July 4, 2001 - Personal Web Site: In 1992, I left the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ivory Coast: Peace Corps Ivory Coast : The Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast: July 4, 2001 - Personal Web Site: In 1992, I left the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire

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In 1992, I left the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire

In 1992, I left the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire

In 1992, I left the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the west African country of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). After training for two months in Thiès, Senegal, and one month in Bingerville, Côte d'Ivoire, I officially swore in as a Volunteer on December 22, 1992 and served until December 11, 1994.

I worked in an urban environmental management project in Séguéla, a secondary Ivorian city of about 30,000 people. I worked closely with the local mayor's office and primarily with the city's engineer. The first project that I worked on was a survey of the local population to determine what their environmental concerns were. A sample question on the survey was, 'What do you feel is the biggest environmentally related health threat?'. Some of the responses that I received were: stagnant water and lack of sufficient trash pickup services. I then presented the results to the mayor, who was up for re-election and very interested in the results. Working with various municipal officials, we proceeded to conduct erosion projects in the neighborhoods and also began a tree planting campaign. Other projects included latrine construction in the primary schools, the construction of a medical incinerator at the hospital, teaching environmental education to 5th and 6th graders, and working on the UNICEF- and Global 2000-sponsored Guinea Worm eradication project.

I think that perhaps one of the more significant things that I gained from the Peace Corps was a greater appreciation for our global community. I also realized the customs and traditions that make ethnic groups unique and interesting. I returned from the Peace Corps emotionally more mature and also much more focused in my life objectives. Working with people of various ethnicities was refreshing and an incredible experience.

Here is downtown Séguéla. It is a predominately Muslim city in the northern savannah region of Côte d'Ivoire.

The downtown outdoor/indoor Market, located just to the right of the Mosque from the above picture.

Erosion was a major problem in Séguéla. A four month rainy season following by a hot, dry season made erosion control even more difficult.

One project to combat erosion was to initiate a tree planting campaign, concentrating in areas in which erosion was most severe.

Public latrines in the primary school system was another project we did, and was coupled with public health education.

Here are the children and faculty of a French-Arab private school. The latrine was funded by both the school and through the Peace Corps Partnership Program.

I also worked on a Guinea Worm eradication project in rural villages in northern Côte d'Ivoire.

People get Guinea worm by drinking water contaminated with Dracunculus larvae. These larvae are ingested by copepods in which the worms mature. After drinking contaminated water, the victim digests the copepod but not the worm. Worms mate, and the female migrates to subcutaneous tissue. A blister, such as that above, develops on the skin where the worm will emerge. The blister will eventually rupture, causing a very painful burning sensation. For relief, persons will immerse the affected skin into water, usually a pond. The worm emerges and deposits immatures in the water, continuing the life cycle.

Adult worms can be almost a meter in length, and as wide as a spaghetti noodle. Here is one that had migrated to the skin.

After depositing immatures, the worm dies and can be removed slowly be gently pulling the worm over a series of days.

River blindness, onchocerciasis, is also a problem in Côte d'Ivoire. It is caused by a filarial parasite, Onchocerca volvulus, and vectored by black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae), which breed in rapidly flowing streams.

This is the Sassandra River in Côte d'Ivoire, a major breeding location for black flies.

Another insect that did quite well in Côte d'Ivoire was the termite.

Not all of my Peace Corps experience was work. There was ample time to enjoy, for example, a fête in a nearby village.

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TOBIN Patrick
Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa)
Patrick Tobin was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on December 22, 1992. As a Volunteer in the second group of Urban Environmental Management Volunteers and the first of such at his post, Patrick was assigned to the secondary city of Séguéla, a town of approximately 29,000 people located 520 kilometers northwest of Abidjan. During his two years of service, he worked actively with the mayor’s office in order to assist the local government in addressing sanitation, solid waste, erosion, and other environmental problems.

Côte d’Ivoire’s Urban Environmental Management Project, the first of its kind for the Peace Corps, ensures a comprehensive approach to projects by placing both a community development Volunteer and a technical Volunteer in selected secondary cities. The goals of this project are to: (a) increase the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices of community environmental groups, technical services workers, and social affairs agents regarding improved waste management systems, and (b) improve the urban environment by designed systems to improve solid waste collection, gray water disposal, human waste disposal, and to control erosion.

