Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 2



Weekly - Year IX, number 2 – 1st February 2008

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 (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 4,000 media in 49 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 



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

HealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


Human rights



UN Secretary-General: Penalize those that use child soldiers

Child recruitment continues in over one dozen countries, reports Ban Ki-moon

29 January – Child soldiers are being recruited in at least a dozen countries and the United Nations should impose sanctions against those responsible, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Tuesday in a report to the Security Council. Children are being used for fighting in armies and other groups mainly in African and Asian countries, including Uganda and Sri Lanka, Ban said. UNICEF estimated last year that some 250,000 children serve as soldiers. Read the UN News Centre's release

The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is taking place in more than one dozen countries around the world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states in a new report, calling for further measures to combat the scourge. The practice continues in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Uganda, Mr. Ban notes in his latest report on children and armed conflict, covering the period from October 2006 to August 2007.

On the positive side, he reports that no new cases of child recruitment have been recorded during that period in Côte d’Ivoire. The parties to the conflict there have not only ceased recruitment but have taken measures to identify and release children associated with them for rehabilitation, Mr. Ban writes. (…)


ITUC and ETUC Welcome European Convention Against Human Trafficking

Brussels, 30 January (ITUC Online). The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have welcomed the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. 

The Convention becomes legally binding on the first ten countries to have ratified it (Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia), on 1 February, with Bosnia-Herzegovina, France and Norway following on 1 May.  Most European countries have taken the first steps to ratify the Convention, with the UK having already announced its intention to complete the ratification by the end of 2008.

“Human trafficking is an appalling reality which exists in much of Europe.  Putting this Convention into place, alongside the relevant International Labour Organisation Conventions, will help ensure that Europe plays its part in tackling this worldwide scourge. It is the first legally binding European instrument on this issue”, said John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC and of the ITUC’s Pan-European Regional Council (PERC). 

Trade union organisations throughout Europe are active in the fight against human trafficking, and will form part of a Global Trade Union Alliance to combat forced labour and human trafficking.  The alliance is being established by the ITUC with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).  (…) For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.


Kenya: Red Cross helps trace missing family members

Geneva/Nairobi, 18 January - In the wake of Kenya’s post-election violence that forced large numbers of people to flee their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has helped the Kenya Red Cross to set up tracing teams in all the main affected areas. Red Cross volunteers and counsellors have been instructed to look out for unaccompanied children and refer them to local tracing teams. The Kenya Red Cross (KRCS) has also set up a telephone hotline with numbers in seven cities and towns in the affected areas.  So far, the KRCS has registered over 150 cases of children separated from their families. Of these, more than 120 have been successfully reunited. The KRCS has also received close to 150 requests to help locate adult family members. Over 100 additional cases of separated family members were solved by KRCS staff on the spot through very simple methods such as allowing them access to Red Cross mobile phones. (...)

Working through the Kenya Red Cross, the ICRC has also provided food and essential household items to those affected. Joint ICRC/KRCS teams are ensuring proper water supplies and sanitation facilities for the displaced. ICRC surgical teams have been working at Eldoret’s Moi hospital since the beginning of January.


2009 Caribbean Games to shine spotlight on violence against children

Port of Spain, Trinidad, Tobago, 11 January - UNICEF has teamed up with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the 2009 Caribbean Games to highlight the impact of violence against children throughout the Caribbean. The LOC and Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) will join hands with UNICEF offices throughout the Caribbean to promote awareness and advocate for the end of violence against children. The first ever 2009 Caribbean Games will be held from 13 to 19 July 2009, with sporting events that include swimming and water polo, track and field, boxing, netball and volleyball. (…)

The UNICEF, LOC and CANOC partnership for the 2009 Caribbean Games will facilitate strategic programming, help raise awareness to improving the quality of lives of all children, including vulnerable children and those at risk in communities throughout the region as well as promote child-friendly environments. The public, especially young people aged 10 to 24 will become more aware of the impact of abuse and be better informed about how to protect themselves from such abuse. (…)



Economy and development



Sustainable agriculture and land management in the context of climate change

Geneva, 28-29 January

Geneva, 25 January – (…) About 200 delegates representing Governments, inter-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and civil society organizations will gather to discuss progress made in implementing sustainable development goals in the areas of agriculture, land management, desertification and drought. They will address particular obstacles encountered and major breakthroughs made in the UNECE region. The meeting is also expected to touch upon the important linkages between climate change and agriculture and between climate change, desertification and drought that affect large parts of the UNECE region, in particular the Northern Mediterranean subregion, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Discussions on agriculture will address questions like how to meet the growing demand for agricultural commodities while protecting natural resources, the issue of agricultural subsidies and the competing interests between food security and bioenergy production. Looking beyond the UNECE region, delegates will furthermore assess the support of donor countries from the UNECE region for sustainable agriculture and rural development in Africa in the context of climate change, and review obstacles and possible next steps to be taken to strengthen cooperation between these regions. (…)


CARE announces $5.2 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for dairy farmers

Small-scale farmers in Bangladesh will increase milk production and income

25 January - CARE today announced a grant of $5.2 million over four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for strengthening the dairy value chain in Bangladesh to increase the productivity of small-scale dairy farmers and link them to the formal dairy market. Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, announced the project as part of a package of agricultural development grants at a press conference with Amos Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

CARE will use the grant to provide landless and smallholder farmers with the opportunity to enhance their participation in and profit from the dairy value chain in Bangladesh, where 80 percent of the population of 147 million people lives in rural areas and cattle are an inseparable part of the farming system. (...)

The grant to CARE, announced at the World Economic Forum as part of a package of grants totaling $306 million, nearly doubles the foundation’s investments in agriculture since the launch of its Agricultural Development initiative in mid-2006. (...)


The Statistical Commission for Africa to take charge of statistics development in Africa

24 January (ECA) - The first meeting of the Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom-Africa) closed Wednesday 23 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a resolution designating StatCom-Africa “as the apex body in charge of statistics and statistical development on the continent.” Close to 200 delegates representing national statistical offices, regional and international development institutions and development partners attended the three-day meeting. (…) The meeting called on African countries to mainstream statistics into national planning and budgeting processes to ensure statistical activities are adequately funded and seen as a key element in the development process, rather than as an add-on. Development partners were also called upon to provide sustainable technical and financial assistance for the collection, processing, analysis and use of data, particularly data necessary for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals. (…)


US$19.2 million programme in Malawi will help poor rural people become key players in a newly liberalized economy with private sector support

Rome, 23 January – A new IFAD-supported development programme in Malawi will create opportunities for poor rural people to benefit from the country’s emerging economic liberalization. The US$19.2 million Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme will be partly financed by a US$8.4 million loan and a US$8.3 million grant from IFAD. The loan agreement was signed today by Brian G. Bowler, Malawi’s Ambassador to the European Union, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD’s Vice-President. The Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands will provide an additional US$100,000 grant. The Government of Malawi will contribute US$390,000.

