Good News Agency, an all-volunteer service, celebrates its 200th number.



Good News Agency

Weekly – year 12th, number 200 - 4 April 2012


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. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Parliaments still vital to quest for democracy, UN report finds

New York, April 2 - Despite the current low level of trust in parliaments, these bodies have never been more essential to the political life of a country, according to a joint report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The first Global Parliamentary Report (GPR) calls on parliaments to address the fragile trust in them, engage with citizens, stay closely attuned to their needs and make every effort to meet them.<>

More than 125 parliaments and 660 members of parliament (MPs) participated in the report, which aims to help both legislative assemblies and politicians better understand and respond to the public pressures they are facing.

The report also points to the emergence of more than 190 parliamentary monitoring organizations in more than 80 countries, the growing number of parliaments with codes of conduct and the limits placed on the length of parliamentary mandates as measures to make MPs more accountable to an increasingly demanding electorate.


Suu Kyi's win more than symbolic

Tony Henderson

Yangon, Myanmar, April 1, Pressenza IPA - Myanmar's opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has stated that their leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won a seat in the country's parliament in the by-election, the party having gained 45 out of the 664 seats. Though, no official confirmation of this from government so far. The success in these elections could well mean bigger gains for the Opposition in the 2015 general elections.

Sunday's vote was seen as an important test of the government's commitment to its democratic reforms. About six million people were eligible to vote this time around, with a total of 160 candidates from 17 parties, including six new to the political arena, contesting for 45 parliamentary seats. The number of seats at stake was not enough to threaten the military-backed ruling party's overwhelming majority.

The government invited teams of foreign observers for the first time, with attendance by representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, European Union and the US, plus journalists, all witness the elections.


Honduras becomes 70th State Party to cluster bomb ban

March 22 – The Republic of Honduras ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 21 March 2012 becoming the 70th State Party to the treaty.  The ratification comes in advance of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings that will take place in Geneva from 16-19 April 2012.  At this meeting governments will take stock of the progress made so far in implementing the Convention on Cluster Munition using the Vientiane Action Plan as a roadmap.

The 2008 Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities.



Human rights



UN Officials stress need to strengthen and harmonize Human Rights Treaty bodies

New York, April  2 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for increased resources to help strengthen and harmonize the treaty bodies that monitor the implementation of international human rights treaties, describing them as the indispensable link between universal standards and the individuals they are designed to protect.

“Human rights are at the heart of the UN system, and treaty bodies are at the heart of the UN human rights machinery,” <> said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We cannot afford to undermine these critical engines of the human rights protection system. We must strengthen them.”

Mr. Ban was addressing a treaty body strengthening consultations meeting for States parties to international human rights treaties at UN Headquarters in New York. The treaty bodies are created in accordance with the provisions of the respective human rights treaty they monitor, and the Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports their work and assists them in harmonizing their working methods and reporting requirements through their secretariats.



Economy and development



African Local Summit, Kumasi, Ghana - April 1 - 4

Representatives of all sectors of society (government agencies, popular social movements, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, youth, media, traditional and community leaders, artisans and artists) from across Africa are invited to gather for this first ever Summit to consider distinctly African approaches to expanding efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

This African Local Sumit is part of a wider context, leading into the Global Summit 2012 : The Olympics of Sustainability - Empowering Humanity to Achieve the MDGs to be held in London, UK in August.


Inauguration of newly renovated Lebanese agro-food laboratory

Upgrading services in Lebanon to promote business opportunities

March 30 – To compete in today’s marketplace, companies must comply with strict sanitary and quality control regulations, present verifiable nutritional information and adhere to standardized labeling and packaging guidelines. Most companies turn to a third-party testing laboratory or a product development firm for help in meeting these exacting requirements as well as staying abreast of product innovation.

To expand access to accredited labs and improve the quality and scope of services those labs provide, ACDI/VOCA implements the USAID-funded Lebanon Agricultural Quality Control and Certification (QCC) program. Since July 2009, QCC has helped build the capacity of food testing laboratories embedded in the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Tripoli, Saida and Zahle. The renovated Agro-Food Development Lab (AFDL) in Saida will play a leading role in providing services to Beirut and southern regions of Lebanon through laboratory testing and consulting. On March 10, a new 40-square meter microbiology lab and a renovated chemistry lab were inaugurated. The facility will offer upgraded services with such new equipment as an Alveograph and a Glutomatic machine for testing dough characteristics and gluten content of pastries and confectionaries.


