Forty volunteers from the United States have arrived in South Africa to assist various communities over the next two years, the American embassy said on Thursday.

Daniel Stewart, assistant information officer at the embassy, said the US Peace Corps volunteers would undergo a nine-week training programme before being sent to Mpumalanga.

He said after their training they would then spend the next two years working with local communities in the areas of education and resource development.

"This new addition brings the total number of volunteers in South Africa to 135," said Stewart. "These new arrivals will be officially sworn into duty in March."

He said the Peace Corps had been operating in South Africa since 1997 and its function was to help South African communities in the areas of education and developing non-governmental organisations, particularly those involved in the fight against HIV and Aids.

The volunteers were currently living in the communities they served in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West provinces.

"In the area of education, volunteers serve primarily as resources to primary school teachers and principals by assisting in curriculum and lesson-plan development, classroom management, and computer use and technology.

"In the health area, volunteers help NGOs focusing on HIV/Aids to increase capacity and improve their effectiveness in serving local communities," Stewart said in a statement. - Sapa