Through their participation in the progamme, small-scale crop, livestock and fish producers and processors will be linked up with relevant people in the private sector to gain the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in the market place. The programme will improve farmers’ links to value chains by establishing more efficient production, transport, storage, processing and marketing systems for agricultural commodities. (…) 


IFAD-backed US$84.6 million project in Bangladesh will help increase agricultural productivity and farm incomes

Rome, 22 January – A new project will work to boost agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes in Bangladesh by improving the quality and responsiveness of national research and extension services. The US$84.6 million National Agricultural Technology Project will be partly financed with a loan of US$19.5 million from IFAD. The loan agreement was signed today by Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Italy, Fazlul Karim, and IFAD’s President, Lennart Båge. The World Bank will cofinance the project with US$62.5 million and the Government of Bangladesh will contribute US$2.6 million. “The overall objective is to support the government’s strategy to increase national agricultural productivity and farm income,” said Nigel Brett, IFAD’s country programme manager for Bangladesh. A number of factors contribute to the poverty of farming communities in Bangladesh. One of the most important is the lack of improved pro-poor technologies. The country’s weak research and extension services are currently unable to generate and deliver such technologies to farming communities. “The project will work to improve the quality and responsiveness of national research and extension services,” said Brett. “It will make them more demand-driven and more appropriate to the needs of small and marginal farmers. (…)

With this project, IFAD has financed 25 programmes and projects in Bangladesh, investing a total of about US$443 million. 


Land Policy Forum Recommends Strong Support for Homegrown Policies

21 January (ECA) - The consultative workshop on land policy in Eastern Africa concluded Friday 18 January, with a call to African governments to contribute at least ten percent of national budgets to the land sector. Participants noted that while this may seem like a high investment, considering that land disputes are at the centre of many conflicts, it is a small price to pay in the long run. While appreciating the contribution that development partners are making to the formulation of land policies, the workshop stated that land policies have a higher chance of successful implementation if they are home grown and owned; and it the policy development process is consultative and inclusive with the active involvement of civil societies. It called for capacity building for national institutions to equip them to undertake the important task of land policy development and implementation. (…) The next subregional workshop on land policies will take place in West Africa in March. The final continental report is due to be handed to the summit of African heads of states and governments in January 2009.


Diversification and new markets for better food security in West Africa

With Italian support, FAO launches projects in five of the world’s poorest countries

Rome, 21 January – A series of projects, launched as part of the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security, will aim to revive agricultural output and create new marketing opportunities for producers in five African countries. This new initiative is financed by a $10 million contribution from the Italian Government. The countries targeted for support are: Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Aside from their close proximity to one another, they have another feature in common – all of them suffer from alarming levels of poverty and malnutrition. In some cases, up to 70 percent of the population is living below the poverty line. (…)

All five countries have a striking demographic statistic in common: the average age of the population is extremely low. In Mali and Senegal, 47 percent of the inhabitants is under 15; in Sierra Leone, 42 percent is under 15 and 75 percent is under 35. (…) In all five countries, the projects focus on agriculture as a major tool for reducing poverty and increasing food security. But they also recognize that boosting output alone is not enough, and that any strategy must include initiatives to improve the commercialization of products. One key element in each project will be training and apprenticeship activities for local producers’ associations, delivered via farmer field schools. These will teach farmers how to store and conserve products so that they are not forced to sell all their crops straight after harvest. (…)


Changing the investment climate in Viet Nam's poor rural areas

$US35 million loan signed by IFAD President in Viet Nam to expand market access and develop businesses for small farmers in Mekong Delta

Hanoi, January 18 – Vietnam’s rural poor must be given the chance to place their products on the national and global supply chain if extreme poverty is to be eradicated in Vietnam, said Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Viet Nam has cut poverty from 60 per cent to 20 per cent in little over a decade.  Extreme poverty still exists however especially in rural areas where 45 per cent of people still live below the poverty line compared with nine per cent in the cities  “The government of Viet Nam has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty even in rural areas” said Båge, speaking during an official visit to Hanoi.   “One of the ways to ensure that poor rural people also benefit from this phenomenal growth is by creating the right market conditions for private investors in agriculture and their cooperation with farmer households.” In Viet Nam as elsewhere, poor farmers, smallholders and other rural households might not know, or be able to increase their incomes from the commodity value chains through processing or negotiating with the wholesale customers who are in a position to obtain fairer prices for them for their agricultural products.  And even if they can, they don’t always have the means to meet the bio safety requirements of large international food purchasers such as supermarket chains. The IFAD President spoke after signing a $US35 million loan agreement and a US$550,000 grant with the government of Viet Nam to assist the poor households in Ben Tre and Cao Bang provinces in developing market-based agricultural production and business. (…) 


The European Commission awards funding to new civil protection simulation exercises and projects

Brussels, 14 January  - The European Commission has awarded grants worth €4.07 million to projects and large-scale pan-European simulation exercises proposed under the recently adopted Civil Protection Financial Instrument. The exercises will involve earthquake and flooding simulations, and will be led by organisations from five European countries. (…) Seven simulation exercises to be led by France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom and Sweden have been awarded just over €2.6 million. The exercises will feature a variety of scenarios, including earthquakes and cross-border flooding. Simulation exercises promote a common understanding of co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions and help accelerate response in major emergencies. These learning exercises test response capabilities and provide an opportunity for all actors involved in operations under the Community Civil Protection Mechanism to enhance their operational co-operation. The exercises will take place over 2008-2009. (…)

The Civil Protection Financial Instrument is intended to support and complement the efforts of Member States for the protection of people, the environment and property (including cultural heritage) in the event of natural and man-made disasters, acts of terrorism and technological, radiological or environmental accidents. It also facilitates reinforced co-operation between Member States in the field of civil protection. It covers response and preparedness actions, and has a financial envelope of around €190 million for 2007-2013.

