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

monthly, year 17th, no. 256 –  7 April 2017


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 media and editorial journalists, NGOs, service associations and high schools and colleges around the world.

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


The enduring legacy of the transatlantic slave trade

24 March 2017 – The transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in history and undeniably one of the most inhumane. According to the United Nations, over a 400-year period, the forcible extraction of Africans from their motherland was unprecedented in the annals of recorded human history.

In 2007, the General Assembly declared 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually.

The Day offers an opportunity to honour those who suffered at the hands of the brutal slavery system. It also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

Speaking at the General Assembly commemorative meeting for the International Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ pointed out that a number of countries still suffer from economic patterns and decisions set in motion long ago with many families still feeling the trauma imposed on their forebears, "We must continue to recognize the persistent pain of this legacy, even in the present moment," he said.




Human rights


UNESCO award for Dawit Isaak 'sign of hope' to free imprisoned Eritrean journalist

31 March 2017 – An imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist who was arrested in a crackdown on the media in September 2001 and was known for his critical and insightful reporting has won a prestigious United Nations prize dedicated to promoting press freedom.  An independent international jury of media professionals recommended unanimously Dawit Isaak in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017, said the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) in a press release earlier this week. “Defending fundamental freedoms calls for determination and courage – it calls for fearless advocates,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on the selection of Mr. Isaak, who was last heard from in 2005 and whose present location is unknown. “Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truth. Many have been imprisoned,” emphasized Cilla Benkö, President of the Prize's 2017 jury. According to Ms. Benkö, Mr. Isaak has spent nearly 16 years in jail, without charge or trial. “I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, 'Free Dawit Isaak Now.'”



Iraq: dialogue on the protection of civilians with one the main armed actors, the Popular Mobilization Forces

25 March 2017 – Since January 2016, Geneva Call has been engaging in a humanitarian dialogue with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) on the protection of civilians. With more than 100 000 fighters, the PMF is one of the main fighting forces active in Iraq. The PMF 40 brigades were created after a call issued by the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani – the spiritual leader of Shia in Iraq –  to protect Iraqi cities in 2014 from the advance of the Islamic State group. Most of their combatants are former civilians. They are militarily active in Central and Southern Iraq and around Mosul. “Although they already have rules in place to protect civilian populations, in particular the 20 rules issued by Ayatollah Sistani in the “Advice and Guidance to Fighters in the Battlefield“, their respect can and must be improved” says Mehmet Balci, Geneva Call’s Head of Region for the Middle East. Several international organizations’ reports mentioned abuses committed against civilians by all armed actors involved in the conflict including the Islamic State group, the Peshmerga, the Iraqi army, the PMF and all security forces. In 2016, Geneva Call initiated a humanitarian dialogue with several brigades of the PMF and delivered training on the law of armed conflict for more than 200 of their fighters and officers in Bagdhad, Najaf and Kirkuk. These trainings were a good start but there was a need to deepen the dialogue at the highest level of the PMF as their structure was evolving towards a more centralized organization.



Young women call for increased women’s leadership, and change in the world of work

20 March 2017 - Young women attending the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women met UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street on 17 March. The statue, placed by Boston-based company State Street Global Advisors on Bowling Green, in the heart of Manhattan's Financial District ahead of the International Women’s Day to encourage increased representation of women on corporate boards, has gained high visibility as a symbol of strength, rebellion and resilience of women and girls.



When girls are educated, everything is possible.

10 March 2017 | Malawi Chief, nicknamed “The Terminator” for annulling thousands of child marriages, receives prestigious Vital Voices award; UN Women’s Habiba Osman among the honourees for her role in promoting positive social norms.



UN agencies in Rome step up on gender equality to end hunger and poverty
Empowerment of rural women is fundamental for achieving 2030 Agenda

FAO/IFAD/WFP Joint News Release

8 March 2017, Rome - Leaders from the three UN Rome-based agencies today marked International Women's Day by reinforcing their commitments to step up efforts to invest in the capacities of rural women as key agents of change in building a world without hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) reminded the world that women and girls play a crucial role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty. In developing countries, women make up 45% of the agricultural labour force, ranging from 20% in Latin America to up to 60% in parts of Africa and Asia. However, they do significantly more unpaid work than men - especially in providing care to families and communities - limiting their capacity to earn incomes . Gender-biased social norms, laws and practices can also limit women's access to essential assets including natural resources and education as well as social assets such as participation in rural organizations and other decision-making bodies. As a result, their ability to reach their full potential and influence decision-making in economic, social and political spheres is seriously undermined. Measures that are crucial to ensuring rural women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work include improving their access to economic opportunities, productive resources, jobs, health services, social protection and education.In addition, policies and programmes must address gender disparities in leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as the specific needs of millions of rural women working in the informal economy, by promoting their access to formal markets and value chains, innovative technologies and practices.



World Vision now reaching one person with clean water every 10 seconds

Charity hits its 2020 goal in only one year making major progress towards universal water access by 2030.

