Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 5



Weekly - Year IV, number 5 – 7 March 2003

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media  in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



Agreement reached on civil liability for damage caused by industrial accidents on transboundary waters

Geneva, 28 February - Negotiations on a legally binding instrument on civil liability and compensation for damage caused by the transboundary effects of major industrial accidents involving hazardous substances on transboundary waters came to a successful conclusion in Geneva yesterday.

The instrument has been developed over the past 15 months under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), as a protocol to both the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents. The proposal to draw up such a legally binding instrument was first made in the wake of the accident at a tailings dam at Baia Mare (Romania) in January 2000, when the spillage of 100,000 tons of waste water with highly toxic pollutants, including cyanide, led to massive water pollution of the Tisza and the Danube Rivers.

The negotiating process was unique because it involved all the stakeholders: the UNECE member countries, industry, the insurance sector, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The agreement had been negotiated in a way to speed up its ratification. Its scope, its limits of liability and its limit for financial guarantees are precise and realistic. (...)

 The Protocol is expected to be formally adopted and signed at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference Environment for Europe in Kiev, Ukraine, on 21 May 2003. The successful results of these regional negotiations will be shared in March with a worldwide audience at the third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan. (...)



Human rights



Sudan: Major step to implement humanitarian law

February 28 - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir signed a decree in February to set up a national commission on international humanitarian law. The commission's creation is a major step toward effective implementation of humanitarian law in Sudan, a country that has suffered 19 years of internal conflict. Its task will be to advise and assist the government in spreading knowledge of and applying international humanitarian law, and thus meeting its international obligations. Effective compliance with the law requires that governments take a series of legislative, administrative and practical measures. They must adopt laws to ensure, for example, that prisoners of war, wounded and sick combatants and civilians benefit from the guarantees to which they are entitled.

The ICRC has long been actively engaged in promoting knowledge of humanitarian law in Sudan, together with the mechanisms for its implementation. The organization welcomes the new commission and will continue to provide advice and technical assistance to the Sudanese government.


Fundamentally we're all the same - look deeper

15-23 March - European-wide action week against racism

March 21st was declared International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a reaction to the murder of 70 demonstrators in Sharpeville, South-Africa, in 1960. During the annual European-wide Action Week, which centers around 21 March, thousands of people actively engage themselves for tolerance and equal rights. This year once again hundreds of activities will take place all around Europe, organised by a wide variety of organisations. Activities range from special TV programs to cleaning the walls of racist slogans. (...)

At the UNITED conference in Bucuresti (Romania) in 2002, the participants discussed the European-wide Action Week Against Racism, 15-23 March 2003 and expressed their concerns about recent developments in Europe regarding discrimination issues. (...)

The European campaign aims to raise awareness in all relevant areas of society. Two main targets are the media and the general public. (...) Think globally, act locally. Racism is not a local issue. European campaigns can help set the agenda on all levels. We have to campaign on local, regional and European level to get our point across. (...)

UNITED for Intercultural Action is the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees.



Economy and development



World agriculture towards 2030 - Final study published

Growth in food production will be higher than population growth

Rome, 4 March - The world's population will be better fed by 2030, but hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will remain chronically hungry. This is one of the key messages of 'World agriculture: towards 2015/2030', FAO's latest global assessment of the long-term outlook for food and agriculture. It updates and extends the last FAO assessment made in 1995. (...)

The study says that the number of hungry people is expected to decline from around 800 million today to about 440 million in 2030. This means that the target of the World Food Summit in 1996 to reduce the number of hungry by half by 2015, will not even be met by 2030.

"The report aims at describing the future as it is likely to be," said Jelle Bruinsma, the editor of the FAO report. "It does not describe the future as it ought to be nor does it provide a development strategy for global agriculture. (...) We hope that governments and the international community use the report as a basis for their actions, to cope with both existing problems and with new ones that may emerge." World agriculture: towards 2015/2030 - final and summary report:


Village funds in Syria set to expand poverty reduction efforts

28 February - A network of 20 Village Development Funds in the Jabal el-Hoss region, an arid region in northern Syria, is expanding its efforts to reduce poverty. Set up by a UNDP pilot project, the funds offer loans for income-generating activities (see Newsfront, 18 April 2002).