For more information: 


Ecuador: Local Business Development Program - New project won

8 January - ACDI/VOCA won a $5.6 million, USAID-funded Local Business Development (LBD) program to accelerate growth in Ecuador’s border regions. The program will leverage the practical results of recent programs to encourage licit activities in these regions. LBD will connect both private and public sector actors to overcome obstacles for sustained growth, combating physical isolation, lack of knowledge of end-market requirements, difficulty in accessing financing for working capital or investments, and difficulty in attaining economies of scale for profitable participation in value chains.

Ecuador is located between two of the world’s leading producers of coca and cocaine and is faced with the threat of a rapidly growing illicit drug economy. Although Ecuador has sound agricultural production, its high rural poverty levels create a need for targeted economic development to help negate the effects of the narco-economy on rural populations.


Overview 2007 on trade agreements and disputes in Latin America

Recourse to the World Trade Organization and integration regimes as a means of resolving disputes, plus new advances in regional agreements, took place in 2007.

4 January - Major landmarks during 2007 in Latin American and Caribbean trade, disputes and the evolution of the Doha Round process are covered in two articles posted on the web page of the ECLAC Division of International Trade and Integration. The article Overview of Trade Issues in 2007   (Balance de temas comerciales en 2007) analyzes the issues and positions held by the countries of the region in the Doha Development Round, following the resumption of negotiations last February.  It also reviews progress in extra- and inter- regional trade pacts.

In 2007 the members of the Andean Community of Nations and the Central American Common Market both began, separately, negotiations toward association agreements with the European Union (EU). Trade agreements were approved between Peru and the United States, Chile and Japan, and the CARIFORUM countries (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic) with the EU. In Central America, the Protocol to the Treaty on Investment and Trade in Services was drawn up. In South America, countries agreed to the creation of the Union of South American Nations and, at the end of 2007, signed the Founding Act of the Banco del Sur by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, with initial capital of US$7 billion. The adhesion process of Venezuela to MERCOSUR also continued, among other developments. (…)






Save the Children assists flood-affected communities in Bolivia

La Paz (Bolivia), 25 January - Save the Children is rushing to provide lifesaving assistance to children and families forced from their homes by rising floodwaters in Bolivia.

The agency, working with local Civil Defense Emergency Committees, is currently supplying medicines in the municipalities of Yapacani and Puerto Villarroel, where hundreds of families have lost their homes and have moved to shelters. Save the Children is assessing emerging needs in those areas and in El Alto, and will provide food, clean water and other materials to families as necessary. (...)

The severe rainy season has pushed Bolivia’s major rivers to flood stage, threatening lowland and valley communities in the departments of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, La Paz, Potosí, Pando, Tarija, Beni and Oruro. More than 21,000 people live in the affected areas and, to date, there have been 27 deaths. Flooding and landslides have cut off communities and lines of communication. The rains are expected to continue through March.

Save the Children has been working in Bolivia since 1986. (…)


Kenya: ICRC dispatches medical supplies to Nakuru

Nairobi, 25 January - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided Nakuru Provincial Hospital with enough medical supplies to treat some 100 weapon-wounded patients.

An ICRC truck carrying the 1.4-tonne consignment left the organization’s logistics base in Nairobi early Friday afternoon. The supplies include pharmaceuticals, dressings, sutures, anaesthetics, and other surgical consumables. They were dispatched at the request of officials at the hospital and in coordination with the Ministry of Health. (...)

Working through the Kenya Red Cross Society, the ICRC has also furnished food and essential household items to people affected by the violence. Staff from the ICRC and the Kenya Red Cross are striving together to ensure adequate water supplies and sanitation for people forced to flee their homes. The ICRC is also assisting the Kenya Red Cross in its work to reunite families who have been separated by the events. (…)


Germany - Federal Foreign Office to provide winter emergency aid for Afghanistan

24 January - The Federal Foreign Office is donating 1 million euro to German aid agencies for urgent projects to deal with the winter emergency in Afghanistan. The country is currently in the grip of the harshest winter for more than a decade. People living in remote villages as well as returnees and internally displaced persons are particularly at risk. (...)

Heavy snowfalls and extreme cold have left Afghanistan’s western and northern provinces as well as the central highlands seriously short of supplies. In winter many valleys in the central highlands are completely cut off, also from medical services. The Federal Foreign Office is funding six health stations there to provide basic medical services for over 100,000 people. The station staff bring in their supplies before the onset of winter and spend the winter months with the local communities they serve.

In cooperation with various aid agencies the Federal Foreign Office is supplying blankets, warm clothing and basic foodstuffs for those in need. Schoolchildren, too, are provided with warm clothing so they can continue their education in unheated classrooms. This latest contribution brings the Federal Foreign Office’s total humanitarian aid and humanitarian demining funds for Afghanistan since 2001 to around 68 million euro.


One million DKK to floods in Africa

Copenhagen, 22 January - Heavy rain has made the numerous rivers in southern Africa overflow their banks. Thousands of families have been evacuated and need help. DanChurchAid sends one million Danish kroner (DKK) to emergency aid to the most severely affected countries which are Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The emergency work is coordinated through Action by Churches Together, ACT International.

Around 80,000 people have been affected by the floods in the three countries since mid-December last year, UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports. Worst case is Mozambique, where approximately 72,000 people are affected. Especially the areas along the rivers Zambezi, Buzi, Pungue are hit. (…)

Together with UN’s World Food Programme, WFP, Christian Care has already distributed food to more than 8,000 people. ACT partners are now estimating the need for additional help.

In Zambia the southern province is the one most severely affected. The heavy rain has created floods in 34 districts. Here as well, fields, road, bridges, wells and artesian boring have been destroyed. Schools have also been smashed. Humanitarian organisations fear that water borne diseases may spread within a few days.

