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Contestants from Kenya sweep Africa Rural Connect prizes   
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Contestants from Kenya won the first and second prizes when Africa Rural Connect (ARC) (www.AfricaRuralConnect.org), a new online community hosted by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), announced the third-round winners of its online contest on Friday.

The contest is to select the best ideas submitted on how to help solve rural Africa's greatest challenges in agricultural development. The third prize went to a resident of the United States.

The first prize winner will take $3,000 project seed money and will spend it on

"Electronic Agriculture in Kenya's Arid and Semi-Arid lands Schools."

The second prize winner will have $2,000 project seed money and will spend it on "Dehydration of Vegetable Products while the third prize winner takes $1,000 project seed money on "Irrigation is key for Africa to take on Drought."

The top two winners were a result of a surge in postings from Kenya. With 2,564 visits during the third round, Kenya continues to draw the most traffic to the site outside of the United States.

"It's inspiring to see how many new ideas we received from Kenya in such a short period of time," says Molly Mattessich, manager of Africa Rural Connect and a former Mali Peace Corps volunteer. "We think there is a lot of untapped potential in other African countries, and we hope to see those ideas in the next round."

Mr Macheru Karuku, the Executive Director of Seanet International, a non-governmental organization and the first prize winner, said billions of dollars had been poured into development projects in Africa over the decades but they had not translated into reducing poverty in any meaningful way.

"The ARC approach is very different because not only does it solicit wide support from community members and stakeholders, but it also incorporates ideas and improvements from all over the world, which creates transparency and accountability," he said.

Powered by a unique software platform called Wegora, the site continues to serve as a valuable resource for discussing issues, identifying problems, and building viable solutions to some of Sub-Saharan Africa's most entrenched problems.

The ARC online contest supports the growth of these discussions and serves as a platform where people propose plans of action, spurring other ideas. Through November, cash prizes to implement ideas are awarded monthly, with the top three ideas receiving $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. One grand prize of $20,000 will be awarded before the end of the year.

"The next month is the last chance for people to submit new ideas to help rural Africa before the final round in this contest," said Mattessich. "We hope to get even more suggestions from people around the world before we choose the overall winner."

The NPCA is a non-profit organization connecting, informing and engaging returned Peace Corps volunteers, former Peace Corps staff and friends of Peace Corps committed to fostering peace through service, education and advocacy.

Website: www.AfricaRuralConnect.org

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