGUs have the mandate to manage the coastal and marine resources under the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) of the Philippines. Volunteers work alongside LGU staff members and the community on a variety of activities around environmental education, community organizing, and local government planning. While the specific activities depend on the needs of the LGU and community, typical activities include:

• Facilitation of participatory coastal resource assessments.
• Development and/or update of databases (e.g., Coastal Environment Profile).
• Development and/or update of the 5-year LGU Coastal Resource Management Plan.
• Review of existing laws and guidelines that govern the management of coastal and marine resources and explore the possibility of improving those laws and guidelines.
• Sharing transferable skills with community-based organizations (e.g., youth, women, fisher folk).
• Establishment and/or enhancement of a marine protected area management system.
• Development of business concepts/alternative livelihoods in the community.
• Facilitation of children and youth engagement for in-school and out-of-school children.
• Participation in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office through coastal resource management planning and activities.

Volunteers collaborate primarily with people and are not technical advisors. As Community Development Facilitators, Volunteers spend most of their time engaging and collaborating with people in government, the school community, women’s groups, children and youth groups, and the fisher folk in general. As a result, Volunteers must have good people skills and the interest and ability to collaborate with people of all ages from different sectors of the community. Additionally, Volunteers must develop the ability to understand and diplomatically manage the political dynamics in the LGU and community so that they can strategize win-win solutions that strengthen the local coastal resource management program and establish the community’s buy-in to support the program. This includes respect for the bureaucratic government processes and time frames in terms of program implementation.

Depending on the LGU and calendar of activities, Volunteers may have weeks or months when they spend most of their time in the LGU office. During other periods, Volunteers may spend time away from the office doing environmental education in schools, community organizing with individuals and organizations, meetings with fisher folk, and other groups.

Community integration is an indispensable part of Volunteer work. To be successful in service, Volunteers must have an interest in Filipino culture and a willingness to integrate into their Filipino community. The responsibility for integration rests on Volunteers and host communities, and that includes learning the local language. During Pre-Service Training, Peace Corps Philippines provides tools and strategies for Volunteers to enhance their community integration and language acquisition. The Volunteers’ main focus during their first three months at their permanent sites is community integration. Volunteers may find that utilizing social media, for example Facebook, will help them connect with a larger community. By devoting attention to community integration and language learning, Volunteers lay the groundwork for their future community collaboration.

Climate change activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental conditions faced by local communities will become increasingly problematic, particularly for vulnerable households in low-lying areas and historically marginalized 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. The types of interventions undertaken will be guided by national and local priorities for climate change adaptation as identified in your country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and those environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15) that have been identified for local action. As an Environment Volunteer, you will be trained to use this knowledge to work with government, local, and community stakeholders to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of climate change while promoting resiliency, and engaging in projects and activities that:

• strengthen the ability of vulnerable households and communities to respond to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons;
• enhance local and community capacities for effective implementation of NAP and SDG priorities;
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies;
• support the development of sustainable mechanisms that incorporate the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of effective solid waste management practices; and
• work with Volunteers in other sectors to integrate climate change adaptation practices into their activities (e.g., work with Health Volunteers to reduce respiratory health issues of women and girls through use of improved cook stoves; work with Education Volunteers to mitigate the impact of heat waves on local teaching or establishing tree nurseries and planting trees to reduce the time that students use in collecting firewood).

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in promoting environmental awareness in schools and communities, and one or more of the following criteria:

•Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
•5 years' professional work experience

All candidates are required to have intermediate-level swimming abilities, and comfort or experience with snorkeling (having a scuba certification is NOT required).

Interest in Coastal Resource Management or related sciences.

Due to Philippines government visa requirements and the government’s current strong stance and action on combatting drug production, distribution/trafficking, and use, applicants will not be considered for Peace Corps positions in the Philippines at this time if they have ever been convicted of any major crimes, even if it was expunged or sealed, and even if they otherwise would meet the standards for legal clearance to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer more generally.

Desired skills

Highly desired skills for this position include:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Biology, Zoology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Environmental Education, Environment Studies, Conservation, Community Development, Natural Resource Management, Coastal Resource Management
• 5 years’ of experience working in coastal resource management strongly desired
• Certification/Diploma in Primary or Secondary Education
• Strong interest and interpersonal skills in working with children, youth, mothers, and fisher folk in under-resourced communities
• Facilitation skills in conducting environmental awareness in schools and/or with local community organizations
• Facilitation skills in policy development or governance issues

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Filipino (a dialect of Tagalog) is the national language of the Philippines. Volunteers must demonstrate an intermediate level in Tagalog by week 7 of Pre-Service Training. If they do not demonstrate an intermediate level, they will receive additional tutoring to strengthen Tagalog before learning a secondary local language. Starting the last 2 weeks of Pre-Service Training, most Volunteers will start to learn a secondary local language associated with their assigned site. A Volunteer’s dedication to learning language will set them up for success during their service. Having this skill will help Volunteers better integrate into their community. Additional language resources to improve Volunteers’ local language skills will be offered at Peace Corps training events and through independent tutoring during service.

Living conditions

Housing:
Housing conditions for Volunteers vary widely depending upon their community and can range from heavily urban to very rural. In underdeveloped areas, housing construction is typically a hollow concrete block or a mix of concrete, wood, and bamboo. In more developed areas, housing can be the same or built with full concrete and a modern design. Most houses have running water and electricity.

Host Family Situation:
Typically, Volunteers live with host families for the first four months in their permanent communities. After this period, Volunteers may choose to continue living with a host family or move into their own rented accommodations. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to continue living with host families to strengthen their language fluency and integration into the community.

Intercultural Challenges:
Volunteers will encounter very different social and cultural norms that require patience and flexibility. The American sense of privacy, in terms of information-sharing or physical space, does not exist in many Philippine communities. Questions that Americans may deem private such as about one’s religion and marital status are considered conversation starters in the local communities. Some American women may experience challenges in adjusting to the limitations on women that are imposed by the culture. For example, views and attitudes about what is proper for girls and women can be very traditional such as being home by sunset and having a host family member or relative accompany them when going out with male friends or community members.

Diversity Challenges:
Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of the local community members may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. For example, an American who does not have a religious affiliation might receive an unusual amount of questions about why the Volunteer does not have a religious affiliation and may receive invitations to attend religious activities for exposure. These experiences can be uncomfortable, but Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity through conversations and authentic engagement in building relationship and intercultural integration. Staff will address identity related concerns during Pre-Service Training and consultations.

Climate:
The climate of the Philippines is tropical and characterized by relatively high temperatures and high humidity. Generally, the country experiences two major seasons: a rainy season from June through November and a dry season from December to May.

Dress:
Philippine culture is traditional with strict norms related to appearance. Therefore, Volunteers must be prepared to abide by these guidelines to ensure a successful service. Volunteers with visible body and facial piercings or tattoos will need to remove or conceal them, especially when they are teaching. Volunteers are looked upon as role models in the community and are therefore expected to be neat, clean, and well-groomed even in informal occasions. Men should wear their hair short and be clean-shaven.

When Volunteers are in the LGU office, they need to wear business casual attire such as polo shirts and long pants (either jeans or slacks) for men, or blouses, skirts at or below the knees or long pants (either jeans or slacks).

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Philippines: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

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