All ACT partners, including DanChurchAid, are preparing emergency work in the Southern province which will consist of clothes, blankets, provisional housing, mosquito nets etc. (…)


WFP helicopter starts relief flights to flood victims in Mozambique

WFP-chartered Mi8 helicopter has started flying emergency food rations to tens of thousands of Mozambicans stranded by flooding along the Zambezi valley

Copyright: 2008 Alex Wynter/IFRC

Johannesburg, 22 January - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began relief flights today to provide vital humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the extensive flooding along the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique. Around 76,000 people have been displaced by the current floods. Based in the town of Caia, WFP’s Mi8 helicopter flew its first missions this morning – carrying 2.5 mt of cereals and pulses on each flight to Goligoli, where over 13,000 people have been displaced by the floods and are in need of food assistance. WFP is planning to deliver 74 mt of food to Goligoli, which should take the helicopter around 4-5 days. The helicopter will deliver food and non-food supplies on a priority basis on behalf of the entire humanitarian community to displaced people in inaccessible resettlement areas. All flight and cargo decisions will be taken in consultation with the government’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) and other partners. A second helicopter is on stand-by for deployment to Caia to enhance the humanitarian response. (…)


Save the Children delivers lifesaving supplies to families in flooded Mozambique

Westport, Conn., USA, 17 January - Save the Children is beginning distribution of household kits - comprised of blankets, cooking and eating utensils, water purifiers, soap, buckets and plastic sheeting - to 3,500 families. The agency has distributed additional plastic sheeting to 155 families in Mopeia.

Ongoing and torrential rains are pushing the country’s major rivers out of their banks, threatening the lives and livelihoods of thousands of families. An estimated 59,000 people have been displaced by floodwaters in the Zambezi River basin, according to government authorities. Other major rivers in central Mozambique are still above alert stage. Save the Children’s assessment teams working in the Zambezi Valley, where the agency has long-term programs, report that shelter, clean drinking water, food and sanitation are immediate priorities. (...) Prolonged flooding is predicted, prompting fears that this year’s floods will be bigger than those of 2007, which affected more than a quarter of a million people.

With the school year beginning in two weeks, Save the Children is assessing the need for temporary schools so that children do not miss out on an education. The agency has already established a tent school in the Mopeia resettlement center.

Save the Children has programs in three of the four provinces expected to see the worst of the Zambezi flooding. The agency has been working in Mozambique since 1988. (…)


As violence ebbs, UNICEF joins other agencies in providing aid for up to 100,000 people in Kenya

Nairobi, 9 January - As the unrest that rocked Kenya quells, UNICEF and other agencies are rushing to provide aid for up to 100,000 people, the estimated number in urgent need of assistance. The majority are women and children, says UNICEF.  The children’s agency is warning that the violence is the symptom of deep rooted problems, including widespread poverty.  The UN is estimating that as many as 500,000 may need long-term assistance and there are fears that the unrest could affect humanitarian operations in neighbouring Sudan, Uganda and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Children in many of the affected parts of the country have long suffered from chronic malnutrition. The recent violence and subsequent displacement of over 250,000 people, threatens the lives of already vulnerable children and women.






MSF increases role as cholera outbreak picks up speed in the DRC

Katanga, 25 January - A team of 15 from MSF’s Congo Emergency Pool (PUC; Pool d’Urgence Congo) is currently working to fight a cholera epidemic that has been raging since the start of the year in the heart of Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Lubumbashi, a mining city in the south east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with a population of 1.3 million, is the second largest city in the country (next to the capital, Kinshasa).

To date, 767 cholera patients have been treated in the MSF supported cholera treatment centre (CTC) and the number of patients is rising slightly. There were 278 new patients admitted over the course of last week - an average of 30 to 40 new patients every day.

The MSF team consists of a coordinator, three doctors, six nurses, five logistics specialists and a water and sanitation/disinfection expert. Highly contagious, cholera is a bacterium that is easily transmitted via stools and vomit and through drinking contaminated water. Two additional members of the MSF team are taking care of raising awareness among the population on ways they can protect themselves. (…)

MSF is now focusing its efforts in order to limit the spread of the epidemic, while aware that it could not be contained in time due to the lack of adequate resources deployed for the poorest population of this rich mining city. (…)


Rotarian to donate $2 million to help end polio

By Tiffany Woods 

24 January - Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio have gotten a US$2 million boost from a Rotarian diamond and jewelry magnate. Harshad Mehta, a native of India who is a senior partner in the Belgium-based Rosy Blue diamond and jewelry company, has pledged to donate the money to Rotary’s polio eradication efforts over the next three years.

Mehta, the largest Indian donor to The Rotary Foundation, was inspired to make the commitment after learning about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $100 million challenge grant for polio eradication. Rotary must match the grant dollar for dollar over a three-year period. (…)

Mehta serves as chair of the United Arab Emirates operations of Rosy Blue, a family business that employs more than 15,000 people around the world. He’s also Armenia’s honorary consul in Mumbai and the vice chair of the Dubai Diamond Exchange. He is a past chair of the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council and a past vice president of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, listening to music, walking, swimming, playing cricket, and spending time with his wife, three children, and five grandchildren.

In the final push to stop polio, Mehta urges Rotarians not to give up. “We must further strengthen our resolve as we are so close to the ultimate goal,” he says. “Any slackening at this point will result in a total loss of all the time, effort, and money put in over the past years.”


Integrated health strategies can save children’s lives, says UNICEF flagship, State of the World’s Children Report 2008

Geneva, 22 January  –  Strategies that can help reduce the number of children who die before their fifth birthday were highlighted today, at the launch of UNICEF’s flagship report - The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival – in Geneva. While recent data show a fall in the rate of under-five mortality, the State of the World’s Children Report 2008 goes beyond the numbers to suggest actions and initiatives that should lead to further progress. “Community-level integration of essential services for mothers, newborns and young children, and sustainable improvements in national health systems can save the lives of many of the more than 26,000 children under five who die each day,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “The report describes the impact of simple, affordable life-saving measures, such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin A supplementation, all of which have helped to reduce child deaths in recent years.” The report’s analysis also reveals that far more needs to be done to increase access to treatments and means of prevention, so the devastating impact of pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, severe acute malnutrition and HIV can be better addressed. The challenge is to ensure children have access to a continuum of health care, backed by strong national health systems. "Stepping up investment in health systems will be crucial if we are to meet the child health targets set by the United Nations, but progress can be made even when health systems are weak,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. (…)


Ban Ki-moon hails Rotary’ s role in eradicating polio

UN Secretary-General addresses service organization’s assembly

17 January - Hailing Rotary International as a crucial partner of the United Nations in the battle against polio, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the group’s perseverance in overcoming enormous obstacle in the campaign. “For 22 years, you and your fellow Rotarians have dedicated your time and efforts to eradicating polio,” he said in a video message to the organization on the campaign that has immunized almost two billion children around the world against the highly infectious, often paralyzing and sometimes fatal disease.

