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Good News Agency

In spite of everything, a culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour

monthly, year 16th, no. 244 –  18 March 2016


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

Heroes of our time - Sindhutai Sapkal, winner of THE ONE International Humanitarian Award


International legislation


European Commission announces additional €10 million of support to Cuba

Brussels, 11 March - Today EU Commissioner for International Development, Neven Mimica, pledged new EU development funding to Cuba on a visit to the country. The funding is part of an overall €50 million in development cooperation funds for Cuba to be provided over the period 2014-2020.



New UN initiative aims to protect millions of girls from child marriage

8 March – The United Nations announced a new initiative today to advance efforts to end child marriage by 2030 ... part of a global effort to prevent girls from marrying too young and to support those already married ... the initiative will focus on proven strategies, including increasing girls’ access to education and health care services, educating parents and communities on the dangers of child marriage, increasing economic support to families, and strengthening and enforcing laws that establish 18 as the minimum age of marriage....



Security Council endorses steps to combat sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers

1 March – The United Nations Security Council today endorsed special measures to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers.

The United States-sponsored text, adopted as resolution 2272, further requested that the Secretary-General replace all units of the troop- or police - contributing country . In addition, the resolution underscored the critical importance that civilians, in particular women and children sites for internally displaced persons and refugees, are protected from any form of abuse or exploitation.


Human rights


“Rainbow Ruby” joins UNESCO to support girls’ education

12 March - UNESCO and CJ Better Life for Girls today signed a partnership agreement that will bring the cartoon character to the fight for girls’ education. During the signing ceremony at the 2016 Global Education Skills Forum in Dubai, Sang Gill (Tschaik) Lee, Executive Vice President for CJ E&M said the pre-school animation series will be a global effort to support girls’ education with a great story. The partnership builds on the “Better Life for Girls” campaign, launched in November 2014 by CJ E&M and UNESCO, which aims to help address the lack of access to quality education faced by girls in developing regions.

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single view/news/rainbow_ruby_joins_unesco_to_support_girls_education/#.VuXU4fnhDIU


International Agencies in Rome together commemorate Women’s Day with collective and individual commitments for achieving World Wide Gender Equity

March 8, Rome - Leaders of international organizations based in Rome today gathered to highlight the achievements and the real prospects for achieving gender equality. The speakers all agreed accelerating the empowerment of women everywhere is fundamental to achieving a zero hunger world and reaching the world’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The dialogue, ‘Planet 50:50: Step It Up for Gender Equality & Zero Hunger’, was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) .

This event commemorating International Women’s Day also brought together partners from the private sector, youth forums, civil society and NGOs.



India: an ethnic armed movement commits to prohibit the recruitment and use of children in hostilities

8March, India – On 2nd March 2015, the Zomi Re-Unification Organisation (ZRO) signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. In signing this Deed the ZRO publicly asserts its commitment to respect the highest international standards in terms of child protection in armed conflict. It includes the prohibition to recruit child soldiers and use under-18 children in hostilities.

The ZRO is an ethnic armed movement operating in the province of Manipur in North-East India. The ZRO is not reported to recruit or use children however; they used to have many in their rank in the past, especially before the signature of first “Suspension of Operations agreement” with the government in 2005. In order to monitor their compliance with the Deeds of Commitment they have signed, Geneva Call relies on the monitoring of local human rights organizations.



France: New quarters for the Grande-Synthe camp

7 March – The new site developed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is ready to welcome migrants and refugees who were living in the mud and cold at the Basroch camp in Grande-Synthe, France.

The move to the new site, on the outskirts of Grande-Synthe, begins today and will continue for several more days. This operation is being carried out jointly with the municipality of Grande-Synthe. The goal is to provide shelter where the refugees can stay dry under more acceptable living conditions. 




Economy and development


Ethiopia FEED II boosts rural households’ resilience to El Niño-induced drought

29 February, Ethiopia – ACDI/VOCA’s Feed Enhancement for Ethiopian Development II (FEED II) project efforts to strengthen the livestock industry are especially critical now, since the spring and summer rains failed last year due to the effects of El Niño in the Pacific. Livestock grazing lands have dried up, bringing to the fore the importance of available animal feed. Ethiopia’s livestock population is the largest in Africa, with some 80 million cattle, sheep, goats, and camels and 32 million poultry. High-quality affordable feed is fundamental for the health of this massive livestock population. FEED II develops feed resources and smallholders’ capacity to use them. FEED II is establishing 12 new feed-manufacturing cooperative unions and also provides training, technical assistance.



World Coffee Conference in Ethiopia explores culture and diversity in coffee

10 March, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia– Some 1,200 coffee stakeholders from around the world attended the International Coffee Organization’s (ICO) World Coffee Conference in Addis Ababa, March 6-8, 2016. The theme of the fourth-annual conference was “Nurturing Coffee Culture and Diversity.” Attendees included NGOs, Ethiopian dignitaries, and representatives from the private sector from coffee-consuming and coffee-producing countries. Ethiopian growers, co-op unions, roasters, and companies exhibited at the event. Panel discussions covered many themes and topics, including consumption and specialty trends, climate change, the role of innovation and policy in increasing productivity, promoting gender equality, and volatility. In addition IDH, Nestle, JDE, and USAID met to review the progress made thus far in rolling out the coffee traceability system from washing and hulling stations through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) to exporters.



