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Good News Agency

Monthly – year 13th, number 204 - 6 July 2012


Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



UN and Myanmar sign plan to prevent child recruitment in armed force

June 27 - The United Nation and Government of Myanmar today signed an action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by Myanmar’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, and allow for the release of under-age recruits. (…) The action plan sets a timetable and measurable activities for the release and reintegration of children associated with Government armed forces, as well as the prevention of further recruitment.

According to UNICEF, the plan is the result of years of negotiation between the Government and the United Nations, on behalf of a Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting of grave violations of child rights in armed conflict (CTFMR), with the latter made up of various UN agencies and programmes, as well as international non-governmental organizations.



Equal participation of women vital for building new Libya, says UN envoy

June 26 - The top United Nations envoy in Libya today stressed the importance of the equal participation of women in rebuilding the country, as he commended the number of women who have registered to vote and to stand for election in the upcoming legislative polls, Some 2.7 million people in the North African nation have registered to vote for members of a new National Congress, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for Libya.

There are over 600 women candidates standing for election next month.



Togo ratifies cluster bomb ban

Togo has become the 72nd State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions after it ratified the treaty on Friday, 22 June 2012

June 25 – Last month Togo co-organised a regional conference in neighbouring Ghana , aimed at increasing the number of African countries on board this humanitarian treaty, which bans all use, production, stockpile and transfer of deadly cluster munitions. Togo representative Mr Komlan A. Narteh-Messan stated at the Accra conference, “It is impossible to sit back against the humanitarian disaster that is the use of cluster munitions in the world. This commitment is and remains one of the priorities of our foreign policy.”

Togo has stated that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.




Human rights



Dominican Republic: 300,000 domestic workers to gain labour law protection

June 30, Santo Domingo - The 300,000 domestic wokers in the Dominican Republic are set to gain coverage under labour laws following an announcement by Labour Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito at a meeting organised in Santo Domingo by the ITUC and its three affiliates CASC, CNUS and CNTD. Drafting of the new law will start this week, and it is expected to be adopted by Parliament within three months, along with ratification of ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers.

A formal request presented to Senators by domestic workers is the latest in a series of moves to ensure the country ratifies the ILO Convention. It is estimated that a third of the domestic workers in the Dominican Republic come from neighboring Haiti. Fear of deportation makes Haitian domestic workers particularly vulnerable to abuses from their employers.

The Dominican unions started organising domestic workers several years ago together with other workers from the informal economy lacking rights and protection.

ITUC press: press@ituc-csi.org


Libya: armed forces and ICRC sign agreement

June 26, Tripoli – The Libyan Armed Forces and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today signed a memorandum of understanding under which the ICRC will provide support for the integration of the rules of international humanitarian law in the training and operations of the Libyan Armed Forces and in the Military Act.

"The Libyan Armed Forces have expressed a clear desire to ensure that international humanitarian law and other rules on the use of force are taken into account in the way they plan and operate," said Georges Comninos, the head of the ICRC delegation in Libya. "This agreement is therefore an important step in the armed forces' continuing cooperation with the ICRC." The memorandum was signed at Libyan military headquarters in Tripoli.



EU: Turn rights promises into actions

Foreign ministers adopt landmark human rights package

June 25 - With the adoption on June 25, 2012, of a comprehensive human rights package, European Union (EU) foreign ministers made a powerful pledge to prioritize human rights in EU policy at home and abroad. Now EU institutions and all 27 member states will have to exercise a firm, coherent, and uniform approach to human rights abuses worldwide, in a transparent and accountable manner.

The EU human rights package adoptedby foreign ministers consists of a strategic framework on human rights and democracy, an EU action plan, and a decision to appoint an EU Special Representative on human rights.




Economy and development



WFP starts distributing food vouchers ro Syrian refugees in Lebanon

June 28, Beirut - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began a food voucher programme to assist 40,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley as part of a regional emergency operation to support Syrians who fled unrest in their country. WFP will reach 27,000 refugees in Lebanon by the end of July with plans to scale up to reach a total of 40,000 people before the end of the year: the agency is scaling up its assistance to 120,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The voucher system allows people living in urban settings to buy their food including fresh commodities from local shops as well as boost the local economy. On Thursday, the UN humanitarian agencies and partner organizations appealed for US$193 million to help support the growing number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. WFP needs US$23.8 million to cover the food requirements of refugees over the next six months as part of this joint appeal.



