Good News Agency – Year VII, n° 14
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 (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. 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 3,700 media in 48 countries and to 2,800 NGOs.
It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/uk/uk_sum_monde.htm
More than 15 States ratify the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
9 November - As of 8 November, 16 States* have ratified the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005. It will enter into force three months after the deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, welcomed the “particularly rapid” rate of the Convention’s ratification: “No other UNESCO Convention concerning culture has been ratified by so many States in such a short time,” he said upon receiving the 16th instrument of ratification, deposited by Senegal.
The result of a long process of maturation and two years of intense negotiations, marked by numerous meetings of independent and then governmental experts, the text seeks to reaffirm the links between culture, development and dialogue and to create an innovative platform for international cultural cooperation. To this end, it reaffirms the sovereign right of States to elaborate cultural policies with a view both “to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions” and “to create the conditions for cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner” (Article 1). It also highlights “the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity” and reaffirms that “freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.” (…)
CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war enters into force
Author(s): Site Admin
Wednesday 15 November - Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons came into force on 12 November 2006.
Another instrument of international humanitarian law has just come into force, adding to the body of international instruments designed to protect civilians from indiscriminate weapons. Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons came into force on 12 November 2006, almost three years after it was adopted. Entry into force occurred six months after the 20th state notified the UN of its consent to be bound by it. There are now 26 States Parties that have ratified the Protocol.
Protocol V treats explosive ordnance (like bombs, rockets, mortars, grenades and ammunition) that failed to explode or were left behind after a conflict. Like the Mine Ban Treaty, Protocol V makes States Parties responsible for clearing weapons left behind after conflicts have ended and warning populations of the presence of the contamination pending clearance. But it is much weaker than the Mine Ban Treaty because the text is full of qualifying statements such as “where feasible” and “as far as practicable” and it has no clear implementation mechanisms. Also in contrast to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Protocol is not retroactive so there are no obligations to clean up previously left-behind ERW, and there is no deadline on clearance after any future conflicts.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign – 25 November-10 December
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. (See enclosed “Description of Dates” for more information.)
The 16 Days campaign has been commemorated by individuals and groups around the world who use a human rights framework to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by: raising awareness at the local, national, regional and international levels; strengthening local work; linking local and global work; providing a forum for dialogue and strategy-sharing; pressuring governments to implement commitments made in national and international legal instruments; demonstrating the solidarity of activists around the world.
Center for Women’s Global Leadership: http://www.cwgl.rutgers.edu
Uganda: ICRC trains army personnel in Karamoja
16 November - Twenty-five battalion commanders, political commissars and intelligence officers from the Third Division of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) will take part in a course on international humanitarian law from 16 to 18 November in Mbale.
Twenty-five battalion commanders, political commissars and intelligence officers from the Third Division of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) will take part in a course on international humanitarian law from 16 to 18 November in Mbale. The Third Division operates in the Karamoja region in north-eastern Uganda, an area that has witnessed increasing violence in the recent past.
This course is part of a training programme being organized by the ICRC together with the UPDF. A similar event took place in Lira in July for UPDF personnel belonging to the Fourth and Fifth Divisions. An ICRC military expert, and a UPDF instructor trained by the ICRC in international humanitarian law (or the law of armed conflict), will conduct the course. (…)
The ICRC is responsible for promoting international humanitarian law throughout the world. It endeavours to make the basic principles of the law known to all those who bear weapons. In Uganda as elsewhere, the ICRC carries out its humanitarian activities in an impartial, independent and neutral manner.
UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announce Global Partnership to Advance Gender Equality
12 November - UNESCO and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the world’s leading global sport for women, announced today a landmark global partnership to further gender equality and promote women’s leadership in all spheres of society. The social responsibility program, which draws upon the history of the Tour and players in fighting for equality and the idea for which came about through the Iguales campaign at the Tour’s season-ending event in Madrid, marks a new level of commitment by the Tour and players to raise awareness of gender equality issues and advance opportunities for women.
The program also represents the first time that UNESCO, the only organization of the UN system with a mandate for education, science and culture which are most critical for laying the grounds for gender equality, is partnering with a professional sports league for this objective. UNESCO is committed to mainstreaming gender equality considerations in all its programs, globally and at the country level. (…)
Community response to domestic violence wins first prize in social innovation competition
Projects from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru take top awards
10 November - They suffered from domestic violence in silence, for fear, shame and the impossibility of defending themselves. Slowly, they were able to raise their voices, in Quechua, through Defenders: A community response to domestic violence, from Peru, and face together the difficult situation in which they live. Today these women are the first prize recipients of the Experiences in Social Innovation Competition, held by ECLAC, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Defenders project highlights the value of rights achieved by organized women. It is an experience with great potential for creative replication in other projects and countries -- given the sad reality of widespread domestic violence -- that connects children, spouses, police, judges and teachers and involves the entire community in the process of change for a better life. Sixteen competition finalists chose from among 1,000 applications around Latin America and the Caribbean presented their projects over three days before Selection Committee members Marta Maurás, Nohra Rey de Marulanda and Eduardo Amadeo. Their verdict was announced at the Awards Ceremony on 10 November in Mexico City.(…)
Ombudsman’s office establishes new Ombudsman for children
Lima, 6 November - The government of Peru today announced the creation of the Children’s Ombudsman to oversee the defense and promotion of the rights of children and adolescents in the country. (…) The Ombudsman’s Office will ensure that the rights of children in matters of health, education, protection and other areas are being implemented by the state administration’s in compliance with the countries laws as well as the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The ceremony took place at the Puericultorio Augusto Pérez Arníbar and was attended by UNICEF Representative in Peru, Guido Cornale, Ombudsman for Children, Mayda Ramos, and two children – José Javier Llontop Gonzales and Jenny Padilla Campos (…)
IFAD, EC and CGAP launch new initiative to promote remittance services for poor rural people
London, November 13 – A new initiative to improve financial services that allow foreign workers to send money back to their families – most often in poor countries – was jointly launched today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Commission AENEAS Programme and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). The €4.2 million Financing Facility on Remittances will award individual grants of up to €200,000 to support innovative money transfer, or “remittance” services in rural areas that are cost-effective, easily accessible and, when possible, linked to other financial services such as savings, insurance and lending. (…)
The World Bank estimates that remittances to developing countries from overseas workers totalled $167 billion last year. Including unrecorded informal transactions, the bank estimates that total remittance flows may be as much as US$ 250 billion a year. (…)
The fund plans to select its first round of grant recipients in early 2007 after a call for proposals and a competitive review process.
