Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 187



Weekly – Year XI, number 187 – 27th May 2011

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.  




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Nepal: UN welcomes new law on caste-based discrimination

25 May – United Nations human rights officials and their counterparts in Nepal today welcomed a new law prohibiting discrimination against people who are considered members of low castes and are known as “untouchables” or “Dalits.” The Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability that was passed yesterday had been before Parliament for the past two years, according to a joint statement issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) and the country’s National Dalit Commission.

The new law states that caste-based discrimination and untouchability practices are prohibited in both public and private spheres, and increases punishments for public officials found responsible of discrimination. It also requires perpetrators to provide compensation to victims and criminalizes incitement for caste-based discrimination.

“This is the first time ever Nepal has adopted specific legislation for addressing the serious crime of caste-based discrimination and untouchability,” noted Jyoti Sanghera, who heads OHCHR-Nepal. “It is now vital to ensure effective implementation of this law, taking appropriate measures such as raising awareness of the law amongst the general public and specific training for the police,” she added.

According to OHCHR and the National Dalit Commission, discrimination remains widespread in Nepal and has been blamed for the political, social and economic exclusion of millions of Nepalis on the basis of gender, caste, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and religion.


Grenada becomes latest country to back International Criminal Court

20 May – Grenada has become the latest country to agree to be bound by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the permanent global tribunal tasked with trying people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Caribbean country acceded to the 1998 Rome Statute yesterday, taking the total number of States Parties to the treaty to 115.

An independent court, the ICC was established in 2002 after the number of ratifications of the Rome Statute surpassed 60 earlier that year. The Security Council is authorized to refer matters to the court for investigation.


Rwanda: UN genocide tribunal sentences former army chief to 30 years’ jail

17 May – The United Nations tribunal set up after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda today convicted the country’s former army chief of committing numerous war crimes and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Augustin Bizimungu, who served as chief of staff of the Rwandan armed forces, was found guilty of six counts of genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and rape and violations of articles of the Geneva Conventions. (...)

François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, who served as commander of the Reconnaissance battalion in the Rwandan army, and Innocent Sagahutu, his second-in-command, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Costa Rica ratifies cluster bomb ban

London, 4 May – The Republic of Costa Rica ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 28 April 2011, becoming the 57th State Party. Costa Rica signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, Norway, on 3 December 2008, after playing an active role in the Oslo Process that produced the convention, including hosting a regional conference in San José in September 2007. During the Dublin negotiations, Costa Rica worked hard to achieve a comprehensive and strong treaty text, particularly on victim assistance.

Costa Rica will formally become a State Party on 1 October 2011, after the waiting period mandated by the Convention.  In the Americas, 19 countries have signed the Convention and nine Latin American countries have ratified (Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay). All Central American States are now party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions except Belize, which needs to accede, and Honduras, which has signed but not yet ratified. Brazil, the only remaining producer of cluster bombs in the region, and Argentina, a former producer and stockpiler, have yet to sign the Convention.


Germany, Austria finally open to workers from new EU countries

On 1 May Germany and Austria finally opened their borders to workers from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, but they needn't fear a flood or even a surge of migrants, MEPs and the Commission say, rather migrants can fill gaps on the job market and cover shortages of skilled workers. "We should have opened our labour market even earlier," according to German Liberal Nadja Hirsch.

The UK, Ireland and Sweden opened their job markets to new member states from the day they joined in 2004. Job markets in other countries opened up gradually with only Austria and Germany fully using the permitted seven-year transition period.



Human rights



Launch of United Nations Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership

May 20 - Using $1.5 million in start-up funds supplied by the Government of Denmark, the United Nations Indigenous Partnership (UNIPP) would work at the country level to promote dialogue and build partnerships, Raja Devashish Roy, a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said at Headquarters today.

“This (partnership) will work on the ground,” he said at a press conference to launch UNIPP.  “It will take projects and programmes and develop the capacity of Governments and indigenous peoples’ organizations.  It will build partnerships at the country level with indigenous peoples in the driver’s seat.”  The Partnership would expand on the global endeavours now carried out by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, he added.

Mr. Roy said the initiative aimed to coordinate and deepen the work of the United Nations system on the rights of indigenous peoples at the country level, by bringing together the experience and power of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).


Dutch students bring a resolution on child labour to the European Commission

19 May - Twenty-eight students and four teachers from the public school Stedelijk Gymnasium Nijmenen, Netherlands, have been invited by Education International to learn more about trade union work on child labour worldwide and present a resolution to the European Commission.

The 12-14 year old students were welcomed by EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, who highlighted that both EI and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the main international trade union organisation, combat poverty, promote human rights and work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially Education for All EFA, which is put at risk by child labour.

