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A culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour

Monthly – year 14th, number 222 – 14 March 2014


Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,500 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 It is a supporter of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) provided to the UN Secretary-General for presentation to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing an active role in the field of Information through Internet.* 




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


For women’s organisations, a historic step forward towards gender equality with the vote of the European Parliament on the Honeyball resolution

February 26, Brussels - The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) warmly welcomes the vote of the European Parliament today which recognises that prostitution violates human dignity and human rights, and is an obstacle to equality between women and men. The resolution has been adopted with a strong majority (343 for, 139 against, 105 abstentions).

Together with the 200 NGOs from all over Europe,  which have signed the Brussels’ Call ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, the EWL sees this European development as a sign that mentalities are evolving towards shared values of equality and dignity.

The resolution acknowledges the violence inherent to the system of prostitution, saying that prostitution is a breach of women’s fundamental rights and contradictory to the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights. “By rejecting the alternative resolution which supports the idea of a so-called ‘voluntary’ prostitution, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed the view that the phenomena of prostitution and trafficking in women cannot be separated”, says Pierrette Pape, Coordinator of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’ and currently Acting Coordinator of the EWL.



Human rights


International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - March 21

2013 Theme: Racism and Sport

This year's theme was chosen by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to highlight the problem of racism in sports, which remains a disturbing occurrence in many parts of the world, as well as to raise awareness of the role sports can play in combating racism and racial discrimination.

Both sports and human rights share many fundamental values and objectives. The principles underpinning the Olympic Charter, such as non-discrimination and equality, are also the bedrock of human rights. The Olympic Charter notes that the "goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."

According to the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace, well-designed sport activities that incorporate the best values of sport – self-discipline, respect for one's opponent, fair play, and teamwork – can help integrate marginalized groups and teach individuals the values necessary to prevent and resolve social tensions and conflicts.



International Women's Day: message from Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

March 8 - This International Women's Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.  Companies with more women leaders perform better.  Peace agreements that include women are more durable.  Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.

The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.

This simple truth must be central as we work to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals by next year's deadline and craft an agenda for the years beyond 2015.

Important gains have been made in access to primary education for girls and political representation by women.  But progress remains far too slow and uneven. (...)

Together, let us work for women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality as we strive to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development.  Equality for women is progress for all!



Providing child-friendly spaces for Syrian refugee children in Turkey

By Caritas Internationalis

March 4 – More than one million children have fled Syria as refugees. Children who used to feel safe in their homes and schools have lost everything. Some have been injured, others have seen their parents killed or arrested. Young children cope with difficult situations very differently from adults. They rarely talk about the way they feel or tell stories. They show their feelings through the way they act.

Caritas has been supporting partners build “child-friendly spaces” on the Turkish side of the border. These spaces allow children much-needed structure and routine, as well as a chance to play, relax and behave like children again. They provide a safe, supportive environment in which children can tell their own stories, express their feelings and start the long process of recovering a sense of normality. Even if the war ended tomorrow, it would take years for communities in Syria to recover, to rebuild, and to achieve any sort of reconciliation. We can help children to play, to be happy, and to find alternatives to violence – which gives refugees of all ages hope for the future.



ADRA Romania launches national campaign against domestic violence

By Natalia López-Thismón, ADRA International

March 4, Bucarest – Domestic violence in Romania was first brought to international attention in 1999 as a result of a survey, which found that domestic violence against Romanian women was higher than in any other European country. Fifteen years later, the social issue is still a concern among families in that country.

In response to this problem, ADRA Romania has launched a new national campaign against domestic violence. The campaign acknowledges men who “love, cherish, and protect” their wives and families. ADRA Romania also designed a blue muffler scarf as a symbol for the campaign. The scarf, to be gifted to men by their wives, families or friends, is recognition of positive behavior toward loved ones.

In 2009, ADRA Romania opened the Emergency Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence, also known as the ADRA House. It is one of only two safe houses for women and children in Bucharest, which has a population of more than 2 million people. The safe house acts as a shelter for women who have reported incidents of domestic violence to the authorities.



CARE, H&M Conscious Foundation announce Global Partnership to Empower Women

February 11 - H&M Conscious Foundation and the global poverty-fighting organization CARE today launched a three-year partnership to empower women in some of the world’s poorest communities. Through a donation of $9.2 million, H&M Conscious Foundation will support a program designed to empower women economically and within the various relationships that shape their lives.