The Coca-Cola Company contributes $2 million to Catalyst's 'Changing Workplaces, Changing Lives' campaign

Grant supports research for women leaders in the global marketplace

Atlanta, March 30 - The Coca-Cola Company today announced a $2 million, multiyear award to Catalyst Inc. to help women worldwide grow and thrive in business.  The donation was announced in conjunction with Catalyst’s 50th anniversary celebration held this week in New York City. 

Catalyst, a nonprofit organization working to accelerate the advancement of women globally, will use the funding to create the Center for Corporate Practice Research, which will analyze more than 20 years of initiatives on inclusion used by large corporations. It will share its findings and best practices with global markets working to achieve gender parity.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, and India, and more than 500 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. The Coca-Cola Company has previously awarded more than $1.2 million to Catalyst for sponsorships, general operating and program support. (…)


Nepal: ADRA combats poverty through agro-based training program

March 28 – Silver Spring, Md., USA – The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is fighting against the effects of poverty in the Kapilvastu, Palpa, and Rupandehi districts of Western Nepal. The local ADRA Nepal office developed this three and a half year project entitled, Develop Local Economy to Eradicate Poverty (DEEP), with the primary focus to empower women's groups through sustainable agro-based livelihood activities, which will ensure food security and income diversification.

ADRA Nepal is increasing income-generating capacities of women through entrepreneurial and vocational classes, as well as integrating newly formed savings groups into strengthened cooperatives. This project will also seek to strengthen the organizational capacity, leadership, and management of members of the cooperatives through the use of the Result Orientated Leadership and Development Program (ROLDP). This project will reach out to 2,100 women in their respective communities, and is estimated to reach a further 40,838 secondary beneficiaries in the wider community.


Looking to RIO+20, world must act on sustainable development, says UN Forum

New York, March 23 - Organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with Turkey’s Ministry of Development, the Global Human Development Forum gathered more than 200 leading development experts, civil society activists, private sector representatives and UN officials from around the world to tackle the need for reinforced global and national sustainable development strategies.   

The two-day Forum concluded with the adoption of the unanimously-approved Istanbul Declaration calling on the international community to take bold action against social inequities and environmental deterioration when delegates meet at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, in Brazil in June.

Noting that economic development has frequently meant environmental degradation and increased inequality, the Declaration also urges members of the global community to ensure that their development strategies promote key elements such as social inclusion, social protection, and equity. In addition, it also endorses UNDP’s 2011 Human Development Report –“Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All” – stressing the need to maintain progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 while building a consensus for a new post-2015 global development framework.


FAO and EBRD make an agreement to boost cooperation in the Mediterranean

March 21, Rome – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have decided to cooperate to promote private sector investments in agribusiness in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region. The agreement provides new technical assistance projects for developing policies and legal frameworks that create a favorable investment climate and foster private sector involvement; in particular the projects include policy discussions between governments and private agricultural businesses.

FAO and EBRD have started their collaboration in 1994 : since then, they have implemented over 80 projects for a total value of 9.4 million dollars; this new project is valued 2.2 million dollars and EBRD will contribute with 1.5 million dollars. The projects will start with Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.


IFAD will help Cote d’Ivoire reduce rural poverty with a 22.5 million dollars grant

March 16, Rome - The agriculture sector contributes to about 24% to the country’s gross domestic product but a long period of civil conflict has increased the vulnerability of poor rural people particularly small producers who do not have access to appropriate technologies, services and markets. The new IFAD project will provide sustainable rural development in the context of a post-crisis environment in Savanes, Bandama Valley and Zanzan regions in the North, to improve food security and household incomes in these regions. The project will enhance farm production by helping small producers to access improved seeds and mechanized equipment for tillage and harvesting. Cofinanced by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, this new project will benefit more than 25,000 poor rural households, including women and young people.


New FAO project to help policymakers maximize the potential of bioenergy

March 5, Rome - FAO has just released  guidance documents and policymaking tools that governments can use to help rural communities benefit from bioenergy development and ensure that biofuel crop production does not come at the expense of food security. The “Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria and Indicators (BEFSCI) Project” includes: methodologies for assessing the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of bioenergy production, indicators that can be measured when doing so, recommended good practices and policy measures for promoting sustainable bioenergy development.

