Africa Rural Connect Essay Contest Winners Named

WASHINGTON, D.C.? The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) together with World Policy Journal, announced the winners of the Africa Rural Connect (ARC) Essay Contest.

First place went to J.T. Simms, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Niger from 2007-2009. Second place went to Michael Norton, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi from 2002 to 2004, who is a staff associate at the International Research Institute of Climate and Society Earth Institute at Columbia University. The contest was part of NPCA’s ARC program, which brings people together from around the world to discuss innovative ideas to help solve rural Africa’s greatest challenges.


“The authors demonstrated a keen understanding of the problems facing rural Africa while also showing a way forward,” said David Andelman, editor of World Policy Journal. “The essays were crisply written and will stand nicely next to the professional writers who regularly appear in our publication.”

The essays, “Ingenuity, Peanut Butter, and a Little Green Leaf: Combining Local Ingredients to Assuage a Global Problem,” by Simms and “Brick by Stone Brick: Microinsurance in Africa by Norton,” best describe unique initiatives that African governments, private organizations, or others in the international community can implement to improve food security in the rural regions of Africa.

A distinguished panel of academics and media professionals chose the winning essays, including City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee, Millennium Institute President Hans Herren, former Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Emmy Simmons, and Senior Fellow for global agriculture and food policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs,Roger Thurow.

The two essays are published in the Fall 2010 issue of the World Policy Journal, one of the leading foreign policy publications in the United States. They are also posted online at and Four additional essays that were selected as runners-up in the contest will also be posted on the World Policy Journal website.

“Once again, through the Africa Rural Connect platform, we have seen that there are a lot of answers to some of the most pressing problems in rural Africa,” said Molly Mattessich, manager of online initiatives for the National Peace Corps Association. “By tapping the power of the community to come up with new ideas today, we may find the solutions that policymakers will be implementing tomorrow.”

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