Taaleri establishes world's first circular economy fund

10 March, Helsinki - Taaleri is launching a new circular economy private equity fund. The fund is the first private equity fund in the world to focus on the circular economy. The fund’s target size is EUR 25-40 million. The minimum investment is EUR 1,000. For investors, the fund opens in March, and it provides an opportunity to combine financial objectives with sustainable benefits for the environment.

The fund will be a balanced combination of growth companies, established business operations and cash flow-based asset items. The fund will invest in Finnish businesses and assets, focusing particularly on three themes: renewable energy, recycling and material handling, and energy-saving solutions. The circular economy is a theme of current interest. The European Commission adopted a Circular Economy Package in December 2015.



New UN report finds migrants play critical role in Asia-Pacific development

29 February – Migrants from countries across Asia and the Pacific play a key role by helping to drive economic growth in their countries of destination while also supporting families in their countries of origin, but the benefits of migration remain under-acknowledged, a new United Nations report has found.

Launching the report today at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand, Hongjoo Hahm, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), emphasized that the scale of migration is only likely to increase in Asia and the Pacific, but that the outcome of the trend is in the hands of the region's countries.

Drawing on evidence gathered from across the region, the report found that more than 95 million people from countries in the Asia-Pacific region live outside their countries of birth, and that the region hosts more than 59 million migrants. The majority of these migrants are temporary migrant workers.

The Asia-Pacific region also hosts more than 5.5 million refugees, and three of the main refugee-hosting countries in the world are in the region, according to the report.



Two IFAD-supported projects contribute to post-Ebola recovery in Liberia

February 22, Rome – The Republic of Liberia and IFAD signed two agreements today to finance the Tree Crops Extension Project (TCEP) and the Rural Community Finance Project (RCFP), initiatives that will boost farmers’ income, generate much needed foreign exchange, and contribute more broadly to the country’s post-Ebola recovery. The two projects will directly target 35,000 smallholder farmers. The total investment for the two projects amounts to US $41.6 million, which includes two IFAD loans totalling $18.5 million, both granted on highly concessional terms, and a $5 million IFAD grant.

Once implemented, the TCEP will benefit 11,000 stakeholders in the cocoa value chain. TCEP will help farmers grow, process and market the cocoa with the participation of the private sector. At the same time, the new project will strengthen their resilience to the effects of climate change.



IFAD-support project in Swaziland helps farmers combat drought and boost food and nutrition security

February 16, Rome - The Kingdom of Swaziland and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement today to finance the Smallholder Market-led Project (SMLP), an initiative that will improve food and nutrition security and increase the incomes of 10,900 households, in particular smallholder farmers living in Lubombo and Shiselweni regions where the drought has been most severe. The total project investment is US $21.1 million, which includes a $9.6 million IFAD loan and a $500,000 grant.

In Swaziland, smallholder agriculture remains the backbone of rural people’s livelihoods. Smallholder farms suffer from frequent droughts, aggravated by climate change effects, and poor access to services and markets, leading to low productivity and declining food and nutrition security which affects children most among the poor rural population. This situation has been further exacerbated by extreme drought conditions since May 2015. 






Japan provides US$3.2 million to support WFP’s emergency relief work in South Sudan

March 11, Juba - The Government of Japan today announced a contribution of US$3.2 million to WFP to support WFP’s lifesaving relief operations in South Sudan, including specialized nutrition treatment for mothers and children and a critical aviation service for humanitarian workers.

From the Japanese contribution, US$2.4 million will be used for nutrition support under WFP’s emergency response. This will enable WFP to assist more than 28,000 children and 6,660 pregnant women and nursing mothers with vital nutrition supplements. The remaining Japanese funds – US$800,000 – will go towards the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which provides air transport and cargo services for humanitarian workers delivering lifesaving assistance in South Sudan. In 2015, UNHAS served 248 organizations, flying to 77 locations, as well as transporting light relief cargo.

WFP requires an additional US$220 million for food and nutrition operations and another US$16 million to run UNHAS over the next six months in South Sudan.



HanesBrands earns ninth United Way Campaign Excellence Honor, raising $2.4 million to be donated in 2016

11 March, Winston-Salem, N.C., USA - HanesBrands announced today that the company and its employees raised $2.4 million for the United Way of Forsyth County and surrounding communities, as well as donating food items and volunteer hours to community agencies as part of its award-winning campaign. The United Way of North Carolina awarded Hanes with its Spirit of North Carolina Award for campaign excellence, the fourth consecutive Spirit Award and ninth total earned by Hanes and its employees.

Employees also donated 10,500 nonperishable food items and $11,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C., one of United Way’s partners. Additionally, Hanes granted paid time off to more than 400 headquarters employees to volunteer for a Day of Caring at 13 local community agencies. Employee volunteers contributed thousands of volunteer hours performing various tasks at the agencies including landscaping, painting, administrative duties, and more.