Finding cause for hope in Rio+20 disappointment

June 26 - The disappointment arising from the lack of consensus at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development is giving way to optimism among some observers, including Mary Robinson, former human rights chief at the United Nations, who writes that "the lack of political leadership was countered by the incredible vitality, determination and commitment of civil society." The shortcomings of the summit could point to the emergence of a new notion of "ecological citizenship," says Ilan Safit, a professor at Pace University. CNN (6/26), The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Dot Earth blog (6/25), United Press International (6/25)

UN Wire un_wire@smartbrief.com


EU contributes 5 million euro to help farmers maintain crop diversity – Support under plant genetics treaty fund announced during Rio+20

June 21, Rio de Janeiro - The European Union is contributing €5 million towards the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO announced today, at a high-level ministerial meeting on the plant treaty at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The Benefit-sharing Fund helps farmers in developing countries manage crop diversity for food security and climate change adaptation.

This is the single largest contribution made to the Benefit-sharing Fund since it was established in 2008. It will help to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage traditional crops like potato, rice, cassava, wheat and sorghum.

The Benefit-sharing Fund is governed by 127 countries and addresses food security at a time when climate change and other threats are contributing to massive losses of crop genetic diversity. The Fund already supports projects in 21 countries by promoting innovative planning and practical solutions for the use of crop biodiversity in areas affected by climate change, rural poverty or food insecurity.



New food security and nutrition project for Egypt: Italy finances 3 million dollars project

June 18, Rome - A new $3 million project that aims to improve food security and nutrition of women and young people in Egypt was announced by FAO. The project is being financed by the government of Italy.

Health surveys in Egypt have shown that malnutrition is the root cause of over one third of sicknesses affecting children under the age of five. The project aims to improve food and nutrition security through higher food production, nutrition education for women and young people and capacity building to strengthen national and decentralized institutions.

The project will establish Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools and Community Model Gardens to give women and young people the opportunity to manage their own microfood production enterprises, to learn how to grow food and to raise small animals, and to improve household incomes through the sale of food products.



35 million dollars IFAD loan and grant to Cambodia for agricultural development: rural families will benefit from increased incomes

June 8, Rome - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide US$17.5 million loan and US$17.5 million grant to the Kingdom of Cambodia to improve agricultural productivity and to diversify the sources of income of rural families living in poverty. More recently, Cambodia has made strides in economic growth but about 30 per cent of its population still lives below the poverty line. The IFAD-funded project aims to benefit approximately 90,000 rural households in the five provinces of Kampot, Kandal, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Takeo.

Landless and land-poor farmers, rural youth and women-headed households will be a priority. Poor families will have improved access to financial services and service providers will help on financial management of Improved Group Revolving Funds (IGRF). Farmers will learn how to access technology and markets through training: the innovative training package will include improved production and marketing techniques and how to establish linkages between farmers and agricultural markets.



1.75 million dollars IFAD grant to strengthen opportunities in rural African-descendent communities in Latin America

June 5, Rome - In an effort to counteract the deep-seated inequality affecting Latin America’s afro-descendent communities, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approved a US$1.75 million grant for the Fundación ACUA - Programme to Increase the Visibility and Strengthen the Entrepreneurship of Rural Afro-descendant Communities in Latin America, in particular in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. .

The 2.5-year program will benefit approximately 10,000 people, concentrating its efforts primarily in Brazil and Colombia, where 73 per cent of the region’s afro-descendent communities are found. Roberto Haudry, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Colombia, explains: “People of African descent are often invisible in Latin America. These are the most marginalized communities with the least amount of opportunities. By supporting cultural programs, strengthening entrepreneurship and building awareness, we hope to break the cycle of endemic poverty. Fundación ACUA has financed some 17 successful economic initiatives since its inception. It has also been key in passing laws, promoting policy dialogue and designing cooperation agreements that validate and empower people of African descent in the region”. The total programme cost is US$2.76 million, with Fundación ACUA co-financing US$1 million toward the new initiative.



Afghan women build sustainable silk business

The IDEA-NEW project, funded by USAID, is training over 400 women in silk production. The project is implemented by a private, women-owned company with nine years experience in silk production. The long term goal is to create sustainable income for the beneficiaries by reviving silk production, developing the capacity for spinning, dyeing and weaving to meet the demand for silk products in Afghanistan and abroad.