If everyone started from the same place on the path out of poverty, CARE wouldn’t need to focus on girls and women. But that is not the case, and action is needed now: The majority of the world’s poorest people are women and girls; women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, but only earn 10% of the world’s income; women own just 1% of the world’s property.

With the donation of H&M Conscious Foundation, CARE will provide 100,000 women in developing countries access to tools, knowledge and financial resources.




Economy and development


700 Decision-makers to attend Africa CEO Forum 2014

The second Africa CEO Forum, organized by Groupe Jeune Afrique in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), will take place from March 17-19, 2014 inGeneva.

Offering a solid framework for exchange between the major players of the African private sector, this key event will bring together more than 700 African and international CEOs, financiers and business leaders. Since its creation in 2012, the Africa CEO Forum has sought to bring leading English- and French-speaking economic players closer together and has aimed to:

Facilitate local exchange on development; Promote public-private dialogue to build a foundation which would encourage growth of new activities; Enhance and support African entrepreneurship.

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, Africa CEO Forum is an event organized by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in planning economic promotion events and manager of the SABC (Swiss African Business Circle).



IFAD grant of US$1.95million to create opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa

February 26, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a grant of US$1.95 million to the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to support creating opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa, beginning in Benin, Cameroon, Gambia and Nigeria.

The aim of the new project is to enable young rural women and men to create sustainable farm and non-farm businesses by building their entrepreneurial capacities, through enhanced peer learning and access to complementary business development services. Young rural women and men, ages 15-35, who are involved in either agricultural production or activities associated with rural markets are the target group of this project. About 2,880 young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”) and 43,200 farm and non-farm rural young entrepreneurs would be trained, and 480 rural youth enterprises launched. In addition, 2,400 rural venture creation teams will be set up through which young entrepreneurs will be paired with mentors. Women will make up at least half of the participants.

The grant will be implemented by CEED with technical support of the Columbia Business School (CBS) and Susterra, Inc., as subrecipients. Key national implementing partners in each country and three major regional institutions (SonghaiCenter, Ecobank and the Africa Women’s Development Fund) will also be involved in the implementation.



Guatemala and Canada work to improve food security and reduce malnutrition

February 17 - Canada has made a contribution of $10 million to the “Guatemalan Maize Against Hunger” project, which aims to support Guatemala’s efforts to increase agricultural productivity and reduce malnutrition. Through the programme beneficiaries will gain technical assistance for sustainable management of production, training and workshops on organizational strengthening and networking between farmers and potential markets.

The project will be implemented in eight departments (Alta Verapaz, Izabal, Chiquimula, Zacapa, Jutiapa, Progress, Solola and Chimaltenango) and involves 42,000 participants and beneficiaries.

This project is aligned with the objectives of Canada in terms of food security as a priority in international development, and Canadian commitments under the Muskoka Initiative to Maternal, Neonatal and Childhood health in developing countries.

Key components of the project include, the "Purchase for Progress" (P4P) that links small-scale agricultural production organizations to markets, the supplementary feeding program which also holds nutrition education activities, and a programme that helps communities maintain food security in the case of any unforeseen obstacles (i.e. floods, droughts, etc.).



WFP strengthens its programmes in Madagascar with support from Switzerland

February 17, Geneva / Antananarivo - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) strengthens its programmes aimed to combat food insecurity in Madagascar, particularly through its relief and recovery operation in response to natural disasters. Switzerland has allocated a contribution of 1.1 million dollars to this operation. This funding will allow WFP and its partners to provide food assistance to some 46,000 people in the south and south-east of Madagascar. These populations face heightened food insecurity caused by climatic shocks such as floods and droughts. WFP and its partners implement food or cash for assets programmes, in which participants work on projects such as the construction or rehabilitation of water catchment systems or irrigation canals and dams.

While four million people are food insecure in Madagascar, WFP estimates that it will require nearly 7 million dollars over the next six months to assist 800,000 children under age two, school-aged children, tuberculosis patients, pregnant/nursing women and vulnerable households.






Japanese contributions help vulnerable Malawian families as well as refugees

March 4, Lilongwe - The Government of Japan has renewed its commitment to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), contributing a total of 2.1 million dollars in support of the most food-insecure and vulnerable people in Malawi, including refugees.