ADRA supports World Humanitarian Summit and proposed goals for worldwide change

9 March, Istanbul, Turkey- The first ever World Humanitarian Summit will take place on May 23-24, 2016, in Istanbul. The event was initiated by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, and focuses on a call to action for worldwide change. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International welcomes this historic event and supports its goals to find actionable solutions for billions of people living in poverty and crisis. Monitoring conditions to anticipate crises and putting a stronger focus on disaster preparation help reduce risk and improve local response capacity. ADRA’s network highlights the importance of investing in local partnerships. These partnerships strengthen the capacity of acting agencies and improve resilience to prevent conflicts, reduce disaster risks, and react adequately in emergencies. In this context, ADRA recommends an investment in humanity through the empowerment of women and young people organized in institutions, including churches and faith-based entities.



European refugee crisis: ADRA expands response as refugee influx continues

8March – This year, more than 131,000 people made the journey across the Mediterranean, with almost 123,000 refugees landing in Greece. ADRA(Adventist Development and Relief Agency) has projects assisting refugees in seven Eastern European countries, helping over 120,000 refugees and providing them essential items, including food, clothing and hygiene kits, and services such as transport, information and translation services, psychosocial support and charging stations.

In Dobrova, Slovenia, ADRA staff and volunteers meet refugees arriving by train ensuring that anyone needing it receives water and medical attention and distributing food and hygiene items. In Macedonia and Bulgaria ADRA distributed winterization items such as blankets, raincoats, shoes and warm clothes. In Croatia ADRA maintains a 24/7 presence in the refugee camp in Slavonski Brod. Ongoing activities include providing psycho-social support, assisting refugees to access available camp services.



ICRC and EPFL launch Humanitarian Tech Hub

8 March, Geneva – The Humanitarian Tech Hub is a research and development program launched by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). The agreement between the two institutions sets out a four-year program whose goal is to foster collaboration between the humanitarian and scientific sectors, as well as specialists in other fields, to develop technologies to tackle the humanitarian challenges facing the world today. There is no shortage of avenues to explore: energy, water, construction, logistics, the environment, information and communication technologies, and biomedical technologies. With more than 150 million people worldwide affected by humanitarian crises, the demand and potential applications are enormous. The first product to come out of the Humanitarian Tech Hub – an artificial foot that is robust, affordable and suitable for all terrains – will be designed specifically for amputees who need to be particularly mobile.



Germany’s pledge allows WFP to restore full support to Syrian refugees in Jordan

March 7, Amman - Thanks to a generous and timely pledge from Germany, WFP has reinstated the full value of the electronic food vouchers it uses to provide vital support to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Syrians in Jordan in March. Germany will pledge at least US$65 million to Jordan out of the total pledged during the “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference” in London earlier this year. Together with the support of other donors, this will allow WFP to continue providing vital food assistance to some 530,000 Syrian refugees in the country with full value assistance from March until the end of the year.

Since the onset of the Syrian refugee influx to Jordan in 2012, WFP has been responding to the basic food needs of families living in camps and urban dwellings. To date WFP’s support through its innovative e-card system has injected over USD$460 million into the local Jordanian economy.

At the London Conference, of the US$ 675 million pledged to WFP, Germany announced a landmark contribution of €570 million (US$ 623 million) for the WFP Syria crisis response and for WFP’s operations for the displaced people inside Iraq.



Recovering from Cyclone Winston with tools, tarpaulins and some Fijian ingenuity

By Joe Cropp, IFRC

7 March, Fiji Islands – Their four-bedroom house is no longer recognisable, little more than a pile of twisted corrugated iron and splintered timber. A tiny shed – now home to 75-year-old Phul and her husband – is all that survived Cyclone Winston. (…) It is a story that is repeated all along the coast road leading to the town of Rakiraki in the north of Fiji’s main island. When Cyclone Winston made landfall here, hundreds of homes were destroyed, and thousands of people left homeless. Many people are still sheltering in evacuation centres here and across the archipelago. Others, like Phul and Suruj, are living in the remnants of their gutted homes(…) The Red Cross is stepping in with help in the form of a one-metre long canvas bag containing the basic tools needed to start rebuilding: a shovel, hoe, hammer, saw, tin-snips, wire and three types of nails. Combined with a couple of tarpaulins and the ingenuity of Fijians, these Red Cross tool kits can be used to build a shelter for a family of five. (…)



WFP welcomes €40 million contribution from European Union for Syrian refugees in Turkey

March 4, Ankara - WFP today welcomed a contribution of €40 million from the European Union to continue and scale up vital assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey. The contribution, from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), will help WFP reach up to 735,000 Syrians as part of the new EU Refugee Facility for Turkey. This means that WFP will be able to assist more than three times the number of Syrian refugees it currently supports – in particular more than half a million outside camps, who receive no regular assistance and endure harsh conditions.