Land Rover raises one million pounds for IFRC’s water and sanitation project in Uganda

June 29 – The Land Rover ‘Journey of Discovery’ has raised £1million for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

This landmark effort is Land Rover's most ambitious fundraising project to date and supports a much-needed water and sanitation project in Uganda. The IFRC is Land Rover's global humanitarian partner and the project is in addition to the three-year global initiative "Reaching Vulnerable People Around the World". This initiative, launched in 2010, provides additional support for IFRC programmes in over 15 countries worldwide.



UNICEF combats malnutrition in Pakistan with EU support

June 22 - UNICEF has received 3 million euro (USD$3.7 million) from the European Commission to combat malnutrition among women and children in Pakistan affected by floods and conflict. The nutrition interventions that are now guaranteed will help reach more than half a million people, mostly children. With funding from ECHO, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, UNICEF will offer access to nutritional services and health care by screening over 370.000 children under 5 – of whom 32,000 need treatment for moderate or severe malnutrition – and 165,000 pregnant and lactating women, who will also receive micro-nutrient supplements. Hundreds of health workers will be trained so that they can provide nutrition services and develop emergency preparedness measures.



Save the Children takes stand against childhood poverty, launches freedom from poverty campaign

Ajla Grozdanic

June 21, Washington, D.C. - An epidemic has swept across America, threatening the well-being of its most vulnerable residents, according to Save the Children, who launched today its Freedom from Poverty campaign to give a voice to the 16 million children bearing the brunt of the U.S. poverty crisis. Artist ambassadors Jennifer Garner, Julianne Moore and American Idol judge Randy Jackson have already signed the Freedom from Poverty pledge, whose aim is to have 15,000 signatures from supporters by campaign's end on August 14. (...)

The goal of the Freedom from Poverty campaign is to shine a light on this crisis impacting a quarter of children across the United States who know all too well what it means to go without.

"Living in poverty can mean having little or no food on the table, no safe place to sleep at night, no electricity or running water," said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's President & CEO. "Poverty also means not having books to read and falling 18 months behind one's peers by age four, never catching up. It means being trapped in the cycle of poverty for life." (…)



Mali: helping people in the north to survive

June 19 operational update - People in the north of Mali are growing ever weaker owing to the combined effects of the conflict and the food crisis. The ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are preparing to expand the effort to help them. Over the last few weeks, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross have managed to reach remote areas in the Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao regions for the first time since the end of March. "The combination of the food crisis and the armed conflict is having alarming consequences for these people," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, the head of the ICRC regional delegation for Mali and Niger.. "Most heads of household have lost their sources of income. In order to cope, many families are forced to eat less every day, and to eat less hearty foods."

Looting that occurred after the fighting in the main cities of northern Mali at the beginning of April also affected harvest stocks intended for consumption, sale and the creation of seed stocks. In addition to the drought, seed-eating birds, locusts and the inadequate floodwaters from the Niger River are going to have a devastating effect on agricultural production.

In this region where humanitarian organizations are scarce, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are preparing to provide food aid and other essentials for the neediest people in all three parts of northern Mali.



Rotary International and The Global FoodBanking Network partner to alleviate hunger

June 18 - Rotary International and The Global FoodBanking Network, an international organization whose mission is to alleviate global hunger, jointly announced a service partnership to combine resources to combat the issues of hunger and food insecurity through food banking.

Rotary, a humanitarian service organization, and The Global FoodBanking Network believe that their collaboration will enhance the ability of each organization to perform its mission by leveraging the resources that each can contribute. They will work together with Rotary clubs and districts to create new food banks in their local communities, coordinate service projects, and strengthen the capacity of existing food banks to feed more hungry people.



CARE and Threadless unveil innovative crowdfunding partnership to support women and girls

100 percent of proceeds from sale of crowdsourced t-shirt donated to CARE

June 1st - The global humanitarian organization CARE, in a unique partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and online t-shirt design community Threadless, today announced the chosen design for a new t-shirt to honor and raise money for CARE.

The chosen design "A Mother is a Daughter is a Mother" was created by artist Shahaf Gurevich. Ms. Gurevich's design was selected from more than 100 submissions in an online vote.

Shirts with the chosen design are $19.50 and 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt will be donated by Threadless to CARE. Available in sizes for men and women, the t-shirts are available for purchase exclusively online at www.care.org/shirt.