The BEFSCI project was funded by the General Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and has generated a number of products: a web-based tool for assessing potential food security impacts of bioenergy projects, a comprehensive list of methodologies and indicators, a set of good environmental practices to minimize negative environmental impacts and a compilation of socio-economic practices.






Rotary International signs project partner agreement with ShelterBox

By Ryan Hyland 

Rotary International News, 30 March – Rotary International and ShelterBox, a grassroots disaster relief organization, signed a project partner agreement this month, allowing the two organizations to collaborate more closely to provide relief and temporary shelter to survivors of natural disasters. “Project partner” is a special status RI gives to groups started or managed by Rotary clubs. The agreement will build on the strengths of both organizations in responding to disasters all over the world.

“Our Rotary friends have always been there ready to assist – from generous donations to direct operational support on the ground Rotary has always been part of our DNA,” said Tom Henderson, ShelterBox CEO. “I feel like we have 34,000 ShelterBox offices around the world working together to help those who have lost everything when they need us the most.”

RI General Secretary John Hewko said the agreement will enable Rotary club members to have an immediate, lifesaving impact in communities hit by natural disasters. “ShelterBox will be able to ensure that local Rotarians are provided an opportunity to participate in the distribution of ShelterBox containers,” he said. 

Each ShelterBox typically provides a bespoke tent designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, stove, water purification kit, blankets, tools, and other necessities to help a family survive for six months or more after a disaster. (...)


Montenegro: severe snowstorms leave thousands stranded, ADRA responds

March 28 – Silver Spring, Md.,USA – ADRA Montenegro is procuring supplies for their distribution that will go to 175 families (approximately 800 people) affected by the severe snowstorms in the towns of Berane and Kolasin. These towns are home to refugee settlements, a large population of elderly, and Roma families. ADRA is working with the local Red Cross to coordinate the distribution of the food and hygiene parcels, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and local authorities in order to prevent duplication to beneficiaries. A central distribution point will be established for beneficiaries to collect relief aid, however, in the event beneficiaries are unable to travel due to weather conditions, home deliveries will be coordinated to ensure aid assistance is received. ADRA Montenegro, the Regional ADRA office, and ADRA International have jointly funded this emergency response in the amount of $20,000.


Feeding the Future, WFP’s nutrition-education programme, will help Laos to fight child malnutrition

March 16, Rome – Laos has some of the worst child malnutrition rates in the world, children of the rural areas are chronically malnourished, impacting their physical and mental development for a lifetime: nutrition knowledge is central to tackle this problem and the WFP programme will empower communities throughout the country to improve their diets and ensure children grow up strong and healthy. The objective of  Feeding the Future is to educate villagers about the dangers of malnutrition and how to use the natural resources in their environment to ensure a well-balanced and complete diet for themselves and their children. The trainings are tailored to the needs of different ethnic groups and delivered in their ethnic languages through colorful visual materials, role playing, nutrition games and cooking sessions.


WFP helps Yemen fight hunger by giving cash vouchers to the poorest families

March 15, Hajjah – In late 2011, WFP started to help the poorest families in the Hajjah and Ibb Governorates by giving them cash vouchers that they could change in post offices. Each voucher is the equivalent of 50$ so the families can afford to buy food as well as medicine and other necessities they can’t afford : the programme benefits 10,000 vulnerable households, comprising around 70,000 people in total. The cash transfer in Yemen is still in its pilot phase and following the final round of distribution in March; WFP representative in Yemen Lubna Alaman, explains: “This is a new intervention in Yemen, that is why we need to assess its success before implementing a wider scale expansion. Throughout the duration of this six-month pilot scheme, WFP will distribute 1.4 million dollars and WFP calculates that each voucher is the equivalent of 50kg of wheat and 5 liters of vegetable oil.