The Syria conflict will enter its 6th year later this month, and Turkey has borne the brunt of the humanitarian fallout, sheltering the largest refugee population in the world, including 2.6 million Syrians. The funds will be crucial in allowing WFP and its partner, the Turkish Red Crescent, to address immediate needs of refugees. Through e-cards, refugees will be able to purchase food locally in designated shops. The programme gives beneficiaries the chance to choose the foods they want to eat, while supporting the Turkish economy by partnering with local businesses.

WFP and the Turkish Red Crescent are currently assisting 150,000 people inside camps in Turkey and nearly 100,000 living among Turkish communities.



Norway and WFP seal multi-year financial commitment to achieve Zero Hunger

March 3, Oslo - Minister for Foreign Affairs Børge Brende and visiting Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Ertharin Cousin today reconfirmed their strong commitment to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 by renewing a multi-year Strategic Partnership Agreement between Norway and WFP. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, covering the period from 2016–2019, represents a record contribution of US$109.6 million of fully flexible funding and establishes Norway as an exemplary donor committed to promoting and implementing the principles and practice of Good Humanitarian Donorship.

In 2015 Norway contributed a record US$96 million in support of WFP’s works. This contribution made Norway the 10th largest WFP donor overall and the 4th largest donor of flexible funding. Norway is also the top donor to WFP’s Immediate Response Account (IRA), a life-saving immediate funding facility. This fund permits a rapid, well-timed response to emergencies.



Zimbabwe - U.S. Government contributes additional $10 million in response to drought

March 3, Harare - The United States Government announced $10 million in additional funding in response to the critical food security situation in Zimbabwe. The contribution, provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), brings the total U.S. funding for drought relief since June 2015 to $35 million, ensuring 600,000 rural Zimbabweans have adequate food supplies to cope with the drought.

Of this additional $10 million contribution, $5 million will be allocated to WFP to provide food rations and cash transfers for the purchase of food to the most vulnerable Zimbabweans. This funding will allow WFP to reach even more food insecure people in February and March of this year, in addition to those already receiving food assistance from USAID through WFP. Guided by the results of the ZimVAC Rural Livelihood Assessment, WFP will target three additional districts and scale up operations within the eight districts currently receiving assistance to reach an increasingly food insecure population.

The other $5 million in new funding will allow WFP to restart its Productive Asset Creation Program, which provides monthly food rations or cash transfers to targeted, vulnerable Zimbabweans in exchange for labor on community assets such as irrigation schemes, dip tanks, and dams. This assistance improves not only rural infrastructure but also the livelihoods of these rural populations.

Poor weather conditions in Zimbabwe, including erratic rainfall and long dry spells, have contributed to large-scale crop failure and livestock deaths across the country. As a result, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), an estimated 2.8 million rural Zimbabweans are currently facing food insecurity – 30% of the rural population.



Egypt gives US$1 million to help WFP assist drought-affected people in Ethiopia

March 3, Addis Ababa - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$1 million from the Government of Egypt to assist 100,000 people affected by drought in the Somali region of Ethiopia. With this contribution, WFP will be able to buy more than 1,700 metric tons of food to provide family rations of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil to some of the people hit hardest by drought in pastoralist areas.

More than 10 million people in Ethiopia have been affected by one of the worst droughts in decades. WFP is working with the Government of Ethiopia to reach 7.6 million of those who are coping with the effects of the drought. However, WFP still urgently requires USD 350 million in order to continue food distributions beyond April. The Egyptian contribution is particularly significant because, while the Government of Egypt has consistently provided financial support for WFP’s operations within Egypt, this is the largest contribution that Egypt has ever given to support WFP’s work in another country.



Russian contribution supports WFP nutrition assistance in DPR of Korea

March 1, Pyongyang - A ship carrying wheat donated by the Russian Federation successfully delivered its cargo in the port of Nampo today. The wheat will help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to meet the nutritional needs of more than 620,000 children and women for a period of four months. The wheat will be used in locally-produced fortified biscuits and “cereal milk blend” – a specially designed flour fortified with essential micronutrients, which is used to make pancakes or bread.

The wheat was procured by WFP thanks to a contribution of USD 4 million from the Russian Federation. In the last five years, Russia has donated a total of USD 22 million to WFP in DPRK.

Almost a third of children under five in DPRK do not have enough diversity in their diet and are short for their age – a condition known as stunting. If children miss out on crucial vitamins and minerals in the first few years of their lives, it can affect long-term development and growth. WFP’s nutrition assistance helps to provide vital nutrients to children, as well as to pregnant and nursing mothers.



WFP restores full rations to Syrian people thanks to unprecedented donor support

February 29, Rome - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that new funding, pledged during the “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference” in London earlier this month, will allow WFP to fully reinstate its food assistance to Syrians. The funds pledged will support a comprehensive restoration of food assistance for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt from March until the end of the year. The funds will also enable WFP to provide a full food basket for families inside Syria from April until October 2016. The unprecedented response – a record pledge of approximately USD 675 million to WFP Syria-related operations – will help save the lives of the most vulnerable people in Syria and the region. This also supports increased school meals and other in-kind activities that will help restore hope for a better future for the millions of people affected by the crisis.