The new phase will help the funds establish a secure legal status, shift management of the initiative to the communities and extend it to 20 more villages. (...) Women initially accounted for 10 per cent of the members in the funds, and this has grown to nearly half of the total membership of more than 4,500. (...)

Japan has allocated US$1.5 million for the new phase in a cost sharing arrangement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, which is providing $775,000, and UNDP is contributing $50,000. The launch of the second phase reflects the success of the pilot project. Full legal status for the funds, said Nour Eddine Mouna, Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, will also contribute to developing the country's finance system. (...)


Natural Resource Management Project in Republic of Kenya receives support from IFAD

Rome, 26 February - A loan agreement was signed today at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Joseph Mbui Magari and by Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD. The loan, in an amount of USD 16.7 million, will support the financing of the USD 25.7 million Mount Kenya East Pilot Project for Natural Resource Management. (...)

The overall goal of the project is to reduce poverty by promoting the conservation of natural resources, better water management and improved agricultural practices. Through support to the local initiatives already emerging, the project will support better natural resource management in river sub-basins through a combination of measures aimed at rationalising water use, afforestation and improved agricultural practices to reduce erosion. (...) About 360 000 people living in these districts will directly benefit from the project.

With this project, IFAD will have financed 12 loan projects in the Republic of Kenya, for a total loan amount of USD 121 million and seven grant projects for a total of about USD 18 million.


Government modernization in Brazil improves efficiency at every level

21 February - Brazil is carrying out major public administration reforms at the federal, state and municipal levels, with assistance from UNDP. These efforts aim to strengthen democratic governance by improving fiscal management, transparency and the efficiency of public services.

More effective public administration at all levels is an important aspect of government efforts to reduce glaring disparities that leave about one in six of Brazil's 170 million people in poverty.

The reforms began in the late 1990s under the administration of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and the process is expected to continue under the new administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

UNDP has supported the Ministry of Finance in coordinating a fiscal management reform programme for 21 of the country's 26 states and the Federal District. (...) To support these activities, the programme has disbursed US$230 million through UNDP Brazil since 1998 out of a total budget of $320 million, with half funded by an Inter-American Development Bank loan and half provided by the Government. UNDP is also supporting the Ministry of Finance in helping 5,560 cities and towns manage municipal finances and public services more effectively. (...)


Top Business Leaders to Address WRIS Sustainable Enterprise Summit, March 13-14

Wyndham City Center Hotel - 1143 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

WRIs Sixth Sustainable Enterprise Summit will showcase leading corporations and strategic partnerships that have transformed vague concepts of sustainability into concrete actions. Full agenda posted at

The Sixth Sustainable Enterprise Summit will convene more than 150 participants representing over 75 corporations and environmental and governmental organizations. The Summit will highlight actions supporting new green markets and strategies for preparing tomorrows business leaders to better manage for sustainability.

Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) will draw on his experience inside and outside the beltway to address strategies for business and government to work effectively towards a sustainable future.

WRIs Green Power Market Development Group, a Sustainable Enterprise Program project, will announce the addition of two new corporate members.

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to create practical ways to protect the Earth and improve people's lives.






Azerbaijan: Cooperation improves health care for disabled people

February 28 - As of mid-February, disabled people in Azerbaijan have a new branch of the Prosthetic and Orthotic Rehabilitation Centre at Ganja, in the west of the country.

The facility belongs to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population, but under a July 2002 agreement between the Ministry and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC part-funded its construction and has provided equipment and materials. Indeed, the ICRC will be supplying enough materials and components during 2003 for 500 artificial limbs and orthotic appliances. In addition, the facility boasts two ICRC-trained technicians qualified to international standards, guaranteeing patients a high-quality service. (...) The ICRC is also to supply the Nakhichevan branch of the Rehabilitation Centre with enough materials and components for 150 artificial limbs and orthotic appliances, and will be providing the branch with two machines.