EI Coordinator Jefferson Pessi stated that these students were privileged to be able go to school, official UNESCO statistics indicating that 100 million 5-14 year old children are out of school far and wide, 60% of them working in agriculture. He indicated that the most child labourers, 97 million, are exploited in Asia-Pacific, 60 million in Sub-Saharan Africa and 10 million Latin America and Caribbean. Main reasons to child labour: poverty and war and conflict.


UN human rights official lauds ratification milestone for disability pact

13 May – The United Nations human rights chief today added her voice to the chorus welcoming the 100th ratification of the UN’s disability convention, but warned that too few countries currently have laws protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination.  “The adoption of this treaty brought great hope to many individuals with disabilities,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. “It is great news that 100 States have now taken these standards on board in their legal systems and committed to making life better for people with disabilities.”

On Tuesday, Colombia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which supports greater access for such persons to participate in their communities. It is widely regarded as the first international human rights treaty of this century. Ms. Pillay called on all remaining Member States to ratify the treaty, describing the convention’s 100th ratification as an “important step” towards universal acceptance of persons with disabilities.

The convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 in an effort to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else. Eighty-two countries immediately signed it – the highest number for a UN treaty in history.



Economy and development



Meeting of African Union Commission and European Commission

On 31 May/1 June the African Union Commission and the European Commission are convening in Brussels for their annual College-to-College meeting, in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Partnership. The plenary session on 1 June will focus on consolidating democracy, including developments in Northern Africa, and consolidating growth. Thematic sessions will also allow for exchanges of view on political, social, environmental and economic matters. The two colleges will adopt a joint declaration.

The Strategic Partnership between Africa and the EU pursues common objectives beyond the traditional donor-recipient focus, in a dialogue of equal counterparts. The EU is the biggest trading partner for the African continent. In 2009, 36% of total imports to Africa originated in Europe. In support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its thematic partnerships, the European Commission has committed €24.4 billion through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013.

The programme of the meeting between the two Commissions covers two days and is divided between thematic cluster meetings of Commissioners, bilateral meetings and a plenary session, which takes place in the morning of 1 June. Discussions aim at strengthening the political and technical cooperation between the two institutions, provide fresh impetus to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and elements for the future political agenda.

Background information on the Partnership and its eight thematic areas can be found at:


US$17.40 million from IFAD to boost food security and rural infrastructure in Chad

Rome, 20 May 2011 – A US$8.95 million loan and a US$8.45 million grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the Republic of Chad will help improve the livelihoods of poor rural people and increase economic growth potential in the country’s Guéra region, the UN rural poverty agency has announced.

Through this new programme, the Government of Chad and IFAD will work together with the collaboration of the European Union, the United Nations Capital Development Fund and the World Food Programme to help the rural poor populations of Guéra lay the groundwork for improving their food security and incomes in a sustainable manner. 

The programme is aimed at extending the results of the two first phases of the Food Security Project in the Northern Guéra region, improving access to safe water, management of chronic food security risks and access to adapted financial services.

Newly available funding will also go to building and rehabilitating rural roads to link producers with markets and to strengthen the capacity of grass-roots producer organizations and their members at the local and regional level. More than 132,000 vulnerable people, including smallholder farmers, very poor rural women (especially those heading a household) and rural young people will benefit directly from the programme.


Best coffee named in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Coffee competition promotes higher incomes, licit livelihoods for smallholder farmers

May 19 – Elias Enrique Eguisa Sanjuán’s entry won the honor of “Best Coffee of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta” at a competition organized by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia on May 6. The competition, supported by ACDI/VOCA’s USAID Specialty Coffee Program and Colombia’s Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Cooperation (Acción Social), included more than 50 producers of high-quality Arabica coffees from Colombia’s departments of Guajira, Magdalena and Cesar.

Coffee is behind only petroleum as the world’s most commonly traded commodity. The event’s goal is to promote the high-caliber coffees from the Sierra Nevada both nationally and internationally in order to support licit livelihoods for vulnerable coffee-growing communities.

The event’s top 10 coffees will be sold as special micro-lots on the international market with support from the Federation. These micro-lots are attractive to global buyers and are expected to yield premium prices for the growers.


Africa 2011 - UN report projects continued high growth rates for African economies

18 May  African economies will continue to enjoy high rates of growth this year, but that growth will only translate into job creation and poverty reduction if the State takes a larger role, according to a report released today by the United Nations. 

The 2011 Economic Report on Africa, produced by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union, found the continent’s economy grew by 4.7 per cent last year and is likely to increase by another 5 per cent this year. Rising commodity prices and growing demand for exports, as well as increased aid and more investment in extractive industries such as mining are the key reasons for the growth, the report stated. But the report notes that Africa is still far from attaining most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).. Job creation has also not followed economic growth in many countries, and the report’s authors say the recent political and social unrest in such countries as Tunisia and Algeria reflects deep popular discontent with high unemployment and food prices.

