The foundation is an initiative desired by Pope John Paul II following
his first visit to Africa, where he personally saw the great tragedy lived by
people due to long-term drought and desertification.
On 10 May 1990, His Holiness pronounced the following words which are at
the origin of the Foundation: "When
the poor and needy cannot find water ... I, the Lord, will hear them! ... I will
change the dry and barren land into a lake" (Is 41:17-18) and "the
water that I give will became for them a flowing fountain that gives eternal
like (Jn 4:14). From this very
place I launch a solemn appeal to the entire world ... I raise my voice in
supplication ... I make my voice the voice of those who have no voice, the voice
of the innocent".
Aware of the new countries, their poverty and great diversity, and
wanting to avoid a new "imposition" of the "North" upon the
"South", the Holy Father decided that this Foundation should be
entrusted, within its area of operation, to the Episcopate of the nine countries.
Such a formula was considered exemplary for the countries, which are in
need, and for those, which desire to be of assistance. On 25 May 1984, the Holy
Father repeated that, "the solution is in the hands of Africans; to
collaborate with them, also in technical areas, is not to say to supersede them.
This is evidence of a concrete realisation of the ecclesial communion,
fruit also of collegial co-responsibility.
With the Chirography of 22 February 1982, the Supreme Pontiff, desiring
to put to good use the financial help received for the counties of the Sahel,
established a capital fund, coming for the most part from the faithful of German,
as an "efficacious sign of my love for my most tried African brothers"
(5 November 1981). In recent years,
for the immediate execution of projects, also the Episcopal Conference of Italy
has contributed a substantial sum. At
the same time, to safeguard the capital of the Foundation and taking into
consideration banking complications (diverse currencies, transfers and the
sending of funds, etc.), even though the activity of the Foundation carried out
by the General Secretary in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
The Holy Father established that the care of the funds and the legal see
of the Foundation would remain with the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum",
with the duty to periodically report to the Supreme Pontiff, the founder.
For its part, the Government of Burkina Faso has granted
extra-territoriality to the General Secretariat which operates for the following
countries: Burkina Faso, Niger,
Mali, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and Chad.
At the annual meetings of the Administrative Council (regularly rotated)
an Observer of the Holy See is present, generally the Secretary of the
Pontifical Council "Cor Unum". As
availability permits, the President of the same Dicastery, who is the legal
representative of the Foundation, participates at its meetings.
These meetings are chaired by the President of the Administrative Council,
His Excellency Bishop Séraphin Rouamba, Archbishop of Koupéla (Burkina Faso) who was
preceded by His Excellency Bishop Guy Romano, Bishop emeritus of Niamey.
The late Cardinal Paul Zoungrana (Burkina Faso), to whom the Foundation
owes its originality, was Honorary President
"ad vitam". The General Secretary is Father Fulgence Coly of Mali.
The Foundation concerns itself with the formation of animators, health
workers, hydraulic engineers, civil engineers, mechanics, agriculturists, animal
husbandry, and forestry. The unique
characteristic of the Foundation is its openness to the different religions of
the inhabitants, becoming in this way another instrument of inter-religious
TOTAL NUMBER OF PROJECTS FUNDED FROM 2001 TO 2004
* Secretaria Status, Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2001, Libreria