“On behalf of the Syrian people whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict, we thank those world leaders who stepped up in London. Their generosity means we are able to fully meet the immediate basic food assistance needs of 1.8 million refugees in the region and 4.5 million Syrians inside the country who rely on WFP assistance every day,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.



Japan provides support to displaced families through WFP in Darfur, Sudan

February 24, Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of 1 million dollars from the Government of Japan to support food assistance activities in Sudan. This contribution will enable WFP to provide vouchers to approximately 10,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in West and South Darfur states through food-for-training and/or food-for-asset projects.

The Government of Japan has always shown strong support to WFP Sudan. Since 2007, Japan has contributed some USD 126 million to WFP’s emergency operations in Sudan in addition to USD 20 million for common services that benefit the entire humanitarian community such as the building of roads and provision of a safe and reliable air service (UNHAS).



Continuing our commitment to ending homelessness: board approves phase II of strategic initiative

By Andrea Iloulian

17 February  – (…) Over the past 25 years, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has supported efforts to end long-term homelessness across the nation. At the close of 2015, (…) board approved the second phase of (…) strategy (…). In 2010, was launched a five-year strategic initiative focusing on ending chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County. (…) Since (…) strategy’s January 2011 start date, (…) board of directors has approved more than $57 million in grant funding to increase access and prioritization to permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County. (…) Successful examples include: Home For Good offsite link and the Funders Collaborative offsite link, the Coordinated Entry System offsite link, and the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool offsite link. Phase II aims to build upon the successes of Phase I by doubling down on the successful systems change work that has made Los Angeles County’s efforts a model for the nation. https://www.hiltonfoundation.org/news/130-continuing-our-commitment-to-ending-homelessness-board-approves-phase-ii-of-strategic-initiative


UK supports launch of WFP cash assistance programme in Sudan

February 16, Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed a contribution of GB£2.2 million (approximately US$3.2 million) from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the launch of a cash assistance programme in Sudan’s Darfur region. The contribution will allow WFP to provide cash assistance for nine months to 25,000 displaced people in selected parts of Darfur. People benefiting from this assistance will be able to buy food from designated shops participating in WFP’s cash and vouchers programme. In addition to provision of cash assistance, this DFID contribution will also fund a study to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the cash assistance programme in improving the food security and nutritional status of people benefiting from it. DFID is WFP’s major donor for its vouchers assistance programme in Sudan.




Peace and security


Sri Lanka decides to join Mine Ban Treaty

3 March - On 2 March 2016 Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva H.E. Ravinatha Pandukabhaya Aryasinha announced that the Sri Lankan cabinet of ministers has approved accession to the Mine Ban Treaty. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) congratulates Sri Lanka and looks forward to welcoming Sri Lanka as the 163rd State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty soon. 



Japan contributes to UN mine action work in Sudan enabling clearance, risk education and victim assistance work

3 March, Khartoum, Sudan - The Government of Japan has decided to contribute USD 2.1 million  to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for humanitarian mine action work, in coordination with the Sudan National Mine Action Center. Aimed at reducing suffering and saving lives, this contribution will enable UNMAS to survey and clear landmines and explosive hazards in the States of Kassala, Red Sea, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The donation will support risk education projects designed to assist 100,000 people living in affected regions and will also allow the United Nations to provide assistance to the children, women and men living with disabilities caused by landmines and explosive hazards.



Kofi Annan, Foreign Ministers pledge support for a mine-free world by 2025

2 March – Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan joined Foreign Ministers from Canada, Chile and Colombia in a packed room of Geneva's Palais des Nations on 2 March 2016, pledging support for the Mine Ban Treaty as states embark on the "final stretch" towards a mine-free world. More than 35 donor states and states with landmine contamination, as well as mine clearance experts and UN bodies, explained how they will work towards this goal. The half-day conference highlighted the need for sustained financial resources and political support to meet the goals of the Mine Ban Treaty to the fullest extent possible by 2025, an aspirational deadline embraced by States Parties to the treaty during an international meeting in Maputo in 2014. Under the treaty, in the last 17 years states have stopped using, producing and selling antipersonnel mines, they have destroyed 49 million stockpiled mines, cleared vast tracts of land, and taken steps to provide assistance to victims of the weapon.



UNMAS demolishes unexploded ordnances in Bentiu

28 February, Bentiu, South Sudan - The UN Mine Action (UNMAS) recently conducted controlled demolition of mines and unexploded ordnance which were left behind by warring parties in Bentiu and surrounding areas. During the exercise conducted on 13 February and 27 February, UNMAS demolished over 150 kilogrammes of explosive remnants of war including anti-tank mines, rocket propelled grenades and unexploded ordnances. Seamus McMenamin, the UNMAS Operations Officer in Bentiu, said clearing the dangerous items was aimed at creating a safe living environment for the local population. The UNMAS official said his organization would continue to liaise with and educate the local population, identify any hazards and remove them before people are hurt or injured.



