Monday, February 19, 2018

Discussions about desertification continue

From 19 to 23 February, the annual meeting of the Administrative Council (CdA) of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, which was entrusted by Saint John Paul since its inception in 1984 to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, now part of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, is taking place in Dakar (Senegal).

The Under-secretary of the Dicastery, Monsignor Segundo Tejado Muñoz is present and will participate in the meetings of the CdA.  During the meeting, the participants will examine the projects which have been proposed for financing; those which were approved in 2017 numbered 127, including a total investment of approximately 2.3 million dollars; prior to 2017, projects financed by the CdA numbered 3,200 and involved a total investment of 38 million dollars.

The members of the CdA are:
  • His Excellency, Lucas Kalfa Sanou, Bishop of Banfora (Burkina Faso), President;
  • His Excellency, Paul Abel Mamba, Bishop of Ziguinchor (Senegal), Vice-president;
  • His Excellency, Martin Albert Happe, M.Afr., Bishop of Nouakchott (Mauritania), Treasurer;
  • His Excellency, Ambroise Ouédraogo, Bishop of Maradi (Niger);
  • His Excellency, Furtado Arlingo Gomes, Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Cabo Verde);
  • His Excellency, Goetbe Edmond Djitangar, Archbishop of N'Djaména (Ciad);
  • His Excellency, Gabriel Mendy, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Banjul (Gambia);
  • his Excellency, José Câmnate na Bissign, Bishop of Bissau (Guinea Bissau); and
  • His Excellency, Augustin Traoré, Bishop of Ségou (Mali).
With 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 against desertification aimed at the management and development of agricultural units, for the implementation of irrigation systems, for the improvement of potable water and renewable energy for the benefit of communities in member countries (Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ciad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal).  It also deals with training specialized technical personnel, who can then be of service within their own countries.  Over the years, the Foundation has also been able to foster inter-religious dialogue: in fact, the majority of beneficiaries are Muslims.

According to the Human Development Index, which measures indices of human development for each country, among the bottom 20, 19 are countries in Africa and, of these, 7 are found in the Sahel zone.  The situation is made even more troubling by food shortages, the depletion of natural resources - especially water - and violence carried out against local populations who see and experience the presence of extremist groups.

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