Global Youth Service Day - April 20 - 22

Global Youth Service Day is the largest annual celebration of young volunteers, where millions of young people from over 100 countries in 6 continents carry out thousands of community improvement projects. I have hope that stems in large part from my knowledge that the future of this planet lies in the tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of young people around the world. Jane Goodall



Peace and security



UN mission head, Lebanese and Israeli officials hold ‘constructive’ meeting

28 March – The head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon and senior military officials from that country and Israel today discussed issues relevant to the implementation of the Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese group known as Hizbollah. “It was overall a constructive meeting,” said the head of mission and Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Paolo Serra, following a regular tripartite meeting with officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), at a UN position located near the Ras Al Naqoura crossing between the two countries.“Both parties expressed their full support and commitment to work together with UNIFIL for the implementation of the relevant provisions of resolution 1701 and to maintain calm in the area,” said Maj-Gen Serra in a press release.

In 2006, the Security Council adopted resolution 1701, ending the so-called summer war between Israel and the Lebanon-based group Hizbollah. It has largely been respected over the past five years. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said the resolution has brought an “unprecedented” degree of relative calm and stability to southern Lebanon.

The meeting also covered “very important issues” on maritime security, the UNIFIL Force Commander said, adding that he had encouraged the Lebanese and Israeli officials to work together on the issues to reduce the risk on incidents that could escalate the situation.


Cambodian campaigners receive Justice and Peace Award

March 28– The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, a member of the ICBL-CMC, was awarded the 15th Tji Haksoon Justice and Peace Award 2012 on 14 March 2012 in recognition of their dedication to the welfare and rights of landmine victims. During the visit, campaigners took the opportunity to urge the South Korean government to stop the manufacture of cluster munitions in the country and to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty.

Sister Denise Coghlan, the Director of the Cambodia Campaign and Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia, and Song Kosal, Youth Ambassador to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, accepted the award at a ceremony in Seoul. The award is named after the deceased Bishop Tji Haksoon, who offered his entire life to peace and justice in South Korea. The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines has campaigned around the world since its inception in 1994.


Jordan latest country to clear all known minefields

Geneva, 27 March - The ICBL welcomes Jordan’s announcement that all its known mined areas have now been cleared.

Jordan’s National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation (NCDR), under the leadership of its Director Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein, declared on 21 March that all known minefields in the country are now safe after nearly 20 years of demining.

Earlier this month the ICBL and Human Rights Watch led the world in condemning Syria after eye witness reports showed the Syrian Army had been laying new minefields along the country’s borders with Lebanon and Turkey.

Many countries in the Middle East region are affected by mines, including: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, and Yemen. However, only Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen have joined the Mine Ban Treaty and have been working to remove this threat from their land.


International Child Art Foundation youths host art exhibition in Japan

Kanazawa. 19th March – The International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) concluded the  "Art for Peace" Exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan which was attended by over 3,000 people. Rune Kondo, a student at Sophia University in Tokyo, a winner of the 2nd Art Olympiad and an ICAF Youth Board Member from Japan, organized this exhibition with ICAF Japan from March 13 to March 18 to bring artwork created by children around the world and introduce ICAF's peace building efforts to Japanese children, teachers and parents.

The exhibition displayed hundreds of artwork created by Art Olympiad winners  from many countries and finalists in Japan. A section of the exhibition contained artwork dedicated to the people in Tohoku area who were affected by the earthquake/tsunami in March 2011 to emphasize the mission of ICAF to nurture children's creativity and develop empathy. This included works from Trappenhuis Elementary in Belgium, paintings from Chile depicting friendship among Japanese and Chilean people who suffered from similar earthquakes, and works co-created by children in Washington DC.

The exhibition ended on Sunday, March 18 with several thousands of visitors, some of whom came from China, Ireland, Singapore, Sweden, and United Kingdom as well as California, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey in the United States.






HIV360° - Take part in the 3 Zeros Campaign!

HIV360° are gearing up for World Health Day (April 7) by running the HIV360° Poster Challenge and asking young people on to submit their ‘Call to Action’ posters telling policy makers what needs to be done to get to zero infections, Zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination!  These Calls to Action will be presented to decision makers at the MDG Summit in South Africa on the 3rd and 4th of May as well as public exhibitions in London and Cape Town.  Students taking part also have a chance of winning a £15 Itunes vouchers.  Teachers interested in taking part should visit and register for FREE on at: . Deadline for submission is April 7th. For more info:


World Autism Awareness Day - April 2

Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world - more children being diagnosed with the disorder than diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined. There are high rates of Autism in all regions of the world.