Since the start of Malawi’s lean season in October 2013, more than 1.8 million people have been targeted for emergency food support.  Japan’s contribution of 1.1 million dollars is enabling WFP to provide emergency food relief during this ‘lean season’ when rural families have depleted their own stocks prior to next month’s harvest. In the coming months, further Japanese contributions of 500,000 dollars will help WFP assist targeted food-insecure families to get back on their feet to bounce back from multiple shocks. A special food assistance-for-assets programme involving creation or rehabilitation of community infrastructure and assets has been designed to assist their early recovery. Japan has also contributed 500,000 dollars to ensure that WFP food assistance is provided for refugees in Malawi.



European Union and World Food Programme sign agreement to enhance food and nutrition in Guinea-Bissau

February 28, Bissau - Ambassador Joaquín González-Ducay, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and Mr. Ussama Osman, Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme (WFP), participated in a signing ceremony to recognize a contribution agreement for the amount of 5 million Euro in the framework of the implementation of the programme "Integrated Actions in Nutrition and Agricultural Development".

The contribution from the European Union will be used by WFP to provide food during three years to about 56,000 beneficiaries, mainly malnourished children, pregnant and nursing women, tuberculosis patients and their families countrywide. In addition to providing food to the poor and vulnerable, the European Union will fund an effective monitoring system and an early warning mechanism for food crises. Activities will be conducted in partnership with Non-Governmental Organizations, Community-Based Organizations and partners of the Food Security and Nutrition Group (GSAN) of Guinea-Bissau.



Major donation from Japan helps feed millions of hungry people in 26 countries 

February 28, Yokohama – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a 88.3 million dollars contribution from the Government of Japan. The donation will enable WFP to provide urgently-needed food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable people in 26 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, in addition to supporting special humanitarian logistics operations in four of those countries.

A large part of the donation will support conflict-affected people in the Middle East, especially in Syria, as well as refugees in neighbouring countries. WFP faces its most challenging, complex and largest emergency in Syria and surrounding countries; Japan’s aid will be used to distribute food and vouchers to more than seven million Syrians. In Africa, Japan’s contribution will assist millions hit by insecurity and natural disasters in 18 countries including in Central African Republic and South Sudan where fighting has led to large-scale humanitarian emergencies that have become a major concern for WFP and the international community.

This contribution is a mark of Japan’s bold leadership on African development, as demonstrated through hosting the Fifth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD V) in June last year.



Public-private partnership creates $18 million fund to provide housing for high-need homeless patients in Los Angeles County

February 25, Los Angeles – The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), in collaboration with other governmental partners and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, has launched a new supportive housing rental subsidy program called the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool (FHSP). The goal of the FHSP is to secure decent, safe, and affordable housing for DHS patients who are homeless and have complex physical and behavioral health conditions.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved $14 million toward the FHSP over the next four years; these funds are matched with $4 million from the Hilton Foundation over the next two years. Funding is expected to provide housing subsidies for at least 2,400 persons, who will be linked with wrap-around, intensive case management services to support them in their transition to permanent housing and to achieve long-term housing stability. The overall goals of the FHSP are to improve the health outcomes for vulnerable populations, reduce costs to the public health system, and help end homelessness in Los AngelesCounty.

The Hilton Foundation has been working to end chronic homelessness by expanding the availability of permanent supportive housing for two decades, providing over $80 million in grants, with $56 million focused on Los Angeles.



Sweden and Finland give more than US$8 million for refugees in Kenya

February 11, Nairobi - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed contributions from Sweden and Finland of US$6.9 million and US$ 1.3 million respectively to support refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Kenya as well as the Kenyan host community. The two countries contributed in response to a joint appeal for urgent donations to the refugee programme in Kenya made by WFP and UNHCR in November last year. WFP faced severe funding shortfalls that led to temporary cuts in food rations for the 480,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma.

Besides  providing food assistance to the refugees,  the funding from Sweden enables WFP to give fuel-efficient stoves to 3,500 families in Dadaab and Kakuma. Wood is the main fuel for cooking in the camps and the stoves help protect the environment through reducing wood consumption.

With 480,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma, Kenya hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in mid-December last year, Kakuma has received some 16,000 new arrivals. An average of 300 people, mostly women and children, arrive daily at the camp.



