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  • Communications Intern posted an article
    A remembrance of Paul Johnson see more

    A remembrance of Paul Johnson

    By Jake Arce


    Paul Johnson understood what it means to tend the earth. He was a farmer and a state and national leader in the movement to conserve soil and water. As chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, he led the agency to produce a national report card on the state of America’s private lands. He called it “A Geography of Hope.”

    Johnson joined the Peace Corps in 1962, serving in one of the first groups in Ghana. After returning to the United States in 1964, he completed studies in natural development, earning a master’s in forestry at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources. He married an RPCV from the Philippines, Patricia Joslyn, in 1965; they later traveled together to teach in Ghana’s School of Forestry and started a family abroad. 


    “The foundation of our farm’s productivity is our soil, a complex, living system that, although largely unrecognized as important in our national environmental policies, is in fact the basis of all life.”


    They settled in Iowa in the 1980s. Of his land there Johnson once wrote, “The foundation of our farm’s productivity is our soil, a complex, living system that, although largely unrecognized as important in our national environmental policies, is in fact the basis of all life. If we farm our soil well, its productivity will be sustained by recycling what was once living into new life.”  

    He was elected to the Iowa State House of Representatives and served three terms. He co-wrote the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act to stop contamination from surface pollutants and underground tanks. He garnered bipartisan support for progressive action on the environment and crafted Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, funding parks, trails, and wildlife enhancement. 

    He also knew what was not enough. Speaking to the Des Moines Register in 2000, he said: “A land comprised of wilderness islands at one extreme and urban islands at the other, with vast food and fiber factories in between, does not constitute a geography of hope.” He died in February at age 79.





  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    NPCA and Water Charity have embarked on a new initiative in Togo and The Gambia see more

    NPCA and Water Charity have embarked on a bold new initiative to ensure that every person in Togo and The Gambia has access to clean water by 2023.

    Clean water is essential for the health, safety, education, and wellbeing of a population, especially children. It is estimated that almost 40 percent of the people in Togo and The Gambia do not have access to an ample supply of safe water and are therefore at risk for illness and death. 

    The Water for Everyone Initiative aims to bring safe water to every person in Togo, a country with a population of roughly 7.3 million, and The Gambia, with over 2 million people. Working hand-in-hand with other implementing partners, businesses, and governmental agencies, and with the support of a growing number of donors, a border-to-border strategy is now underway to achieve that goal.

    We gained knowledge, experience, partners, and resources for the Initiative through our participation in a similar border-to-border program in Liberia as one of 16 collaborating Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs). That effort is on track and within budget to bring water to all residents of Liberia by the end of 2020.

    Water for Everyone consists of two concurrent parts, the assessment and the projects. It is estimated that we will do 1/3 to ½ of the development projects ourselves over the 5-year period, with the remainder being done under the direction of other NGOs. The initiative includes working with and obtaining certification by individual geographic districts by the oversight agencies, and a final country-wide certification of completion.



    The assessment involves an evaluation of the resources that exist and the determination of the precise actions needed to meet the objectives. This is accomplished by mobilizing teams of assessors to visit each village in the country and collect data.

    The backbone of the Initiative is the Geographic Information System (GIS), which is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present geographic data. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all these operations.

    We are using the GIS Cloud system, one of the best in the industry. It accomplishes real-time collaborative mapping, incorporating:

    • Field workers to collect data using mobile data collection, and report from the field
    • Engineers and managers to utilize the data and teams on the ground to administer the process
    • Decision makers to work with accurate information in real time
    • The public to respond to a simple two-way communication map portal

    The assessment yields a real-time database of needs and serves as the basis for doing community development projects and tracking the results. Projects are planned to fulfill the needs and are implemented by Water Charity and its partners.




    Water Charity has a history of doing water and sanitation projects in both countries spanning over ten years. In anticipation of this Initiative, we focused our resources in these two countries and began development programs in concentrated areas.

    • Since mid-2018, we have built 16 additional borehole wells in the Centrale Region of Togo in a program led by hydrologist and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Anne Jeton.
    • Under the leadership of Water Charity Country Director - Togo, Luke Tarr, we will begin the assessment of that country in March 2019, simultaneously implementing new projects.
    • In the past six months, we have implemented water projects in 25 villages of The Gambia under the direction of Emily Lundberg, Ph.D., Water Charity Country Director - The Gambia. The assessment was started in December 2018 in the Central River Region and was completed in a couple of weeks, reaching around 700 villages.

    We will completely map the water needs of both countries later this year. As it currently stands, the statistics for these countries don't accurately reflect the number of villages, people, hospitals, schools or health clinics.  

    New projects are continuing, and we are actively seeking new partners to work with us in this effort.


    What You Can Do

    We have undertaken the extraordinary mission toward ensuring access to water for everyone in two countries. However, we cannot do it alone. We need assistance from those who currently work, or previously have worked, in these two countries. We need implementing partners and contacts with businesses and governmental entities at all levels. If you would like to help, please contact us.

    We also ask for your help in spreading the word about this amazing endeavor through all of your communications channels.

    Lastly, we need your support! Consider making a donation toward the implementation of these projects.