An increased role for the State, the report stresses, does not mean a rejection of the free-market system or the role of the private sector in generating economic growth. “A developmental State can be defined as one that has the capacity to deploy its authority, credibility and legitimacy in a binding manner to design and implement development policies and programmes for promoting long-term economic transformation and growth, as well as the expansion of human capabilities, equity and welfare.” 


IFAD and U.S. Department of State combine efforts on remittances for Diaspora investments in rural development

Rome  and Washington, DC, May 17 -  A new partnership between the United States Department of State and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will seek to create ways to help international migrants to invest in agriculture and rural development in their home countries. The Diaspora Investment in Agriculture (DIA) initiative was unveiled this week by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze at the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum. The three-day event is being held in Washington, DC to recognize and celebrate the contribution of diaspora communities to the U.S. relationship with their countries of origin and encourage intra-diaspora collaboration and learning.

With international migrants sending home more than US$325 billion a year in remittances, they have become among the largest sources of cash and investment for many developing countries, often surpassing official development assistance and foreign direct investment.  The DIA aims to encourage migrants to invest their savings in enterprises that will help strengthen the agricultural sector in their home countries, link farmers with emerging markets, create jobs in rural areas, and contribute to food security.

The initiative will target a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, The Sudan and Tunisia.


UN summit adopts 10-year plan to help lift developing countries out of poverty

13 May – Participants at a United Nations summit today outlined a 10-year plan to support the world’s most vulnerable countries overcome poverty, calling on the private sector to play a greater role in the fight, urging wealthy nations to step up their aid commitments and demanding the elimination of many trade barriers.  The Istanbul Programme of Action to spur development and economic growth was made public at the end of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) after five days of discussions in the Turkish city.

The summit focused on ways to harness the potential of the 48 countries – many of them in sub-Saharan Africa – classified as LDCs so that they can lift themselves out of poverty and develop economically. Under the programme of action, affluent countries have committed to realizing the target of spending 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent of their national incomes on official development assistance (ODA). If implemented, this would represent a significant increase on current levels of aid. The plan also calls for the abolition or reduction of arbitrary or unjustified trade barriers, and the opening up of markets in wealthier countries to products from poorer nations.

The programme of action emphasizes the strengthening of the productive capacity in LDCs – building infrastructure, enhancing human capital and governance capabilities. Economic reforms in many poor countries over the past decade have led to favourable business environments, and a boom in the prices of the primary commodities in the international markets have resulted in rates of growth that exceeded both worldwide and developing countries’ averages.


Yaajeende Program launches in Senegal

May 12 – Counterpart International celebrated the launch of our new Feed the Future initiative, the USAID/Yaajeende Agriculture and Nutrition Development Program in Dakar, Senegal this past week. This five-year program is led by NCBA-CLUSA, with Counterpart implementing the nutrition component. The program takes an integrated approach to food security through agriculture, livestock, agro-industry, nutrition and governance interventions in 60 rural communities in four regions of Senegal.

The Yaajeende Program, which is projected to reach one million Senegalese, aims to increase revenues in agricultural homes by 250 percent, reduce stunting by 25 percent and reduce the number of children underweight by 35 percent. The program focuses on intensification of agriculture production, enhancement of agro-food links, promotion of good nutrition and enhancement of governance linked to food security. Heifer International, Manobi and Sheladia Associates are also consortium members.






Rotarians complete library for New Orleans Mission

By Janis Young

Rotary International News, 22 May – Rotarians gathered at a mission in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, on 20 May to dedicate a library to RI President Ray Klinginsmith, a nod to his twin loves of reading and the city of New Orleans.

Rotarians from 24 clubs in five districts spent three days finishing and furnishing a 1,400-square-foot library and reading room at the New Orleans Mission as a preconvention service project. After the work was complete, Klinginsmith cut a yellow ribbon and declared the library open. (...) Hundreds of hours, $30,000 in cash and in-kind donations later, a hurricane-devastated library was transformed into a bright, tranquil space filled with comfy furniture and hundreds of books.

The New Orleans Mission, the largest private service provider for the city’s homeless, houses 200 to 250 men and women, provides 12,000 to 15,000 hot meals a month, and helps its residents find work and ultimately housing, according to Executive Director Ron Gonzales. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the mission was destroyed, and the city’s homeless population more than tripled. 

Rotarians contributed to the restoration by cleaning, doing roof and ceiling repairs, replacing lighting and windows, and collecting furniture, rugs, and hundreds of books. Then on 19 May, Rotarian volunteers from California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri converged on the mission to clean and paint the library, assemble bookcases, and organize the books. (...)


