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Environment and Food Security Educator

Project description

A healthy and productive earth is a vital component to a healthy society. Like many parts of the world, Malawi faces environmental threats due to climate change and natural resource management challenges. We invite you to apply to work alongside Malawian partners to support a healthier and more secure environment as an Environment and Food Security Educator.

In this role, you will work at an agricultural extension office, collaborating with staff and local counterparts to teach environmental education at schools and to youth groups to foster a knowledge of, and value for, environmental conservation and dietary diversity. As a centerpiece project, you and your students will establish a garden that will exemplify sustainable agricultural techniques, such as composting, mulching, intercropping, bio-intensive planting, and organic pest management. These sustainable agricultural techniques can be shared by students with their families, and the produce from these gardens will be distributed under a system that your local counterparts, you, and the students devise. Additionally, you will coordinate with your colleagues and students to plant various tree species and conduct lively community campaigns that promote environmental awareness and conservation.

You will also collaborate with local partners to support mothers in your host community on nutrition and dietary diversity by promoting the production and consumption of nutrient rich foods. You and your counterparts will create a demonstration garden of nutritious foods and support households to plant trees that can provide nutritious fruits, firewood, and timber. To better protect Malawi’s natural resources, you and your counterparts will encourage the use of less firewood by working with women to build fuel-efficient cook stoves with locally found materials.

Your work will be choreographed with the seasons, which means that some seasons will be busier with planting and harvesting activities. The slower seasons will allow you to engage with your colleagues and host community on other topics. Due to the prevalence of HIV amongst youth in Malawi, all Volunteers are trained on activities to support HIV prevention and are expected to implement these activities during their Peace Corps service. Other activities may include malaria prevention, girls’ empowerment programs, nutrition sessions, cooking demonstrations, cook stove construction, and seed collection. There are numerous ways for you and your host community to collaborate on important issues.

In Malawi, your work will not come without unique challenges. But the training you receive from Peace Corps—combined with your expertise, experiences, and the relationships you build in your community—will aid you in being flexible and creative when approaching your work. Be prepared to commit yourself to two years of challenging yet highly rewarding work and take part in the important effort of supporting a sustainable environment in Malawi.

Climate change activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental context within which smallholder farmers seek to maintain and improve their livelihood and support their families will continue to change. This will add significantly to the challenges of smallholder farming, particularly for the most disadvantaged 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. As an Agriculture Volunteer, you will be trained to use this local knowledge in engaging smallholder farmers in a climate-smart approach that:

• promotes the adoption of improved, appropriate, and adaptive agricultural practices and technologies that sustainably increase productivity;
• builds and strengthens household resilience by integrating and diversifying existing and new agriculture-related income-generating opportunities; and
• reduces greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ineffective and carbon intensive farming practices and encourages adoption of agricultural practices and activities that sequester carbon.

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in agriculture and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Forestry, Ecology, Agriculture, or Natural Resources
• Experience in gardening, farming, natural resource management, environmental education, or conservation
• Demonstrated commitment to community development
• Experience in training and facilitation
• Monitoring and evaluation skills
• Experience teaching or coaching youth
• Experience coordinating or implementing individual, group, or community-level trainings, or interventions

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. During Pre-Service Training, Volunteers will receive training by Malawian language instructors to communicate in the local language used in their assigned host community. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Trainees must achieve an Intermediate-Mid level of local language ability before taking the official oath to become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Living conditions

Housing: Environment and Food Security Educators typically live in housing provided by a governmental agricultural extension office. Most of the houses are constructed of brick and have concrete flooring and corrugated metal roofs. Homes may be located on the office grounds or nearby in the surrounding community. Like most rural residences in Malawi, the homes of Peace Corps Volunteers typically do not have electricity or running water. Volunteers use candles and solar lamps for lighting in their living space, cook with wood/charcoal stoves, and collect water from a nearby communal pump or bore hole. Toilets are typically in the form of outdoor latrines, or squat toilets, and bathing is done using a bucket. Mobile phone coverage is available, but spotty in some areas. Basic necessities such as vegetables, grains, and household goods can be purchased in the community or at a nearby market town.

Transportation: Travel in Malawi can be strenuous, involving long bus rides on dirt roads. Peace Corps Volunteers may walk long distances on a regular basis or bike between villages for their work. Peace Corps can provide a bike to assist with daily routines.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace: It is important that all Volunteers respect and earn the trust of the people in your community and be open-minded, motivated, patient, and flexible in ambiguous situations. An important aspect of your work will be your ability to communicate with your community members in their language, for which you will receive extensive training. It is also essential that Peace Corps Volunteers work within the hierarchical structure of the community to conduct their work in a culturally appropriate way, and always in partnership with Malawian counterparts. Your professional appearance and work habits, along with the respect and deference you demonstrate for your fellow Malawians, will go a long way toward gaining respect and credibility in the workplace.

Dress Code: Personal appearance is very important in Malawi. You will need to dress professionally for work situations in your community: button-up shirts, slacks, and dress shoes for men; sleeved blouses, long skirts, and professional shoes for women. There are some occasions (professional, holidays, weddings, swearing-in) that invite more formal attire, such as a fancier dress, a jacket, or a tie. Dressing according to local expectations will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. Peace Corps will provide additional dress guidance, and Volunteers are advised to take cues from Malawian colleagues and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Malawi: 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

Peace Corps Malawi can accommodate heterosexual couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Malawi:

Health Educator or High School English Educator

Couples have the same living conditions as single Volunteers.

Due to cultural expectations, unmarried couples in a domestic partnership are highly encouraged to present themselves as a married couple to their host community.

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 Peace Corps’ FAQ page for Volunteers who identify as LGBTQIA+

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