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Visit an African village and ask the people what they need more than anything else. Based on Africare's nearly four decades working with thousands of rural African communities, they will tell you: Water! "Our well has gone dry," they may say. That is, if they have a well. The nearest water may be a muddy stream, an hour's trek for the women and children who fetch and carry Africa 's water. It may be an unprotected spring, where cattle and goats drink and defecate, where women do the laundry, children bathe and buckets are filled with muddy water for the trudge home.

More than a billion people worldwide lack sanitary drinking water. More than 300 million live in sub-Saharan Africa . Improving access to clean water is a simple and cost-effective means to reduce water-borne sickness. Diarrhoeal diseases are an underlying cause of Africa 's high infant and child mortality. They undermine adults' productivity because of time lost to illness or spent getting water. Where there is a lack of clean water for domestic use, there is poverty. Unless the challenge of water is met, the challenge of poverty will not be. That's where Africare comes in.

Africare focuses on integrated water and sanitation programs. Digging a well or protecting a spring is straightforward. There is a collateral need, however, to conduct health education within the community and promote use of latrines. Without proper sanitation, increased water supplies can actually lead to more disease.

Water is life, the people will tell you. It is central to their community's continued existence. That is why they are prepared to work hard to improve and safeguard their water sources, if they have the material and technical assistance needed. Africare has provided that assistance in thousands of African villages since 1971. But still, there are thousands more to assist.

How you can help through the American Express Members Project? 

Africare's initiative to bring clean water to Africa is one of the TOP 50 project ideas being promoted through the American Express Members Project. Starting July 3, 2007, American Express® Cardmembers are being asked to log onto the web and vote for their favorite project idea&emdash;the winning project will be funded up to $5 million.

Visit the link below:


If you're an American Express Card Member, log onto the site using your on-line banking sign-in ID and password.

Scan the Top 50 projects for Africare's project idea: "Need for Wells and Clean water" Project ID: 223

Vote and Spread the word!

The Watered Down Truth:  Africare tells all on World Water Day

Washington, DC.> One day a year, advocates from every corner of the globe unite to remind the world just how important clean water is for human survival.  Next to food and shelter, water is considered one of the essential elements of life.  And while every person needs it, just over 60 % of the world has access to it on a daily and consistent basis.  Leaving the consequences of water-born diseases like cholera, as well as poor sanitation on the shoulders of more than 2.9 billion people&emdash;300 million of which are concentrated in Africa.   More

New Hollywood film digs up international debate; Africare stands ready to connect the past to present and future efforts in Sierra Leone .   

Africare has backed recently inspired discussions to increase aid and awareness in Africa 's Sierra Leone through several local and national partnerships.  On Thursday December 14, 2006 from 5:30 &endash; 8:30pm , the Africare House in Washington   DC will open its doors to one of DC Metro Area's premier non-profit organizations, the Sierra Leone Fund, and host a community discussion about Sierra Leone 's newfound international buzz sparked by Friday's release of the film "Blood Diamond."  Confirmed attendees include representatives from actor Isaiah Washington's Gondobay Manga Foundation, ABC Channel 7's Sam Ford, and award-winning Sierra Leonean filmographer, Sorious Samura.  The event aspires to unite a community in its efforts to increase aid and awareness to Sierra Leone . 

"It speaks to Africare's mission in general," comments Travis Adkins, Program Manager for East and West Anglophone Africa.  "We help in Sierra Leone … but also there's a way for us to give assistance here; Even if it's something as small as lending our space in this case.  It helps in terms of grass roots assistance, in terms of capacity building, in terms of people helping people."

That same helping hand first entered Sierra Leone in 1984 when Africare was requested by the Ministry of health to replicate a similar program they had developed in Gambia .  Their goal, in partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank, was to improve management distribution of essential drugs to rural areas.  Alan Alemian was a member of that team, and a key player in the emergency relief programs developed to aid refugees when civil war erupted in 1991.

"We should be very, very proud of what we did in Sierra Leone ," comments Alemian.  "We saved lives and we kept people productive."

The emergency camps, in addition to food distribution and medical assistance, developed agricultural relief programs that provided land for displaced refugees to produce their own subsistence crops and reduce dependence on food aid.  These programs continued throughout the duration of the war before transitioning into post-conflict programs like CORAD.

"CORAD stands for Consortium for Rehabilitation and Development," notes Adkins.  "It focuses on health and revitalization of livelihoods… because a lot of people lost their livelihoods during the war."

Sierra Leone is one of twenty-five countries in Africa currently benefiting from self-help programs like CORAD set up by Africare staff.  Jeneba Ghatt, co-founder of The Sierra Leone Fund, says her non-profit aims to develop similar programs in Sierra Leone that specialize in health, education, sanitation and nutrition.

"I co-founded the Sierra Leone Fund with another expatriate who wanted to finally do our part to help out our native country rather than passively wait for others to do it for us," said Ghatt.

Ghatt will use Thursday's debut of the Sierra Leone Fund as an opportunity to reach out to international awareness, philanthropic and giving communities to garner support for aiding change in Sierra Leone . The Africare House proudly hosts the event, harboring a 36-year legacy of community and global partnerships.   An invitation is extended to members of media organizations to meet emerging and past leaders of development work in Sierra Leone . The reception begins at 5:30pm at the Africare House in Washington   DC on Thursday, December 14th.

Africare is leading a non-profit organization based in Washington   D.C. , currently providing over 150 development programs to 25 nations in Africa .  The organization has delivered over $480 million in assistance to the continent since it was founded in 1970.


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