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08.02.2010 Press Release

National Peace Corps Association Seeks Innovative Ideas for Africa on World Wetlands Day

By Alison Beckwith
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Organization fosters discussion on sustainable development on Africa Rural Connect Web site

Washington, D.C. – The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is commemorating World Wetlands Day on Tuesday, February 2, by hosting an online discussion and seeking innovative ideas on the role Africa's wetlands play in sustainable development and agriculture on the continent. The discussion will be held on the Africa Rural Connect(ARC) Web site (www.AfricaRuralConnect.org), NPCA's online initiative which encourages the remixing of ideas to spur collaboration and develop ways to help solve rural Africa's greatest challenges.

“People's stereotype of Africa is that it's a dry and dusty continent,” said Molly Mattessich, general manager of online initiatives for the National Peace Corps Association who heads the Africa Rural Connect initiative. “But actually there are many countries that are green and lush and this type of terrain plays a major role in supporting entire ecosystems which include agriculture and critical food sources for rural populations.”

NPCA, a non-profit organization connecting, informing and engaging returned Peace Corps volunteers and other friends of the Peace Corps, hopes to direct attention to the important role both wetlands and the Ramsar Convention play in helping rural Africa--and how harsh agricultural practices threaten Africa's wetlands and critical food sources. According to The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar Convention, Africa is home to nearly 200 wetlands that have been designated of international importance.

Now in its second year, ARC is an online program of NPCA that serves to stir new ideas and help solve important issues in rural Africa including those on water resource management, sustainable agriculture and natural resource preservation. The site is powered by an innovative software program called Wegora, which allows users to read and remix each other's ideas at a press of a button.

“We think that former Peace Corps volunteers, people who've worked and studied in Africa, and anyone who's thought hard about the issues should have a place to contribute their ideas,” adds Mattessich who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali. “And today we want to begin a discussion around the importance of wetlands and other natural preserves and how they play a role in sustainable agricultural practices throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”

To participate in the World Wetlands Day online discussion for Africa, visit: http://arc.peacecorpsconnect.org/view/1298

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