United States provides more help for Zimbabwe’s hungry families

February 11, Umguza - The United States is providing the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) with an additional US$4 million to support vulnerable families suffering from the effects of drought and consecutive poor harvests in Zimbabwe. The donation brings the United States’ total contribution to WFP’s current relief efforts in Zimbabwe to US$29 million, allowing life-saving operations to continue in the 16 worst-affected areas until March, when the next harvest is due.

Since October, WFP and its partners have been assisting those in need with food and cash distributions. WFP had planned to reach 1.8 million people during the current period but funding shortages have meant that only 1.2 million are receiving assistance. The contribution will be used locally to buy cereals and pulses as well as providing for cash transfers in areas where food is available in the markets. Part of the contribution is an in-kind donation of cereals from the United States.

In addition to funding constraints on its seasonal relief operations, WFP is facing shortfalls for its health,  nutrition and resilience-building activities. WFP still requires US$60 million out of the US$80 million budgeted for these programmes over the next six months.




Peace and security


Darfur: Joint African Union-UN mediator continues efforts to facilitate lasting peace

March 8 – The African Union-United Nations Joint Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has wrapped up talks between the top African Union (AU) official and leaders of two of the region's main rebel movements, encouraging the parties to overcome their misgivings and press ahead towards a comprehensive political accord, for the benefit of not only strife-ridden Darfur, but also for wider Sudan.  According to a news release from the mission, Mr. Chambas facilitated a meeting yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army, Minni Minawi,  and the Justice and Equality Movement, Gibril Ibrahim (JEM-GI).

The Sudanese Government and two major rebel groups have so far committed to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), named after the Qatari capital where talks were held to end the conflicts between the Government and various armed groups which have led to the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands and displaced nearly two million since they first erupted in early 2003.



Global Day of Action on Military Spending, April 14 2014

Disarmament for Development: call to faith-based organisations

7 March, Pax Christi International - Faith-based organisations are invited to join the Disarmament for Sustainable Development Campaign. The main aim of this initiative is to press for an end to the over-funding of military establishments and for the creation of new funds to tackle human insecurity and common threats to the planet. Fr. Paul Lansu has written a background document which can be used for further action within the religious communities.

Pax Christi International supports the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) initiative. The 4th edition of GDAMS is scheduled for 14 April 2014 and it will feature different themes and activities in accordance with domestic political circumstances. To learn how you can get involved: click here. Further GDAMS 2014 resources produced by Pax Christi UK and other representatives of the UK NGO community can be found here and here.



Update: ADRA continues response to Syrian crisis

By Natalia López-Thismón, ADRA International

March 5 – Peace talks in Syria have produced no progress as violence in the country continues and the humanitarian situation deteriorates.  ADRA is continuing to respond to the vast need for humanitarian aid to those who can be reached. Approximately 8.7 million people in Syria are experiencing moderate to severe constraints on humanitarian aid.

Currently, ADRA is serving internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria, and refugees in Lebanon, and Jordan. Families in need are receiving culturally appropriate winter clothing sets that include pants, jackets, hats, and scarves in addition to blankets for the household. (…). In Lebanon, ADRA is providing emergency medical assistance for conflict-affected communities. Unregistered Syrian refugees or those pending registration are receiving help to cover hospitalization fees and medicine. Meanwhile, refugees in Jordan are also being provided with basic educational support for children. ADRA is supporting Syrian refugee children with the provision of school supplies and equipment.



Update: ADRA International responds to emergency in South Sudan

By Natalia López-Thismón, ADRA International

March 4 – In response to the fighting that broke out in South Sudan in December, ADRA has been providing emergency aid to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who have fled into neighboring countries. Since December 15, an estimated 716,000 people are internally displaced. Another 156,800 have run to bordering countries to escape the tribal and political tensions that have caused thousands of deaths.

ADRA teams are working closely with the United Nations and other nongovernmental partners to distribute critical non-food items to refugee camps in Uganda. ADRA is also installing basic water and sanitation essentials such as latrines and water tanks.

In South Sudan, ADRA is responding in Nimule, Torit and Kapoeta in Eastern Equatoria and Terekeka in Central Equatoria, where IDPs have reported that they have not received any kind of support. ADRA and its partners are intervening with water, sanitation and hygiene activities.



Syria: ICRC delivers emergency relief in Barzeh

February 27, Barzeh – The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent jointly delivered emergency relief to over 4,000 families in Barzeh, north of Damascus, over the last two days. The 19-truck humanitarian convoy was the first to enter the district since a truce was brokered there earlier this month.