Two Toronto school teachers take on a village

By Jordan Adler

30 May – Dekpor is a village in southeast Ghana that is so tiny, most maps of the country don't even include it. (...) The destinies of Dekpor's students are changing, due to the efforts of two Toronto-area schoolteachers, Linda Chow Kordze and Carol Sheardown, directors of the Dekpor School Development Organisation (DSDO), along with Andrew Sanderson who came onboard in 2010. The group is trying to assist Dekpor schoolchildren by improving the quality of their school, as well as their livelihood in one of the country's poorest villages.

"Linda and I are about as grassroots as you get. We're two teachers who are very determined," Sheardown told Samaritanmag in an interview in Toronto. "In two short years, we've built a library; we have renovated the junior high school rooms; we have renovated the administration building; we have fixed up the primary classrooms; we've built a water reservoir, we've got kids being sponsored; two teacher-librarians being paid for. We're getting things done." (…)




Peace and security



At UN-backed meeting, Somalia signs action plan to end use of child soldiers

July 3 – At a United Nations-backed meeting in Italy, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government today signed an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children in the East African country’s national military. The action plan, signed at a meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia, taking place in the Italian capital of Rome, outlines concrete steps to be taken by the Government to ensure a child-free national army. The ICG is composed of representatives of the United Nations and its diplomatic partners in support of efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia.

In the plan, the Somali Government commits to end and prevent recruitment of children in Somalia’s National Armed Forces; reintegrate all children released from the armed forces with the support of the UN; criminalize the recruitment of children through national legislation; and provide the UN with unimpeded access to military installation to verify the presence of children.

Since 2007, the Transitional Federal Government has been listed on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. Full compliance with the action plan will result in the Government being removed from the list.



UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, UN Headquarters, New York, July 2 - 27

From 2-27 July, all countries of the world will come together in New York to negotiate what is seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. A robust arms trade treaty can make a difference for millions of people confronted with insecurity, deprivation and fear. The treaty being negotiated aims "to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms".

As with all major international UN Conferences the voices of NGO's will be sounded at various side events including: an invitation only event jointly sponsored by the government of Netherlands and Parliamentarians for Global Action, Making the Arms Trade Treaty a Reality - The Role of Legislators; and an event co-organized by Amnesty International and sponsored by the governments of Norway and Uruguay, Arms Trade Treaty: An Alternative to the body-bag approach.


U.S. Conference of Mayors adopts nuclear abolition resolution

Sunflower Newsletter, July - At the 80th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors on June 16, the meeting adopted a resolution entitled "Calling for U.S. Leadership in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Nuclear Weapons Spending to Meet the Urgent Needs of Cities."

The resolution outlined the severe costs and dangers of nuclear weapons and stressed the urgency of reallocating the U.S.’s multi-billion dollar nuclear weapons budget to meet the needs of cities. The resolution also called for President Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear-armed states to implement the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament by 2020. Full resolution: http://www.wslfweb.org/docs/2012USCMres.pdf



Nepal receives $8 million from UN peacebuilding fund

June 29, New York - The United Nations today released $8 million to help Nepal consolidate peace, improve policing, promote dialogue and reinforce national efforts to address the needs of those affected by conflict.

The South Asian country has been plagued by political disputes since the civil war between Government forces and Maoists formally ended in 2007 and the monarchy was abolished.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal, Robert Piper, noted that there have been important achievements in the peace process to date, including the completion of the discharge and integration process of the ex-Maoist army, the successful and largely peaceful elections in 2008, the removal of all minefields, and a smooth transition to a Republic.

However, Mr. Piper also noted the ongoing challenges, including the recently missed 27 May deadline for a new Constitution and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly that followed.



MAG has cleared more than 150,000m2 of land at a refugee camp in northern Iraq, enabling 200 tents to be installed for Syrian refugees fleeing the uprising

June 13 - Around 4,200 Syrians have abandoned their homes and sought refuge in Dohuk governorate since the uprising began in March 2011 and, according to the local authorities, an estimated 15 to 30 people are crossing the border every day.

Some are finding temporary shelter with host families and in mosques, but the majority – 2,835 by the end of May – are heading to the Domez refugee camp about 40 miles inside the Iraq border.

