Africare: Late 1970s

“It is refreshing and encouraging to have observed Africare over the past seven years — patiently taking care to determine what Africans felt needed doing and what they were prepared to do themselves with a minimum of assistance. Africare has encouraged that all-important process of consensus. Africare has faith in us, and we cannot help but have faith ourselves in such an organization.”

— André Coulbary
Ambassador of Senegal
to the U.S.
1978

During the latter half of the 1970s, development work abounded. (Photo: Yosef Hada)

During the latter half of the 1970s, development work abounded. (Photo: Yosef Hada)

Africare co-founder Joseph C. Kennedy, Ph.D., inspects well construction in Niger.

Africare co-founder Joseph C. Kennedy, Ph.D., inspects well construction in Niger.

“The body count is down in the Sahel of West Africa. The media no longer publishes searing accounts of death and deprivation. Shall we forget the Sahel now that the worst is seemingly over? This, it seems to me, is the greatest challenge for Africare: to remember that our purpose is only incidentally to help people live through drought and famine [and] that our foremost goal is to help those same people build for themselves a new life and economic order that will safeguard them during the next period of nature’s disfavor.”

Thus did Africare Executive Director C. Payne Lucas, in the fall of 1975, articulate a turning point — from emphasis on drought relief in the Sahel to emphasis on long-term rural development Africa-wide.

During the latter half of the 1970s, development work abounded. There were:

  • fishing, livestock and forestry projects;
  • vegetable, fruit and rice cultivation;
  • village wells and complex irrigation systems;
  • rural clinics, “packaged hospital units” (each able to equip a 200-bed hospital) and village health-worker training.

In Niger and Upper Volta, Africare’s pioneering “integrated rural development” projects began.

And crisis response continued. In the immediate wake of the overthrow of Idi Amin, Africare sent medical aid to Uganda. Drought victims, refugees and displaced persons in Ethiopia and Somalia received emergency aid from Africare. Assistance also began, in 1978, to refugees in Zambia.

“We are most grateful to you and your organization,” stated Zambian President Kenneth D. Kaunda in 1979, upon accepting the honorary chairmanship of Africare. “The courage to stand firmly against such great odds stems from the fact that we know we have the support of people of all races, who, like you, toil night and day to help us here.”

More Africare history

Early 1970s: “The task undertaken by Africare is immense”
Late 1970s: “Courage to stand firmly against great odds”
Early 1980s: “We need Africare to spread all over Africa”
Late 1980s: “A crucial threshold”
Early 1990s: “I profoundly believe in Africa”
Late 1990s: “The cusp of a new millennium”
Since 2000: “There are no Africare programs, only African programs” 

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