Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, more than 78,000 Volunteers have served in the Inter-America and Pacific (IAP) region. At the end of FY 2009, 2,480 Volunteers were working in 22 posts in 28 countries. Volunteers in IAP work in all six of the agency’s sectors—agriculture, business development, education, environment, health and HIV/AIDS, and youth.
In addition, many Volunteers add a cross-sectorial dimension to their primary project by incorporating information and communication technology (ICT), girls’ education, food security, and a push toward greater volunteerism among host country nationals. In addition to Spanish, the Peace Corps provides training in over 50 languages, enabling Volunteers to effectively live and work at the grassroots level. (See Appendix C for details.)
Through the introduction of sustainable agriculture techniques, Volunteers help communities protect the rich diversity of natural resources and improve the living conditions of rural families. By giving farmers more options, Volunteers help communities to improve their farming practices, reducing the destruction of forests, soils, and watersheds. The additional food produced through improved, sustainable techniques helps to increase the food security of surrounding communities.
Volunteers often coordinate activities with other Volunteers and government counterparts working in community small business programs to promote integrated rural development, assuring sustainability. Through the transfer of business management knowledge and skills, Volunteers provide technical assistance to individual entrepreneurs, as well as to organizations providing credit, training, and technical assistance to small businesses.
Volunteers seek to improve the professional development of host country teachers by introducing new teaching methodologies and curriculum. Volunteers also help build libraries and resource centers, promote adult literacy, and encourage parents and communities to become more involved in the education of their children.
Communities where Volunteers serve are increasingly affected by environmental degradation, which impacts air quality as well as water and land resources. Volunteers engage national and local partners in environmental education and conservation. Additionally, many Volunteers integrate economic development interests with environmental sustainability through ecotourism and eco-business projects.
Access to basic health care remains a serious problem for many communities in the region. Volunteers work to improve the health of individuals and families in the communities where they serve by training health care providers, teaching disease prevention techniques, and providing nutrition information. With the increasing threat of HIV/AIDS in the region, Volunteers help their communities gain a better understanding of HIV/AIDS by integrating awareness and prevention messages into their work.
Youth under the age of 25 account for over half of the population in many IAP countries. Peace Corps programs target youth in order to develop life and leadership skills and to improve employability. In several countries, Volunteers organize and facilitate camps for girls, leading sessions on self-esteem, healthy life skills, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, leadership, and personal development.
Congressional Budget Justification 2011 Peace Corps website (PDF, 47MB)