World Autism Awareness Day is dedicated to creating greater understanding about autism and promoting universal adherence to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. By combining research and awareness-raising efforts, we can provide adults and children with disabilities such as autism the protection, support and full membership of an inclusive society. Ban Ki-moon

Light it Up Blue campaign, in its third year, is a unique global initiative to help shine a light on autism. Iconic landmarks around the world (including the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Sydney Opera House and New York Empire State Building) will be bathed in a blue light to show their support.


Philippines: amputees to benefit from latest technology at Davao facility

Manila, March 30 – Amputees can now walk proudly with durable and affordable prostheses made possible by the use of the latest technology at Davao Jubilee Foundation (DJF).

With support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), DJF opened its newly constructed workshop today as it shifts to state-of-the-art technology. The workshop is now fully equipped to produce lightweight artificial legs and braces made of polypropylene, instead of heavier fibreglass.

The ICRC has been providing DJF with support enabling it to enhance its prosthetic services, which are one of the main needs of people physically disabled by injuries resulting from armed conflict. Last year, the ICRC built a gait training area where patients could practise using their new prostheses.

DJF is a non-profit organization that provides physical rehabilitation services to amputees and other people with disabilities. It mainly helps people from Mindanao, a region affected by conflict and insecurity. The ICRC has been sending war-wounded patients to the foundation since 2000.


Sahel: MSF's dual response to an expected nutritional crisis

30 March – A food crisis has been declared in the Sahelian Band of West Africa. UNICEF has estimated that up to 15 million people in six countries in the region are living with moderate or acute food insecurity.  In a region where global acute childhood malnutrition rates regularly near the warning threshold of 10 percent, any factor that further reduces access to food can tip the situation into a full-blown nutritional crisis.

Although MSF has not yet noted a significant increase in cases in most of its current nutritional programs, the organization did have to open new malnutrition treatment programs in Biltine and Yao, in Chad, where rates of acute malnutrition of 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively, have been reported. Teams are also evaluating the nutritional situation in other areas of Chad, as well as in Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal.

In 2011, more than 100,000 severely malnourished children received treatment in MSF's Niger programs alone. More than 90 percent of them recovered. In Niger and Mali, MSF also provided milk-based nutritional supplements to more than 35,000 children in conjunction with its regular paediatric programs.


The first polio-free BRICS

Finishing the job of polio eradication will require the political and financial support of the BRICS, which together represent a large proportion of the polio-free world.

March 28 – The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are gathering in New Delhi, India this week for the 4th BRICS summit. As India has stopped transmission of endemic poliovirus, this is the first polio-free BRICS summit. The BRICS play a pivotal role in international support for global eradication of polio, having made significant investments in their domestic eradication activities as well as contributions to stop recent outbreaks of polio.

As most of the world is now polio-free, the remaining reservoirs of polio (Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) now pose an ever-greater risk to polio-free countries with vulnerable populations. Recent polio outbreaks in China, Congo and Tajikistan have paralyzed and even killed adults. The World Health Assembly in May will consider a resolution declaring the eradication of polio a global emergency in order to protect polio-free areas. Greater accountability will be sought both from the governments of polio-affected countries and from international partners and donors.

Finishing the job of polio eradication will require the political and financial support of the BRICS, who together represent a large proportion of the polio-free world.


Rotary clubs have water projects on tap

Rotary International News, 22 March – Villages in four regions of Ghana are being equipped with ventilated pit latrines, showers, and boreholes featuring hand pumps and mechanized pipes through the efforts of dozens of Rotary clubs in Latin America, North America, and Ghana.

The effort is part of the The International H2O Collaboration, an alliance between Rotary International and USAID, a centerpiece of Rotary’s emphasis on water and sanitation issues. Launched in 2009, the alliance works to implement long-term, sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in the developing world. The first phase of the partnership has focused on three countries: Ghana, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic.

In 2011, The Rotary Foundation also established a strategic partnership with UNESCO-IHE, a United Nations institute in The Netherlands that is the world’s largest postgraduate water education facility. The Rotary Foundation will provide grants to Rotary clubs and districts to select and sponsor eight students each year for scholarships leading to master’s degrees in specified program areas.