“You have done so in the face of extraordinary challenges. You have overcome financial shortfalls, conflict and lack of security. You have conquered cultural barriers and lack of political will. At every turn, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, you have found creative solutions, in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this way, Rotarians have shown the world what can be achieved when civil society and the United Nations partner together.”

The world’s success in eradicating polio now depends on four countries - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan - and a further US$ 440 million is needed over the next two years for victory, according to an assessment in October by the independent Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE), which oversees the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

“When the last chapter on polio eradication is finally written, it will tell one of the most spectacular success stories in public health,” Mr. Ban said. “It will describe one of the world’s most remarkable partnerships. And it will highlight your personal service to humanity. (…)


Afghanistan: hygiene promotion reaches Kabul’s poorest districts

By Ali Hakimi, International Federation information officer in Kabul

17 January - Nikbakht, a 40-year-old mother of four children, lives in one of the poorest districts in central Kabul. Here in Chindawol, an average of three families cram into each small house. The sanitary conditions are horrendous. The traditional drop toilets are typically in a poor state of repair, with very few having a cover. It is not surprising then that, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), nearly 50,000 children die from diarrhoea in Afghanistan every year.

In an attempt to address this, the country’s public health ministry joined forces with the Afghan Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to launch a four-day sanitation campaign. The idea for the campaign was sparked by seven suspected cases of cholera in Kabul in July 2007. It was implemented by more than a hundred Red Crescent volunteers, who travelled from house to house in order to pass on potentially lifesaving hygiene information.

Each volunteer group contained one male and one female Red Crescent volunteer, which made it easier for them to be welcomed into the houses of strangers and to pass on their message to all members of the household - particularly the women.

Nikbakht is one of many women to be reached by the campaign. She listened intently as Afghan Red Crescent volunteer Sakina Mohammad Hassan showed her a series of photographs showing good hygiene practices. (…)


Polio vaccine reaches over 400 million children in 2007

More than 400 million children vaccinated in 2007

16 January - Most dangerous serotype beaten back, as intensified eradication effort zeros in on remaining reservoirs

More than 400 million children under the age of five were vaccinated multiple times against polio in 2007 in 27 countries, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative announced in January. In total, more than 2.2 billion doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) were administered during 164 vaccination campaigns, primarily in the remaining endemic countries (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan), in re-infected countries and in high-risk areas. (…)

Large areas of the remaining endemic countries now appear to be free of this serotype, including the western end of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and an area in which the virus has been more entrenched than anywhere else on earth.

Given this progress, the Advisory Committee on Poliomyelitis Eradication - the independent body providing strategic guidance to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative - endorsed continuing these intensified eradication efforts in 2008-2009. This will mean a significant ramping-up of both the quantity and quality of supplementary immunization activities in the remaining endemic areas in an bid to rapidly stop polio once and for all.

Full financing of the intensified phase is critical, as the increased activities come with significant budgetary implications. For 2008-2009, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative faces a global funding gap of US$ 525 million. US$ 175 million of this amount is needed for 2008. A full budget has now been published in the updated Financial Resource Requirements document, available at


Turkmenistan Government to fully support flour fortification

Turkmenistan, 14 January - UNICEF welcomes the Turkmenistan Government’s self-sustainable flour fortification programme. Fortification of flour with micronutrients that contain iron and folic acid will reduce iron deficiency anaemia and improve the overall nutritional situation of women and children across the country. The Government will finance the flour fortification programme as part of its commitment to child survival and development, and  will work with UNICEF to procure micronutrients that will be added to supreme grade and first grade flour. (…)

The flour fortification programme is one of many programmes contributing to the health and well being of the children and women of Turkmenistan. Since 2001, the Government of Turkmenistan has financed 100 per cent of vaccines procurement using UNICEF Procurement Services.  In 2004, the country achieved universal salt iodization.



Energy and safety



EU Sustainable Energy Week 2008

Brussels, 28 January - 1 February - Under the umbrella of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign (SEE), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, the European Institutions, the Slovenian Presidency and major stakeholders concerned with sustainable energy are together putting on the second EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW). It will take place in Brussels, Belgium, and in other cities across Europe from Monday 28 January to Friday 1 February, 2008.

The EUSEW is the key reference for sustainable energy issues in Europe. The events organised during EUSEW cover key topics that highlight the multi-sectoral nature of sustainable energy development and stress the need for everyone to work together towards a common goal; from renewable energy sources to energy efficiency, from EU policy to local action, from distributed energy to planning, from technologies to markets, from legislation to behaviour to education, from buildings to transport.


European Info Day 2008

Brussels, 31 January - About € 50 million will become available to support European intelligent energy projects under the 2008 call for proposals. But only the best project proposals will be selected for funding.

The European Info Day 2008 event will help you apply successfully and find suitable project partners. More than 400 participants are expected. (...)

Info Day video recordings and slides will be made available on this page after the event.

The European Info Day is a part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2008


Solar Conference 2008: “Putting Light to Work” - Cairo, Egypt, 24-28 February 

The highly successful Solar conference series, started in 1991, provides a place where researchers interested in fundamental and applied aspects of photochemistry can meet and inspire one another. Located in the “sun-blessed” country of Egypt, the Solar Conference recognizes that successful photochemical applications go hand in hand with advancement of fundamental understanding of photoinduced processes and excited states. Year after year, this conference attracts a wide pool of world authorities from various fields to Egypt. The large and continuing interest of the scientific community for this conference is a result of the unique blend of good science, networking, hospitality and remarkable venue. In its own right, Solar significantly contributes to the education of the countries own scientists, particularly the emerging young generation of Egyptian scientists.


New energy and climate package for Europe: The European Commission leads the way towards a massive expansion of wind power

23 January - Today’s Commission proposal for 20% renewable energy by 2020 paves the way for a massive expansion of wind energy in the 27 Member States and a new energy future for Europe. It proposes a stable and flexible EU framework in which Member States keep control of their renewable energy policies through successful national support systems. In addition, cross-border transfer of guarantees of origin can only take place where Member States have met or exceeded their interim targets. For the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), these two elements are crucial for maintaining investor confidence and encouraging substantial investments in green electricity.

“The European Commission has today provided a powerful response to the imminent energy and climate crisis. By introducing a voluntary trading mechanism, controlled by Member States, the proposal maintains market stability, increases investor confidence and will help Member States to reach their ambitious, yet achievable, targets”. (Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive Officer)[tt_news]=575&tx_ttnews[backPid]=259&cHash=3f8c8006aa


World Future Energy Summit - January 21-23

Something special has happened in Abu Dhabi - “ extraordinary conference” Lord Foster

Highlights of the First World Future Energy Summit: 

• The Crown Prince has announced the investment of 15 billion dollars in the future of energy • Masdar has challenged our understanding of what it means to live in a city.