Lesotho: Mohalinyane Youth Nursery project transforms lives of youths
Makopano Letsatsi - World Vision Lesotho Communications
10 November - The Mohalinyane Youth Nursery project has generated R15,996 (US$2,200) from selling tree seedlings. The Tree Nursery Project was established by World Vision in the Tuans Area Development Programme (ADP). Trees were sold to government departments as well as the World Vision relief unit and will be used in environmental rehabilitation activities.
The youth group has six members, who each received R1,000 (US$140) for their participation in tree production.
The income generated through the nursery has enabled the participating youths to support their own education, or the education of their siblings. “Through this nursery, we have also contributed some trees to prevent soil erosion in our village by donating 500 trees to be planted in eroded areas,” said 19-year-old member Tebello Ramoholi.
The group promised to expand their project to vegetable production such as cabbage and potatoes in order to generate income.
World Vision assisted the youth with seeds, garden tools, fertiliser, nursery net, seedling trays, construction of a storeroom for tools, fencing the plot, as well as regular training on improved agricultural skills.
OPEC Fund to support development of Myanmar's edible oil sector
US$12.3 million project to be implemented with the technical assistance of FAO
Rome, 9 November - Myanmar’s edible oil crop sector will be developed over the next three years with technical assistance from FAO, supported by a loan of US$12.3 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The total budget of the project amounts to US$14 million; the remaining balance will be borne by the government of Myanmar, FAO said today. The project will increase oilseed production and improve oil processing technologies. It is expected to enhance rural incomes and food security in the country, where some 75 % of the population lives in rural areas and depends primarily on agriculture for its livelihood. It is described by FAO as one of the largest projects of its kind.(…) The project will focus largely on four oil seeds: sesame, groundnut, sunflower and soybean, and on oil palm, and will boost oil crop production by expanding the availability of improved seeds and genetic material to oil crop farmers. (…) The project will also cover the construction of two new oil solvent extraction plants and the upgrading of existing oil processing facilities.(…)
FAO partnership nets award for work on shrimp farming
Collaborative effort aims to improve sustainability of shrimp aquaculture
Rome/Washington, 9 November, -- A collaborative effort by FAO and a group of partner organizations to make shrimp farming more environmentally friendly has received the World Bank's 2006 "Green Award." The award is presented each year by the bank to projects which help developing countries green up their economic development programs and guide the bank's efforts to fund development that is environmentally sustainable.
The group, the Consortium on Shrimp Farming and the Environment, is composed of FAO, the Network for Aquaculture Centres for the Asia Pacific, WWF, the UN Environmental Programme and the bank itself. It was established in 1999 to investigate key issues related to shrimp aquaculture, encourage policy debates in order to forge consensus among stakeholders regarding how to best deal with those issues, and make recommendations regarding better management practices for shrimp farms. The consortium also pays special attention to poverty, labor and equity issues as well as environmental considerations.(…)
New campaign led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Yunus pledges to provide micro loans to millions of poor rural people
Rome, 9 November – More than 2000 delegates from over 100 countries are due to gather in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on Sunday, to launch the second phase of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, pledging to ensure that 175 million of the world’s poorest families are able to receive credit and other financial services by the end of 2015. (…) Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus is a key player in the campaign and also expected to attend the four-day global summit. As founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Yunus has worked to provide small loans to millions of poor people since 1976. Microfinance has proved especially effective in empowering poor women, who often make up the majority of microfinance clients and have the best credit ratings. Research shows that women invest additional earnings in their children’s education and the family’s health and nutrition.(…)
Caritas responds to monsoon-induced flooding throughout South Asia
Sri Lanka, 17 November - Heavy monsoon rains provoked flooding and triggered landslides in southern, western, and central Sri Lanka this past weekend, killing at least 19 people and leaving tens of thousands of families homeless. The latest reports put the number of displaced at around 330,000. The districts of Katunayake and Gampaha were the hardest hit, while serious flooding was also reported in several low-lying areas in the districts of Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala, Kalutara, Matara, Badulla, Ratnapura, Galle, and Puttalam.