ADRA Network responds to Ethiopian famine

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 27 The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Sweden received $307,000 in funding on February 17 from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to be used in aid of famine victims in Ethiopia.

The program to be implemented by ADRA in Ethiopia will focus on providing emergency food aid to 30,000 people for three months. Funding will also support the purchase of planting seeds to be supplied to local farmers. In addition, 55 families will each be provided a pair of oxen for use by their communities to improve agricultural production. Additional funding from private donors in Sweden and ADRA International will supply food to 10,000 people for two months.

Drought and resulting poor harvests have contributed to the crisis that Ethiopia is currently facing. According to the Ethiopian government, some 11 million people, or 17% of the population, are facing severe food shortages in the country. Reports indicate the current Ethiopian crisis is far worse than the droughts of 1984 and 2000.


IFAD to provide USD 29 million to People's Republic of China

Rome, 21 February - A loan agreement was signed today at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) by H.E. First Vice Minister Han Changfu, and by Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD. The loan, in an amount of USD 28.97 million, will help fund the Environment Conservation and Poverty-Reduction Programme in Ningxia and Shanxi, which is worth USD 90.31 million. The World Food Programme is a co-financer of this programme with an equivalent of USD 7.28 million. (...)

During the development of the project, households were consulted using participatory approaches and they requested assistance for investments in production activities to raise their incomes and improve food security. While the project participants are aware of opportunities available with perennial cash crops, their lack of resources and know-how hampers production. IFADs main objective in supporting this programme is to offer households increased access to economic and social resources including financial services, education, health and social networks.

With this project, IFAD will have financed 17 projects in the Peoples Republic of China, for a total loan amount of USD 429 million.


Stop Hunger Now announces plan to fight hunger in Iraq

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, 19 February - Stop Hunger Now, the Raleigh-based hunger relief organization, has launched the 20-4-4 Iraq Crisis Appeal to help relieve hunger in Iraq. Under the plan, emergency food boxes can be prepared for $20, each of which can feed an Iraqi family of four for four weeks. Stop Hunger Now has already established working partnerships with two humanitarian organizations, the Middle East Council of Churches and the Islamic Relief Association, to provide emergency food aid in the region. (...)

Stop Hunger Now is already supplying emergency food boxes to assist in food stockpiles at likely refugee camps in Jordan and is providing emergency food aid in Iraq itself. More information on the 20-4-4 Iraq Crisis Appeal can be obtained by visiting the Stop Hunger Now web site at,  or by calling toll-free: 888.501.8440.

Established in 1998, Stop Hunger Now is a 501-(c)(3) international relief organization that coordinates the distribution of emergency food and life-saving aid worldwide. (...)

© 2002 InterAction


Latest from Rotary International

Polio Push - During March Rotary clubs worldwide are preparing for a major fundraising push for the eradication of Polio. On 1 July 2002, Rotary launched an $80 million fundraising drive to help the Global Polio Eradication Initiative overcome the $275 million gap in the funding needed to eradicate polio by 2005. The over 31,000 Rotary clubs worldwide are challenged to take this opportunity to come up with some clever ways to raise money and awareness for polio eradication.

Presidential Conference of Peace and Development - Panama, 20-22 March

RI President Bhichai Rattakul's third Presidential Conference of Peace and Development will be held in Panama City, Panama. This informative and interactive conference will provide insights on many of today's most debated RI issues and concerns. Themes to be discussed will include, among others: How Rotary Can Combat Poverty through Vocational Training; Methods for Developing Rotary Micro-Enterprise Projects; Ensure Sustainable Development While Preserving Planet Earth; Building Peace and Understanding through the Rotary Centers.