Treating vulnerable populations in Buenaventura, Colombia

20 May – The port city of Buenaventura is the primary place of refuge for populations displaced by the armed conflict on the Pacific coast. More than 400,000 people live in Buenaventura, Colombia's largest port.  Since 2008, MSF has provided a full and varied range of health care services to individuals excluded from the Colombian health care system. Services include general medical care and specialized treatment in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, mental health, nutrition and catch-up vaccination. MSF also runs an emergency department. In 2010, 480 patients were treated there and 40 percent of those were transferred to the hospital by ambulance. A social welfare component has been added to the medical services to help patients resolve their legal status and enter the job market. 

In addition to patient visits at the health center, MSF health care workers go into the community to reach vulnerable populations, organizing education sessions and outpatient medical activities in the "barrios", the city's low-income neighborhoods.


DanChurchAid intervenes to reduce drought in Ethiopia

13 May - The pastoral and agro-pastoral community of Southern Ethiopia is affected by drought caused by La Nina. According to Mr. Gemechis Gudina, DCA-Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Reduction Projects Manager, in most districts of the zone, the drought and its impacts have gone beyond the capacities of the local communities.

DCA has initiated the formation and implementation of Emergency Response and Recovery Project in partnership with a local non-governmental organization, Action for Development (AFD). The project funded by European Commission for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO) and DCA’s material aid grant was launched at the end of February 2011. Its objective is to protect the lives of vulnerable families in targeted pastoralist communities through water and hygiene provision and livelihoods protection, including enhanced disaster coping capacity.


ANERA to help disabled in Madaba Camp, Jordan

May 12, Amman, Jordan – ANERA is pleased to announce the launch of a project to help disabled children in Madaba Camp and the surrounding area. The year-long, three-phase program will identify cases of visual and hearing impairment and other physical disabilities and provide appropriate diagnostic and rehabilitation services. The project also includes an important awareness campaign and training workshops for parents.

ANERA is developing the program in cooperation with the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf and its service providers.  HLID is a leader in the field of deaf education. ANERA is currently partnering with HLID for a similar program in Sukhneh Camp.

Madaba Camp, located 45 kilometers from Amman, was established in 1956 and is home for some 5,000 refugees.  An additional 15,000 persons live nearby. Health services at the Madaba Camp Health Center run by the Ministry of Health, Near East Council of Churches Mother/Child Center, and the Islamic Association’s clinic for mother and child health care. But, there is no community rehabilitation center for the disabled in the camp. The nearest center is four kilometers away.

In addition to aiding the disabled in Madaba and Sukhneh Camps, ANERA has partnered with the Jordan Breast Cancer Program to extend a Breast Cancer Awareness project to Wehdat Camp for more than 7,000 women and to Al Hussein Camp for 6,000 women. (…)


'Reggae Against Landmines' album to benefit nonpProfit landmine clearance organization

By Nick Krewen

12 May – A Toronto-based reggae record label is joining such musical activists as Emmylou Harris, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Cockburn in their attempts to transform Earth into a landmine–free planet. Turning its attention towards atrocities in Africa, Ohm Grown Records and Equal Distribution has released a new compilation, Reggae Against Landmines – Volume 1, to raise funds for MgM (Menschen gegen Minen/People against Landmines), a Germany-based humanitarian non-profit landmine clearance organization. The digital LP features 10 tracks from international and local reggae artists including a duet with Freedom Fighters and the Wailers, Bob Marley’s original band. (...) Active in Africa for the past 14 years, MgM’s main focus is clearing landmines in Angola, where more than 15 million active landmines still remain, representing 50% of all landmine casualties. A second volume is planned. (…)


Republic of the Congo: farm equipment for 100,000 Likouala residents

Geneva/Brazzaville, 9 May – Residents of the department of Likouala, in the north of the Republic of the Congo, remain in a precarious situation following the massive influx in 2009 of refugees from Equateur province. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is in the process of distributing farm and fishing equipment to ensure that food reserves will not be exhausted. The aid, which will benefit almost 100,000 people, will end in June.

Together with Congolese Red Cross volunteers, the ICRC is providing aid for people in the districts of Bétou, Enyellé, Liranga, Impfondo and Dongou. In addition to farming and fishing supplies, cuttings of varieties of cassava that are resistant to the harmful mosaic virus disease are also being distributed. Over 40,000 people in the districts of Enyellé and Bétou have received these items since 18 April. As the area is accessible only with great difficulty, the distribution is being carried out by means of barges, pirogues and trucks.


Save the Children distributes shoes, diapers; deploys child-friendly spaces to children who’ve lost everything in tornadoes in Southeast US

Washington, D.C., April 29 - When children have to run for their lives, they don’t have time to put on their shoes, grab a favorite toy, or say goodbye to the place they called home. So as part of the Southeast tornado response, Save the Children has distributed truckloads of shoes, diapers, portable cribs, toys and other child-specific essentials to more than 1,100 children in hardest-hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Smithville, Miss.