Located alongside the former Green Line separating the Kurdish-controlled areas from those under Iraqi Government jurisdiction, Domez is in an area highly contaminated with remnants of conflict.

Our Community Liaison teams are currently providing Risk Education to the refugees, helping minimise the risks posed to vulnerable new arrivals – particularly children – who may not be aware of the threats, or know how to keep themselves and their families safe.

Many other international non-governmental organisations and UN agencies are currently supporting the refugees in Domez camp (including UNHCR, UNICEF, ACTED and IOM Iraq), as well as the local authorities in Dohuk governorate.



South Sudan: 55000 items of UXO and small arms ammunition cleared

8 June -MAG has cleared 5,627 items of unexploded ordignes and more than 50,000 small arms ammunition items that were sing a significant danger to a community in Eastern Equatoria.The explosive remnants of war were found abandoned around an old military post close to Pajok and the rapidly expanding Pugee Boma on the border with Uganda. This area was the scene of heavy fighting during the civil war. Local people knew about the stockpile, and children were known to have played with some of the UXO – a risky activity with potentially fatal consequences.







Iran: ICRC deepens ties with Iranian Red Crescent

June 28, Geneva/Tehran – The director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yves Daccord, has completed a two-day visit to Tehran, during which he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran and held talks with senior Iranian government officials. The primary objective of the memorandum of understanding is to reinforce the strategic partnership between the ICRC and the Iranian Red Crescent and to strengthen the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement through joint activities benefiting the partners and ultimately the people receiving aid.

"The memorandum reaffirms the commitment of the two Movement partners to boost their cooperation, particularly in joint operations – whether in Iran or in other parts of the world where both are active," said Mr Daccord. "The memorandum of understanding confirms the close cooperation between our two organizations and our joint ambitions in the fields of physical rehabilitation, promotion of international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles, and weapon clearance," said Dr Abolhassan Faghih, the president of the Iranian Red Crescent.

After meeting with General Kalantari, Iran's deputy minister of defence for international affairs, communication and defensive studies, Mr Daccord said: "The focus of our discussions was on providing support for the Iranian Mine Action Centre and developing joint cooperation."



Greece: MSF runs a malaria project

June 27, Greece-Laconia - Following the reappearance of this “forgotten” disease in Greece, MSF started providing support to the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP) for the development of an integrated preparedness and response national malaria plan.

Furthermore, MSF teams in Sparta and Evros region is collaborating with HCDCP and the local authorities to implement projects contributing to the prevention, epidemiological surveillance, clinical management, laboratory diagnosis and vector control of the disease.

Since late March 2012, MSF has had a continuous presence in the municipality of Evrotas, Laconia, paying periodic visits to local homes and residencies and doing active screening for malaria cases. Moreover, the MSF team has provided 121 basic healthcare consultations to people suffering mainly from respiratory infections, skin diseases, and musculoskeletal complaints.

In the next period, MSF is planning to distribute mosquito nets and repellents to high risk populations of the region in an effort to enforce the population’s protection from malaria. MSF is supporting the local health structures in malaria diagnosis by providing rapid diagnostic tests, microscopes and trainings to the local health personnel.

Every year MSF treats over a million people for malaria in its projects in 30 countries worldwide.



Abbott, The Abbot Fund and Direct Relief International reach key HIV testing milestones: 20 million tests provided over 10 year, and more than 150,000 HIV cases prevented in children

June 27, Santa Barbara, Calif. and Abbott Park, Ill., USA - Direct Relief International, the global health care company Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, today announced that they have reached a major milestone of distributing 20 million rapid HIV tests free of charge to HIV testing and counseling programs serving pregnant women and their families in 43 developing countries. To date, more than 150 partner organizations have participated in the program, serving more than 8,000 health facilities. HIV-positive mothers identified through the program can receive free and convenient therapy to help prevent their child from being infected with HIV. As a result, a minimum of 150,000 new cases of HIV have been averted in infants over the past ten years.



Project HOPE volunteers travel to Vietnam with U.S. Air Force on humanitarian mission

June 25, Millwood, Virginia,– Project HOPE volunteers have taken part in the U.S. Air Force Pacific Angel humanitarian mission to Vietnam, providing medical, dental and optometry care and education to people in underserved communities. Nine HOPE volunteers provided women’s health support and health care education at Xuan Lam Primary School, where classrooms were transformed into a temporary treatment facility for the local community.