• We’ve had the future king of England speak by hologram

• The United States has asked OPEC to hike oil output

• Lord Brown, who was CEO of BP for 12 years, has summed up the energy markets over the past 40 years

• BP have announced a $2billion dollar hydrogen plant for Abu Dhabi

• We’ve even had calls for a revolution! (from Greenpeace)

It difficult to even keep up with the scale of business and progress that has taken place here over the past 3 days.  11,172 people have come through these doors. 230 companies have come from 22 countries all over the world, 230 media have reported and if you google World Future Energy Summit you’ll find over 200,000 hits.


3rd International Solar Cities Congress 2008 - Adelaide, Australia, 17-21 February 

The International Solar Cities Congress is part of the International Solar Cities Initiative and the 2008 Congress will be the third solar cities congress. The objectives of the International Solar Cities Initiative are to support UN energy and climate policies by stimulating the interest of cities into becoming benchmark cities that commit to ambitious emission reduction goals; help cities systematically integrate renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and industries into environmental, economic and city planning; and provide scientific support for the validation and design of effective measures and policies for Solar Cities. The 3rd Congress will appeal to all professionals and individuals with an interest in sustainable energy and its role in our urban environment. The International Solar Cities Initiative (ISCI) has been formed to address climate change through effective measurable action at the urban community level. The members of ISCI are cities, institutions and individuals who want to help each other in this task.


Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs welcomes the resolution of the Kashagan oil field dispute

Brussels, 16 January - Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, has welcomed today the fact that an agreement has been reached between the members of the Kashagan consortium and the authorities of Kazakhstan. The resolution of this dispute will allow the development of the Kashagan oil field, the largest oil discovery in more than 30 years, to proceed at the quickest pace possible (with the production stream to come on line by 2011). Such progress should also help to ease world energy markets at a time of sharply increasing energy demand.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed in Astana on 14 January 2008 brings an end to a six-month standoff between the members of the Kashagan consortium which includes ENI, Exxon Mobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Inpex and ConocoPhillips. Discovered in 2000, it is the largest oil field discovered in the North Caspian Sea and is situated close to the Kazak city of Atyrau. The dispute has emerged due to the concerns raised by the Republic of Kazakhstan on the impact of certain factors that have influenced the speed and cost of the project development. Indeed, Kashagan represents a significant technical and environmental challenge due to the high sulphur content with associated production of hydrogen sulphide gas, wide temperature variations from –40 to +40C and a deep, high-pressure reservoir. 


How much water do you really use? The truth may shock you

New York, 8 January - America’s waterscape is changing. Climate shifts and population increases are putting pressure on our fresh water sources, leading to record-setting droughts and unprecedented water shortages. Despite the recent surge in media coverage about our water problems, most Americans still don’t realize that they have a role to play in addressing the problem. But a new website called H2O Conserve ( is coming online to show us that it’s time to do something about our 1,000-plus gallon-a-day habit.

Every aspect of our lives is connected to water, and we use enormous amounts of it to make everything from electricity to food to household products. For example, it takes 24 gallons of water to make a single pound of plastic, and over a hundred gallons to make a pound of cotton. Even the electricity we use is tied to water - with power plants consuming 40 percent of our country’s fresh water resources.

The website’s H2O Calculator takes all this into account, and after you answer a few questions it reveals just how much water your lifestyle requires. How much do you think you use? Well, the average American guzzles an astonishing 1,189.3 gallons per day according to the calculator’s measure - not just a drop in the bucket! (...)

After using the calculator, visitors are invited to learn more about our water system and important water issues. It also provides tips for saving water at home - a valuable resource given the recent water shortages and droughts that many Americans are facing these days.

H2O Conserve was developed by a group of public interest organizations, including Food & Water Watch, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, GRACE, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (...)


European Commission set out targets for the year 2010

The European Commission has set out targets for the year 2010 for both renewables and energy intensity that, whilst indicative, have been endorsed by national governments. To achieve our goals, all of us need to get involved, as individuals, communities, industry representatives or members of public authorities. Together we can make a difference and no contribution is too small in the drive to shape a better energy future for all European citizens.

Set in this context Sustainable Energy Europe 2005-2008 gives a strong signal of support to all partners in sustainable energy that will add value by disseminating their results and will raise awareness of key decision-makers across Europe of the benefits of increased investments in this sector.


Water Cooperation between UN-ESCWA and Germany 

Represented by Executive Secretary Bader Omar Al Dafa, UN-ESCWA signed on 11 January 2008 a memorandum of understanding with the German Embassy in Lebanon, represented by Ambassador Hansjoerg Haber concerning the project "Advisory Services to UN-ESCWA and UN-ESCWA Member Countries in the Water Sector". (…) Germany is funding projects in the Western Asia region with about 1 billion dollars, and water represents an important sector of its work. (…)

Driven by its objective to support economic and social cooperation among the countries of the region and promote development in order to achieve regional integration, UN-ESCWA aims to ensure that Western Asia interacts with other regions, to familiarize them with the circumstances and needs of the countries of the region. (…)


Biogas: helping poor farmers help the planet and themselves

Animals are an important source of food and income for many poor rural people, but their manure is a source of one of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases. One sow and her piglets will produce about 9 tonnes of carbon-dioxide through the methane generated by their droppings. Turning manure into biogas is a triple-win situation: it improves the lives of poor rural people by giving them an affordable source of energy for cooking and lighting, replaces the time spent for fuelwood collection with money-making activities, and reduces the release of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

In China, an IFAD-supported biogas project has helped about 30,000 poor households by providing nearly 23,000 biogas tanks. As a result, methane emissions have dropped, incomes have risen and household sanitation has improved. (…) Biogas units turn human and animal waste into a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide gases that can be used for lighting and cooking. Each household builds its own plant to channel waste from the domestic toilet and nearby shelters for animals, usually pigs, into a sealed tank. The waste ferments and is naturally converted into gas and compost. In addition to producing energy, the project has resulted in better sanitary conditions in the home. (…) The Guangxi project has become a catalyst for other initiatives in the region. To date, 2.73 million biogas tanks have been built in villages, benefiting about 34.2 per cent of the rural households in Guangxi. It is estimated that 7.65 million tons of standard coal and 13.40 million tons of firewood are saved annually in Guangxi because of the use of biogas.