Additionally, Save the Children is working with the Gilmore Foundation to set up a Child-Friendly Spaces/emergency child care program for nearly 200 children in Smithville, Miss., where an EF-5 tornado — the highest severity-rating for tornadoes — demolished the entire community, leaving untold families homeless. Staff from Mississippi State University’s Early Childhood Institute who were previously trained in Save the Children’s Child-Friendly Spaces Program are staffing the program.

The Child-Friendly Spaces Program is one of Save the Children’s key emergency response programs.



Peace and security



Cyprus: UN chief to host meeting with Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders in July

21 May – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a joint meeting of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities on 7 July in Geneva, his office has announced, stressing the need for both leaders to accelerate the process of negotiations aimed at the reunification of Cyprus. The July meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Dervis Eroglu, will be a follow up on previous meetings between the Secretary-General and the two leaders in New York on 18 November last year and in Geneva on 26 January this year.

The UN has been facilitating talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership with a view to the eventual establishment of a Federal Government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status.


UN-backed conference on improving elections in West Africa opens

18 May – In a year when many West African countries are preparing to stage critical elections, more than 100 delegates from across the region gathered today for the start of a three-day United Nations-backed conference aimed at helping to ensure that the polls consolidate peace and deter conflict. The meeting in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, will serve as an opportunity to evaluate the implementation of the Protocol on Democracy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and examine progress towards good governance a decade after the Protocol’s adoption. Delegates will also analyze recent elections in the region.


Convention on Cluster Munitions takes effect in Lebanon

16 May – Cluster Munition Coalition members and cluster bomb survivors joined Lebanese government officials and United Nations representatives in Beirut on 6 May to welcome the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Lebanon, and to announce that Lebanon will host a global meeting to discuss the Convention this September.

On 1 May, the Convention entered into force in Lebanon, meaning that Lebanon now has 10 years to clear all known contaminated areas, and must continue to provide strong assistance for survivors, their families, and their communities so that they can be fully included in society and enjoy their fundamental human rights.

In addition to implementing the Convention, Foreign Minister Dr. Al Chami announced that Lebanon will host the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions from 12-16 September in Beirut. More than 100 governments are expected to take part alongside UN agencies, international organizations, civil society and survivors to assess the progress of the treaty’s implementation, and to agree on the best way forward to end the suffering caused by cluster munitions.


Using radio to facilitate dialogue on governance in Africa

15 May - The increasing penetration of mobile telephone in Africa is widening opportunities for people to take part in discussions about governance. Radio is a widespread medium through which communities can tune-in to listen to debates on topics such as health, the environment and politics. FrontlineSMS:Radio is a software, which is being designed to help facilitate radio listener interaction via text message. FrontlineSMS is a free and open source software which enables communities to harness the power of SMS and assists them to introduce channels through which people are able to have their voices heard. Mobile phone usage has grown exponentially across Africa.

The effectiveness of these technologies in allowing more people to take part in discussions of governance and political participation is still difficult to evaluate. This is why FrontlineSMS:Radio is uniquely partnered with the University of Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR).The Centre is conducting a two-year research project to explore the extent to which new information and communications technologies influence citizen participation in processes of governance in Africa.


ADRA advocates increased road safety

May 12, Silver Spring, Md., USA  The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been named a US Friends of the Decade, an informal assembly of government and international agencies supporting the United Nation-sanctioned campaign, Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

Publicly launched on May 11 2011, the Decade of Action for Road and Safety's goal is to stabilize and reduce worldwide road traffic deaths by year 2020.  With supporters in more than 100 countries, local and foreign governments, NGO's, and civil community groups have simultaneously launched the campaign to express their commitment to the cause and introduce national plans to help reduce the number of traffic related deaths and accidents.


Norwegian People's Aid clears cluster bombs after clash in Cambodia

The Thai military used cluster bombs during the four day clash with Cambodia. Due to efficient Battle Area Clearance, the inhabitants of two Cambodian villages can feel safe again.

In the beginning of April NPA conducted a rapid assessment of the contaminated areas together with representatives from Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and one representative from Land mine and Cluster Munitions Monitor. The findings were discouraging. The areas were heavily contaminated by unexploded M42/M46 and M85 SD sub-munitions fired from Thailand. In addition, 12 CBU (Cluster Bomb Unit) strike sites were identified, and some of them were very close to villages. The clearenace starterd on 2nd of May.






Eradicating polio will take renewed resolve, says Gates

Bill Gates addressed Rotarians during the third plenary session of the 2011 RI Convention

By Ryan Hyland 

Rotary International News, 24 May - Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, praised Rotary for its continued success in the effort to eradicate polio, but cautioned that Rotarians will need to redouble their efforts to keep the disease from spreading -- and threatening hundreds of thousands of children.   

Gates, the keynote speaker at the third plenary session of the 2011 RI Convention, 24 May in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, said that because of Rotary, there are many places in the world where polio is no longer considered a threat. (...)