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka was quick to respond to the emergency, sheltering displaced families in churches, schools, and temples throughout various dioceses, while Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC has been gathering information and conducting needs assessments in the affected areas. An appeal for US$ 355,000 was just launched to help Caritas Sri Lanka meet the basic needs of the displaced, including provisions of cooked food, dry rations, and tin sheets and tarpaulins to be used for temporary shelter. (…)
Tsunami recovery offers unique window of opportunity in Indonesia
By Teresita Usapdin, Information Delegate in Aceh
8 November - Improving the capability of communities to respond and cope with disasters forms the cornerstone of the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s recovery philosophy around the world. The International Federation’s post-tsunami operation in the devastated Indonesian province of Aceh is a prime example of how capacity building is helping people become even more resilient and better prepared for the next time disaster strikes. (…)
At the government water utility compound in Banda Aceh, six young men work around the clock, ensuring that enough safe drinking water is available for the city and its surrounding area. (…) In villages around Aceh, 75 local Red Cross staff and volunteers trained in providing psychosocial support conduct a variety of recreational, sports and income-generating activities for tsunami-survivors to help them rebuild their self confidence and return to their normal lives. (…)
The International Federation also conducts capacity building sessions with all branches in Aceh and on Nias Island as part of the PMI’s branch development programme. (…)
Massive aid effort contains malnutrition growth in Darfur
Khartoum, 19 October - Despite the deteriorating security situation in Darfur, a new United Nations assessment has found that overall malnutrition levels have mostly stabilised in 2006 and food insecurity has improved slightly thanks to a stronger international response to the suffering in Sudan’s war-torn west. Crude mortality dropped for the third year running, but insecurity and lack of access to many Darfurians continued to cloud the aid picture. The assessment also found that while the malnutrition rate among children under five rose slightly, from 11.9 percent last year to 13.1 percent this year, hovering just beneath the emergency threshold of 15 percent, it remained significantly below the 2004 malnutrition rates in Darfur which stood at 21.8 percent.
UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organisations have been able to deliver life-saving services including food aid, clean water, health services and agricultural assistance. However, the condition of those in greatest need remains very precarious. Preliminary results of the joint assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and WFP found that 70 percent of war-affected Darfurians were food insecure, slightly down from 74 percent last year. While the remaining 30 percent of this year’s war-affected people required some form of assistance, they had more diverse diets, spent less than 50 percent of their income on food and relied less on food aid. But the UN agencies cautioned that the continued flow of aid is under threat because of escalating violence, which is restricting access to war and drought-affected people, exacerbating the already fragile situation. (…)
Azerbaijan: working with journalists to reduce impact of mines and explosive remnants of war
16 November - The ICRC, in close cooperation with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) and the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines (AzCBL), held a workshop for local journalists to raise awareness about the important role of the media in reducing the problems caused by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
Nine journalists from affected regions of Azerbaijan attended the workshop on mine action, which was held from 14 to 16 November 2006 in Khanlar, a city in the Western part of the country.
During the workshop, presentations on preventive mine action and mine victim assistance took place, as well as on the international norms related to mines and ERW. Journalists also had an opportunity to witness a mine-clearance conducted by the ANAMA, as well as visit a project of reintegration of mine victims through vocational rehabilitation and establishment of a mine survivors' association. The ICRC mine action responsible from the northern Caucasus and a journalist from Chechnya shared their experience of working with media on mine related issues in Chechnya. Both of them had a chance to learn about the mine action activities in Azerbaijan and in particular the important role of the national mine action centre there. (…)
The ICRC is working globally, often together with national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to reduce the suffering caused by mines and ERW. Although the focus is increasingly on reducing the risk by ensuring concrete solutions to the problem in affected communities, work with the media can be an important element of these activities.
NPA and the Government of Jordan break mine clearance records
14 November - The Government of Jordan has made a strong committment to destroy all landmines in the country by 2009 in accordance with its signatory to the International Mine Ban Treaty. As the task is significant in scale and impact, the Government of Jordan has asked for assistance by Norwegian People’s Aid to clear all anti-personnel and anti-tank mines along the border to Israel from the Red sea to the Dead Sea within this time. Funding has kindly been made available by the Government of Norway and also by the Governments of Germany, Finland and Japan.
NPA established its programme in Jordan in January 2006 and went operational on the 10th of June. After 100 days of operations with in total 81 staff members in the programme, NPA has cleared 69,026 square meters and removed 18957 Anti-Personnel mines and 6126 Anti-Tank mines. In addition NPA has already released of more than 6 million square meters previously considered as dangerous areas through general and technical survey techniques. These figures are unprecedented in the history of humanitarian mine clearance by NPA.
As a consequence, NPA in close cooperation with the National Committee for Demining& rehabilitation (NCDR), expects to be able to release all dangerous areas along the border to Israel between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea by mid 2007 – one year ahead of schedule. (…)
The Government of Jordan has recently invited NPA to join the efforts by the Royal Engineers to clear the border between Jordan and Syria by 2009 and NPA are currently planning to adjust the program to meet the new challenge ahead. (…)
Papua New Guinea: 10,000 internally displaced people benefit from peace building training
Gary Fagan - World Vision Pacific Development Group Communications
10 November - Over 10,000 internally displaced people (IDP) living in four separate care centres in Madang province, Papua New Guinea are benefiting from peace building training conducted by World Vision Pacific Development Group (PDG). The training is also benefiting another 5, 000 people living in the surrounding villages.
The IDPs were evacuated by the Papua New Guinea Government between October 2004 and January 2005 to the northern coast of the mainland of Papua New Guinea after the Manam Island volcano erupted and severely devastated food crops, gardens and homes.
The training, which comes under the World Vision PDG’s Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Project, is a one year programme funded by World Vision Australia.
The project equips community members with knowledge and skills to resolve their community related conflicts peacefully. The training also focuses on increasing local capacity to resolve conflicts peacefully, reduce levels of conflicts within and resolve conflicts more rapidly. (…) A total of 348 people, including 83 women leaders, have directly benefited from the peace building programme.
UNICEF and LBCI launch first television series produced by youth in Lebanon
SAWTNA ("Our Voice") to air twice a week
Beirut, 9 November - This week, UNICEF and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) launch a television series that is the first of its kind in the Middle East region. Airing twice a week from November 8, SAWTNA (“Our Voice”), is created and produced by young people aged 15 to 21. Youth account for almost one-third of Lebanon’s population, and the country’s complex social, political and economic circumstances affect them in specific ways. Giving them a public platform to identify issues that matter to them and examine how they affect their lives and futures is vital to creating awareness, opening discussion and finding solutions to problems ranging from smoking and depression to discrimination and poverty.
