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In West Africa, Peace Corps Raises Profile of Undernutrition

In parts of West Africa, the Peace Corps is expanding opportunities for its Volunteers to receive training in combating hunger and undernutrition.

Peace Corps Volunteers are closely integrated with the communities they serve, often supporting local community health workers or even providing counseling themselves to caregivers responsible for the health and nutrition of family members.

They are thus uniquely well-positioned to offer support and guidance on household-level feeding and nutrition decisions. To better integrate nutrition across programming areas and to improve Volunteers’ capacity to effectively counsel caregivers on healthy feeding practices, the Peace Corps is working to strengthen Volunteers’ skill set in nutrition counseling.

Last month, Peace Corps staff from five countries participated in an initial “training of trainers” to build technical capacity for nutrition counseling. Conducted in Porto Novo, Benin, the training included staff from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Benin, the Gambia and Guinea, and convened program managers and assistants from education, health and agriculture projects. One week later, Volunteersand their community counterparts were trained on essential nutrition and hygiene practices.

Regionally, these events raised the visibility of nutrition as a priority programming issue while equipping staff to provide the technical and communication training needed to ensure Volunteers can work effectively with community health workers and caregivers. Participating Peace Corps posts are part of a West Africa Food Security Partnership that is supported by Feed the Future via USAID funding.
 
The partnership plans to regularly conduct in-service trainings for Volunteers on hunger and nutrition issues. 

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