Environment and wildlife



UNEP supported polar boat breaks free of Arctic Pack Ice

22 January - Tara, the UNEP supported polar boat, has broken free from the Arctic ice sheet after a record breaking scientific expedition across the top of the world. Wedged in the pack ice, Tara "drifted" with the wind and ocean currents at an average speed of 10 km/h for more than 500 days. In one and half years she covered 5,200 kilometers in the Arctic, and at one point was only 160 kilometers from the North Pole, the northern-most position ever reached by a schooner. The boat is now sailing in open water, and by the end of the week is expected to reach land at Longyearbyen, capital of Spitsbergen. She will then continue on to her home port of Lorient in France. (…)

As part of the International Polar Year, Tara has provided an unprecedented platform for scientific observations and research (including the European DAMOCLES project) on how the Arctic environment is changing. Throughout the course of the expedition, it has been relaying these findings to scientists, policy makers and the general public alike. (…)


IFAD provides US$16.6 million to improve natural resource management and adaptation to climate change in Yemen

Rome, 21 January – A new US$42.2 million project in Yemen will help reduce rural poverty by reversing the accelerating trend of natural resource degradation in five of the country’s poorest areas. The Rainfed Agriculture and Livestock Project will be financed partly by a low-interest IFAD loan of US$16.6 million. (…) The project has three components, two of which will be financed by the International Development Association (IDA). The third component, focused on productive rural development, will be cofinanced by IFAD and IDA. This component will be implemented in 23 districts and will benefit directly about 185,000 poor households.

Natural resources are being placed under greater stress by rapidly increasing populations in the governorates of Al-Mahweet, Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahej and Sana'a. The five governorates face drought and water scarcity as a result of climate change. Since the local economy is based predominantly on rainfed agriculture, the project will seek to upgrade and diversify agricultural production. At the same time it will use participatory natural resource management initiatives to help halt and reverse the accelerating trend towards resource degradation. The project will also assist small farmers, herders, poor landless people and women-headed households to strengthen their processing and marketing systems. (…)


The stinky fish of poor fishing practice

17 January - Destructive fishing has many critics, with the newest being an animated fish puppet emerging from an icebox to push the virtues of sustainably caught seafood.

Stinky Fish, the brainchild of WWF’s International Marine Programme and viral movie makers, Free Range Studios, is the star of a new consumer education and information website which goes live today. (...)

“We’ve aimed Stinky Fish mainly at fish buyers and eaters with the underlying message that your seafood spread is going to be all the more satisfying if you buy and eat with a conscience” said Sarah Bladen of WWF’s International Marine Programme. Or, in the cartoon chatter that Stinky Fish uses: “It’s time to slap your appetites into line with your ethics.”

But there is more than admonishment. Stinky Fish has a six step plan for fish consumers to do just that. Stinky Fish reserves his approval for fish products carrying the ecolabel of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the plan revolves around preferring MSC - labelled seafood, asking retailers and restaurateurs for sustainable fish and generally adding in small personal ways to the overall consumer demand for seafood that doesn’t cost the seas.

Consumers are advised to just stay away from some seafood where the populations are so depleted, the fishing methods so destructive or the task of differentiating the sustainable from the unsustainable is impossible. The list includes the once but no longer plentiful Atlantic cod, overfished Atlantic bluefin tuna, swordfish from areas still using banned driftnets, and orange roughy driven into depletion almost as soon as it was discovered just a couple of decades ago.

Stinky’s Sustainable Seafood Shopping Survey provides a mechanism for aware consumers to start reinforcing the message for seafood providers. Returning the survey to Stinky Fish and his willing WWF analysts will also add to knowledge of consumer level retailing practice.


2007 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, 10 December 2007

The joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize Award in 2007—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore, former Vice-President of the USA and environmental campaigner—was announced on 12 October 2007. (…) The award ceremony took place at Oslo City Hall, Norway on 10 December 2007 in the presence of the King and Queen of Norway. (…) In his presentation speech, the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that, for a long time, there had been great doubt about whether global warming was man-made but that, thanks to the IPCC, there was very little such doubt today. The Chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, received the award on behalf of the Panel and gave a lecture, in which he paid tribute to the thousands of experts and scientists who have contributed to the work of the Panel over almost two decades of evolution and service to humanity. He also expressed his gratitude to WMO and UNEP, the co-sponsors of IPCC, for their support. (…)

The work of the IPCC had shown how vital it was for the scientific evidence on climate change—and mankind’s role therein—to be used as the basis for moving forward the political process on curbing climate change. The integration of reliable information in socio-economic decision-making was a prerequisite for sustainable development. (…)



Religion and spirituality



WCC General Secretary confident about Christian unity progress

Rome, January 25 - At today’s ecumenical Vespers service presided by Pope Benedict XVI, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia underlined the importance of “a church that is one and united in its witness” to a world marked by violence and disunity.  The service in Rome marked the conclusion of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (...)

In an interview published today in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Kobia shared his vision that the ecumenical movement would reach, by the mid-21st century “a level of unity such that Christians everywhere regardless of their confessional affiliations, can pray and worship together and feel welcome to share in the Lord’s Table at every church”. Such an example of unity, he continues, might “help humanity to overcome all divisions”, so that the people of the world would “be able to live together in peace and harmony regardless of their backgrounds and identities.”


Christian youth movements call for signs of unity

100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 24 - A number of major international Christian youth movements and organizations called for stronger efforts towards unity in a joint statement issued on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Addressed to the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches, Christian World Communions and Regional Ecumenical Organizations, the statement asks them to “share ecumenical dialogue with young people” and expresses the commitment of the signatories to “raise awareness of the importance of Christian unity among young people”.


World Communications Day 2008: “The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others”

Vatican City, January 24 ((PCCS/SIGNIS)  - The Holy Father released his message for the 42nd World Communications Day, which we publish here in his entirety, on January 24, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales. WCD 2008 will take place on May 4, 2008 on the theme “The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others”. (...)


Bartholomew I to visit Pontiff on March 6

Vatican City, 10 January - Benedict XVI will receive in audience Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who will visit Rome to mark the 90th anniversary of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity confirmed the audience is scheduled for Thursday, March 6.

