Africare is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. which provides development aid for Africa. It was founded by Dr. Joseph Kennedy and C. Payne Lucas in 1970, former Peace Corps members who had worked in eastern Niger, and a Nigerien diplomat. Africare is the largest (more than $54 million in annual revenue) and oldest African-American founded international NGO focused exclusively on the continent of Africa. Since 1970, Africare has been improving lives and building a better future by partnering with local communities, focusing on agriculture and food security, healthcare, maternal and child health, HIV&AIDS, access to potable water, and women's empowerment. In more than 40 years of building partnerships with local communities, NGOs, governments and the private sector, Africare has invested over $1 billion in more than 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The organization employs over 1,100 people, largely indigenous to the countries or to the areas where it works. More than 98% of the staff is of African descent and only about 40 staff members work at the organization's headquarters in the Washington, D.C.
Africare's core expertise of community engagement, capacity building, and locally-driven behavior change is fueled by the fact that their staff is mainly local hire. Africare seeks to empower project participants with the knowledge and tools to achieve a sustainable path to prosperity. Africare's programs address needs mostly in the areas of food security and agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, and emergency and humanitarian aid. Africare also supports water resource development, environmental management, basic education, microenterprise development, governance initiatives, and women's empowerment.
Africare received a perfect four star rating on Charity Navigator, Africare meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliance's Standards for Charity Accountability and in 2011 was rated by the Chicago Tribune as a top charity in international development.
According to a CBS news story which focused on the Kony video, Africare received a score of 70 from Charity Navigator, the article compared this number to the score of 45 which was received by Invisible Children (creators of the "Stop Kony" viral video).
Mission and vision
Africare's mission statement reads, "Africare works to improve the quality of life of the people in Africa."
Africare's website states that Africare's vision is, "Africare is a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to addressing African development and policy issues by working in partnership with African people to build sustainable, healthy and productive communities."
Countries of operation
Africare has operated in more than 16 African countries, and is currently in 18 of them. Africare currently has active programs in the following countries:
In 1970, when Africare was founded, West Africa was in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in its history. Among those providing help—medical aid to the Maine-Soroa town Hospital in Diffa, Niger -- were 17 American volunteers, led by William O. Kirker, M.D., and Barbara Jean A. Kirker, who named their group "Africare". The Kirkers themselves had been working in Africa, to improve African health care, since 1966, but eventually they needed more support. Diori Hamani, then president of the Republic of Niger, appealed to the United States on the effort's behalf, asking : "Why don't black Americans, whose ancestors came from the continent, respond to the needs in Africa?"
C. Payne Lucas, then the director of the Peace Corps Office of Returned Volunteers in Washington, D.C. had served previously in Niger and knew the president from that time. He and others decided to form an organization to answer Hamani's appeal.
In 1970 Africare was incorporated in Hawaii, with Kirker as its founder and first president. In 1971 Africare was permanently re-incorporated in Washington, D.C.; Lucas became the executive director (later, that title changed to "president"), and Kirker joined the Board. In addition to Kirker and Lucas, other incorporators were Oumarou G. Youssoufou, a Nigerian diplomat, and Joseph C. Kennedy, Ph.D., then in the Peace Corps. It began with a $39,550 budget, a U.S. headquarters in the basement of Lucas's home and one project in Niger.
Africare first concentrated on helping to alleviate the effects of severe drought in West Africa. By the mid-1970s, Africare had shifted its emphasis to development programs in the areas of food, water, the environment and health—expanding in the late 1980s to include microenterprise development, governance, basic education and, as it became necessary, HIV/AIDS response, as well as emergency humanitarian aid.
In mid-June 2002, C. Payne Lucas retired after 31 years as president and Africare hired its third president, Julius E. Coles, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the first director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University and, most recently, director of the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs at Morehouse College.
Dr. Darius Mans assumed the position of President of Africare on January 4, 2010. Prior to joining Africare, Dr. Mans served as Acting Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Dr. Mans has over 30 years of development experience with a major focus on African countries. Prior to being tapped as Acting Chief Executive Officer for MCC, Dr. Mans was the organization’s Vice President of Implementation where he oversaw the strategic and operational approaches of MCC’s entire compact implementation portfolio of over $6.3 billion in 18 countries. Mans also served as MCC’s Managing Director for Africa, where he drove an increase in commitments to Africa by $1.6 billion.
List of notable awards and honors
- 1975 Africare's president received honorary doctorates from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (1975), and Fisk University for Africare leadership.
- 1980 - 1990 Africare President C. Payne Lucas received National Orders of Benin (1990), Cote d'Ivoire (1984), Niger (1980), Senegal (1982) and Zambia (1986), the nations' highest awards for humanitarian service.
- 1980 The Capitol Press Club selected Africare's C. Payne Lucas as its Humanitarian of the Year for his leadership of Africare.
- 1983 C. Payne Lucas was a member of the American delegation to Geneva, led by U.S. presidential appointee Shirley Temple Black, which convened a donors' meeting to discuss the famine in Somalia.
- 1984 United States president Ronald Reagan presented C. Payne Lucas with the Presidential End Hunger Award.
- 1986 The Phelps-Stokes Fund presented Africare with the Aggrey Medal for accomplishments in establishing enduring links of friendship and cooperation between the United States and Africa.
- 1990 Africare was the first recipient of the Land Grant College Distinguished Bicentennial Award.
- 1991 C. Payne Lucas was the first African-American recipient of the American Political Science Association's Hubert H. Humphrey Public Service for Africare leadership.
- 1993 Lucas was appointed to the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation.
- 1995 Lucas led a US government mission to Rwanda and Burundi to explore ways to reduce the tension between Hutus and Tutsis.
- 1996, 1998 - 1999 The U.S. Embassy in Angola has twice recognized local Africare employees with its annual humanitarian award. The award's first recipient, in 1996, was Pedro Siloka, the provincial coordinator of Africare programs in Bie Province. Siloka survived the 18-month "Battle of Kuito" and organized emergency feeding centers that saved several hundred lives. The second Kuito employee, Diogo Castigo, was honored for his work in late 1998 and 1999, when fighting resumed.
- 2000 The Washington Capital Area chapter of the United Nations Association cited Africare's emergency relief work in Angola.
- 2001 The Greater Washington Urban League presented Africare with the Ronald H. Brown International Community Service Award. The National Conference on Black Philanthropy presented Africare an award for Outstanding Achievement in Philanthropy. The Magic Johnson Foundation, Inc., honored Africare for helping African children affected by HIV/AIDS.
- 2002 The Southern Christian Leadership Conference honored Africare for supporting national civil rights and humanitarian endeavors.
- 2003 The Amistad Achievement Award was given to Africare President Julius E. Coles by the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, for contributions to the African continent.
- 2009 Grammy winner musician and humanitarian, John Legend, recipient of the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.
- 2010 His Excellency Nelson R. Mandela, President of South Africa received 2010 Bishop John T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award.
- In November 2011, Africare honored former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with Africare’s Leadership Award at the 2011 Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C.
- In 2014, Africare was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor in Benin for its work in Malaria.
Penelope Campbell, Africare, Black American Philanthropy in Africa. Transaction Publishers, 2011.