As the community development Volunteer, Patrick worked closely with the local schools and municipality in order to help the population understand the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation and its links to health; encourage behaviors that improve environmental conditions; and to help the municipality identify and implement low-cost solutions to sanitation problems.

Prior to his service, Patrick completed nine weeks of training in Thiès, Senegal, and three weeks of training in Bingerville, Côte d’Ivoire. This period emphasized both language and technical training, as well as cultural adaptation. In addition to the ten weeks of intensive French classes, Patrick analyzed developing world urbanization trends and environmental and health issues precipitated from inadequate sanitation services. He also gained skills and experience in community development, effective educational techniques, and low-cost, technologically applicable interventions to various environmental and health problems.

A. Sanitation
During his Peace Corps service, Patrick worked actively with the local municipality and available Small Project Assistance funds to construct three blocks of 3-cabin ventilated-improved pit (VIP) compost latrines and to refurbish an existing block of 3-cabin latrines in a group of four public elementary schools. In order to ameliorate personal hygiene habits, the latrine blocks were constructed with a hand-washing facility that utilized rain-water channeled from rain gutters along the roof of the latrines into a 55-gallon drum equipped with a faucet. This project, upon termination, improved the student-latrine ratio from 500 students per latrine to 125 students per latrine.

In addition, Patrick compiled and educational guide in French. This education guide was used to implement a ten week education program focusing on hygiene and proper latrine maintenance for the behalf of the 1500 elementary school students attending the four elementary schools. Patrick organized this education program with the school instructors, who executed the program using the educational guide as a format. This guide included detailed lesson plans and outlines of activities that were intended to be both effective and fun to inspire an interest from the school children, and applicable and ready-to-use in future school-based latrine construction projects.

Patrick was also able to execute a similar latrine project in a private French-Arabic elementary school. After co-authoring a project proposal, a private donor was located through the Peace Corps Partnership Program to finance the purchase of all construction materials for one block of 3-cabin VIP compost latrines. The private school furnished all locally-available materials (i.e., sand and gravel) and provided all labor, skilled and unskilled. Upon project completion, approximately 150 school children had a well-functioning latrine and hand-washing facilities at their disposal.

B. Solid Waste
In order to help the municipality in addressing the overwhelming solid waste problem, Patrick co-authored a project proposal with the objective of receiving financial assistance for the construction of neighborhood garbage containers. This proposal was consequently approved and financed through the U.S. Embassy Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund. Financial assistance through this Fund was allocated for the purchase of construction materials, while the local municipality provided all locally-available materials and labor. Seventeen cement garbage containers and one metal trash container were constructed in the residential areas and market area. While working with agents from the local mayor’s technical services division, Patrick executed an educational program in conjunction with the construction phase of this project.

C. Environmental Education
During his service, Patrick created four environmental education lesson plans in French that were used to conduct environmental education in the 5th and 6th grade classes of a local public school. The lessons were designed to be both fun and interesting, using plays, short stories, and contests to facilitate the educational learning process of children. Tree-planting projects and erosion control projects at the school were initiated as a result of this program.

D. Community Tree Planting
In working with one of the governmental environmental protection agencies in Côte d’Ivoire, Patrick helped coordinate a neighbor tree-planting project in three of the neighborhoods in Séguéla. Local residents planted fifty trees and subsequently assumed all tree-care responsibilities. The trees were planted in an effort to both beautify the neighborhoods and to reduce the repercussions of erosion in the neighborhoods.

Pursuant to section5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. 2504(f) as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United State Government following his Peace Corps service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps Volunteer service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave, and other privileges based on length of Government service. Peace Corps service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period or completion of any service requirement for career appointment.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order No. 11103 of April 10, 1963, that Patrick Tobin served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His service ended on December 9, 1994. He is therefore eligible to be appointed as career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order entitlement extends for a period of one year after termination of Volunteer service, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning or engages in other activities which, in view of the appointing agency, warrants extension of this period.

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