Inter-America and Pacific
Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, more than 73,000 Volunteers have served in the Inter- America and Pacific (IAP) region. They have served in more than 32 countries in the Inter-Americas and 14 countries in the Pacific Islands. At the end of fiscal year (FY) 2006, 2,501 Volunteers were working in 23 posts in all six of the agency’s sectors: agriculture, business development, education, the environment, health and HIV/AIDS, and youth. Additional countries in the Pacific and South America continue to be interested in establishing Peace Corps programs.
The region is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Volunteers. All IAP posts have trained safety and security coordinators. In addition, three regional Peace Corps safety and security officers, stationed in El Salvador, Fiji, and Peru, help posts assess risks and ensure appropriate training for staff and Volunteers. Each post has an emergency action plan, which is tested and revised at least once every year. Headquarters staff is trained to review posts’ emergency plans and to support field staff in crisis management.
Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts have become active, productive participants in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the five-year, multi-billion-dollar initiative to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. For example, in Guyana, Volunteers are focusing on community mobilization strategies to prevent HIV/AIDS and to improve access to existing services. They help reach out to vulnerable groups, including orphans and vulnerable children, by working with the Ministry of Health and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on national programs focused on prevention and care. They also work with health centers and communities to help facilitate community health assessments, design and implement health education projects, and train health center staff and community leaders. Volunteers are working with health centers and NGOs to help Guyana address the HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as other diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue fever. Other Volunteers worked to mobilize communities to attend health education outreach sessions, encouraging community members to be tested at HIV/AIDS testing facilities. These testing facilities will help lower mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
In FY 2006, Peace Corps programs in the Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean, and Panama received PEPFAR funding to carry out technical assistance to community-based organizations, offer small assistance grants, and organize behavioral change and monitoring and reporting workshops for HIV/AIDS prevention and education.
Many Volunteers in the IAP region work in traditional sectors, such as water and sanitation. For example, Volunteers in Bolivia improve sanitary conditions by designing and constructing water systems that provide potable water to rural communities. They also help organize water boards to take over maintenance of these systems to ensure sustainability.
In Honduras, Volunteers promote sustainable production techniques to improve soil conservation as well as to increase the diversity of crops, enhancing food security and family incomes. To improve family nutrition and income, Volunteers introduce improved vegetable and small animal production methods to women working in agriculture.
In Mexico, Volunteers are now assigned to work with SEMARNAT, Mexico’s Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. Volunteers focus on issues related to combating deforestation, forest fires, and soil erosion; promoting conservation of biodiversity and natural habitats; and improving management of national parks and wildlife reserves.
In many IAP countries, Peace Corps’ traditional sectors are melding with some of the newer cross-cutting areas such as youth development and technology. Many programs target youth to develop life skills, leadership skills, and employability. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, Volunteers engage young people in activities ranging from business education to strategic planning to technical assistance. In rural communities, Volunteers work with farmers’ markets and agricultural cooperatives to introduce e-marketing and website development.
In Samoa, the education project includes a focus on information and communication technology. Volunteers work with teachers and counterparts in computer studies, helping them update curricula and lesson plans for years 9–13 and providing assistance to teachers to access materials and resources for their classes. Volunteers also help teach computer skills to youth and help teachers establish computer labs.
In Vanuatu, Fiji, and other Pacific posts, Volunteers are working with marine protected areas and other marine conservation projects. Volunteers in Vanuatu partnered with a U.S. conservation foundation to promote costal resource ecotourism.
Volunteers have left a significant legacy of service to countries in the IAP region. Since the agency’s inception in 1961, Peace Corps Volunteers have served continuously in the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The Peace Corps has also partnered with other countries for more than 40 years and will continue to work to the benefit of people throughout the Inter- Americas and the Pacific.
Congressional Budget Justification 2008 Peace Corps website (PDF, 47MB)