UNICEF launch plan to protect refugee women and children

26 February - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF today launched a joint initiative to increase protection for the growing numbers of children and others with specific needs arriving in Europe. UNHCR and its sister agency announced they were scaling up 20 Child and Family Protection Support Hubs, known as "Blue Dots," along the most frequently used migration routes in Europe. In a joint statement, the two UN agencies said these special support centres, under the Blue Dot symbol, would provide a safe space for children and their relatives, vital services, family tracing, protection and counselling in one single location.



Afghanistan: Herat district cleared of mines, remnants of war with UN support

25February, Herat – The UN-backed demining work in Afghanistan has declared the Adraskan district of western Herat province free of all types of mines and explosive remnants of war. Mine clearance operations have been central to the work of the UN deminers and their national and international partners, with their key objective being to support the Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) to declare Afghanistan free of mines and other remnants of war by 2023. Since the beginning in 1989, an area of 2,046.5 square kilometres have been cleared. Currently, 589 square kilometres of Afghanistan land remain contaminated. UNMACA -- a program of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) -- works to support the Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA), which consists of 46 humanitarian and commercial organizations that employ more than 9,000 Afghan citizens. UNMACA is part of the UN family in Afghanistan. More than 20 different UN entities are present in the country, working to support the Afghan government’s priorities through a broad spectrum of development and humanitarian activities.



. . . The struggle of Africa . . .

There is an epic struggle for the heart of Africa between the forces of the culture of war and those of the culture of peace. On the one hand, attacks by Boko Harem, Al Qaida, ISIS, and Al-Shabaab get the headlines in the commercial media, not to mention potential for civil war in Burundi and the fratricidal war in Southern Sudan, On the other hand, if the many recent articles in CPNN about initiatives for the culture of peace are an indication, it is the culture of peace that is gaining!

African Union: Burundi agrees to accept African Union human rights monitors. African Union: 26th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly concludes with gratitude to Ebola fighters and peace as priorities of the continent. African Union: Retreat of the Pan-African Network of the Wise. Senegal: The feminist Bineta Diop: United against war in Africa. Tunisia: Appeal for massive participation in the first international meeting on education for peace. Cameroon: Community radio in the service of peace education. Morocco: Muslims Advance Consensus for Citizenship for All: The Marrakesh Declaration.

Mali: Elaboration of a national program for culture of peace: Experts at work. Ethiopia: AAPI Convenes 2nd Arts4Peace Forum in Addis Ababa. Congo (DRC): Declaration of the Youth Clubs of the Congo Peace Network. Congo (DRC): Goma, Nord Kivu: Third edition of the Amani Music Festival. Sierra Leone: Minister urge delegates to develop a culture of peace. The Gambia: ‘African countries must unite’.

South Africa: African women organize to reclaim agriculture against corporate takeover.






USA - CVS to put $50 million into youth-focused antismoking effort

10March  – Two years after becoming the first national drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products, CVS Health Corporation has committed $50 million to a five-year antismoking campaign, reports The Wall Street Journal. The "Be the First" effort will include school, video, and social-media components and aims to help curb cigarette use among minors by 3 percent and reduce the number of new young smokers by 10 percent. CVS Health, which is seeking to strengthen its position as a player in the health-care industry, and the company's nonprofit arm, the CVS Health Foundation, are providing the support.



Central African Republic: "It’s hard to believe that this town was empty just two days ago"

By Ester Gutiérrez - project coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kabo

9 March, Zoumanga, CAR – (…) We are in Zoumanga, a small village in northern Central African Republic (CAR) and we are carrying out (…) an intervention that tries to reach the maximum number of children and pregnant women, combining health promotion and prevention. In this case, it was scheduled for 27 February,(…) but the local population had fled into hiding in the surrounding vegetation in fear of the violence constantly ravaging this country. (…) While I see the queue of mothers with hundreds of little children strapped to their backs or clinging to their legs, waiting their turn to be attended, I cannot help but feel a deep empathy.(…) They have waited their turn uncomplainingly for hours to receive vaccination or prenatal care.(…) We organise a circuit for mothers and children in which we first detect cases of malnutrition and malaria, then the children are dewormed and given vitamin A. The children under one year of age receive several vaccines, and finally each household receives a couple of mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide to prevent malaria. (…)




Energy and safety



World Water Day - March 22

For the first time, the United Nations World Water Development Report will not only be launched in English but also in Spanish and French. The Executive summary of the Report will also be made available in all 6 UN languages as well as in Italian, Portuguese and Hindi. The report is as previous years launched on on 22nd March 2016 the official World Water Day celebrations, this year held in ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

To disseminate the key findings and to add momentum to the official launch, briefing session are hosted in Paris on 24 March and in New York on 29 March. In parallel, various regional events on the topic The United Nations World Water Development Report 2016, titled "Water and Jobs" contains the latest findings, fact and figures.  Follow UN-Water on Twitterand FaceBook to learn more.Read more about the launch here and on the UNESCO WWAP website.



USA - Energy department announces $25 million to develop next generation of electric machines for industrial energy savings

March 11 - As part of the Obama Administration's Mission Innovation effort to double clean energy research and development (R&D) investments over the next five years, the Energy Department today announced up to $25 million in available funding aimed at advancing technologies for energy-efficient electric motors through applied R&D. This effort will fund innovative technologies that will significantly increase the efficiency of electric motors, which use approximately 70% of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally.