More than 5,400 Vietnamese received medical care during the eight-day mission. It was HOPE’s fourth mission with Pacific Angel, a 13th U.S. Air Force-led operation that supports the U.S. Pacific Command’s capacity-building efforts by partnering with government and non-governmental agencies to assist local citizens.



A change sweeps across West Africa

June 4, Dakar, Senegal – The West African countries of Togo, Benin and Niger have all recently followed in the footsteps of their neighbors - Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal – and passed legislation that requires mandatory fortification of staple foods. Six of the eight West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French acronym, UEMOA) member countries are now providing essential micronutrients to their citizens because of mandatory fortification.

Five years ago, Helen Keller International (HKI) embarked on the Fortify West Africa initiative to bring fortified cooking oil and wheat flour to all UEMOA countries.

The recent successes in Togo, Benin, and Niger bring the region closer to the goal of reaching at least 70% of the population with essential micronutrients from fortified cooking oil and wheat flour. Food fortification is a cost effective and sustainable approach to controlling vitamin and mineral deficiencies.



Progress in Pakistan for polio eradication

By Robert S. Scott, Rotary International PolioPlus Committee chair

Rotary International is aware of the recent news reports on the polio vaccination program in Pakistan. We continue to work closely with our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the government of Pakistan to ensure our progress continues.

The good news is that Pakistan has recorded only half as many new polio cases so far this year as it had at the same time last year — this is the best proof that overall immunization coverage is improving as we adapt to the many challenges we continue to face in Pakistan. (...)

Pakistani Rotarians also continue to work diligently toward polio eradication. They are actively working alongside health workers, monitoring immunization activities in their communities. District teams and club president-elects received training earlier this year.

Public awareness events have included polio walks, field hockey tournaments and a “Kick Polio out of Pakistan” football tournament. Pakistan Rotarians have partnered with CocaCola Pakistan, which donated billboards and signs. And earlier this month, Rotarians helped to secure the signatures of 150 Pakistani Parliamentarians in support of polio eradication. (...)



Brazil a model for slowing population growth

By Laurie Goering

Rio De Janeiro (AlertNet) – (...) In the last decade, Brazil has undergone a family planning revolution. In 2000, the country’s birthrate was 2.4 children per woman, already dramatically down from decades past. Today it has dropped to 1.9 children, below replacement level and on a par with many developed countries. That slowdown, built on making available better information and contraceptives, and on growing urbanisation, is increasingly looked at as a model by experts around the world trying to find ways to dampen population growth and consumption - both linked to accelerating climate change and resource scarcity.

For a long time, the environmental movement has not been thinking about population, even though people always start by noting the world’s population will rise from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050,” said Peggy Clark, executive vice president for policy at the U.S.-based Aspen Institute, which works on population and health issues. (...)

Brazil’s birth rate has plunged in recent decades as more women have entered the workforce, and as urbanisation has made having large families increasingly difficult or less desirable. But teen birth rates remain stubbornly high, with 16 percent of girls having been pregnant at least once by the time they are 20, said Marcio Thome, a statistics expert with BEMFAM, a Brazilian non-governmental organisation that works on family well-being and contraceptive issues. (...)




Energy and safety



USA - New Energy Department report finds lower environmental impact for energy-efficient lighting

June 29 - A new Energy Department report finds that LED lamps have a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting and a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The report, LED Manufacturing and Performance, compares these three technologies from the beginning to the end of their life cycles—including manufacturing, operation, and disposal. The most comprehensive study of its kind for LED lamps, the new report analyzes the energy and environmental impacts of manufacturing, assembly, transport, operation, and disposal of these three lighting types, and is the first public report to consider the LED manufacturing process in depth.



The growing state of wind power in Latin America

By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor, Power Engineering

26 June – Wind power is poised to play a greater role in meeting Latin America's growing demand for electricity. Brazil, Chile and Mexico are expected to have added more than 3.7 GW of wind power from 2010 through the end of 2012, according to a study from IHS Emerging Energy Research (EER). Brazil comprises 70 percent of the Latin America wind market, but has tapped just a fraction of its wind power potential.

Demand for diversity of supply is expected to grow wind generation in Latin America, as is a decline in costs through local manufacturing. Renewable energy developments in North America are largely driven by climate change concerns, which are not of primary concern in Latin America. Instead, Latin American developers and governments are turning to wind energy because of the proven technology and its potential to grow local industrial activity.