The Gates Foundation has awarded two grants totaling US$355 million to Rotary in support of its work in eradicating the disease. Rotary has responded with Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge. To date, Rotarians have raised $173.2 million for the challenge.  Gates said he plans to work with Rotary leadership to keep polio front and center in the public eye. “You have helped so many people understand that we are ‘this close.’ I challenge you to make your voices louder.”

Countries including Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all increased their investment in the eradication effort. Gates attributed that success to the pressure Rotarians have put on the leaders of those countries. But he noted that with a funding gap of $400 million next year for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, it is no time to let up. (...)


Volunteers help treat nearly 5,000 in Vanuatu

Posted By: Kris Radder

May 19  The Pacific Partnership 2011  (PP 11) medical team leaves Vanuatu having treated nearly 5,000 people and providing health education to 3,300. As the USS Cleveland prepared for its voyage to another stop on the five-country humanitarian assistance mission, three incredible Project HOPE volunteers have completed their time caring for people in Tonga and Vanuatu, and will return to their homes or other adventures.

Several of the volunteers have spent more than a month on the ship, yet all agree is now seems like just seconds. William Aiken, Jo Anne Bennett and Aislinn Mangan take some time to reflect on the memories they made as part of PP 11 team before departing the USS Cleveland. (…)


WHO Director-General and Bill Gates convene urgent meeting on polio eradication

One year after launch of new plan, infected countries and donors review effectiveness of strategies and agree on essential steps to finish the job quickly

Geneva, Switzerland, 17 May - As international public health leaders gather in Geneva this week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met today with Ministers of Health of polio-infected countries and international development agencies, to discuss urgent steps needed to eradicate polio rapidly and efficiently.

The high-level meeting comes on the heels of the publication of a sobering report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), a body set up at the request of the World Health Assembly to independently monitor progress towards a polio-free world. While affirming the effectiveness of the new Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Strategic Plan 2010-2012 launched 12 months ago, the IMB expressed serious concern that remaining operational gaps in key infected countries are undermining progress. The IMB also identified a global funding gap of US$665 million through 2012 as the 'single greatest threat to the GPEI's success'.


Getting the “Last Hair” in Nigeria

Dr Muhammad Pate, Executive Director of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, blogs about his country's fight against polio

May 13 – In Nigeria we have made remarkable progress in the fight against polio, with campaigns that drove polio down from 388 cases in 2009 to 21 in 2010—a 95 percent reduction. This progress is largely due to the immense momentum of our polio campaign. It has demonstrated that immunizations are safe, cost-effective tools to prevent infectious diseases and ultimately save children’s lives.

The polio program has provided the momentum to combat other vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, which cost us our children’s lives as well. In January 2011, Nigeria launched a major campaign to administer both measles and polio vaccines to 31 million children under the age of five—thereby protecting children from two diseases. From this broad perspective, conquering polio has an impact far beyond the immediate benefits of eradication. Still, there is significant work to be done. The Hausa people, who live in northern Nigeria, have a saying: When you shave a man’s head, it is getting the last hair that is the most difficult.


Qatar: improving the management of humanitarian aid

Kuwait, May 5 – Health professionals and other specialists holding positions in assistance or emergency programmes have gathered in Doha from 10 different countries to attend a two-week training course in the management of humanitarian aid. The course, entitled Health Emergencies in Large Populations (H.E.L.P.) is a multicultural and multidisciplinary learning experience created to enhance professionalism in humanitarian assistance programmes conducted in emergency situations. The first week of the course focuses on public-health activities, the second on communicable diseases and epidemiology, international humanitarian law, security and ethics.

The H.E.L.P. course, created in 1986 by the ICRC, is organized in partnership with the World Health Organization and with research institutions and universities all over the world. It has been given in various parts of Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia, and in Western and Eastern Europe. Participants come from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, United Nations agencies, NGOs, health ministries, armed forces' medical services and academic institutions.


HOPE offers critical medical expertise to help Cameroon reach Millennium Development Goals

Millwod, Virginia, USA, May 5 – Project HOPE medical volunteers have arrived in Cameroon to share their expertise with health care professionals at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital in a mission that aims to enhance the care provided to women and children in the West African nation and reduce child mortality, a key indicator in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Volunteers from Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, are providing hands-on clinical training and mentoring to doctors and nurses in services such as obstetrics, pediatrics, neonatal care, midwifery and gynecology in the first-ever HOPE mission at the hospital, located in the capital, Yaounde. 

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health crises, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in 35 countries across five continents.



Energy and safety



Groundbreaking report underscores advantages of renewable energy future

Posted on 9 May, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – A major new report by the United Nations-supported Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched today underscores the incredible environmental and social advantages of a future powered by renewable energy over the next decades, WWF said. The 900-page Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation compares 164 scenarios on renewable energy and is the most comprehensive analysis ever of trends and perspectives for renewable energy.

