An Interfaith Summit on Africa convenes today, Tuesday, in Washington, DC.  It is sponsored by the international humanitarian agency, Church World Service. Fifty religious leaders from twenty-one African nations will be present. Secretary General Bishop Mvume Dandala of the All African Conference of Churches told VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty that the four-day summit will highlight pressing issues affecting Africa.

?We are here to share about the work of the religious communities in the continent of Africa. We find that most of the work related to the economic and social development of our people and our nations is actually carried a lot by the faith-based communities. We are also intending that together we will be able to share with some Congress people so that the work that we do and our views could make a contribution toward policy formulation in this country in relation to development in Africa.?

Bishop Dandala says the policies of the United States play an integral part in fighting poverty in Africa.  ?If for instance, countries like the United States are going to be assisting the peoples of Africa, they need to sit down and actually ask questions like, does the money that we give to Africa enhance the capacity of the people on the ground

But Bishop Dandala says the Africa interfaith delegation is not in Washington to argue that development assistance to Africa should be channeled through faith-based organizations.            ?I am actually making the case for strong participation with the faith-based communities. I am not proposing that as an alternative to helping the governments of Africa. What we have come here to do is to actually say that the faith-based communities are a very important integral part of the systems in the continent that can be used in this process. But they are not a replacement of what the governments should be doing.?

Bishop Dandala says the faith-based communities in Africa support the US Millennium Challenge Account and its AIDS program.  He says in return, such programs must take into consideration the faith-based organizations on the continent.

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