Filming for SAWTNA began more than two years ago, but was suspended during times of political turmoil. Although this summer’s armed conflict meant a further delay, the launch of the series is now a timely opportunity for episodes dealing with major post-conflict issues, including the dangers of unexploded ordnance, the plight of displaced families and the impact of the conflict on young people. SAWTNA will also air an episode featuring the reflections of older generations on previous conflicts. (…)
Muppets Teach Children about Landmines in Afghanistan
November 2006 – (…) Muppets, which have taught countless children basic lessons such as counting and the alphabet, are now teaching children in Afghanistan a vital lesson about landmines that could be the difference between life and death. To teach children about the dangers of minefields, Johnie McGlade of No Strings International, worked with two members of Muppet-creator Jim Henson’s original team to create “The Story of the Little Carpet Boy.” In the video, children learn what mines look like, where they are, and how to avoid them. They follow the story of Muppet Chuche Qhalini, who loses an arm and both legs before learning his lesson. (…)
LSN is paving the way to a brighter future for young landmine survivors. LSN has provided both child and adult survivors with one-on-one peer support, referrals to medical care and rehabilitative services, including the purchase of prosthetics. In addition, LSN has established a network of community survivor groups — including those exclusively for child survivors — to facilitate their physical and psychological recovery, and help them reintegrate into their communities. (…) Created by and for survivors, LSN (Landmine Survivors Network) empowers individuals, families and communities affected by landmines to recover from trauma, reclaim their lives, and fulfill their rights.
Swiss Federation remains one of the most supportive ITF donors with yet another donation earmarked for demining operations in Bosnia & Herzegovina
26 October - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (ITF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Swiss Federation for donation in the amount of 500.000 Swiss francs. On October 26, 2006 Swiss Federation Ambassador, H.E. Stefan Speck and ITF director Mr. Goran Gačnik signed the Memorandum of Understanding at ITF premises in Ig.
The latest Swiss contribution is earmarked for »Norwegian People's Aid« (NPA) NGO, which has been active in the field of mine action in Bosnia & Herzegovina since 1996. The donation will be used for support of two demining teams (18 deminers in total) covering the period from April 2006 to September 2007. Swiss Federation has already contributed more than 3.2 million USD for demining operations in SE Europe since 1999.
Bosnia & Herzegovina still remains the country with largest mine problem in the region, where mines represent serious destabilizing factor as they impede sustainable return of refugees to their homes and prevent open access to farms and other infrastructure. Recurrent support for demining activities in Bosnia & Herzegovina from Swiss Federation represents a step ahead towards the implementation of common goal – confidence building and further economic development of the country. With help of international donor community ITF has already cleared more than twenty nine million square meters of mine suspected area in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Mine risk education
MAG have supported fellow NGO White Pigeon in their mine risk education (MRE) activities, providing resident and returning populations with information enabling them to live as safely as possible in a contaminated environment. MRE has been ongoing in the Vanni region for more than two years and teams are keen to ensure that the messages they deliver continue to be interesting and informative to all age groups. The presentations MAG undertakes attract large audiences and include both day and night-time sessions, portable exhibitions, delivering public information through house to house visits and carrying out NGO briefings.
Throughout the past few months MAG's MRE teams have delivered 228 presentations, providing life-saving information to almost 21,000 people. MAG has been able to reach such a large audience as a result of the unique range of activities it implements.
MAG (Mines Advisory Group) is one of the world's leading humanitarian organisations providing conflict-affected countries with a real chance for a better future.
2006 Prize for Survivorship: Success for MAG's all-female demining team
In recognition of their outstanding efforts to save lives, MAG's Cambodian all-female demining team was awarded the Niarchos Prize for Survivorship at a special award luncheon held on 1st November in New York City. MAG Executive Director, Lou McGrath and two representatives from the team, Supervisor Pin Srey On and Project Officer Yean Maly, accepted the $25,000 prize "for [the team's] excellence in service to save lives under the most difficult circumstances."
The team began operations in 2003 as the first ever demining team to be comprised entirely of women. Over the past three years the team's 15 members have worked to make land safe by clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) and edicating local communities about the dangers posed by these explosive devices.
For MAG, the work done to reduce the suffering caused by the remnants of conflict has never been a gender issue. After receiving the award, Lou McGrath said, "Landmines impact all members of the community - male and female alike. It only makes sense that both should have the opportunity to be a part of the solution." (…)
First aid – ‘learning by doing’ in Asia and Africa
by Chris Hagarty in Delhi and Grace Lo in Geneva
16 November - To the casual passer-by, the first-ever consultative workshop on community-based first aid (CBFA) in Asia-Pacific, held in Nepal in September 2006, may have looked more like the aftermath of an explosion in a paper factory than a gathering of community based first aid and health practitioners from across Asia and the Pacific.
In an innovative consultative process, 25 participants from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as Federation delegations, were asked to draw and write on paper and charts of various sizes and colours, before placing them on the floor, the walls and even on the ceiling! Individual and group comments and ideas were brought together after each discussion and activity in order to build a life-sized, three-dimensional model for future CBFA practice, based on real Red Cross and Red Crescent experiences.
A similar consultative process took place a few weeks later in Nairobi, where African Red Cross and Red Crescent societies developed their version of a first aid model, based on their own experiences. This new, flexible model is a major contribution to the development of common content and standards in community-based first aid, adapted to local contexts.