Peace and security



Promoting Peace and Security through Education and Science: Elements for a UN Strategy against Terrorism

February 28 - On 26 February 2003, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, convened at the Organizations Headquarters a meeting with the representatives of United Nations sister agencies to identify a common approach against terrorism by promoting peace and security through Education and Science. (...) In his opening remarks Mr Koïchiro Matsuura encouraged the group to think in terms of concentrating on existing programmes and their efficiency rather than creating new programmes. (...) Stating that peace and security should not be separated, the Director-General recalled UNESCOs General Conference Resolution on Terrorism reiterated the duty of the United Nations system to address both sides of the terrorism question in terms of its political as well as criminal nature.

The participants agreed on the need to concentrate their existing programmes on three interlocking areas in the field of education. Aware of the challenge to devise ways of aiding national policy makers to introduce textbook adjustments they agreed to focus on developing national curricula frameworks with a human rights orientation, while addressing the implications of globalization and determining the role of education in life long learning efforts.

In the field of science a strong emphasis was placed on the need for reinforcing ethical norms and creating codes of conduct for scientists based on common concerns and values, it was agreed to continue seeking opportunities to introduce the ethics of science into education curricula. (...)


Thirty million mines that will never kill or maim a civilian

February 28 - Close to 30 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed by the Ottawa Convention's first deadline. Forty-four States Parties will have completely destroyed their stocks on time for their 1 March 2003 deadline, which coincides with the fourth anniversary of the Convention's entry into force.

March 1 marks the fourth anniversary of the Ottawa Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines. To date, 131 States Parties have ratified or acceded to the Convention, committing themselves to the total elimination of anti-personnel mines. These weapons kill and maim indiscriminately, and most of their victims are civilians.

March 1 also represents the first landmark in the process of implementing the Convention: by that date, 45 States Parties will have to comply with their obligation to completely destroy their stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines and with one exception all States have confirmed that they will meet the deadline. With almost 30 million landmines destroyed in the last four years, the Convention has passed its first big test with flying colours.

Even more importantly, the Convention has had a demonstrable effect on the ground over the same period. The number of new landmine victims has decreased significantly by as much as 60 to 70 percent in some areas where the ICRC is present. (...)


Cities for Peace News: 124 U.S. cities and counties against war on Iraq

February 28 - 124 U.S. cities and counties have now passed resolutions opposing the war, along with both houses of the Maine state legislature and the Hawaii House of Representatives. 

See the list!

February 21 - Los Angeles passes a resolution!

February 13 - Council Members from 30 of the 90 cities that have passed resolutions against war on Iraq visited Washington.

Cities for Peace is a rapidly growing coalition of local elected officials and concerned citizens working to get their City Councils and other civic bodies to pass resolutions against a war on Iraq.  


Tokyo conference raises $50.7m for Afghan "guns to plows" demobilization initiative

26 February - Donor countries, led by Japan, pledged US$50.7 million at a conference in Tokyo last Saturday to consolidate peace in Afghanistan by collecting weapons, demobilizing Afghan fighters and creating jobs for them. UNDP will join with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to carry out the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme in partnership with the Afghanistan Transitional Administration. Support so far has come from Japan, providing $35 million, and the US pledging $10 million, the UK $3.5 million and Canada $2.2 million.

The Tokyo Conference on Consolidation of Peace (DDR) in Afghanistan, "Change of Order - from Guns to Plows," hosted by the Government of Japan, was attended by Hamid Karzai, President of the Afghanistan Transitional Administration, Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, and representatives of 34 countries and 12 international organizations.

The Afghanistan's New Beginnings Programme will help collect weapons and offer former army soldiers and provincial militia fighters alternative sources of income in return for demobilizing. Among the main prospective participants are middle ranking militia commanders, who still control many communities.  (...)


The Club of Budapest -  “War Can No Longer Be An Instrument Of National Politics”

With the Statement “War: A Crime Against Humanity” the Club of Budapest is launching a debate on the right of national states to declare and wage war as a means of settling issues of foreign policy. 

