Research Analysis from a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer: How U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions Impact Agroforestry Sustainable Development Projects Implemented in a Rural West African Village

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


This Policy Advocacy course-linked Capstone paper emerged from my practicum as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer serving as an Agroforestry Extension Agent in Senegal from September 2012 to November 2014. The beginning parts of this paper will describe the historical context and challenges of international development initiatives. Then, I will discuss the data I collected from my agroforestry trainings and projects to explain why the Peace Corps is an important foreign operations program being implemented in developing countries. While in Senegal, I learned that the Peace Corps obtained congressionally appropriated funds included in the State, Foreign Operations Bill and funds from the Presidential initiative called Feed the Future. I wanted to understand how the policy-making process worked for funding the Peace Corps so I could understand how that could positively and/or negatively impact the work of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) on the ground.

Therefore, the next part of my paper describes how Peace Corps obtains its annual funding through the budget and appropriations process and from the Feed the Future initiative, and the implications from these two sources. The Peace Corps, with support from the National Peace Corps Association, uses policy advocacy concepts and approaches to support their international development mission and goals in order to support environmental sustainability, economic development, gender equality, education, health, and other programs in many developing countries around the world. They communicate to Congress through meetings, conferences, hearings, and correspondences. I have included a sample letter that could be adapted by other returned Peace Corps volunteers interested in supporting the budget advocacy process. The paper culminates with a section on key lessons learned from both my work in the field and research into the federal policy-making process. I hope that these findings help inform and inspire people interested in international development work.

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