Collaboration is key if Rotary is to help the world achieve the water and sanitation improvements called for in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, said Ron Denham, chair of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group and a member of the Rotary-USAID Steering Committee.


111 million children in four days

West and Central Africa Polio Campaign enters decisive phase

Brazzaville/Dakar, 21 March - Health Ministries, UN agencies and communities are uniting with tens of thousands of volunteer immunizers over four days to go door-to-door and hut to hut for a vaccination campaign against polio in 20 African countries starting on 23 March.

The vaccination campaigns are critical to protect children before the ‘high season’ for polio, which starts in the northern hemisphere summer. Due to insufficient funding, the polio eradication initiative is scaling back campaigns planned from March to July in over 20 countries. Many of these countries remain therefore vulnerable to polio outbreaks. The reduction in vaccination activities leaves the eradication effort with a funding shortfall of US$405 million for 2012.

Across West and Central Africa, over 111.1 million children below the age of five are expected to be vaccinated through this campaign. Nigeria, the only polio endemic country in Africa, aims to get two drops of the oral vaccine into the mouths of 57.7 million children. Nineteen other countries, which are at risk of re-infection, are stepping up efforts to reach nearly 53.3 million children.

This gigantic exercise represents a dramatic effort of will by governments and partners, and relies on hundreds of thousands of health workers and volunteers who will be administering the drops to all children under the age of five, irrespective of their previous immunization status.


EDC creates new tool to measure reading progress

Washington, D.C., March 12 – A free electronic tool that quickly and accurately measures the reading progress of young children is now available for use by teachers in the developing world. An adaptation of USAID’s paper-based Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), eEGRA was created by EDC and runs in Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software. It will be demonstrated for international literacy experts and policymakers at a forum March 13 at EDC’s Washington, D.C. office.

One of the benefits of eEGRA is that results are available immediately after a student has completed a test, instantly providing the classroom teacher or headmaster with a snapshot of the student’s reading progress. By comparison, data from the paper test can take six months to analyze, and because it is developed at the national or district level, is rarely seen or used by teachers.

First conceptualized in 2009, eEGRA was developed for an Excel platform in the spring of 2010, and then field tested in the Philippines. That field study established that eEGRA scores learners as accurately as its paper-based counterpart and the use of a laptop does not inhibit testing.


Energy and safety



UN-backed study shows technology can help world move to low-carbon economy

New York, April 2 The use of broadband in information and communication technology (ICT) can help the world transition to a low carbon-economy and address the causes and effects of climate change, according to a United Nations-backed report <

press_releases/2012/16.aspx > released today.

The report aims to raise awareness of the pivotal role information and communication technology, particularly broadband networks, can play in helping creating a low-carbon economy. It also highlights the importance of public private partnerships in accelerating change.

It provides practical examples of how broadband can contribute to reducing greenhouse gasses, mitigate and help adapt to the effects of climate change, and promote resource efficiency, while building more prosperous and inclusive societies.


Simple tool helps companies address water risks

28 March – WWF and DEG (Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH) have created a practical online questionnaire that not only identifies water risk in supply chains and investment portfolios, but also provides practical steps to mitigate risk.

Roughly 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in river basins that experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year; more than 900 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.7 billion lack access to basic sanitation services. Population growth and climate change are set to increase pressure on vital freshwater resources, with serious consequences for nature, people and economies.

WWF and DEG’s message to companies is simple: Why take the risk? DEG has established water as a critical field for its client companies, and has used the Water Risk Filter to help them identify and mitigate water risk in business operations.  “Water availability is the most underestimated critical issue for the companies we are financing, but we believe that financial institutions can help make the companies more sustainable in their performance. Our work with WWF looks beyond the risks and shows practical ways how to change them into business opportunities,” said Bruno Wenn, Chairman of DEG.


P&G and CARE announce commitment to provide 100 million liters of clean drinking water through innovative partnership

Achieves milestone of 100th school reached on World Water Day

March 22 – Announced today at a ceremony hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) and leading humanitarian organization, CARE plan to provide more than 100 million liters of clean drinking water in Kenya and Ethiopia through an investment of over $1 million. The organizations came together on World Water Day to announce the grant and to celebrate the milestone of the 100th school in Kenya provided with clean drinking water through their partnership, which focuses on enabling students to be agents of change.