CBFA is an approach used by many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to work more closely with communities and enable them to identify their own health and social needs, and to develop community-driven solutions addressing these priorities. (…)
Mass measles vaccinations are effective at early signs of outbreak
Atlanta, GA, USA, November 15 — In research presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), the international emergency medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its research affiliate, Epicentre, showed how rapid, mass vaccinations can reduce the toll inflicted by measles epidemics in Africa. In light of these and other findings, MSF feels there is enough evidence for the WHO to revise its current policy recommendations, which doubts the effectiveness of mass immunization once an epidemic has started, stating that such campaigns would be undertaken too late to have any meaningful impact.
Following MSF emergency interventions in Niger, Chad, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Epicentre found that early intervention can lead to a high proportion of averted cases. Retrospective mortality surveys also showed that measles epidemics last longer than previously thought, allowing enough time to intervene and carry out emergency immunization programs. One outbreak in Kinshasa, DRC, lasted more than 40 weeks during 2002 and 2003. (…) In recent years, measles deaths have declined substantially in Africa but recurrent, cyclical outbreaks occur in many countries — often after 1-3 years of low incidence — and measles remains a major cause of death for children in Africa. (…)
Government of Japan provides US$1.604 million to Liberia’s children
Funding will contribute to reducing Liberia’s high under-five mortality rate
Monrovia/Liberia, 13 November - The Government of Japan has contributed US$1.604 million to UNICEF to support life-saving child immunization coverage and provide almost 150,000 insecticide treated bed nets to protect infants and pregnant women from malaria. The grant will also be used to provide 780,000 doses of Artesunate and Amodiaquine (ACT) to care for children who contract malaria, Africa’s leading cause of under-five mortality. “We are profoundly grateful to the Government of Japan for their continued commitment to assist Liberia’s vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Liberia Representative Rozanne Chorlton, at a press conference with Mr. Yutaka Nakamura, Charge d'Affaires in the Government of Japan’s Embassy in Ghana. (…)
Since 2002, the Government of Japan has provided UNICEF Liberia with more than US$14.2 million to support the prevention of infectious diseases and the reintegration of demobilized Liberian children formerly associated with the fighting forces.(…)
Hong Kong business leaders fund Hepatitis B health campaign in China with huge success
Delegation visits An Qing to kick-off vaccination drive
Hong Kong, 12 November - A 20-member delegation of Hong Kong & Macau business and professional leaders will visit rural counties of An Qing City in the Anhui Province on November 12-14 to kick-off a two-year-long effort to significantly improve the province’s low vaccination rate and protect children against Hepatitis B. The project is part of a major Hepatitis B vaccination program organized by Hong Kong Rotary clubs that aims to immunize one million babies and children in rural areas of the Mainland.
In cooperation with An Qing health authorities, project organizers have set a target of vaccinating all children between the ages of 11 to 13, an estimated 200,000 children, by 2007. According to the An Qing Health Administration, fewer than 20 percent of these children have received Hep-B immunizations. Prior to these efforts in An Qing, Hong Kong Rotary club members successfully conducted a successful two year campaign to immunize all newborn babies in Handan, in Heibei Province. From 2003 to 2005, more than 200,000 babies received the required three injections of Hep B vaccines to protect them for life against the disease.(…) In addition to the Hong Kong and Macau Rotarians, the project in An Qing also received financial support from Rotary clubs in Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea, and from the Rotary Foundation.
Since the Hepatitas B health campaign began in 2003, more than HK$6 million has been raised by Hong Kong and Macau Rotary clubs. Rotary club officials estimate that around HK$20 million will be needed to reach the goal of one million immunizations by 2013.
Horn of Africa: polio campaigns begin today to stop outbreak
4 November - Over the next week, more than 55,000 volunteers and health workers will deliver oral polio vaccine (OPV) house-to-house to nearly 4 million children under the age of five, across Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. This fourth in a series of vaccination campaigns in the region comes after detection of wild poliovirus in Kenya for the first time in 22 years. Outbreak control measures have slowed the epidemic, but it is imperative to reach all children with vaccine this week and in subsequent campaigns if the Horn of Africa is to be polio-free again.
Afghanistan: polio vaccination activities still running
1 November - Some 6,000 health workers are conducting polio vaccination campaigns this week in the conflict-ridden Southern Region of Afghanistan. Nearly half a million children will be vaccinated against polio, together with tetanus and measles. The polio eradication campaign is one of the few public health initiatives still maintaining some degree of operations in the southern region of the country. Health workers on the ground are operating under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, risking their lives in efforts to reach every child with polio vaccine. The outbreak in the Southern Region appears to be waning, with the most recent case dating from 7 September 2006.
Recent contributions from Canada (Canadian$ 5 million) enable campaigns in Afghanistan to proceed. Canada's contribution is a welcome influx into the US$ 6.3 million needed for Afghanistan's polio vaccination campaigns for the next six months as well as for ongoing surveillance for the disease. The sum raises Canada's part in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to over US$ 180 million and follows commitments made at the G8 Summits in Gleneagles in 2005 and St. Petersburg this year.
Rotary gives additional US$ 19 million to conquer polio in the remaining strongholds
Evanston, IL, USA, 1 November - Since world health experts recently announced that a polio-free world hinges on just four countries (Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan — see press release at polioeradication.org), Rotary has contributed more than US$ 19 million toward polio eradication in 2006. (…) Funded activities include polio eradication operations, disease surveillance and social mobilization. This allocation raises Rotary's total contribution to polio eradication to nearly US$ 616 million since 1985, representing the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative ever.