“The IPCC and governments of the world signal loud and clear: fossil fuels and nuclear are no real alternatives to renewables,” said Dr Stephan Singer, Director for Global Energy Policy for WWF International. “As oil and gas within easy reach is dwindling, the world needs to move to clean and sustainable sources of energy and avoid any investment into dirty alternatives.”

Although unique in its epic scope, the IPCC underestimates the potential of deploying renewable energy even faster, especially when combined with top level energy efficiency, WWF said. The organisation’s own analysis, called The Energy Report, shows a pathway to a 100% renewable energy future by 2050. This analysis is the first that also indicates the challenges and research needs to make sure this low carbon development respects development needs of up to 9 billion people.


REACH and Restrictions

REACH foresees a restriction process to regulate the manufacture, placing on the market or use of certain substances, either on their own or in mixtures or articles, within the European Union territory if they pose an unacceptable risk to health or the environment. Such activities may be limited or even banned, if necessary. The restriction is designed to manage risks that are not addressed by the other REACH processes or by other Community legislation.

The European Commission has banned cadmium – a harmful substance – in all jewellery products, plastics and brazing sticks from December 2011. High levels of cadmium have been found in some jewellery articles, especially in imported imitation jewellery. Consumers including children risked being exposed to cadmium through skin contact or through licking. The new legislation prohibits the use of cadmium in all types of jewellery products, except for antiques. The Commission has also banned cadmium in all plastics as from December 2011. The ban will protect the environment by reducing cadmium pollution. The new rules also promote the recovery of PVC waste for use in a number of construction products.


SCI congratulates Jewish World Watch on the 5th anniversary of their Solar Cooker Project

The Solar Cooker Project has helped 90,000 Darfuri refugees in four camps in Chad. They are currently expanding to include another camp! Because of the work of JWW and their partner organizations ChadSolaire and CORD, thousands of women are able to cook for their families safely, eliminating the need to search for firewood and risk attack or rape. Girls are able to attend school, and money does not need to be spent on fuel. Women are building an economic future by manufacturing the solar cookers.

The Solar Cooker Project is an excellent example of how solar cookers effectively address the negative impacts that come from cooking over an open fire with firewood. Solar cooking has zero emissions and is a free and available source of power.



Environment and wildlife



Middle East - A $45 million investment in Hebron waste water treatment plant

May 25 - In a meeting held yesterday in Jerusalem, World Bank representative Mariam Sherman confirmed the Bank's intention to support the establishment of the Hebron Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) at the cost of 45 million USD. The construction of the WWTP is expected to start in the beginning of 2012.

The World Bank will support the establishment of the Hebron WWTP by the Palestinian Authority, for the sum of 45 million USD, of which 10 million USD will be invested by the World Bank itself, and the rest by other contributors such as The French Development Agency.

The Hebron WWTP project has been stuck and delayed for almost a decade, despite several attempts by others. This is a very promising turn of events, which will affect the lives of many residents in both Israel and Palestine. The Hebron stream, which continues to the Be'er Sheva stream, is the longest cross-border stream in the region, touching the lives of many residents who live along its banks. For more information, contact:

Gidon Bromberg, Friends of the Earth Middle East:

Nader Khatib, Friends of the Earth Middle East:  


Anti-locust programme in Central Asia and Caucasus

Rome, 20 May – FAO will assist ten countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to save up to 25 million hectares of cultivated farmland from a locust crisis. Locusts are a serious threat for agriculture, food security and livelihoods in both regions including adjacent areas of northern Afghanistan and the southern Russian Federation. A five-year programme to develop national capacities and launch regional cooperation is about to start thanks to assistance from the United States of America. Support from other donors is expected soon.

The FAO Locust Group initiated a process for assessing the needs and helping countries to improve national and regional locust management; a two-year project (2009-2011), funded through its Technical Cooperation Programme, contributed to this effort.

Together with the concerned countries, FAO then prepared a five-year programme for sustainable management of locust issues in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The programme promotes preparedness, early warning and early reaction. It also seeks to introduce new techniques for locust control using less environmentally hazardous pesticides, including bio-pesticides.

A major contribution to this programme was recently received from USAID ($1.6 million) and negotiations are underway with other donors such as the Russian Federation, France and Turkey, which indicated their willingness to support the approach.


EarthColor joins the Appalachian Carbon Partnership to support sustainable forest management in Central Appalachia

Forests efficiently reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere when they grow

Berea, Ky., USA, May 20 - The Appalachian Carbon Partnership, a project of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), is proud to welcome EarthColor, Inc. to the growing network of socially and environmentally responsible companies supporting sustainable forest management in Central Appalachia through Appalachian Forest Offset investments. This new partnership demonstrates how carbon trading can benefit Appalachian landowners and forests while mitigating the effects of climate change. The Appalachian Carbon Partnership currently has 47 landowners enrolled owning over 28,600 acres of forestland in Kentucky and Virginia.