“Times are over when questions of war and peace could be decided in the context of international power politics,” says Ervin Laszlo, President of the Club of Budapest, a global think-and-action tank with a hundred members including the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Peter Ustinov and others. “Right cannot be decided by might, in the international field any more than in the personal domain. In an interdependent global community every war between nations is fundamentally a civil war.”  Terrorists and potential aggressors must be stopped, but war is not the way to stop them. Warfare must be replaced by dialogue leading to mutual understanding as a basis of multilateral cooperation in regard to relations among nations in the political as well as in the economic and the ecological spheres.  (...)

The Statement is signed by Members of the Club of Budapest inter alia Sir Peter Ustinov, Paolo Coelho, Pir Inayat-Vilayat Khan, Zubin Mehta, Betty Williams, Hans Küng, Sir Sigmund Sternberg, Jane Goodall, Peter Russell, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, and Lady Fiona Montagu and is included in the Club of Budapest web site.


World Peace Forum - Sydney, Australia, 29 March 2003

The Earth Charter will be the central theme for the World Peace Forum to be held in Sydney, Australia

The World Peace Forum 2003 will be a day of inspiration and practical outcomes. Leading speakers from Australia and around the world will reflect on the principles of the United Nations Earth Charter and Mahatma Gandhi’s peace philosophy and how these can be practically applied to settle present conflicts & environmental crises and ensure a culture of peace - peace between individuals, peace between communities, peace between nations.

The outcome will be a Resolution taken to Canberra; plus you will be provided with practical ideas and vehicles to ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.' The day includes an exhibition of the peace-inspired work of Australian humanitarian, environmental, spiritual, and community groups. The Initiator of the World Peace Forum is His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda

The Earth Charter is an authoritative synthesis of values, principles, and aspirations that are widely shared by growing numbers of men and women in all regions of the world. The principles of the Earth Charter reflect extensive international consultations conducted over a period of many years. These principles are also based upon contemporary science, international law, and the insights of philosophy and religion. Successive drafts of the Earth Charter were circulated around the world for comment and debate by non governmental organizations, community groups, professional societies, and international experts in many fields.


A Season For Nonviolence (1998-2003)

With the exemplary commitment of task force leaders and volunteers, A Season for Nonviolence, January 30- April 4, 1998-03 has attained unanticipated goals in a 64  day educational, media and grassroots campaign inspired by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Launching on the January 30th memorial anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, A Season for Nonviolence draws to a close on each year on the King April 4th memorial, having seeded since 1998 substantial activity in 115 cities in 40 states, and 10 countries. Fifty percent of our United States governors, and many mayors issued official proclamations for the 64 day period, and over three hundred unique events and programs have been developed and carried out at the local level during the Season.. Media coverage includes radio and television broadcasts, PSA and film productions, and print publications at all levels from local to national press. At least 350 major Peace organizations, religious, business, arts, and learning institutions have elected themselves as official co-sponsors of the Season for Nonviolence initiative.






UNFPA welcomes projection of slower population growth; calls for greater efforts to counter HIV/AIDS, meet needs of poorest countries

United Nations, New York, 27 February UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, welcomes the news that fertility reductions are helping to slow global population growth, which was confirmed yesterday by a report of the Population Division of the United Nations Secretariat.

According to World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision, the worlds numbers will increase from todays 6.3 billion to 8.9 billion by 2050. This means a smaller increase of 2.6 billion, instead of the 3 billion projected two years ago. Nearly all of the projected growth will occur in developing countries. About half of the difference in growth projections is due to lower expectations of future fertility rates, the number of births a woman is expected to have in her lifetime.

However, World Population Prospects cautions, the realization of these projections is contingent on ensuring that couples have access to family planning and that efforts to arrest the current spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are successful in reducing its growth momentum.