“The convoy arrived in Barzeh yesterday and delivered medical, food and other items, including kitchen sets, blankets and mattresses, throughout the day to local committees,” said Daphnée Maret, the deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Syria, who oversaw the operation. Local committees and local health personnel will start to distribute the aid provided by the ICRC at several easily accessible distribution points in the district.



Pakistan begins to issue new cards to Afghan refugees, UN confirms

February 25, Islamabad - The United Nations refugee agency today confirmed that it assisting the Government of Pakistan to issue new refugee cards to more than 1.6 million Afghan refugees in the country, certifying that they are legally in the country and should be allow access to social services and basic rights. The refugee card protects against risks such as extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention as well as deportation under Pakistan’s Foreigner’s Act. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of 1979 and UNHCR has been engaged with the Government of Pakistan, as well as with those of Iran and Afghanistan, in managing their stays and facilitating voluntary returns.

Since 2002, UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme has helped nearly 4.8 million Afghans return home from Pakistan and Iran. The UN agency also supports the sustainable reintegration of Afghans who decide to return to their country.






IFRC and UNAIDS join forces to reach 15 million people with HIV treatment by 2015

March 4 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to a closer partnership to support the implementation of UNAIDS’ Treatment 2015 initiative and develop a community model for delivering better access to HIV treatment. By the end of 2012, around 10 million people had access to the lifesaving treatment. However, new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization in 2013 recommend starting treatment much earlier and immediately in some cases. Under these new guidelines – in at least 14 countries in Africa – 80% or more of those eligible for treatment are getting it too late, or not at all. Research suggests that antiretroviral therapy has prevented 6.3 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide from 1996 to 2012.

The community health workforce is the backbone of effective HIV care and support programmes and plays an invaluable service delivery role. In Mozambique, after a community support programme involving self-forming patient groups was rolled out to complement services provided by clinical centres, the two-year retention rates climbed to 98 %.



Myanmar: ICRC expands presence in Kachin State

March 3, Yangon – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will open a new office in KachinState, with a view to increasing the reach of its humanitarian activities in the area.

The ICRC has been conducting humanitarian activities in both government- and non-government controlled areas of KachinState for the last 12 months, but has not had a permanent presence there until now. In addition to opening the new office, the ICRC is finalizing plans to expand its support to Myanmar's civil physical rehabilitation centre network by establishing a centre adjacent to Myitkyina hospital. The ICRC currently supports two centres in the country. Thousands of disabled people, more than 40% of them mine victims, benefit from physical rehabilitation services at the ICRC-supported centres each year.

With the agreement of the office of Myanmar's president, the organization has already started a 15-month health facility renovation and training programme in non-government-controlled areas of Kachin state.



India: A step closer to effective treatment of severe acute malnutrition in Bihar

March 1, Bihar – The State Health Society today inaugurated a Malnutrition Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for treating the most complicated cases of severe acute malnutrition in children at the Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (DMCH) in Bihar, India. The MICU aims to increase access to treatment for the most severely malnourished children with medical complications in the district. Children with severe acute malnutrition can be treated at the community level but cases that involve medical complications require inpatient care. The MICU will be the Unit where such complicated cases of severe acute malnutrition in children are treated; the MICU is the first of its kind in India and will provide specialised inpatient medical and nutritional care for children who are severely ill and at highest risk of mortality.

This is a step closer to addressing severe acute malnutrition in Bihar, where it is estimated that 8.6% of children under the age of five years are severely malnourished. With a conservative prevalence of 3.5%, this means that more than 27,000 children are affected by severe acute malnutrition in Darbhanga district only.



Availability and price of inactivated polio vaccine

February 28 – The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and the GAVI Alliance welcome the conclusion of UNICEF’s tender process, which makes accessible sufficient quantities of affordable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to support country introductions, in line with the ambitious timeline of GPEI’s Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018.

The vaccine will now be available to GAVI-supported countries for as little as EUR 0.75 per dose in ten-dose vials. Further reductions in the cost of IPV are being pursued for the medium-term (i.e., post-2018) through continued efforts to develop and license new products.

As recommended by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and endorsed by the World Health Assembly, the introduction of IPV globally – prior to a phased removal of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) during 2016-2018 – is a major element of the comprehensive plan to end all polio disease and secure a polio-free future.

Today’s publication of prices following conclusion of the UNICEF tender ensures that affordable IPV will be made available, removing a major obstacle to global introduction.