Growing trees take in carbon dioxide, using the carbon to build new wood and releasing the oxygen back into the air. Forests that are well managed can take in additional carbon dioxide and keep the carbon locked in their wood for long periods of time. Through the managed forest carbon offsets market, landowners are paid for the amount of carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere by their forests and stored as a building block of new wood.



Religion and spirituality



May 16: United Nations Vesak ceremony marking the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment

In 1999, the UN General Assembly resolved that the most sacred Buddhist festival of Vesak, on the May full moon, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, be observed at UN Headquarters and, where appropriate, different UN offices. Every year the Secretary-General delivers a Vesak message.

This year special celebrations will be held at UN Headquarters to mark the 2600th Anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment. These will include an exhibition, an alms round in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza by 150 monks representing all Buddhist countries, and two special conferences including an Interfaith Symposium in the General Assembly hall. 


Religious Education essential in current climate

The Three Faiths Forum (3FF) is adding to the voices calling for  Religious Education to be included in the English Baccalaureate (EBac).

The Ebac is the government’s new performance measure for schools, recognising where pupils have secured a C grade or better in ‘core’ subjects – English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language.  Religious Education (RE) is not included, which will likely lead to the subject being devalued in the eyes of schools, teachers, students and parents.

We believe that this is a serious mistake in the current climate. Students desperately need RE to learn and talk about faiths and beliefs.

We back the 70+ MPs that have called for an early day motion to challenge the government’s recommendations. It states “that the rise of religious extremism around the world and in the UK means that a good understanding of all religions is vital to a well-rounded education.”

If the EBac excludes RE, 3FF school sessions may become the principal way that students learn to communicate with those of other faiths or beliefs.  3FF works in nearly 100 primary and secondary schools, but there are hundreds of schools in Greater London. 

Our education programmes help students become more confident in discussing sensitive topics.  Our “Controversial Issues” training helps teachers address faith related topics, and “Shared Futures” links up different classes from two faith-based schools in joint activities over the year.



Culture and education



USA - Poll shows overwhelming voter support for the United Nations

85% of voters say it is important the U.S. maintain an active role in the UN; The majority of Americans maintain a favorable perception of the UN

Washington, DC, May 24 - The majority of American voters continue to demonstrate strong support for the United Nations. Results of public opinion research released today by the United Nations Foundation and its sister organization, the Better World Campaign, found that American voters overwhelmingly believe the United Nations is an important organization in which the United States needs to maintain an active role (85%). 

"The United Nations today is on the frontlines of some of the most critical places in the world. From reconstruction in Haiti to protecting civilians in Libya, from environmental security in Japan to peace in Sudan, Americans understand that working together with our partners to solve global problems is more effective than going it alone," said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. "This survey shows that across all party lines, voters recognize the value in our participation at the United Nations. Congress should reaffirm its support for full funding for the UN and UN peacekeeping operations."


Libraries for Myanmar's monastic schools

Posted by: Karen Matthee

May 5 – Clear Path International aims to reignite the love of books and reading in Myanmar, and to extend children's learning beyond the boundaries of the national curriculum. By partnering with a local nonprofit organization that promotes literacy and access to children's books, CPI will create libraries in nine monastic schools within three years, and provide materials and support activities that encourage both children and parents to read at community-based libraries in suburbs of Yangon.

Clear Path is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that assists landmine survivors and others disabled or displaced by armed conflict in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. The $20,000 monastic school project is an extension of CPI's work along the border between Thailand and Myanmar, where CPI has provided prosthetic and rehabilitation care, psycho-social services, vocational training and socio-economic support to refugees and internally displaced landmine accident survivors since 2002.

The project begins June 1, 2011 and is estimated to benefit 3,461 children and more than 100 teachers, as well as the families of the students.


Israel - Shared Communities. A Local-to-National Program for Building a Shared Society

A Givat Haviva flagship program, Shared Communities is a bold, concrete response to the urgent challenge of creating a socially cohesive society in Israel. The program builds structured, multi-level cooperation between over 20 pairs of communities alienated from each other by the most critical social divides that threaten the democratic fabric of Israel today:.

By actively demonstrating the mutual benefits of cooperation in the day-to-day experience of a wide cross-section of divided populations, the program builds the sustainable underpinnings for creating a shared future and shared society. Local activity is linked to broader efforts that will facilitate replication across Israel – advancing peaceful, economic and social development on a national scale.

Under the leadership of the mayors, a joint steering committee was established comprised of 15 municipal officials, facilitated by Givat Haviva. The committee completed a mapping process to assess the needs of both communities, including joint study tours of both towns. Community leaders were recruited to form joint working groups that are coordinating the development and implementation of cooperative projects that address the range of needs identified.



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Next issue: 17 June 2011.


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian and in Portuguese the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

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