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Who's Who?
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Sister Cities
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Africa is plagued not so much by the shortage of water as by its inaccessibility. Of all the renewable water available in Africa, only 4 percent is actually used each year —because most African communities lack the money for building wells, pumps, canals, reservoirs, irrigation systems, and sanitation facilities essential to utilizing the potential water supply. Where there are rivers, farmers may have difficulty moving water to their fields. In dry, desertified regions, vast supplies of water “flow” underground, exploitable only by deep wells. In sub-Saharan Africa sanitation coverage is a mere 36 percent.In fact the World Health Organization cites ten Sub-Saharan African countries among the world’s worst twelve with regard to the availability of decent sanitation.

Diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation remain Africa’s most serious public health threat, causing 80 percent of the sicknesses and killing 5,000 children every day. Lack of clean drinking water and proper toilet facilities undermine the sustainability of other critical needs, including education, economic development, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.

At its inception forty years ago, Africare responded to the drought-stricken communities throughout the then, six-country Inter-State Committee for the Fight against the Drought in the Sahel (CILSS). Construction of hand-dug wells, rehabilitation of abandoned bore holes, construction of earthen dams and the design and implementation of large-scale river-based irrigation schemes were major elements of Africare’s earliest response to Africa’s expressed needs for water in Niger, Mali, Chad, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Senegal and Mauritania.

Today, in more than twenty countries, water continues to be an entry point in response to village and government demand and an integral component of Africare’s development and relief activities in agriculture, health, education, natural resources management and livelihoods.

Africare emphasizes the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene in most of our projects. We recognize that a well or spring with clean water, when combined with hygiene education and proper excreta disposal, reduces diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. Additionally, clean water sources near homes reduce the time spent and the burden of women and girls fetching water, often from more than five miles away by foot. Separate and clean toilets for boy and girl students at schools significantly improve school attendance rates of girls. Over our history, we have worked in thousands of African communities to ensure reliable supplies of water and sanitation facilities through the construction of wells, springs, dams, boreholes, rainwater catchments, latrines and hand washing facilities.

Africare emphasizes appropriate technology and community participation, training and empowerment to ensure the sustainability of water interventions as well as to seek gender equity. We organize village water user committees, which oversee water project implementation and ultimately water point maintenance and repair. Africare also helps communities understand the connection between polluted water and disease and the measures that people must take to stay healthy.

NIGER  is in many respects the birthplace of Africare. In early 1970's, Africans and Americans organized under the Africare name to provide humanitarian relief during the Sahelian drought of the early 1970s. Since then 
Africare has grown to become a leader in aid to Africa- pioneering various types of self-help development programs and noted for its close collegial partnerships with the people and leaders of Africa.


Watch for the story of farming in Mali. in our West Africa Edition (photo left)

Clean Water -- Life's Lifeline



Farmers in Mali celebrate biodiversity with a seed fair This past November, USC's country office in Mali &endash; USC Afrique de l'Ouest &endash; organized a seed caravan and seed fair. About 130 farmers from 68 villages around Mopti and Douentza in central Mali joined a five-day caravan to travel about 200km to a seed fair in the village of Douentza. They exhibited a range of cultivated and uncultivated plant samples at the fair. The fair gave Malian farmers and USC a chance to celebrate farmers' ingenuity and the crop diversity fundamental to a stable food supply system.



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