The patriarch will visit Rome for the celebrations of the anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, and established by Pope Benedict XV in 1917. Bartholomew I himself received a doctorate from the institute.

Benedict XVI visited the patriarch in Turkey in 2006, on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew. On Dec. 6, the Pope received a delegation from the Pontifical Oriental Institute and recognized that the role the institute provides has “an effective ecumenical value, because drawing from the heritage of wisdom of the Christian East enriches everyone.”


Interfaith Speakers Bureau

Three orientation sessions

San Francisco, January 2008 - Islamic Networks Group has been educating people in schools, businesses, and community organizations about Islam since 1993. The international oganization, based in San Jose, has provided highly-trained speakers to present the fundamentals of Islam, while countering stereotypes and misconceptions. ING has now undertaken to expand their work by developing a pool of interfaith speakers who can do the same for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism, as well as Islam. They are looking for interested individuals who are members of congregations or religious communities and who would be willing to be trained and to be available to speak at various times and places around the Bay Area. Interested people are required to attend one of three orientation sessions to be held around the Bay in January, 2008. (...) ING is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1993 that promotes religious literacy and mutual respect through on-site presentations and interfaith dialogues to schools, community agencies, and other institutions.


World Peace Prayer Global Link Teleconference - February 3rd, Sunday, 11am Eastern Standard Time USA

A Live Teleconference connecting voices from around the globe in prayers for peace to prevail in each of the 192 countries and all the other regions of the world.  A multi-cultural, interfaith opportunity for the global heart to merge as ONE through LIVE interactive prayers.  This Teleconference will be broadcasted live by the All One Now Network webcast service  The Global Link Teleconferences are hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society.  To learn more and register please visit:


Encounter with the Religions of Jerusalem: 9th session

Bi-weekly course organized jointly by Interfaith Encounter Association and Mevakshei Derech Community

13 February:  Encounter with The Greek Orthodox Church. Lecturer: Archbishop Aristarchus, Chief Secretary of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.



Culture and education



3-H project shines the light of literacy in Brazil

By Joseph Derr   Rotary International News 

25 January - A Rotary Foundation 3-H Grant that introduced the concentrated language encounter (CLE) method to Brazil in 2001 continues to boost literacy rates among low-income families throughout the country. With support from the Foundation, Brazilian host partners in districts 4520, 4560, and 4760 and international partners in districts 6900 (Georgia, USA) and 7080 (Ontario, Canada) developed a US$344,862 project that set up a CLE training center in Contagem, Minas Gerais.

Today, more than 1,900 teachers and other educational experts have learned the method that has taught more than 72,600 beneficiaries how to read and write. Through CLE, students learn from group texts and activities rather than rote memorization and repetition. With low costs and a highly interactive aspect that is popular with students, CLE programs have proven effective in numerous developing countries.

“In this area, we’ve had a big problem with functional illiteracy,” says Glaúcia Rosa Alves, a trainer at one of the centers. “We needed a low-cost and effective method, and then Rotary came.”

Dozens of local Rotary clubs are now promoting and supporting CLE methodology in Brazil. The

active involvement of local Rotarians has also led to numerous non-grant projects to help schools with materials, meals, and health care. (…)


New EI website showcases educators’ contributions to development cooperation projects worldwide

23 January - Education International has launched a website to showcase the many contributions that education trade unions are making to development cooperation projects around the world. The EI Development Cooperation website provides the visitor with an overview of the projects EI member organisations are conducting through mutual cooperation, to not only further the cause of teacher organisations in every country, but also to promote peace, democracy, social justice and equality around the world.

All projects are carried out through partnerships formed by teacher unions and coordinated through EI. They aim to empower teacher unions to be independent, autonomous and democratic, in order to effectively represent, defend and promote the interests of their members and the quality of education.

A major feature of the new website is the Project Database which contains the details of all the projects carried out by EI member organisations. Visitors to the site are able to search for a project by date, host country, region and theme.

As an integrated component of the EI Web Portal, projects carried out in a country are also automatically displayed in the relevant country profile on the website of the EI Barometer. Education International’s Barometer of Human and Trade Union Rights provides the most comprehensive report yet of the state of human and labour rights and the provision of quality education in countries around the world. This connection enables the visitor to get a comprehensive picture of not only the projects carried out in this country, but the whole educational and social situation within the country as well. (...)


Art Exhibit Melting Ice / A Hot Topic: Envisioning Change will travel to Monaco

25 January - The Natural World Museum (NWM) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have revealed plans to bring their innovative and highly celebrated art exhibit, "Melting Ice / A Hot Topic: Envisioning Change", to the Principality of Monaco in honor of the official programming for the Tenth Special Session of UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum on Globalization and Environment: Financing the Climate Challenge. This forum is the largest gathering of environmental leaders from across the globe. "UNEP and NWM have joined forces to generate environmental awareness through the Art for the Environment initiative" said Achim Steiner, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNEP. "Science informs the mind, music and the heart but art connects with the human spirit. We urgently need to empower all three of these essential human elements if we are to rise to the challenge and seize the opportunities for economic, environmental and social renewal glimpsed through the lens of climate change." The international exhibit on climate change will be hosted by the Office of Cultural Affairs in Monaco (DAC) from 20 February - 16 March 2008. (…)


Special Journey with MASA and Givat Haviva

An innovative program where overseas students will be able to learn spoken Arabic in Israel has been launched by the International Department of Givat Haviva and the Jewish Agency’s MASA / Journey Israel organization.

Both MASA and Givat Haviva’s International Department are continuously on the lookout for new educational programs that will afford an unforgettable experience with a study opportunity of a lifetime. The two organizations have now come together to create a tailor made program for overseas students wishing to learn Arabic (Palestinian), Arab culture, and general Israel and Middle East studies whilst experiencing the daily pulse of Israeli life in a predominantly Muslim Arab region of the country. (...)

The joint Givat Haviva - MASA study program also includes learning about Israel’s history, people, culture, and politics as well as quality studies regarding the Middle East. (...) “One of the great advantages of studying here at Givat Haviva will be the opportunity through community work in local villages of actually not only being able to be helpful to one’s neighbors but possibly also be bridge builders between the Jewish and Arab communities who live so close to each other in this very special region,” said Barel, a member of Kibbutz Barkai which borders on the Arab Israeli Muslim villages of Umm al-Kutuf and Arara in Wadi Ara.



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Next issue: 22 February 2008.


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