MWM in Action: Sam Hagglund in Zambia

This excerpt was taken from Sam’s Blog. To read more and follow his Peace Corps adventure visit http://saminzambia.wordpress.com/

MWM’s - For those of you that would like to hear about my Peace Corps adventures and can’t wait 27 months I’ll be adding stories and pictures to a blog I’ve started http://SamInZambia.wordpress.com/ You are also welcome to post comments if you wish and subscribe to my RSS feed. -  Sam Hagglund

My Assignment
Country: Zambia
Program: Linking Income, Food, & the Environment project
Job Title: Forestry Extension Agent
Pre-service Training: 2/17 to 5/6, 2011 (in Zambia)
Date of Service: 2/7/2011 to 5/7/2013

According to my assignment description, I will be working in rural Zambia at the critical interface where conservation, politics, and communities converge. My work will address issues affecting people, habitats and resource use. Before my service begins I will receive about ten weeks of in-country cross-culture and technical training. This pre-service training includes how to operate successfully within the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) structure and the Zambian Forestry Department. I will also learn about progressive techniques for agriculture, forestry, income generation activities and many other livelihood and food production strategies being promoted in Zambia.

A little more than half of Zambia is covered in forests, but deforestation and poor management is eating away at what remains. In addition to providing habitat for wildlife, Zambia’s forests represent potential resources for the surrounding communities to substantially base their immediate livelihood and long-term development. Effective and sustainable management is crucial if these communities are to benefit. Currently Zambia does not have the resources and staff to train community members in sustainable utilization of forest products, improved agriculture, pre- and post- harvest techniques, agro-forestry, income generation and business skills. To address this lack of front line extension workers in rural communities, in 2004, the Department of Forestry requested Peace Corps Volunteers to work as Forestry Extension Agents.

As a Forestry Extension Agent I will live in a rural community away from many of the modern conveniences we take for granted in the U.S. I will live in a mud brick house with a thatch roof with and no running water or electricity. I will mainly work from my base village and other communities within 20 km. For transportation the Peace Corps will provide me with a bicycle.

My first task will be to appraise the needs of the surrounding communities. With this information I will then help community members identify methods for acquiring the necessary skills, information and resources to meet these needs. My project will focus on these three areas: 1) sustainable agriculture 2) environmental education; and 3) income generation.