The revised projections also reflect a more dire assessment of the impact of HIV/AIDS, highlighting the urgent need for more global action to prevent the spread of the pandemic as well as to treat and care for HIV/AIDS-affected people, especially in developing countries. About half of the reduction in projected population growth rate results from an increase in the number of projected deaths, the majority stemming from higher levels of HIV prevalence. (...)


Feeding hope: nutrition plays key role in HIV/AIDS care

FAO/WHO publish new manual for people living with HIV/AIDS

25 February, Geneva/Rome-- A good diet is one of the simplest means of helping people live with HIV/AIDS and may even help delay the progression of the deadly virus, two UN agencies said today. A new manual published jointly by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the relationship between infection and nutrition and offers simple and practical dietary suggestions for the estimated 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

By bolstering the immune system and boosting energy levels, balanced nutrition can help the body fight back against the ravages of the disease. By maintaining body weight a good diet can support drug treatments and prevent malnutrition. (...)

Almost 95 percent of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries where healthcare, resources and drugs are scarce. For them a balanced diet is a positive way of responding to the illness. "Food isn't a magic bullet. It won't stop people dying of AIDS," William Clay of FAO's Food and Nutrition Division said, "But it can help them live longer, more comfortable and more productive lives."  (...)


HIV vaccine trial results are an important step forward in developing an effective vaccine, say WHO and UNAIDS

WHO/UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Initiative Calls for Accelerated Research to Build on Trial Accomplishments

Geneva, 24 February - Preliminary results of a large-scale trial of a candidate AIDS vaccine announced today by the US-based biotechnology company VaxGen suggest that it is possible to protect some individuals from HIV infection. The trial of the company's AIDSVAX vaccine appears to show a protective effect among non-Caucasian populations, especially African Americans, although sample sizes were small. However, for the majority of the participants, who were Caucasians, the effect of the vaccine was minimal. The company stressed, however, that the results announced today only represent findings from an initial analysis. Additional studies will be conducted over the coming weeks to further clarify the data. (...)

This trial vaccine is a promising first step, but an effective vaccine providing widespread protection is still not on the horizon. The AIDSVAX Phase III trial was the first large-scale human trial of an HIV vaccine. (...) The vaccine used in this trial was designed to reduce susceptibility to infection with HIV subtype B, which is prevalent in the Americas, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. To date, eleven subtypes of HIV-1 have been identified. One of the major challenges in HIV vaccine development is to develop one or multiple vaccines effective against all major subtypes of HIV. (...)


MSF launches emergency intervention in the north of the Central African Republic

Following three months of complete isolation, the population will at last receive medical assistance

Bangui, 24 February - Three months after the fighting broke out, the humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been able to launch its activities in a more permanent way in northern territory of the Central African Republic (CAR), an area controlled by General François Bozizé's troops.

Ever since the attempted coup perpetrated by General Bozizé on October 25th last year, the North of the country has been totally cut off from humanitarian relief organisations. After several assessment missions in January, MSF is the only international organisation to work with the isolated population in this part of the country. (...) The MSF mobile teams undertake consultations at the already existing health structures in these towns, while organizing an epidemiological surveillance system. Moreover, the possibility to launch an emergency surgical intervention will also be assessed. (...)

In towns such as Bossembelé and Damara, in the country's central-southern area, the populations hiding in the bush come out to our clinic in search of medical care. "They are frightened and weak and we fear a rapid deterioration of their health condition" Raquel Ayora, one of the MSF volunteers in charge of the operations in the Central African Republic, has stated.


Launch of first comprehensive gender and HIV/AIDS web portal

New communication tool advances UNIFEM and UNAIDS commitment to reversing epidemic

United Nations, New York , 21 February - A new gender and HIV/AIDS web portal launched today, will provide researchers, policy-makers and practitioners access to cutting edge information at their fingertips. Developed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the portal is a one-stop online resource center on the gender dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Globally, 50 per cent of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women. The epidemic disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls who are socially, culturally, biologically and economically more vulnerable, and who shoulder the burden of caring for the sick and dying. (...)