In Pakistan, polio vaccinators earn community trust in spite of danger

By Dan Nixon – Rotary News

February 26 – (...) Rotary members have established seven polio resource centers in Pakistan to build community trust in areas that are at high risk of the disease. The centers, along with individual Rotary clubs, sponsor health camps that offer immunization against polio, measles, and other diseases, as well as free checkups, medicine, vitamin A supplements, and eyeglasses. They also advocate for immunization of children in schools, and help to provide it.

Winning community trust is vital to carrying out the polio endgame plan worldwide. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are at the forefront, focused on countries where transmission of the wild poliovirus has never been stopped: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

In Nigeria, a network of more than 3,000 volunteer community mobilizers, launched by UNICEF and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is promoting vaccination in high-risk areas. In Afghanistan, not a single case of endemic polio occurred in 2013. Of the 11 cases reported, all were linked to cross-border transmission from neighboring Pakistan. Globally, families in polio-affected areas who refuse immunization of their children dropped from 1.6 percent to .9 percent between January and September 2013, according to UNICEF.

In many countries, Rotary has enlisted celebrity polio eradication ambassadors to build trust. (...)




Energy and safety



Liquid metal batteries may be the answer for cheap energy storage

Christopher Martin, Bloomberg

March 7 – A 40-foot trailer loaded with 25 tons of liquid metals may be the solution to the renewable energy industry’s biggest challenge: making sure electricity is available whenever it’s needed.

A Boston-area startup founded by MIT researchers, Ambri Inc , is working to turn this new concept into a commercially viable product, liquid-metal batteries that will store power for less than $500 a kilowatt-hour. That’s less than a third the cost of some current battery technologies.

Ambri won a $250,000 grant Feb. 5 from New York state to develop and test a prototype battery with Con Edison Inc. The company, backed by investors including billionaires Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla, plans to install its first two prototypes by early 2015 at a Massachusetts military base and a wind farm in Hawaii.

Ambri is the first company to pursue liquid-metal storage and the technology has the potential to reshape the battery industry, said Brian Warshay, an energy smart technologies analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York.



UK’s DFID gives £2 million to WFP Nepal for earthquake emergency preparedness

March 4, Kathmandu - The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has made a contribution of £2 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Nepal to boost national capacity to respond to a major earthquake in the KathmanduValley.

Kathmandu is considered by experts to be the world’s most at-risk city to a major earthquake. 

 “The UK is pleased to be able to support Nepal’s preparedness for a major disaster. WFP bring global logistical expertise and are ideally placed to support Nepal’s preparedness effort, which will undoubtedly save many lives should an event strike,” explained Gail Marzetti, Head of DFID Nepal. WFP’s plan for strengthening emergency logistics and communications structures in the KathmanduValley has been developed in coordination with national and international stakeholders, and is consistent with government priorities.



Mali farmers manage their most precious resource

February 24, Alatona – At least 90% of Mali’s rural population is employed by agriculture. The dry season lasts 9 to 11 months (FAO), which makes irrigation around the perimeter of Alatona critical in the lives of the many Malians who inhabit this central Sahel region.

The Alatona Irrigation Federation (FIRTONA) was created to ensure the sustainability of Alatona's hydro-agricultural infrastructures, and manage additional irrigation networks. It’s comprised of nine secondary network farmer organizations, whose leaders serve on the FIRTONA board. These leaders report problems and democratically find solutions. FIRTONA uses modern equipment to ensure complete control over the 5,000 ha. of water infrastructure and 17 distribution diverters built in the Alatona area. It is as an outstanding example of an organization that has reformed the water supply and hydraulic system maintenance in Mali.

In its first two years, FIRTONA met several important milestones. The sustainability of the irrigation infrastructure depended on the mobilization and use of water fees paid by Alatona residents. FIRTONA organized an awareness campaign on water fees, and 99% of the fees were paid on time as a result. FIRTONA is starting to play a primary role in water distribution including: planning weekly water needs, ensuring maintenance and emergency plans, network monitoring and applying water management rules.



WEDO / Friends of the Earth Middle East finalize Baseline Report for the Regional NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River Valley

Submitted to WEDO / FoEME by Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) in partnership with CORE Associates (Palestine), MASAR (Jordan) and DHVMED (Israel), the now completed Baseline Report describes the current situation in the Lower Jordan River Basin and presents the major challenges in the basin and for each of the three riparian countries (Jordan, Palestine and Israel) towards creating sustainable development conditions, including environmental flows provided through its natural resources; a healthy eco-system; equitable sharing of water resources; free public accessibility for all nationalities within an appropriate security framework; and a healthy economic development perspective.

