Working together to improve rural lives and livelihoods
12 November 2007, Rome – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Peace Corps today signed an agreement to continue their collaboration to help improve the
conditions of the rural poor around the world.
The new agreement, a three-year extension of a 2004 Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations, was signed at FAO headquarters in Rome by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and
Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter.
“This agreement reflects the positive outcome of our cooperation activities to date,” said Dr Diouf. “Peace Corps volunteers benefit from FAO’s technical expertise in agriculture, forestry,
fisheries and nutrition, and FAO benefits from the volunteers’ presence at the village level and their ability to help share skills and know-how with the local farmer community.”
Today, more than 8 000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 74 countries around the world. Peace Corps projects are developed locally in each country in collaboration with host country
agencies and focus on pressing needs at the community level.
Teaming up – “We are proud of our continued collaboration with FAO and look forward to even closer cooperation in the future,” said Mr Tschetter. “By teaming up and combining our
expertise, we go further in advancing our mutual goal of helping create a hunger-free world.”
FAO and the Peace Corps have been working together since the early 1960s. From developing school gardens to helping create business plans for young farmers, Peace Corps volunteers work with FAO
in a wide variety of areas.
The experience of Brianne Boylan, a volunteer working with local women in Winditan, Niger, as part of an FAO agricultural training project, provides a case in point: “So far I have held a
fuel-conserving cook stove training (the women built 16 stoves) and helped the women try out improved seeds in their rainy season gardens. We are also working on an agroforestry demonstration
field, which is said to bring in seven times the amount of money of a traditional millet field.”
In Guatemala, five Peace Corps volunteers have provided support to FAO’s Special Programme for Food Security. In Kenya, the Peace Corps has collaborated with FAO’s Farmer Field Schools and
successful marketing activities have been developed. Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal helped with the construction of a poultry farm, and in Samoa and Tonga several volunteers helped young
farmers start up small agribusinesses.
First-hand experience – “Living in the community in which I work allows me to experience first-hand many of the issues the people are dealing with, such as poverty, hunger, lack of
education and opportunities,” says Nicholas Welch, a Peace Corps volunteer working at an FAO Junior Farmer Field and Life School, developed to respond to the basic needs of children orphaned by
AIDS and other vulnerable children in rural areas.
Sarah Grant, a volunteer working at a similar FAO project in northern Zambia, says that the most fulfilling moments have been when she felt she wasn’t needed. “When the local facilitators
manage to lead without my assistance that is the best for me, because it means that there is a good chance this programme will stand on its own once I leave.”