The web portal will be a constantly evolving, multi-dimensional and dynamic virtual space that promotes understanding, knowledge-sharing, and action on HIV/AIDS as a gender and human rights issue. User-friendly, informative and interactive, the site offers research, training materials, surveys, advocacy tools, current news and opinion pieces by leading experts, and women's stories from the field. Plans are also underway to house an experts database, which will serve as a technical and networking vehicle for national and global gender and HIV/AIDS specialists.

Please visit the gender and HIV/AIDS web portal at


WHO launches annual Move for Health day as global initiative to promote benefits of physical activity

Geneva, 17 February 2003 - World Health Organization (WHO) today launched Move for Health as an annual global initiative to promote physical activity as essential for health and well-being. Announcing the move at the first International Conference for Sport and Development, in Magglingen, Switzerland, WHO Director General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland said the initiative reflected Member State concerns that the increasing chronic disease problems caused by unhealthy diet and physical inactivity should not be addressed in isolation.

Following last years very successful World Health Day, the World Health Assembly urged Member States to celebrate a Move for Health day each year to promote physical activity as essential for health and well-being, says Dr Brundtland. (...) Move for Health is part of a broader WHO initiative to address the growing burden of chronic diseases through its Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, also mandated by the 55th WHA (May 2002). (...)

These initiatives are strongly backed by findings of the 2002 World Health Report, which lists physical inactivity among the main risks contributing to global chronic disease morbidity and mortality along with unhealthy diet and tobacco use. (...)

The solution to producing health, social and economic benefits from physical activity to all population groups is simple - at least 30 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity daily. (...)



Energy and safety



Chlorine producers unveil sustainability goals

February 27- At a conference in Brussels (24-25 February), European chlorine producers unveiled the industry's first-ever sustainability performance indicators.

"In 2001, Euro Chlor members agreed to adopt six quantitative measures to ensure a united industry commitment to sustainability", explained Euro Chlor Executive Director Dr Barrie S. Gilliatt. "During the past year, considerable effort has been invested in turning these into 14 concretes, measurable targets." At the conference ("Lightening chlorine's footprint... steps to sustainability"), NGOs, regulators and industry debated how the industry could continue efforts to address environmental and social challenges whilst ensuring economic viability. For full information, please read Euro Chlor's press release.


Clothing from cornfields

February 25 - Hard to imagine yourself wearing clothes made of corn? This should however soon be possible, thanks a DuPont innovative method that uses corn to produce the latest polymer for application in clothing, carpets and automobile interiors.

Until now, most fibres have been produced using a petroleum-based process, DuPont scientist Dr. Scott Nichols said. Now, after seven years of research in conjunction with Genencor International, we have honed a bio-based process, using renewable resources like corn.

Advantages go beyond recyclability. Indeed, this new fibre has a softer feel and supports easier, as well as offering more versatile dyeability with excellent washfastness and UV resistance. Tempted by the new trend? It is now only a matter of time: the DuPont company expects to announce transition plans to the new bio-based process later this year. Full details at DuPonts website.



Environment and wildlife



Kenya joins world-wide pollution monitoring network

Inauguration of Nairobi Ground Station Signals New International Effort to Save the Ozone Layer and Track Pollution Plumes Across the Globe

Nairobi, 27 February - Nairobi has become a key lynch-pin in an international effort to monitor the repair of the ozone layer, the Earths protective shield, and pollution from events such as forest fires and charcoal burning. A high-tech monitoring station has been installed that can detect ozone, emitted from the East African part of the Tropics and formed from sources such as industry, transport, agriculture and the burning of biomass. (...)

One of the key roles of the new station, which was inaugurated today, is to help unravel the fate of ozone damaging chemicals produced in the region from both human-made and natural sources such as vegetation. (...)

