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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel meeting in Senegal

Sahel: the biogeographic zone between the
Sahara to the North and the Sudan region to the south
From 21 to 25 February, the annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the John Paul II Foundation for Sahel will be meeting in Dakar (Senegal).  The direction of this Foundation has been entrusted - since its foundation in 1984 - to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and now continues under the competence of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Participating in this meeting will be the Secretary delegate of the Dicastery, Monsignor Giampietro Dal Toso, as an observer representing the Holy See; also expected to visit is the Apostolic Nuncio for Senegal, His Excellency, Michael Wallace Banach.  During the meeting, participants will review various projects which are still awaiting funding.  In 2016, 43 projects in 6 countries were funded with a total budget of approximately $550,000.  Projects funded in previous years, up to and including 2015 counted a total of 3,200 with a total of $37,000,000 in funds.

The members of the Board of Directors include:

  • His Excellency, Sanou Lucas Kalfa, Bishop of Banfora (Burkina Faso), President;
  • His Excellency, Mamba Paul Abel, Bishop of Ziguinchor (Senegal), Vice-president;
  • His Excellency, Happe Martin Albert, M.Afr., Bishop of Nouakchott (Mauritania), Treasurer;
  • His Excellency, Ouédrogo Ambroise, Bishop of Maradi (Niger);
  • His Excellency, Ildo Fortes, Bishop of Mindelo (Cape Verde);
  • His Excellency, Djitangar Edmond, Archbishop of N'Djamena (Chad);
  • His Excellency, Ellison Robert Patrick, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Banjul (Gambia);
  • His Excellency, Pedro Carlos Zilli, P.I.M.E., Bishop of Bafatá (Guinea Bissau); and
  • His Excellency, Taroré Augustin, Bishop of Segou (Mali).

Through the collaboration, especially, of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the German Episcopal Conference and the local Church, the Foundation carries out, in the name of the Holy Father, projects aimed at combatting desertification and promoting the management and development of agricultural cooperatives, the establishment of water pumping stations, improvements to the availability of potable water and renewable energy to the benefit of various communities in member countries (Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal).  The Foundation is also involved in training skilled technical personnel.  In the course of years past, it has also been involved in inter-religious dialogue: the majority of beneficiaries are in fact Muslims.

According to the most recent data from the Human Development Index, which measures the human development index for each country, 19 out of the 20 least developed countries are in Africa and 7 of them can be found in the region of the Sahel.  The situation is compounded, especially today, by the fact that there are frequent shortages of food, depletions of natural resources - especially water, and violence perpetrated against the people of that region by various extremist groups.
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