African Initiative Peace Plan set by CWS

Nov 07, 2002 03:00 AM EST

The Church World Service moves forward in the plans for the African Initiative. The convention hopes to call the attention of the unspoken struggles by the majority of Africans.

The CWS Africa Initiative will extend over at least five years and aims to target new resources for maximum impact on a few significant issues. It will work with African national councils of churches and other partners to build, improve and expand their humanitarian services, institutions and leadership. The Africa Initiative will target three particularly vulnerable populations: children; people living with HIV/AIDS; and uprooted peoples, including refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons. It will focus on three root causes of hunger and poverty affecting these vulnerable groups: violence, conflict, peace and reconciliation; water, health and food security; globalisation and poverty reduction. There will be specific and intentional attention given to the needs and rights of African women and girls, who long have faced discrimination and violence.

One component of the Africa Initiative that is generating particular interest is the concept of schools as 'Safe Zones.' Executive Director John L. McCullough said, "We would seek to promote schools as safe zones where children could be secure from violence, receive one hot meal a day, and pursue education."

The Africa Initiative in general, and the 'Safe Zones' component in particular, will also seek to engage corporations, especially those that have been taking resources from the continent. "We will encourage them to reinvest in communities there," John McCullough said. "The first priority for reinvestment should be the schools."

The Africa Initiative also sets out to "strengthen the voice of our partners in the international arena," said Kirsten Laursen, an Episcopalian who serves as CWS Deputy Director for Programs. "CWS has the unique opportunity to facilitate representation of our partners' concerns," on, for example, the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a major 21st century initiative for engaging the international community in partnership with Africa for Africa's development.

The CWS Board unanimously supported the formal launch of the Africa Headlines as well as holding a series of follow meetings for the African Initiative.

By Pauline J.