The Nairobi Validation Station , the first of its kind in Tropical and sub tropical Africa and installed within the grounds of UNEP at Gigiri, is part of a network which includes the recently launched European Space Agency ENVISAT satellite. The network includes other stations in places like Germany and Svaalbard in the Arctic and an aircraft known as Falcon which is currently criss-crossing the globe taking airborne observations. (...)


Adrienne Bloch Wins Sutherland Fellowship

Winner fights for environmental justice as an attorney with Communities for a Better Environment

Oakland, California, USA, 24 February - Earthjustice today announced that The Rick Sutherland Fellow for 2003 is Adrienne Bloch, an attorney with Communities for a Better Environment in Oakland, California. The fellowship is awarded each year to assist young lawyers, recently out of law school, who want to work in public-interest positions but cannot afford to do so because of law school debt and general financial hardship. (...) The award carries a cash stipend of up to $12,000 a year for two years. It is financed in part by contributions from Earthjustice staff members. (...) Earthjustice and the Sutherland Fellowship Fund are honored to help Ms. Bloch devote her considerable talents and energies to the fight for environmental justice, commented Elizabeth Sutherland, chair of the fellowship committee.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations and communities.



Religion and spirituality



European, American Christians take peace message to Capitol Hill February 27, 2003

By Robert Marus

Washington (ABP Associated Baptist Press) -- Christian leaders from Europe and America have brought a musical message to the halls of Congress that they havent been allowed to sing yet at the White House: Dona nobis pacem -- "Give us peace.  A chorus of that ancient Latin hymn opened a Feb. 26 press briefing in a Senate hearing room. Speakers at the briefing included American clergy from several denominations and their European counterparts from countries that are members of the United Nations Security Council. The leaders are opposed to a pre-emptive American war against Iraq at the present time. (...)

Although the leaders and the churches with which they are associated have had or have scheduled meetings with world leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, so far the White House has not responded to their Jan. 30 request to meet with President Bush. (...)



Culture and education



Prize-giving ceremony for 2003 LORÉAL-UNESCO 'Women in science' awards

27 February - The 2003 LORÉAL-UNESCO Awards were given today to five outstanding women scientists during a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. At the ceremony, which marked the fifth anniversary of the LORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, 15 young scientific researchers received the annual UNESCO - LORÉAL fellowships. The awards, presented by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LORÉAL, Lindsay Owen-Jones, and Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, recognized for the first time women working in the field of the material sciences. Five laureates in the material sciences, in addition to fifteen fellowships in the life sciences, were honoured at the event. This years awards bring to 71 the number of women, from 45 countries, who have been honoured by the programme.  (...)


What best prepares teachers for success? University of Dayton dean co-chairs five-year statewide study

Dayton, Ohio, USA, 27 February -- The University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University are leading a five-year statewide study that will recommend ways to better prepare teachers by better understanding the success of different types of teacher preparation practices. The "Ohio Partnership for Accountability: The Impact of Teacher Education" study is initially funded by the Ohio Department of Education, Procter & Gamble and the Ohio Board of Regents and has the support of Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and a variety of Ohio professional education associations. "It will be the only research of its type in the country and can serve as a model for teacher education reform," said Thomas Lasley, dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton. (...)

In the study, researchers will measure the success of teachers who've received certification through alternative licensure programs. They will also team up with BattelleforKids, an Ohio organization that promotes education reform, to analyze which teaching methods are most effective in the classroom by studying teachers whose students continuously improve over the course of a year. (...)


ADRA Tajikistan receives school reconstruction grant

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, February 25 On February 12, 2003, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Tajikistan received a grant from the Government of Japan for a school reconstruction project benefiting 1,500 children in Garm, part of the poorest region in Tajikistan. Construction is set to begin on April 1, 2003 and finish by the beginning of the academic year, September 1, 2003. (...)

Currently, the strategy of Tajikistans Ministry of Education and the development focus of many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in that country is aimed at the education of women and inhabitants of mountain regions of the country. This is ADRA Tajikistans first education project. (...)



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Next issue: 21 March 2003

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