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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.  

Africare joins the ranks of several leading non-profits and NGOs around the world investing their resources into combating Africa's limited access to clean water-- and yet, this remains a little known fact.

"The United Nations declares that access to clean water is not only a basic need, it's a fundamental right for all human beings," reminds Africare President Julius E. Coles.  "Our work at Africare aims to restore this right&emdash;this chance to live a healthy and productive life&emdash;both directly and indirectly through our  development programs on the continent."  

Water and sanitation ranked among the top priorities of Africare's programs implemented during the organization's earliest work in response to the great Sahelian drought of the early 1970s.  Those efforts continued into the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, where

Africare was one of the leading water and sanitation NGO's in Southern Africa-- reaching out through programs in food security, child survival and health.  At the turn of the new millennium, Africare's presence remained strong, but less knowingly so.  Community-based water and sanitation activities imbedded within agricultural and health based programs failed to communicate Africare's leading work in water development.    

"Managing a project like a refugee camp, for instance, involves many different components," comments Francophone West/Central Program Manager, Malaika Jeter.  "In addition to distributing food or building temporary housing units, there are infrastructures that need development and basic services and training that must be delivered.  Water is an essential part of this management.  At Gaga Camp in Eastern Chad [aiding Sudanese refugees from conflict in Darfur], Africare is charged with the management of day-to-day water/sanitation activities&emdash; not only the construction of wells, but also water treatment, sanitation and hygiene training, and maintenance duties.  That's simply not the first thought that enters the minds of many individuals who learn we are operating a refugee camp."

Between 2005-2006, Africare implemented nearly 50 projects dedicated to the development and maintenance of water distribution systems and sanitation-- of which only 10 were solely dedicated to improving water-access.  The rest operated as components of larger projects designed to address needs in health, agriculture, and emergency assistance.

"All these efforts are interdependent," notes Africare President Julius E. Coles.  "In order to implement a successful garden, you need access to water.  In order to diminish the number of orphans dying from diarrheal diseases, you need clean water."

Africare development programs will continue to incorporate this precious element into its projects in the coming years.  Several projects funded by the African Well Fund broke ground in February 2007.  The Ntungamo Well Construction Project in Uganda will serve 6,000 community members in the Ntungamo District, and Sierra Leone's Nyema Water Gravity Rehabilitation project and will serve just half that amount in the Kailahun District.   Both projects will extend into 2008.

To learn more about Africare's clean water initiatives and how you can help, contact:

Nicole Eley, Media Relations Manager  neley@africare.org

A Leader in development and relief aid to Africa

202.328.5362 (o)

202.640.9334 (c)



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.




Telephone: 202.328.5362      Fax: 202.387.1034      E-mail: neley@africare.org