While the economic crisis softened electricity demand in many portions of the world, Latin America was relatively unaffected by the recession. Instead, power demand has continued to rise at an astonishing rate. Brazil experienced a 4.5 percent power demand growth rate between 2003 to 2008, while Mexico saw a 3.8 percent growth rate from 2003 to 2007. Chile was also unaffected by the recession. (…)




Environment and wildlife


UN senior officials highlight Rio+20 achievements

June 28 - United Nations senior officials today highlighted the achievements made during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, stressing that they represent a global movement of change in which governments, the private sector and civil society all contribute to achieve global prosperity while protecting the environment. “Let me be clear. Rio+20 was a success,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a General Assembly meeting on the outcome of the Conference. “In Rio, we saw the further evolution of an undeniable global movement for change.”

More than 40,000 people – including parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders – attended Rio+20 from 20-22 June.



Gabon’s President destroys ivory and commits to zero tolerance for wildlife crime

27 June, Libreville, Gabon - Today, more than 1,200 ivory tusks plus assorted ivory carvings were burned publicly as Gabon sent out a strong signal demonstrating its commitment to tackle elephant poaching and illegal wildlife trade. This event follows a period of intense poaching pressure in Central Africa, where the illegal killing of elephants for ivory is at record levels.

A number of dignitaries were present for this historic event, including the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo, who lit the pyre earlier today.

President Bongo spoke of the importance of inviting the international community to witness the symbolic act of destroying the country’s ivory, noting it was a matter of national security. He told the assembled dignitaries about the special unit Gabon had created within the National Parks Agency to tackle ivory poaching, and how Gabon, as the country with the most elephants in Central Africa, was issuing a strong message to the poachers and traffickers that their actions were unacceptable.



Kishon River workshop

On June 25th, FoEME, together with the Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI), the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), Haifa Municiaplity and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at the Tel Aviv University, initiated a workshop about the Kishon River.

The workshop, held in Haifa, brought together mayors of Israeli communities situated along the Kishon / Mukata Stream together with residents from both sides, UNDP and academics, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of rehabilitating the upstream segment of the River and creating a park on both sides of the border. As part of the Good Water Neighbors project, the Kishon upstream rehabilitation project was selected as the Gilboa Regional Council and Jenin Governorate's "Priority Project" for 2012.

Friends of the Earth Middle East is a project-oriented organization.




Religion and spirituality



Birthplace of Jesus placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage in danger list

June 29, New York - The Church of the Nativity, which sits on a site in Bethlehem that is identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus, was inscribed today on the <"http://whc.unesco.org/en/list">World Heritage List of the United Nations Scientific, Cultural, and Educational Organization (UNESCO), as well as on the list of sites in danger. The church, and the pilgrimage route on the site, was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger since it is suffering from damages due to water leaks, according to a news release issued by UNESCO.

A church was first completed on the site in 339 A.D. and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original edifice. The site, situated 10 kilometres south of Jerusalem, includes the church as well as Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches as well as bell towers and terraced gardens.

The <"http://whc.unesco.org/en/danger/"> List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of threats to the outstanding universal values for which a property has been inscribed, and to encourage corrective action.




Culture and education



Rotary Peace Fellow helps tsunami survivors build new memories

28 June, Rotary International News – If you had minutes to flee a disaster and could take only one item, what would you choose? Most people name a possession that is often impossible to replace: their photos. In Ishinomaki, Japan, which was obliterated by an earthquake and 20-foot tsunami last March, survivors escaped with their lives and nothing else.

Photojournalist Allison Kwesell traveled by bus in November to Ishinomaki from Tokyo, where she is a Rotary Peace Fellow, armed with two cameras, photo albums, and donated Fuji instant film. She joined two photographers who had formed Photohoku, named for the Tohoku region, where the disaster struck. The nonprofit aims to help survivors build new albums – and new memories.

As a journalist, I often feel that I am taking stories from the victims of disasters, war, and poverty,” Kwesell says. “I believe such stories have the power to effect change, but my photos and words might never directly help the people who let me into their lives.”

This trip was different. The team asked survivors if they’d like to pose for photos, then gave them the instant prints. The photographers started albums for them and listened to their experiences.