The Energy Department plans to select eight to twelve projects through the Next Generation of Electric Machines: Enabling Technologies funding opportunity. Specifically, this funding targets the development of key technologies that will enable further efficiency enhancements and weight reductions in a cost effective way, while addressing the limitations of traditional conductive metals and silicon-infused "electrical" steels used in motor components.




Environment and wildlife


Laureates gather to ‘Make Nepal Green’

March 2 - Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award from China, Japan, and India came together last week to participate in a seminar in Kathmandu, Nepal, where they shared their expertise and supported 2010 Laureate Shrikrishna Upadhyay of SAPPROS-Nepal in the ‘Make Nepal Green’ initiative.

The initiative, launched in the aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake, consists of a realizable vision of a ‘Green Nepal’; one that combines rural rejuvenation with renewable energy. Solar energy entrepreneur Huang Ming from China joined Lobzang Tsultim of India’s Ladakh Ecological Development Group and representatives of the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union in Japan as featured Laureates.

Outcomes of this meeting included the creation of a ‘Make Nepal Green Fund’ and a ‘Kathmandu Declaration’, which was designed to serve as a roadmap for the future. The Declaration was presented to the Prime Minister of Nepal Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli by Dr. Monika Griefahn, Chair of the Board at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.



Canada and US leaders commit to new goals for Arctic protection

10March, Canada – In a joint statement today, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada agreed to several initiatives to advance Arctic conservation. The plan includes the establishment of protected areas. Their statement says “…we will work directly with Indigenous partners, state, territorial and provincial governments to establish this year a new, ambitious conservation goal for the Arctic based on the best available climate science and knowledge, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. We will also play a leadership role in engaging all Arctic nations to develop a pan-Arctic marine protection area network.” The two national leaders further committed to subjecting any plans for development in the Arctic to stringent environmental and safety standards, and will develop a shared standard for considering the impacts of Arctic development. Specific plans were announced for reducing the impacts from oil and gas.



European action plan helps global fight against wildlife trafficking

26February – WWF supports the launch of an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking by the European Commission. The action plan details a set of measures to allow the EU to fight the illegal trafficking of wildlife products. Poaching has reached unprecedented levels for some species in recent years and the role of organized criminal groups in wildlife trafficking is increasing. The considerable profits generated, together with a low risk of detection and low sanction levels, explain why wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable transnational criminal activities. The EU is both a major destination and a transit point in the global wildlife trade. WWF is pleased to see that the action plan includes measures for all EU countries to consider organized wildlife trafficking a serious crime under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime with sentences of at least four years imprisonment for those convicted. It also proposes measures to improve capacity and cooperation between the enforcement services within and between EU member states. The European Commission plans to support actions to reduce the demand in wildlife products within and outside the EU, including by involving the business sector that can be complicit in wildlife trade. The key role that rural communities can play in solutions to illegal wildlife trade is recognized and the EU will support their engagement in the conservation of wildlife and environmentally-friendly livelihoods activities.




Religion and spirituality


Gift of Love and Interfaith Harmony in Bulgaria

Exhibition that builds bridges among cultures and harmony among religions

March 4 - URI Bulgaria commemorated the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the biggest cultural center in Southeast Europe, the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. The Cultural Palace cooperated by hosting the intercultural student exhibition GIFT of LOVE for the period 11-20 February. The event was organized by “BRIDGES – Eastern European Forum for Dialogue” CC (URI Europe) in co-operation with the Center for European Refugees Migration and Ethnic Studies (CERMES) and the Bulgarian-European Cultural Center. The interfaith project included art works by 35 students from two  Bulgarian Universities (New Bulgarian University and Veliko Tarnovo University) manifesting the understanding of young people of LOVE to “the other”, to “our neighbor”, to the different.

More than 150 people were present during the official opening and they were all of various backgrounds: religious leaders, diplomats, Bulgarian members of the European Parliament, prominent university professors, journalists and students. Christian Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, atheist gathered together for the World Interfaith Harmony Week.



Three Faiths Forum - Education Workshops

To succeed in today's complex and diverse world, young people need to be able to communicate sensitively and effectively with anyone, regardless of beliefs or background. 3FF's award-winning workshops fulfil an essential role in preparing young people to succeed in the wider world.

Our activities are proven to help young people build religious literacy, empathy, and skills for dialogue and communication. Our workshops also support the RE, PSHE and citizenship curricula, as well as the provision of SMSC.

Our experienced staff can visit your school – non-denominational or single-faith – to deliver unforgettable interfaith experiences tailored to your needs. Our packages include:

•Consultation with a member of 3FF staff •Preparation including resources •A choice of interfaith workshops, led by trained speakers and facilitators •Evaluation and advice on follow-up strategies




Culture and education


Mali: Next phase of quality education project launched

11 March, Mali-  The new phase of the successful Quality Educators for All Project - “Every child needs a good teacher” - has been launched in Mali, aiming to improve teacher quality, teaching, and learning in the country. At the launch in Bamako, Mali, from 2-4 March, under the patronage of the Education Minister Barthélémy Togo,Education International (EI) Senior Coordinator Dennis Sinyolo  acknowledged the work of EI’s partner, Oxfam Novib, and the Quality Educators project partners in Mali – the Syndicat National de l'Education et de la Culture, the Association des Jeunes pour le Développement Endogène au Sahel and the Ministry of Education and praised these organisations for their commitment to improving the quality of education in Mali through this project. Sinyolo also noted the Government’s considerable efforts to integrate more than 800 community teachers into the public service.



