More Links in News & Events

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Visit Africa

Atlanta, GA...Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter will travel on behalf of The Carter Center to Mali, Africa Oct. 14-16. They will attend a conference sponsored by Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG 2000) to consider solutions to the many challenges affecting food distribution in Africa, from rural farms to the continent's burgeoning urban areas. Entitled "The Food Chain in Sub-Saharan Africa,"Workshop 1999 will bring together cabinet-level officials and experts from African countries, agribusiness executives from Europe and the U.S., and leaders of international development agencies worldwide to identify ways to develop more effective agricultural distribution systems. During the trip, President Carter also will sign an agreementbetween The Carter Center and the Malian government to launch a program to control trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world.

"Our SG 2000 programs have demonstrated that improved technology is available in sub-Saharan Africa that can greatly increase crop yields in Africa by as much as 200 to 300 percent," President Carter said. "The global community needs to help these nations link small-scale farmers to rural and urban markets. Without adequate transport, telecommunications, and energy systems, farmers will not be able to distribute their food across their countries."

While in Mali, workshop members, including President and Mrs. Carter, will visit farmers in the field to discuss their successes and challenges. SG 2000, which is funded by the Nippon Foundation, is a joint venture between the Sasakawa Africa Association and The Carter Center's Global 2000 program. SG 2000 works in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Mali. The program's focus is the small-scale farmer, with the objective of demonstrating on farmer's fields that, given access to technology already available in Africa, small-scale farmers can dramatically increase their yields of staple food crops. As a direct result of SG 2000 projects, hundreds of thousands of farmers across Africa are now doubling and sometimes tripling their yields of corn, sorghum, and wheat. SG 2000 works mainly with ministries of agriculture, primarily national extension services, but also with national and international research organizations.

Since the SG 2000 program began in Mali in 1996, soil fertility improvement has been a major focus, using both organic and inorganic sources. The longer-term objective is to take advantage of Mali's proven potential as a cereal producer in both the southern rainfed areas and in the irrigated areas, which presently are dominated by rice. There are 12 irrigation schemes across Mali and a potential of 2.4 million acres of irrigated land. In 1997, SG 2000 introduced a nutritious corn variety, Quality Protein Maize (QPM), to 15 farmers on irrigated land. Next year 4,000 farmers will be testing QPM on almost 5,000 acres of demonstration plots, which will be replicated on two other major irrigated schemes. While inadequate rainfall is the most limiting agricultural production factor in most of the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa, good rains last year contributed to Mali producing 400,000 tons of maize – the second largest total of the nine Sahelian countries.

While President and Mrs. Carter are in Mali, The Carter Center also will launch a new health program to help control trachoma. The Carters will visit villagers afflicted with the disease in a community near Bamako. Trachoma is a chronic bacterial infection of the eyelids that slowly progresses from painful irritation of the eyes to total blindness. Inflammation of the eyelids causes scarring, which can lead to in-turned eyelashes. The eyelashes then scratch the victim's cornea, resulting in blindness.

"This is a disease that causes immense and unnecessary pain and suffering," said President Carter. "Building on our successful fight against Guinea worm disease in Mali, I believe The Carter Center can help the Malian people beat trachoma, as well."

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 146 million people require treatment for active trachoma, and 6 million people are now blind. Ninety-eight percent of cases exist in developing nations, particularly in rural, arid areas where water is scarce, such as the Sahel region of Africa.

Trachoma can be prevented through simple hygiene such as proper face and hand washing, improving water supplies and sanitation, using antibiotics, and performing surgery to correct scarring from advanced trachoma. Together, these approaches make up the SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Face and hand washing, and Environmental change). With support from the Conrad Hilton Foundation and Lions Clubs International, The Carter Center is helping to implement all of the steps of the SAFE strategy, with the exception of surgery.

In 1992, The Carter Center entered into partnership with Mali to wipe out Guinea worm disease. Since then, the number of reported cases has dropped ninety-six percent, from more than 17,000 in 1992 to fewer than 700 in 1998. President Carter and three other Carter Center staffers were knighted in Mali in 1998 for their work to eliminate Guinea worm disease. Guinea worm soon will be the second disease in history to be eradicated, after smallpox in 1977.

Editor's Note: Media are invited to a press conference with President Carter, Mr. Sasakawa, and other dignitaries on Oct. 16 at the Grand Hotel in Bamako, beginning 18:00 hours. Former Malian head of state Amadou Touré also is expected to participate. To RSVP, please contact Michelle Riley at the Grand Hotel in Bamako between Oct. 12 and Oct. 14, telephone (223) 222-492.

For more information on press opportunities, contact Michelle Riley.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top