In addition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced P&G's commitment to the newly formed U.S. Water Partnership, a public-private effort to unite and mobilize expertise and resources to address water challenges around the globe. P&G will sit on the 2012 Steering Committee of the U.S. Water Partnership and continue to focus efforts on sharing clean drinking water through partnerships like the CARE schools program.


WorldStove model: pilot programs

As a retail item, the LuciaStove is intended for lots of 500 or more, and has a focus to set up micro industries in communities. WorldStove constructs the base components and then works with local liaisons to set up small manufacturing plants. These plants do not require welding, riveting or drilling. They serve as a skill based income generating activity for the community.

The LuciaStove technology has a variety of applications and was invented with adaptability in mind. Pilot Programs are a core part of the WorldStove model and give us an opportunity to work with individuals and communities to mold the technology to local needs. An organization may opt to start with a Pilot Program in order to: 1) assess whether or not a particular biomass can be used efficiently; 2) study the cooking traditions of the community so the stove can be adapted to meet those requirements; or 3) test the viability of setting up local income generation through onsite manufacturing. Based on the results of the Pilot Program, organizations can determine the viability of the stoves in a particular community and work with WorldStove to adapt the technology to local needs. Pilot programs have been conducted in Uganda, Kenya, Haiti, Malawi, Indonesia, Zaire and the Philippines. Currently, additional pilot programs are operating in Burkina Faso, Congo, Niger and Uganda.


Environment and wildlife



Five key nonprofit organizations team up with Ecomedia to fulfill "green" projects for advertisers nationwide

New York, March 29 - Dozens Of Projects Have Been Funded in the Last Seven Months by Advertisers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Energizer, Waste Management, Cirque du Soleil, and Boston Scientific, as Momentum and Scope of the EcoAd Program Grows

CBS’s EcoMedia announced today that it has signed new agreements with several national nonprofit organizations, greatly expanding its ability to fund ad-supported environmental projects in communities across the nation. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Waterkeeper Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, Enterprise Community Partners and Volunteers of America now join the Trust for Public Land and National Association of Counties as partners in the EcoAd program. Through the purchase of an EcoAd, advertisers are able to directly help fund bricks-and-mortar projects in local communities, creating jobs, saving taxpayers dollars and reducing carbon emissions.

Through these new partnerships, some of the nation’s most respected and effective nonprofit organizations are collaborating with EcoMedia to identify key projects that will most benefit from receiving advertising dollars through EcoMedia’s EcoAd program. Projects already completed include lighting retrofits; solar arrays; tree plantings and organic gardens; new urban parks; the development of open spaces; and water quality improvement projects, all of which will generate energy efficiency, taxpayer savings and public enjoyment.


Earth Day & International Mother Earth Day - April 22

Over a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year. It is the largest civic observance in the world, and is evidence of the massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the Earth. In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly added its weight to this popular movement, proclaiming April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit.

Following the UN declaration of Mother Earth Day the General Assembly invited member states and other interested parties to present to the UN Secretary-General their views, experiences and proposals on promoting life in harmony with nature. These views were then incorporated into an exceptional report (here) by the Secretary-General on the theme: Sustainable development: Harmony With Nature. Issued in August 2010, the Report includes sections on Harmony with nature: the ancient heritage of mankind; The evolving relationship of human health with nature; Sustainable development: a holistic paradigm for harmony with nature in the twenty-first century.



Religion and spirituality



Golden Rule Day - April 5

Golden Rule day seeks to draw attention to the universal significance of the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, celebrated in all major world faiths.

The day was originally proclaimed in 2007 by the Interfaith Peace-building Initiative, a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle in Ethiopia. It is now observed by inter-faith groups and is celebrated every year by the United Religions Initiative at the United Nations, an NGO, with the presentation of an annual Golden Rule Medal.


U.S. Senate calls for release of religious prisoners in Iran

April 1, Washington, D.C. - The United States Senate has passed a resolution condemning the government of Iran for its systematic campaign of persecution of Baha'is and calling for the release of all Iranian prisoners held solely for their religious beliefs. The resolution – approved by unanimous consent on Thursday – also called for sanctions against Iranian officials directly responsible for human rights violations.

The resolution took note of recent international measures that have cataloged the growing oppression of Baha'is and other religious minorities in Iran, such as recent reports on human rights in Iran by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.



