Africa Action is an organization based in Washington D.C. that "works for political, economic and social justice in Africa. Through the provision of accessible information and analysis combined with the mobilization of public pressure [Africa Action] work[s] to change the policies and policy-making processes of U.S. and multinational institutions toward Africa." Africa Action, established in 2001, is the latest manifestation of organizations seeking to influence U.S. policy toward Africa, incorporating three former organizations, American Committee on Africa, Africa Policy Information Center, and the Africa Fund.
When considering Web sites presenting a variety of information concerning Africa, Africa Action is a strong resource. While much of its content may appeal predominantly to activists, policymakers, and scholars of African politics, material and links to general information about Africa are included as well. This information is also interdisciplinary, covering culture, economics, history, media, politics, public health, and religion among other topics. Librarians, whether working in general reference or in African Studies libraries, will view Africa Action as useful, and find it worth suggesting to their patrons.
The Africa Action homepage has links to main content in eight boxes, vertically positioned with four per side. The middle of the homepage has links to recent articles and information. Near the bottom are two boxes with Africa Action's contact information, and another listing the five most recent documents posted by Africa Action.
The strengths of the Africa Action site are its content, information architecture, archives and search functions. The homepage has both a search box and two links to the site map. Perhaps the most important function of Africa Action is that they repost governmental and NGO (nongovernmental organization) policy documents emanating from or about Africa. Documents are dated, and archived by country and subject.
Africa Action is currently mobilized around two related campaigns: Africa's Right to Health Campaign (dealing predominantly with the HIV/AIDS pandemic), and debt cancellation for all African countries. Each of these issues has its own page that includes original campaign resources, reposted government and NGO documents, as well as links to related Web sites. Organizations that support these and other campaigns are listed on the "Advocacy Network" page. This includes contact action alerts, updates, event notices, and contact information of over 200 organizations participating in the Advocacy Network for Africa.
Africa Action also includes other useful sections such as "Africa Policy E-Journal" and "Africa on the Internet." "Africa Policy E-Journal" lists government and NGO policy documents by date and topics with archival coverage to 1995. The "Africa on the Internet" page includes wonderful country specific resources with links to documents, data, news, and other information. Country links are listed in alphabetical order, and also are accessible by clicking on a map of Africa, broken into regions, near the bottom of the page.
The only negative aspect about the site is that it is not particularly aesthetically pleasing, especially the yellowish-orange background color seen on most pages. Some pages also use a periwinkle blue for the background, making it somewhat difficult on the eyes to read the black text and blue links. African Action uses graphics sparingly so that individuals accessing the site from locations in Africa (where Internet access is costly) will have quicker loading times. Clearly, the strength of this Web site is that it presents a large quantity of information concerning Africa in a clear, orderly, efficient, and timely manner.
Jason M. Schultz