This baseline report will be used as a starting point for the remainder of this study: the development of national and regional NGO Master Plans. The Baseline Report marks a critical first-ever integrated inventory of the Lower Jordan River's current situation including up-to-date data from Israel, Jordan and Palestine and will provide the WEDO / FoEME and RHDHV teams the information needed to plan scenarios for development in the JordanValley.

This publication is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.




Environment and wildlife


International Day of Forests and the Tree - March 21

A United Nations Day dedicated to forests and trees affirms the degree to which human beings are struggling to develop a new and more responsible relationship with the natural world.

The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.



Shareholders seeking stronger responses from companies as climate change concerns deepen

March 7, Boston - Motivated by mounting scientific evidence that human activity is a leading cause of climate change, major institutional investors are pushing for stronger actions from companies in climate-related shareholder resolutions in the 2014 proxy season.

Led by Walden Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Calvert Investments, the Connecticut Treasurer’s Office, Trillium Asset Management, Mercy Investments and Green Century Capital Management, 35 institutional investors have filed 142 resolutions in a coordinated effort to spur action by 118 companies on a wide range of climate-related issues such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiency and sustainable palm oil.

This year’s record number of climate-related resolutions demonstrates that investors are paying more attention than ever to risks and opportunities that climate change and environmental issues pose to companies in their portfolios. The investors request specific actions from companies such as adopting and achieving company-wide goals for reducing GHG emissions from operations. (…)



First World Wildlife Day: an opportunity for hope and action

March 2 - World Wildlife Day is an opportunity for the international community to celebrate the globe's wild plant and animal life while redoubling efforts to protect them. WWF welcomes recent achievements to safeguard wildlife, laments the losses, and looks toward a future in which people can truly live in harmony with nature. The United Nations General Assembly set aside March 3 to raise awareness of the intrinsic value of wildlife and its contributions to sustainable development and human well-being. The day, which marks the signing in 1973 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is also being used to underscore the need to fight wildlife crime.

The last year has recorded numerous achievements in the fight against wildlife crime. Several countries disposed of ivory stocks, the United Nations imposed targeted sanctions, and the recent London Conference resulted in strengthened commitments aimed at poaching and illegal trade.



New energy efficiency standards for  commercial refrigeration equipment to cut businesses’ energy bills and carbon pollution

February 28, Washington – Building on President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Administration’s Climate Action Plan, the Energy Department today announced new efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment. Over the next 30 years, these standards will help cut carbon pollution by about 142 million metric tons – equivalent to the annual electricity use of 14.3 million U.S. homes – and save businesses up to $11.7 billion on their energy bills. Under the Obama Administration, the Energy Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products, including dishwashers, refrigerators and water heaters, which are estimated to save consumers more than $400 billion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1.9 billion metric tons through 2030. To build on this success, the Administration has set a new goal: Efficiency Standards for appliances and federal buildings set in the first and second terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – equivalent to nearly one-half of the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector for one year – while continuing to cut families’ and businesses’ energy bills.



Blue whale conservation gets a boost

27 February, Valdivia/Chile,  – The approval by the government of Chile of the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in continental Chile is a boost to conservation efforts for blue whales and dolphins. The Tic-Toc MPA on Chile’s southern coast announced this week follows almost 15 years of work by a number of organizations including WWF to protect the waters against threats such as overfishing and aquaculture activities. With an area of around 90,000 ha (equal to the urban area of Chile´s capital), Tic-Toc was established in one of the most biodiverse areas of Chilean coast. In addition to blue whales, unique species of dolphins such as the Chilean dolphin and Peale's dolphin, as well as two endangered species of otter are found in this ecosystem.

Located off the southern coast of Chile, the new MPA is an important feeding and nursing ground for the blue whale, the world's largest mammal.

This initiative originally promoted by the Melimoyu FoundatioN was moved forward by the efforts of WWF-Chile, the Blue Whale Centre, and the Austral University of Chile.