In addition, this fall and winter teams of Rotary volunteers will travel to administer the drops of oral polio vaccine to children, deliver the vaccine to remote villages and educate families on the importance of protecting children against polio. Teams will depart for the following countries: Ethiopia Team from the US and Canada 15-31 October 2006; Ghana Teams from The Netherlands and US 29 Oct-10 November 2006; India Team from the US 1-14 November 2006-February 2007
A highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis and sometimes death, polio still strikes children in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. To date, the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 children annually in the mid 1980s to approximately 2,000 cases all last year. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Rotary International is the world’s first and one of the largest non-profit humanitarian service organizations. It is comprised of 1.2 million business and professional leaders in nearly 170 countries. Rotary members initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues such as violence, AIDS, hunger, the environment and health care.
2006 Marie Curie Excellence Awards recognise five outstanding researchers
Brussels, 16 November - The 2006 Marie Curie Excellence Award winners are:
Michal Lavidor for “Interhemispheric stimulation promotes reading enhancement” ; Frank Keppler for “Discovery of climate-relevant trace gases from terrestrial ecosystems”; Chris Ewels for “Computer modelling of doping and defects in graphite and carbon nano-tubes”; Nicolas Cerf for “Quantum information and quantum computation”; Paola Borri for “Semiconductor nanostructures and their ultra-fast response to laser light”
The Marie Curie Excellence Awards recognise results achieved by researchers in any field of science who have benefited from European support schemes. These support schemes, grouped together as “Marie Curie Actions” aim to develop and transfer research expertise and competence, consolidate and widen researchers’ career prospects and promote excellence in European research. They are open to research in all fields of scientific and technological research from EU Member States, countries associated with the Framework Programme and third countries. Eligibility for the various schemes is based on research experience and expertise, not age. All career levels are catered for, from researchers at the start of their career (i.e. post-graduate students) to world-class researchers with well-established scientific expertise. Actions are open to businesses, universities and other institutions active in research. (…)
For more information on Marie Curie Actions:
Sri Lanka: Solar power brings light to the lives of tsunami survivors
Kristy Allen-Shirley and Marianne Albina - Communications
10 November - Thousands of families have benefited from the installation 1,234 solar light systems across Sri Lanka. The project is a joint effort between World Vision and Light Up The World Foundation (LUTW). Families living in remote areas, fishermen, and people displaced by the tsunami and civil war have all benefited. (…)
In Jaffna’s east, a 30-40 kilometre long strip of land running between a lagoon and the ocean was hit hard by the tsunami. The community, mostly fishermen, are not allowed to rebuild their homes and had to relocate farther from the ocean, affecting the distance they travel to work and storage of fishing equipment. In response, World Vision designed Fishermen Rest-rooms, a practical building for the fisherman to store their gear and rest between fishing trips. Solar lights have been installed to ensure the rest-rooms can be used safely during working hours. In this same stretch of land, World Vision installed lights in newly built permanent homes.
In Palavi, in the northwest corner of Kilinochchi, families live in relative isolation and had not been able to access electricity. Through this project, solar light has been installed, benefiting key community structures such as the Catholic Church and a schoolhouse.
On the north-east coast of Kilinochchi in Kallaru, 130 shelters which World Vision assumed responsibility for are to be completed and handed over to war displaced families from Jaffna. Solar lights funded by the programme will feature in these homes.
One small step forward for Kyoto Protocol
Nairobi, Kenya, 17 November – The twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention and second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ended here with an agreement to take a small step forward to keep the world on track to start formal negotiations on the next round of cuts in CO2 emissions starting in 2007, says WWF.
Ministers attending the UN climate talks edged the planet towards a safer, low carbon future. But they did not seize the opportunity to make the further decisions needed for deeper emission cuts beyond 2012. Governments recognized that global emissions need to be reduced 50 per cent by 2050, but at this pace the negotiations will not get us there.
“While progress was made in Nairobi, our leaders must recognise that scientific evidence and public opinion demands much stronger action than what was agreed,” stressed Hans Verolme, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme.
The meeting in Nairobi provided a sufficient platform for further talks, but WWF will continue to press hard for these talks to meet the challenges of climate change to people and the planet. In particular, WWF welcomed an agreement on the adaptation fund, but the level of funding remains far below the amount required to meet the social and environmental problems faced by developing countries. Also, there is no timetable in place yet for reducing CO2 emissions beyond 2012, when the current Kyoto commitment period ends. An agreement is needed to see these talks concluded by 2008 and to ensure a vibrant carbon market. (…)
Mexico City bus rapid transit system celebrates 100 millionth passenger: innovative system cuts travel times and exposure to pollution
Mexico City, November 16 - Metrobus today celebrates the 100 millionth passenger to enjoy faster travel and less exposure to pollutants since the system began operations in June 2005.
Since then bus travel times have been cut in half, with significant reductions in congestion, noise, and air pollution. Passenger exposure to carbon monoxide, benzene, and particulate matter (soot) has dropped by 50 percent compared to exposure on the older buses, many of which are still in use on other routes.
Metrobus uses 97 new, diesel-powered articulated buses to move 263,000 people daily at an average speed of 19 kilometers per hour along the famed Avenida Insurgentes. The new buses have replaced hundreds of smaller buses and alleviated the legendary traffic jams that afflicted Mexico City's longest avenue. Based on figures from the non-profit Mexican National Institute of Ecology, increased productivity due to time saved with the new system could approach $15 million per year.(…) As cities around the world struggle with exploding populations of people and cars, Mexico City is demonstrating that Bus Rapid Transit can be a viable solution, even in politically charged and environmentally challenged cities. (…)
WWF stamp collection helps conservation
Gland, Switzerland, 15 November – With over one billion stamps printed and close to 400 issues by the end of October 2006, the sale of stamps from the WWF conservation stamp collection has raised over 20 million Swiss Francs in royalties and has become an important source of funding for WWF's conservation activities. The WWF stamp collection is the largest thematic collection in the world. Since 1983, some 1,500 different stamps — all produced by Groth AG of Unteraegeri (Switzerland) — have been issued in 211 countries. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps have helped fund a range of activities — from the conservation of endangered species to helping forest and coastal dwelling communities improve their standards of living through sustainable use of their natural resources.