Kwesell recalls photographing a woman with her grandchildren in front of their temporary home: “She told me she was happy I chose to photograph her there, because it gave her the courage to move forward. She said she believes that one day, she and her family will look back on the photo and remember what they overcame.”



Taking diversity and multiculturalism into the classroom

Francis Markus in Seoul

26 June – As you walk the corridors of a community centre run by the Republic of Korea National Red Cross, competing sounds drift towards you from behind the various classroom doors. (...) At first sight it might look like a perfectly ordinary scene from the nation's capital, where thousands of children are diligently taking English classes to improve their prospects in an era of growing internationalisation. And in a sense it is perfectly ordinary.

But there is also something special about it, because the teachers and some of the children are all part of the country’s growing multicultural population. Two of the teachers are from the Philippines and one from Malaysia, and several of the students are children of mixed marriages between South Korean men and women from other Asian countries.

In this country - which was once seen as among the world’s most ethnically and culturally homogeneous - over the last five years or so, the term 'multicultural' or damunhwa, in Korean, has become something of a buzzword. There are estimated to be around 400,000 families made up of mixed Korean and foreign partners and their children. (…)

The English lessons for families – including, but not restricted to multicultural ones – who can’t afford the expense of private tuition for their children, are supported by Republic of Korea National Red Cross and the country’s airport operator. They are just one of a whole range of activities, including psychosocial support and lessons in Korean language and culture, which the National Society provides to the multicultural community, reaching around 15,000 families over the past three years. (…)



American Girl's summer reading initiative supports Save the Children's U.S. Literacy Programs

Ajla Grozdanic, Stephanie Spanos

June 21, Washington, D.C. - We know that fostering a lifelong love of reading is key to success in school and life for all children — but especially the 16 million living in poverty across the United States. That's why American Girl has partnered with Save the Children to spread the love of reading to girls across the country.

This summer, to celebrate books and encourage girls to keep their reading skills sharp while school is out, American Girl is introducing Read-a-palooza, a summer reading program created for girls ages 8 to 12. Read-a-palooza will benefit Save the Children's U.S. Programs through a book purchase donation. (...) Now through September 3, 2012, $1 of every book purchased through American Girl (up to a maximum of $100,000) will support Save the Children's efforts to raise literacy rates in impoverished communities by providing basic education and equipping schools and teachers with reading materials. In addition, American Girl will make its third donation of books to Save the Children this fall, bringing the value of the company's total book donation to nearly $1.5 million.(...)



USA:Indiana University approves nation’s first philanthropy school

By Maureen West

22 June – Indiana University’s trustees voted last week to create a school of philanthropy, the first in the nation and a sign of both the growing amount of scholarship on the nonprofit world and intense demand to offer rigorous training to people who work at charitable institutions.

The university has already raised nearly 70 percent of its $100-million goal to endow the new school, said Eugene Tempel, who founded Indiana’s Center on Philanthropy, one of the first and biggest academic units created to study the field. (...)

Indiana has long been building a serious academic program in philanthropy. It created the first philanthropy doctoral program, and last month it graduated the first students in the United States to earn bachelor’s degrees in philanthropy.

Mr. Tempel says he hopes other colleges and institutions will follow Indiana’s lead and elevate the study of philanthropy. While Indiana is a public university, private donations will be the key to paying for the school, said Mr. Tempel. (…)



Vocational training teams aid Adopt-a-Village project in Uganda

By Dan Nixon, Rotary International News

June 18 - An Adopt-a-Village project being carried out by Rotarians in Uganda and California, USA, is helping to improve life significantly for people in Nkondo, Uganda. The project involves four of Rotary’s areas of focus: water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, disease prevention and treatment, and economic and community development.

An important catalyst to the effort’s success is the vocational training team (VTT), a group of professionals that travels either to learn more about their vocation or to teach local professionals about a particular field. (...) The VTT also paved the way for partnerships with one local nongovernmental organization to train community residents in microfinance and with another to manage the microcredit effort, with oversight by the Rotary Club of Kampala North. In addition, the VTT inspired a partnership with an NGO to train farmers to produce crops with high market values. (...)



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Next issue (after the August break): 7 September 2012.



Good News Agencyis published monthly (except August) in English, Italian and Portuguese. Past issues are available at www.goodnewsagency.org . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi (sergio.tripi@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org), Azzurra Cianchetta, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster and media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org)


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs, 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as 23,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.

The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf), Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information. In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:

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

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