Peace Corps Returns to Nepal
By MacKenzie C. Babb
Washington - Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Nisha Biswal signed a deal to re-establish the Peace Corps program in Nepal after a seven-year absence from the country. The first group of 20 volunteers is scheduled to arrive in Nepal later in 2012.
"We are pleased that the government of Nepal has invited Peace Corps volunteers to return and work with local Nepali communities, in collaboration with USAID, once again," Williams said after the signing at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington January 10. "It is an honor and a privilege for us to have the opportunity to renew our work with Nepal."
The first Nepal Peace Corps program opened in 1962, one year after the Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy.
The January 10 signing ceremony was also attended by Nepali Ambassador to the United States Shankar Prasad Sharma, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake and returned Peace Corps volunteers from Nepal.
"USAID congratulates the Peace Corps on its return to Nepal and is excited to partner with the Peace Corps and the government of Nepal in supporting our shared objectives of improving food security and access to health care for the Nepalese people," Biswal said.
The agreement, which comes after both Peace Corps and USAID celebrated their 50th anniversaries in 2011, is fitting, as both agencies "have a long and significant history" of partnering in Nepal, Biswal said.
The new volunteers arriving in Nepal later this year will be trained to work with rural communities to build local capacities in the areas of agriculture, health and nutrition, according to the Peace Corps.
More than 4,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal, working on projects in education, environment and natural resource conservation, health, and community and youth development. Since the Peace Corps began in 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries.
The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship, and to support understanding between Americans and people of other countries.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)