Each year, up to 18 different countries have issued stamps featuring their own threatened animals. Most recently, Australia has featured different whale species, Democratic Republic of the Congo the hippo, Croatia the little tern, Gibraltar the devil ray and Montserrat the mountain chicken frog. Each stamp set includes four postcards illustrated with photographs of the species, four first-day covers with sketches by well-known wildlife artists, and an illustrated text about the species written by scientists. Available in ten languages, the text describes the species’ habitats, characteristics, behaviour, relationship with humans and other animals, as well as the main threats and protective measures taken for their conservation. (…)
UN to assist Africa adapt to climate change & better CDM access
Nairobi, 15 November 2 -- A bold new global initiative to secure a greater share of the international carbon finance market for the world’s poorest countries was announced today by two UN agencies at the climate convention talks in Nairobi. The partnership between the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is in direct response to the urgent request from leaders in developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, for assistance in coping with the climate change that is affecting them now and will increasingly affect them for years to come. The aim is to provide assistance to reduce the vulnerability of poor countries and communities in the face of climate change, including those in the sub-Saharan region, and ‘climate proof’ their economies in areas from infrastructure development to agriculture and health. It is also in response to the need to build the capacity of countries to participate in emerging carbon finance funds such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. The partnership constitutes UNDP’s and UNEP’s contribution to the Nairobi Framework for directing specific assistance to increasing sub-Saharan Africa’s access to the CDM. (…)
Australia - Community clean up protects fragile Alps environment
12 November - The first Clean Up the Alps initiative, a community campaign to protect the fragile Alps environment including some of Victoria's most important fresh water sources, drew more than 80 volunteers despite torrential rain and freezing temperatures to remove almost two tones of waste, including scrap metal and other pollution from areas around Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo over the weekend.
Volunteers joined Clean Up Australia's Chairman Ian Kiernan AO to remove dumped rubbish and focus on protecting fresh water sources. The campaign also raised community awareness of the environmental issues facing the region. (…) Clean Up the Alps is part of the ongoing Victorian Government's ‘The Alps; A fresh start - a healthy future' strategy. Parks Victoria will work with Clean Up Australia and Conservation Volunteers Australia to collect rubbish, identify and remove weeds and restore alpine bogs and moss beds. (…)
International agencies advise OIE animal health and welfare fund
Move will help developing countries meet international standards
Rome/Paris, 3 November - Five international organizations met for the first time in Paris on 20 October 2006 to advise the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on funding to help developing countries meet international standards for dealing with disease outbreaks and related issues. By tackling these diseases effectively, countries can improve the welfare of their own citizens and their exports can face fewer trade barriers.
High-level representatives from the World Bank, which chaired meeting, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) were joined by counterparts from significant current or potential donors, Japan, France, the United States, Australia and the European Commission. They met as the Advisory Committee for the OIE’s World Animal Health and Welfare Fund at the OIE’s Paris headquarters. The Advisory Committee agreed on its working procedures and objectives, and also decided to establish a communication mechanism for consultation between partners during crisis and at other times.
So far, the Fund has received US$13 million, which is being used for economic studies, identification of priority investments, “training of trainers”, and the evaluation of veterinary services in 15 pilot countries in all continents.
The European Commission has also announced that it will make a contribution for promoting animal welfare activities by helping countries implement standards related to the OIE. This was with the support of the EU Member States.(…)
India: First south Asian nation with Community Radio Policy
Rahul Kumar - OneWorld South Asia
New Delhi, 17 November - (…) The Indian Cabinet on Thursday approved a long-standing demand of civil society organisations to allow non profit organisations and educational institutions to initiate Community Radio broadcasting. The policy says that the license will be given only to a 'non-profit' organization with at least three years social service to local communities and the Community Radio Station should serve specific local community.
Educational institutions are already covered under the existing policy, in force since December 2002, in the Community Radio Guidelines. This had allowed Indian civil society enough leeway to join hands with university broadcasters and start producing programmes.
A press release by the government says: "The Community Radio Station (CRS) should be designed to serve a specific well-defined local community and the programmes for broadcast should be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community." (…)
Stalin K, spokesperson for the Community Radio Forum - an association of community radio broadcasters, activists and academics - has welcomed the policy and said: "India will become the first country in South Asia to have a separate policy for community radio. We look forward to a genuine democratization of the country's airwaves when this policy comes into force." (…)
High school biology students to tackle ethical questions
National Institutes of Health funds EDC to develop bioethics curriculum
Newton, MA, USA, 15 November - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a two-year contract to Education Development Center (EDC) to develop a curriculum in bioethics to be used in high school biology courses. The curriculum materials will be created as a supplement to biology textbooks and, when completed, will be made available free to schools across the country. The Office of Science Education and the Department of Clinical Bioethics at NIH awarded the contract. EDC researchers will work with a team of ethicists, scientists and teachers to develop instructional materials on topics of social importance in the life sciences. These are likely to include such subjects as the nature of bioethics, clinical trials, vaccination, genetic enhancement and genetic screening. The goal of these materials is to have students begin to develop their thinking about ethics and to relate their learning in biology to real life issues. (…)
For example, students starting a unit on human physical enhancement might imagine they are on an Olympic committee of the future, deciding whether an athlete who has been enhanced to take in more oxygen, should compete. A unit on the nature of clinical trials might include a look at the polio vaccine trials in the 1950s, and questions about the ethics of using placebos when scientists might strongly suspect, but can’t yet prove, that a vaccine will work. (…)
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is one of the world’s leading nonprofit education and health organizations, with 325 projects in 50 countries. EDC brings researchers and practitioners together to advance learning and healthy development for individuals of all ages and institutions of all types. For more information, visit www.edc.org
Rwandan Cabinet approves Second NICI policy and plan
13 November - Rwanda is one country on the continent that has made progress in developing an all-encompassing ICT-led social and economic development framework, based on the ECA-led African Information Society Initiative (AISI). Rwanda with the assistance of ECA began formulating its first ICT policy in 1998, championed by President Paul Kagame. This is part of a series of documents, spanning the 20 years required to realize Rwanda’s Vision 2020. The first 5 year NICI Plan which concluded in 2005 paved the way for bold steps for the country to recover from the devastating civil war, build strong ICT infrastructure both in public and private institutions, create human resources capacity as well as an enabling regulatory and policy framework. The second NICI policy and plan started in July 2005 and has recently been approved by Rwanda’s cabinet. The second NICI aims at transforming Rwanda into an information-rich, knowledge-based society and economy. (…)
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Editorial - New York, November 4th, 2006:
at the United Nations
by Lesley Vann
In the global dialogue of civil society Rotary International brings much to the table. Rotary’s diverse membership spans continents and age groups, disciplines and cultures. Each year Rotary holds its “Rotary Day at the UN”, bringing together its diverse membership to converse with international civil servants, diplomats and experts at the United Nations.
