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Trip to Africa

Today, President Clinton visits Senegal, the last country in his tripthrough Africa. Major events of his day include:

Bilateral Meeting and Reception with President Diouf
ACRI Training Exercises Visit
Dal Diam Village Visit

Bilateral Meeting and Reception with President Diouf

President Clinton meets with Senegalese President Diouf at the PresidentialPalace. The Presidential Palace was completed in 1907 and served as theresidence of the governors of French West Africa until April 1960, justafter Senegal's independence. Since that time, the Palace has servedsuccessively as the official residence and offices of Presidents LeopoldSedar Senghor and Abdou Diouf.

The outside of the Palace is a tourist site for visitors to Dakar, muchlike the White House; however, public tours of the inside of the Palace arenot conducted. Unlike in many other African countries, visitors areencouraged to photograph the Palace and the strikingly attired presidentialguards. The interior retains its original French flair, but is decoratedwith Senegalese art, most notably tapestries.

ACRI Training Exercises Visit

President Clinton visits the Thies [CHESS] Military Base to observe U.S.Army Special Forces troops conducting peacekeeping and humanitarian relieftraining exercises with select Senegalese troops as part of the AfricanCrisis Response Initiative (ACRI). He will also review a group ofSenegalese troops, including "gendarmes," who served as peacekeepers inHaiti and Bosnia. After observing the exercises, the President will deliverbrief remarks to the assembled troops honoring their efforts andrecognizing Senegal's commitment to peacekeeping worldwide.

The Thies Military base, formerly a French military facility, now serves asthe primary training ground for the Senegalese military. It housesSenegal's military academy and infantry school, and is home to a commandoand medical unit.

Senegal was one of the first African nations to embrace ACRI. Along withUganda, Senegal also hosted the first ACRI training, in August andSeptember of 1997. Senegal has participated with professional distinctionin peacekeeping operations since the Katanga secession from the Congo in1963. Its experience now includes Bosnia, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, theSinai and Lebanon. It was the first sub-Saharan African country to offertroops to Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

Dal Diam Village Visit

President Clinton visits the village of Dal Diam [doll-DJAAM] is 20kilometers north of Thies and 50 kilometers east of Dakar on the road toSt. Louis, Senegal's second largest city. Dal Diam, which has struggled forsurvival for two decades, is a typical small village in rural Senegal, witha population of approximately 250. The already difficult life of thevillagers -- mostly subsistence farmers -- has become even more challengingdue to severe drought, soil erosion, lack of credit and inadequate healthand educational services. In the past, limited opportunities forcedvillage men and youth to cities in search of work. The people of Dal Diamare special, however, because they have reversed this trend.

In 1993, a group of village women joined in a USAID-funded integrated ruraldevelopment project run by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).NCNW is a Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit organization, founded in 1935by Mary McCloud Bethune and currently headed by Dr. Dorothy Height. Itsmission is to help women improve personal and family quality of life. From1993-96, the NCNW provided approximately $230,000 in training, equipmentand material with the help of Tostan, a Senegal-based non-governmentalorganization and the Rodale Institute, an environmental non-governmentalorganization based in Pennsylvania.

With this assistance, the villagers of Dal Diam increased their access todrinking water with a new well; established a health center; constructedlatrines; launched gardening and livestock-raising enterprises; providedliteracy training for adults and children; set up a cooperative villagestore; introduced a micro-enterprise savings and credit system; andinitiated a variety of efforts to reverse environmental degradation. Withnew educational and economic opportunities in the village, the exodus fromDal Diam has been reversed.

Dal Diam represents grassroots civil society at its best. Building on theskills and knowledge gained through NCNW's program, village women haveexpanded into new areas, such as establishing their own savings and creditprogram.

All of the unique aspects that make Dal Diam an example of sustainabledevelopment will be highlighted in the Senegalese tradition of a "skit"which will demonstrate aspects of rural governance, decentralization andgrassroots democracy.

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