Valuing natural resources critical to Africa's 'green economy' growth – UN

February 23 – The next wave of investment and innovation in Africa will be driven by the need for new energy resources, wealth generation and job creation, the head of the United Nations environment agency told regional leaders, making a case for the need to place value on natural resources. Natural capital, which encompasses resources from trees to water to fish, is a critical asset in low-income countries where it makes up around 36% of wealth, according to recent World Bank estimates. In a green economy, growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investment that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, enhances energy and resource efficiency, and prevents the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.



Groundbreaking analysis shows China's renewable energy future within reach

February 19, WashingtonD.C.  – By embracing conservation measures and renewable energy, China can transition to an 80% renewable electric power system by 2050 at far less cost than continuing to rely on coal, according to a new report from WWF-US. As a result, China’s carbon emissions from power generation could be 90% less than currently projected levels in 2050 without compromising the reliability of the electric grid or slowing economic growth.

The China’s Future Generation report was prepared by the Energy Transition Research Institute (Entri) for WWF and uses robust computer modeling to simulate four scenarios based on today’s proven technology: a Baseline, High Efficiency, High Renewables, and Low-Carbon Mix scenario. To develop its findings, Entri examines China’s electricity supply and demand on an hour-by-hour basis through 2050 using its advanced China Grid Model.




Religion and spirituality


Prime Minister of Samoa pays tribute to Baha’i community on 60th anniversary

March 9, Apia, Samoa — The Prime Minister of Samoa has expressed his gratitude to the country's Baha'i community for its long service to the development of Samoan society. The Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi made his remarks during celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Baha'i Faith in the Pacific island nation. "I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the government for the important contribution that you make to the spiritual life of our country," he said. The Prime Minister noted that the work of the Baha'i community, along with all churches in Samoa, is paramount in bringing out the best in people.

The Baha'i Faith was first established in Samoa in 1954 with the arrival there of a Swiss-Australian woman, Lilian Wyss. The Samoan Head of State from 1962-2007, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, became the first reigning sovereign to accept the Baha'i Faith.




Culture and education


Graffiti teaches democracy in Libya

by Anne Hertzum Alling

February 26, Tripoli – Last week, the Libyans voted for the second time since the revolution. But according to  a new study carried out by DanChurchAid, a big part of the Libyan population knows very little about what a Constitution is and how it should be used.

The grassroots movement and DanChurchAid’s partner Flame of the Capital wants to change the unawareness towards the constitution and street art is one of their main tools. 28-year old Monib S. Elaseby was the one who got the idea and founded the group right after the revolution in 2011.

She gathered around 35 young Libyans to change a 500-meter long concrete wall across Gaddafi’s old residence into an art piece consisting of 43 painting, each of them expressing the young Libyans’ worries, hopes and dreams for women in the new Libya.

Last month Flame of the Capital picked up the brushes again. With the election coming up the group held four days of workshops and lectures at Tripoli Univeristy for which young Libyans were invited to come and learn more about the Constitution. Focus was especially on the inclusion of women’s rights into the constitution and during the four days more than 500 young people showed up and participated in the many debates and activities.



Malala Fund and Save the Children announce new education partnership in Jordan

February 18, Westport/Connecticut - The Malala Fund announced today that it will be partnering with Save the Children to help vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian children return to education.

The projects will help vulnerable children living in an informal settlement in Amman and in the north of Jordan, in an area near the Syrian border, where many refugees have fled to escape the conflict and are now living in host communities. Children aged between 9 and 17 who have been identified as out of school or at risk of dropping out of education, will benefit from classes in basic literacy and numeracy. Led by Syrian and Jordanian teachers, classes will also focus on a range of life skills, aimed specifically at offering children who have witnessed conflict and upheaval positive learning opportunities.



Israeli, Palestinian youth: Building Bridges

Each summer in the Colorado mountains, Building Bridges brings together diverse young women from the Middle East and U.S. Participants are equipped with communication and leadership skills necessary to address the root cause of hate, discrimination, and violent conflict.

In safe spaces, the young people meet face to face with others who have been taught to fear.  Together, they develop personal connections based on empathy, respect, and new confidence to transform divisive attitudes in their communities back home. Coming from Stories of Separation, they embark on a life of becoming artisans of communication and creating Stories of Reunion.

See their video: Building Bridges 5-1/2 min video https://vimeo.com/84419032



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Next issue: 11 April 2014.


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), Chiara Bartoletti, Elisa Minelli, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster and media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


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* http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf - In section A - International Organizations, page 12, the Report says: ”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.”

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