While Rotary members meet in a large UN Conference room, nearby hundreds of Rotary’s high school aged “Interact” members meet in a similar venue. This year 350 Interact members met on Saturday, November 4th at the United Nations with other Interact leaders from across the United States. The purpose of Interact’s meeting included leadership development and the educating of youth public opinion about the United Nations and about Rotary International’s broad outreach to developing countries. The youth were welcomed to the United Nations by James A. Spencer and by Joan J. Fyfe, the two Alternate Rotary International Representatives to the UN. They launched the meeting with an inspirational welcome and overview. Inherent in their words was a call to action to improve the world in whatever ways one feels called. The Youth Program offered a plethora of options for participation and for “making a difference.”
Attorney Denise Scotto moderated the Youth Program, introducing its three themes of Literacy, Health and Education. All three of these have been focal areas for Rotary in its global outreach as a service organization. It was therefore fitting that Interact high schoolers were able to learn more about all three topics and some opportunities for working within the United Nations Association to address world need.
The United Nations Association’s Executive Vice President, Joe Judd, spoke of Literacy projects available within the United Nations Association to high school students. These include launching a Student Alliance on students’ campuses, and also participating in the National High School Essay Contest (www.unausa.org). This provides students with opportunities to study about the diverse work of the UN, to focus upon each year’s Essay Contest theme; and to write an essay after having pondered upon the topic. Joe Judd explained how participating students gain skills in research, analytical thinking, problem solving, creative writing, and project planning. The National High School Essay Contest offers students the chance to consider ways to solve global need. This expands their horizons, perceptions and worldviews. It helps them become partners in building a global culture of peace.
Becoming partners in constructing a transformed world community is the opportunity before all of us in civil society. Advising communities about the work of the UN, such as in polio eradication and access to education, is an ongoing project for Rotary’s Interact students. At their meeting several high school students, John Delfino, Colleen Grogan, and Stephanie Wessel, spoke of ways they had mobilized projects in their local communities. Three of these students made presentations dovetailing with Rotary’s work in Literacy, including their Model United Nations experience. The students spoke of Model UN’s impact upon them and how their lives have been changed as a result of serving, learning, and making a commitment to the common good, as they role-played the work of the diplomatic corps. These students reported learning first hand about the fine art of negotiation at the UN, and about how the UN is solving problems locally, regionally, and globally.
The Rotary Interact youth were followed by Susan Fox, Program Manager of the United Nations Association of the USA’s HERO Campaign (www.heroaction.org). She gave a rousing presentation on the work of HERO in Africa, inviting broad participation in HERO’s work. Brian Hoffman, of the Rotaract Club of the University of Louisville, next provided a presentation on the “Belize Health project” Rotary is undertaking.
To address Rotary’s focus on Education, Meghan M. Teich spoke about the United Nations Association of the USA’s Model United Nations (www.unausa.org ), including a variety of ways the students could participate locally, nationally and internationally. She was followed by two student leaders from Middleburgh, New York’s Central School -- Whitney Brown and Mikayla Misenhimer. These students provided a touching account of their experience with Model UN and how it has shaped their lives for decades to come.
Joe Judd completed Rotary’s Youth program by inviting students to consider UN-related projects and internships offered by the United Nations Association of the USA; and also internships at the UN, for those later obtaining graduate degrees.
Rotary International President, Bill Boyd, touched the students with his friendly approach and full grasp of youth perspectives (quite humorous his reading a description written by Socrates more than 2,400 years ago and still very appropriate today), spurring them on with his call to action. He reminded the group that right action is the result of the service ethic, and that serving will always expand their horizons.
Good News Agency’s Publisher and Editor, Sergio Tripi, would concur. He has stated, “Today there appears the need, and at the same time the initial evidence, of a new and global system of ethics, which can only spring from that new concept which many people of advanced consciousness have already begun to make their own: that of unity in diversity. It is a concept of enormous power: it knocks down the limitations of different doctrines, overcomes the barriers of different conceptions and behaviour and defeats the incomprehension, animosity and hatred which such differences, heightened to the point of fanaticism, have given rise to and consolidated.”
Civil society is now on the march. Its direction is the right one. It is the march of evolution. Civil society is having a new, deep and increasingly determining role for the future we want to construct. All of this was evident during the Youth Interact meetings of Rotary International Day at the United Nations.
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Next issue: 15 December 2006.
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