Culture and education



In education: financier gives $48-million for Dartmouth Arts Center

March 30 – The head of a New York private-equity firm and his wife have donated $48-million to Dartmouth University’s development of a new center for the visual arts, according to Bloomberg.

The new Black Family Visual Arts Center, named for donors Leon and Debra Black, will feature a gallery, screening room, auditorium, and academic facilities serving the more than one in four Dartmouth students who take courses each year in the field, the New Hampshire school said.

In other education news, Wal-Mart scion Rob Walton and his wife, Melani, have pledged $27.5-million to Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability, writes the Arizona Republic.

The five-year grant will fund an expansion of the institute, a new master’s program, and additional training, education, and research programs aimed to promoting sustainable solutions to energy, water, climate, and urbanization issues.


Rwanda: ADRA donates latrines to primary school

March 28 – Silver Spring, Md., USA – The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has made the school day far less challenging for Janjagiro Primary School in the Rwamagana District of Rwanda, through providing the school with significantly needed latrines. In total, 14 latrines were constructed, two of which were built to meet the needs of two students living with physical handicaps.

For the past few years, ADRA Rwanda has provided training for teachers to equip them with a greater understanding of how to teach children with disabilities. In addition, the parents and Parents Committee have also received training. Changes in addressing the needs of all student types are now evident through newly constructed ramps to accommodate students in wheelchairs, and custom-made latrines for children with disabilities.

This project was implemented by ADRA Rwanda and sponsored by ADRA Poland and the Christian Charity Service.


14 organizations receive grants to improve the status of women in Azerbaijan

By Jennifer O'Riordan

March 26 - Six new grants from Counterpart International will support women’s rights and promote women’s leadership in Azerbaijan. Six NGO coalitions received the grants from Counterpart earlier this month. The coalitions comprise 14 organizations, among them the Women’s Association for Rational Development, Women Leaders, Tomris, Solidarity Among Women, Clean World and Women for Development of Municipalities.

The grants were awarded as part of Counterpart’s Women Participation Program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program aims to improve implementation of the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Azerbaijan.Grantees were selected through an open and transparent five-step process overseen by a Grants Selection Committee that included representatives from international organizations, embassies and the government of Azerbaijan.

The two-year Women’s Participation Program (WPP) is funded by USAID and made possible through the Global Civil Society Strengthening Leader with Associates award (GCSS LWA).


Winners of 2012 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards announced

The awards will be presented on 1 June in Lisbon

The Hague/ Brussels, 20 March - The winners of the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards are announced today by the European Commission and Europa Nostra (see list below). The awards will be presented on 1 June during a ceremony at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The event is taking place under the patronage of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, who will also be present, and José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the Commission. Of the 28 winning projects from 15 different European countries, six will be named as 'grand prix' laureates as 2012’s most outstanding heritage achievements. 

 The 28 winners were selected from among 226 submitted projects from 31 countries. The awards are split into four categories    conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. Each category has its own specialist jury, composed of independent experts from across Europe. All the winners receive a plaque or trophy. The six 'grand prix' winners also receive €10,000 each.

The 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards  ceremony in Lisbon on 1 June is part of Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress.

Europa Nostra, cultural heritage, winners 2012


Save the Children, UNICEF to receive $16.2 million for education from IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Westport, Conn., USA, March 13 – Shoppers around the globe proved that their purchasing power can do more than spur on the economy, it also can help educate kids. Save the Children and UNICEF will receive $16.2 million from the IKEA Foundation for funds raised by IKEA customers and co-workers through its 2011 Soft Toy for Education campaign.

The donation will help Save the Children and UNICEF carry out 18 education projects in 16 countries. Save the Children's share will support education for children in some of the most marginalized groups (minorities and children with disabilities) in Asia (Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines) and Eastern Europe (Lithuania and Romania). UNICEF's equal share will go to its Schools for Africa projects in seven countries and two projects in Russia and China.



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Next issue: 27 April 2012.



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

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. ( Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (, Azzurra Cianchetta, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster and media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (  


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"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet by civil society corresponding to para 6 in the 1999 Programme of Action calling for the promotion of a culture of peace through sharing of information among actors in the global movement for a culture of peace (p.7). Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet (p.12).   

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