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Environment Volunteer

Project description

Since the Peace Corps first arrived in Nepal in 1962, Peace Corps Volunteers and host community members have demonstrated an impressive record of achievement, and Peace Corps service is more relevant than ever for supporting communities in adjusting to the realities of ongoing environmental shifts and helping Nepali youth prepare to lead their society into a sustainable future amidst a rapidly changing technological age.

At the request of the Government of Nepal, Peace Corps Nepal will launch its inaugural Environment Project in 2025 bringing Volunteers to Nepal to work alongside host country counterparts to sustainably manage natural resources and increase the climate resilience of rural community people.

Projects will promote youth leadership, gender equity and will support people from historically marginalized communities to mobilize their strengths to further positive environmental outcomes. Volunteers will work alongside counterparts on a wide range of activities including, but not limited to:

• Support primary and secondary teachers to teach environmental education.
• Collaborate with youth to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the environment through clubs and/or camps.
• Support schools and communities to adopt improved solid waste management practices.
• Collaborate with Community Forest User Groups on best practices to rehabilitate, conserve and/or sustainably manage natural woodlands.
• Support households to construct and use energy-efficient cookstoves.
• Support Community Forest User Groups to develop forest-based income generating activities and improve basic business skills.

Environment Volunteers will work with government supervisors and multiple community counterparts to contribute to improving the environmental situation of rural community people. There is a potential that the Nepali government supervisor assigned to work with Volunteers might not provide regular supervision or guidance. To remain effective, Volunteers must demonstrate a high degree of motivation, commitment, and initiative to properly engage with supervisors as well as counterparts and other relevant community stakeholders to develop and implement work plans.

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 working in the environment sector and will meet the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline.
• Candidates must have a strong interest in environmental issues, including assisting local populations to adapt and increase resilience to climate change; classroom teaching; promotion of appropriate energy technologies; small business promotion; and behavior change.

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Science degree in forestry, natural resources management, ecology, environmental science, agroforestry, or other related fields.
• At least 3 years’ full-time experience in the environmental sector.
• Experience with tree propagation, nursery management, forest-based income generation, ecotourism, solid waste management, energy efficient stoves, and environment education.
• Experience with after-school programs, clubs, or camps related to behavior change and/or environment education.
• Experience or coursework in environmental science, environmental education and/or advocacy, natural resource management, forestry, or related activities which may include nursery work/management, solid waste management, environmental camps/clubs, outdoor education, tree planting and care, forest fire-line construction and management, selective harvesting and cultivation.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Volunteers will be doing the majority of their work in Nepali language. Speaking Nepali is critical for Environment Volunteers. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Volunteers are expected to attain a level of Nepali Language that will allow them to effectively integrate into their communities, and Volunteers are expected to build on this throughout their service . Volunteers are encouraged to continue learning the Nepali language after arriving at their site. As such, Peace Corps/Nepal provides funds so Volunteers will be able hire the service of a local tutor. If a qualified local tutor is not available, they can work with a tutor remotely.

Living conditions

All Volunteers live with a host family throughout the entire duration of their service. Volunteers share meals with their host family and have the option to learn and cook for themselves. While Volunteers have their own room, privacy is limited so individuals should prepare for communal-style living. Homes in Nepal are generally made of bricks, mud or cement and have passed minimum earthquake-safe inspections conducted by the Peace Corps staff.

Most Nepalis eat rice, flat breads and legumes as their staples. However, corn, potatoes, other tubers seasonal fruits and vegetables are consumed when available. Bread and noodles are available in most towns. Imported goods are available in the cities but are expensive. Meat is usually consumed once a week or bi-weekly and maintaining a vegetarian diet is feasible.

Volunteers may walk up to two miles every day on hilly terrain to reach school; travel to and from school may total 1 hour. While Volunteers are placed in separate communities across several districts, proximity to the nearest Volunteer is normally within a 4-8 hour walk or a 3-hour jeep ride. Considering Volunteers serve in the mid-hills region of Nepal, bicycle travel is usually the exception rather than the norm.

Nepal has four seasons. The average temperature ranges from 41-68 degrees in winter and 73-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the hot season. June-September is the monsoon season when it rains almost every day. There are variations between districts and Volunteers should be prepared to live in hot and cold weather. There is no central air or heat in Nepali homes.

While Volunteers can charge their electronic devices in their homes, households generally limit their use of electronics due to cost and availability of electricity. Some communities have schools, government offices and other locations that offer Wi-Fi. Peace Corps Nepal provides Volunteers with a basic smartphone and data package and some Volunteers may choose to purchase additional internet data as they see fit. Running water and hot showers are rare and most households use a latrine-style toilet located outside of the house.

Knowledge and acceptance of LGBTQ+ community members in any host community may be limited. LGBTQ+ Volunteers will need to be mindful of this lack of knowledge and use their judgement to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and throughout service to identify support mechanisms for Trainees and Volunteers.

Volunteers can expect challenges and opportunities in their cultural exchanges during Peace Corps service. Many Nepalis are unfamiliar with American diversity and are often curious about the cultures of Volunteers from different backgrounds. Stereotypes exist and Volunteers with backgrounds, visible disabilities, or spiritual beliefs different from those commonly found in their Nepali community may experience a high degree of curiosity, unwanted attention, or even discrimination from host country nationals. These Volunteers may not be treated with the same level of respect as other Volunteers and may be told that they are not “real Americans.” Volunteers can turn these encounters into teaching and learning experiences by sharing a wider lens of American values and deepening connections and intercultural understanding among community members.

For safety and security reasons, Peace Corps Nepal has restrictions on extreme sports and trekking routes Volunteers can use.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Nepal: 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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