History

In October 2000, UNESCO established a contract with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) for the feasibility phase of the Senegambian portion of the African Language Material Archive (ALMA). CAORCsubcontracted with the West African Research Association (WARA) to facilitate the necessary work. ALMA is an initiative that aims to increase dissemination of and access to materials published in indigenous African languages, thereby serving as a vehicle for education and literacy in Africa, and for African language study in the diaspora. ALMA involves the identification, collection, and digitization of published materials and their subsequent production in both CD-ROM and web formats. The website serves as a resource demonstrating the depth and breadth of publishing in African languages, and is designed to facilitate and publicize the work of African authors and publishers. Senegal and Gambia were chosen for the ALMA pilot since they share several prominent languages – Wolof, Pulaar, and Mandinka – in which publication has been plentiful. Since then, the project has been expanded and now presents materials from various West African countries as well as from eastern and southern African countries. ALMA is part of the CAORC-sponsored American Overseas Digital Library, which aims to make inaccessible material available in electronic form to all audiences.

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