Millipore Sigma launches global science education program to inspire future scientists

7 March, Billerica, Mass., USA - The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates as Millipore Sigma in the U.S. and Canada, today announced the launch of SPARK, a global skills-based volunteer program that provides community service opportunities for its network of 19,000 employees, with a focus on science and education. Students introduced to science by age 14 or younger are more likely to pursue careers in relevant fields. Through SPARK, Millipore Sigma volunteers will work with schools around the world such as Bermuda Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri. Millipore Sigma will launch its Curiosity Labs program, an inquiry-based, hands-on science curriculum enabling students to engage in experiments used in real-world applications. http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/38767-MilliporeSigma-Launches-Global-Science-Education-Program-to-Inspire-Future-Scientists


Global Peace Science (GPS): the book, its authors and significance

February - The unprecedented Global Peace Science (GPS or Peacescience) was created in the Global Harmony Association (GHA) for 11 years since its establishment on February 15, 2005. Of these, 8 were the preparatory years, for which GHA has published seven previous books, discussed and approved 47 projects of global peace from harmony. Work with GPS as the 48th project began directly in March 2013.

In Russian language, this book by 89 coauthors from 30 countries was published in St. Petersburg, Russia, in January 2015.

In English language, this book by 174 coauthors (85 more than the Russian edition) of 34 countries was published in the early February 2016 in India, Russia and the USA.

Among the Peacescience coauthors are: former President of India Abdul Kalam; the Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire; intellectual peacemaking leader of the USA Noam Chomsky,; pioneer of peace studies from Norway Johan Galtung; Chancellor of the IASE Pedagogical University of India Kanakmal Dugar; sociologist of Catholic University from Belgium  Francois Houtart; leader of the women's peace-making organization in Africa Ayo Ayoola-Amale of Ghana; researcher of the Roerich creativity Julia Budnikova from Russia; director of the Finance Institute, academician from Kazakhstan Uraz Baimuratov; one of the Indian yoga leaders Ramesh Kumar; and many other outstanding scientists and peacemakers.

Initiator, editor in chief and manager of the project is Leo Semashko, GHA Founder and President, Russia.

The book (PDF format) was posted in January here:



EI and other GUFs' delegations begin their work at the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

The full labour delegation present in New York, USA, is made up of an unprecedented 150 women union leaders from 34 countries.

The Education International (EI) delegation to the 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) has joined the other Global Union Federations (GUFs) delegations for the first week of the Commission’s deliberations (March 14th-18th). The CSW60 priority theme is Women’s Empowerment and its Link to Sustainable Development; and the review theme is The Elimination and Prevention of all Forms of Violence against Women and Girls (the Agreed Conclusions from CSW57).

The priority theme is auspicious because CSW60 is the first major UN event to take place since the 2030 agenda for sustainable development was agreed, and the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015. CSW60, therefore, presents a unique opportunity to bring the gender and education community for dialogue around the interlinkages between SDG 4 on education, and SDG 5 on gender equality.




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Heroes of our time


Sindhutai Sapkal, winner of THE ONE International Humanitarian Award

A native of Pune, India, she wan the 100,000 USD award assigned by the Rotary District 3450, Hong Kong


Sindhutai was born in a rural village in the Wardha district of Maharashtra where many women are left uneducated. Sindhutai’s father secretly sent her to school up until the fourth grade after which she was married, at the age of 19 to a 30-year-old cow herder from a nearby village. 


She was made to live in a shed, where she gave birth to her daughter, Mamata. Poverty-stricken, she was forced to beg on the streets to survive. As she wandered through the streets she became immersed in the pain of others, particularly orphans and women like herself. It was then that she decided she would fight to improve their lives.  She made it her mission to raise enough money to build and run six shelter homes for the destitute women and orphans of Maharashtra.


Today Sindhutai resides at the shelter, dedicating her life to providing shelter, food, education, protection and most importantly a future for the destitute who fondly refer to her as ‘Mai’ (mother). Over the years she has nurtured over 1,050 orphaned children, all of which she has adopted as her own, and now has a grand family of 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws, and more than 1,000 grandchildren.


Even with no steady income to speak of, Sindhutai still puts every ounce of her being to make sure her ‘family’ continues to thrive.


Rotary International District 3450, with over 80 years of history, now comprises of over 73 clubs in Hong Kong, Macao and Mongolia.




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Next issue: 15 April 2016.


Good News Agency is 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), Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli. Webmaster, 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,  to 3,000 NGOs, 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 26,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered, not-for-profit 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 (WANGO) and of the Union of International Associations (UIA).


* 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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