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Preparation

 
Below are some tips to make your stay with SADIL - TOGO (and in Togo as a country) as comfortable as possible. Do read the tips carefully, since our experience shows that many interns do not optimally prepare themselves!

 

Documentation

In order to have constant access to your documents, make sure you have an online back up in e.g., your Gmail account. Here you should think about your passport, creditcards, and proof of vaccination. Also, make a list of the most important telephone numbers that you may need in an emergency or when you loose your belongings (e.g., family numbers, your bank to block your creditcard if needed, closest private clinic, embassy).

CFA francFinancials

The Togolese currency is the CFA franc, a currency that is used in many French-speaking countries throughout West-Africa (similar concept as the Eurozone). There are coins of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 250, 500 and 1000 CFA and bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 CFA.

The CFA franc is pegged to the euro and therefore has a fixed exchange rate of 655.96 CFA to 1 euro. The CFA franc floats against the US dollar, which means the exchange rate is more volatile.

You are advised to bring cash euros or dollars, since they are very easy to change at the local banks without paying any commission. Also, make sure you bring a VISA or Mastercard credit card. These are the only credit cards accepted in Togo and will allow you to withdraw money from the ATMs, which can only be found in the capital Lomé (open 24h a day) and in some of the larger cities. Traveler’s cheques can be cashed, but only at the large banks in the capital and only with your passport and the receipt.

In case you do a fundraising before your arrival (this should be agreed with SADIL - TOGO staff), make sure you start preparations for this well in advance. Keep SADIL - TOGO staff updated about the progress and seek for help if needed. Also, agree before you start your travels to Togo on how to transfer / bring the funds.

Health

Whether you travel to India, Malaysia, Peru or Togo, you will encounter some health problems, so make sure you are well prepared. Hygiene standards and the risk of disease are in general higher than in the western world. Please refer to the attached checklist for suggestions on which medication to bring. Let’s hope you will never need anything from this list, but you better be prepared.

First of all, you need your vaccinations before you leave. Go to a local travel clinic that can provide you with specific advice. A yellow fever vaccination is required for Togo (this is checked at the airport, so bring your vaccination booklet in your hand baggage!) and additional vaccinations, such as hepatitis A and B, are recommended. During the rain season mosquitoes are present, which means there is a chance to catch malaria. Make sure you take your malaria tablets in time, bring a mosquito net, and use DEET protection during the day.

Upon arrival, there are several preventive measures to take. Do not drink water from the tap, but use mineral water instead (readily available). Also, do not eat food that you suspect contains unheated water. You may want to try local food, but keep in mind that some dishes are prepared with uncooked water (e.g., foufou). Be careful what food to eat on the street. You will most probably get some form of diarrhea sometime during your stay, so make sure you have the appropriate things with you that prevent you from dehydrating (e.g. Oral Dehydration Salts (ORS)). There is a good network of pharmacies in the larger cities that are well-stocked, including Tchamba.

Language

The official language of Togo is French. Keep in mind, however, that for most people French is not their first language. Many local dialects and languages are spoken, which often makes French the second or third language. Although French is taught in every school, the highest levels of French can be found in the major cities. As an intern, it is essential to polish up your French skills, since teaching in French in villages may be a frustrating experience at first.

Safety

In general, Togo is very safe to travel, also for women. The Togolese are very friendly and always willing to help. Do, however, always keep a close eye on your belongings and keep a general level of awareness when traveling (like you would in other countries as well). Do not travel with large amounts of money on you and make sure your money and important documents are well-hidden and split. Also, when relaxing on the beach, do not leave your belongings unattended! In large cities, such as Lomé, one can travel in the dark without many problems, although it is recommended to avoid traveling alone during darkness (road safety is a big issue). In villages, this is no problem.  

Visa

A visa for Togo is required and can be bought in advance. Expect fees to be relatively high (e.g. €100 via the embassy in Brussels for a 3-month, multiple entry visa). SADIL-TOGO can provide you with an invitation letter, which you will need when you apply for a visa in advance. Some travel guides mention that visa can be bought upon arrival at the airport, but these are only for 1-week, single-entry visas and there are some problems sometimes. There is the possibility to buy a five-country visa, which allows you to visit several French-speaking countries in West-Africa. When you intend to travel from neighboring countries, visa can be bought in Lomé without any problem and relatively cheap (e.g. about €15 from Ghana).

Weather

Between June and September the rain season assures warm and humid weather. Almost every day, heavy rain showers provide some cool. Temperatures range from 23 to 30 °C, depending on whether you are near the coast or more inland. During the other months, the harmattan, or dry season, sets in. The air is dry and temperature can rise up to 35 °C.

Make sure you adjust your clothing to the season. Thin, cotton clothes are the best bet. Keep in mind to bring a sweater during the rainy season, since it can get pretty chilly at times.

Checklist

Find below a checklist with suggestions for things to bring:

Documents
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Insurance papers
  • Flight tickets
  • Vaccination booklet
  • Passport photos
  • Important phone numbersImportant addresses
    • Family/friends
    • Bank / creditcard
    • Embassy
  • Paper copies of important documents
    • Passport
    • Travel insurance
    • CV
    • Traveler's cheques
Finances
  • Creditcard (VISA only!)
  • Cash (Euros are preferred)
  • Traveler's cheques
Clothing
  • Towels
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Underwear
  • Polo shirts
  • T-shirts
  • Dressed shirt
  • Socks
  • (Rain) Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Swimming pants
  • ShoesCap
    • Hike shoes
    • Flip-flops
  • Belt
Toiletries
  • Toilet bag
  • Shaving set
  • Shampoo
  • Shower gel
  • Ear plugs
  • Sun cream
  • After sun cream
  • Anti-mosquito spray (with DEET)
  • Mosquito net
  • Anti-tick tweezers
  • Lenses + lens fluid
  • Comb
  • Hair gel
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Nail scissors
Medicine
  • Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)
  • Malaria tablets
  • Infusion needles
  • Iodine solution
  • Blister plasters
  • Paracetamol / ibuprofen
  • Bandages
  • Broad spectrum of antibiotics
Other
  • Backpack
  • Lonely Planet
  • Books
  • Needle and thread
  • Sunglasses
  • Deck of cards / dices
  • Wallet
  • Travel wallet
  • Dictionaries
  • Universal sleeping bag
  • Universal electricity plug
  • Photo camera + charger
  • Mobile phone + charger
  • Laptop + charger
  • Laptop bag
  • National specialties
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