World Vision is well on its way toward achieving universal water access everywhere it works around the world. In September, driven by a single US$40 million gift* to its water programmes, World Vision announced plans to reach one new person with clean water every 10 seconds by 2020 – eventually achieving universal water access everywhere it works by 2030.Thanks to support from its partners, World Vision has achieved its 2020 goal in just one year. (…) One of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations General Assembly was universal and equitable access to safe water by the year 2030. Water and sanitation will influence the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals in health, gender equality and other areas. Globally more than 660 million people do not have clean water access, and nearly 1,000 children die each day because of diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene. World Vision is on a pace to reach an estimated 50 million people with clean water by 2030. (…) World Vision, the largest non-governmental provider of clean water in the developing world, employs more than 700 water professionals and partners with corporations, governments, philanthropists, churches and other partners to provide clean water access on a massive scale.




Economy and development


IFAD to provide US$43 million to Viet Nam to raise rural incomes and increase resilience to climate change

24 March 2017, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Viet Nam signed a financial agreement today to raise incomes and the living standards of 30,000 rural households in the north-east of the country. IFAD is providing US$43 million towards the $74.3 million loan, which is co-financed by the Government of Viet Nam ($20.6 million) and the beneficiaries themselves ($10.7 million). The Commercial Smallholder Support Project in B¿c Kan and Cao B¿ng aims to improve the access of farmers and rural labourers to commodity and labour markets and increase the rural poor’s capacity to adapt to the effects of a changing climate. Viet Nam has benefitted from substantial economic growth – lifting almost 30 million people out of poverty over the last two decades. However, economic development in the country has contributed to income inequity and environmental degradation. Rural areas have less than half the average per capita income of urban areas but almost three times the poverty rate. Agriculture accounts for more than 70% of employment in the project provinces of B¿c Kan and Cao B¿ng. The project will support rural farmers to access finance, business and technical training, as well as improved infrastructure, such as rural roads, to support their access to markets and commodity chains, which increase the value of agricultural products. There is a significant market demand and commercial opportunities for improved quality and production of a range of agricultural products including forestry and non-timber forest products.



Guyana to benefit from US$8 million IFAD loan to reduce rural poverty and boost food security

21 March 2017, Rome–The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Guyana signed a financial agreement today to transform the lives of 30,000 people in Guyana’s hinterland, the area of the country most affected by climate change. The Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Project will support poor rural farmers to increase income-generation opportunities and improve their food security by identifying key commodities that can help them enter local markets and also improve the quality of their diets at home. The total cost of the project is US$11.1 million of which IFAD is providing a $7.9 million loan and a $500,000 grant. Agriculture’s contribution to the economy of Guyana is significant: it accounts for approximately 31% of total exports. However, from 1,740,000 hectares of land that is being used for agricultural purposes, only around 200,000 hectares is used effectively with relatively adequate drainage and irrigation. In the rural hinterland of the country, where indigenous peoples are concentrated, three out of four people are poor. The project aims to address the economic risks associated with lack of knowledge, technology and infrastructure in order to strengthen people’s resilience to climate change and achieve sustainable transformation. At least 75% of the project beneficiaries will be indigenous people, 30% between 15-44 of age, and at least 50% will be women.



Six Years On, Syrian Refugees Forge Futures in Farming

15 March 2017 – Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Syrian uprising and the start of the devastating war. Now there are 4.9 million displaced Syrians within the country and scattered throughout the region. An estimated 1.5 million of them have taken refuge in neighboring Lebanon. In response to this crisis, ANERA is reaching refugees and impoverished host communities through a variety of job skills training courses that boost employability among the most vulnerable segments of the population. The majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in the Bekaa Valley and the north. These regions are also the most rural, with about 70% of all arable land in Lebanon. There is a great need for more agricultural workers, yet only 10% of local youth learn how to farm the land. ANERA recognizes that the influx of refugees from Syria represents an opportunity for Lebanese farmers. And farming is, in turn, an opportunity for the refugees. The pilot courses cover beekeeping, livestock care and dairy production. They reached a total of 57 youth, girls and boys, Syrian and Lebanese. To congratulate graduates of the livestock and beekeeping courses, ANERA sent graduation kits of beehives and chicken coops. Now the youth have the tools and know-how they need to start building a livelihood and a small business of their own. The five pilot courses were designed to be short, specific, and directly linked to market needs. In total, 6,777 out-of-school youth participated in the job skills courses, with diverse topics including agriculture, graphic design, cosmetology, floor tiling, computer skills, tailoring and advertising.



IFAD and AFD strengthen partnership with €200 million loan to invest in rural development

13 March 2017, Rome – The heads of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) today signed an agreement to work together to develop rural areas, which includes the provision of a €200 million loan to IFAD. AFD, a public financial institution that implements policy defined by the French government, seeks to combat poverty and promote sustainable development. IFAD is an international financial institution and specialized United Nations agency focused on eradicating rural poverty. Both organizations share a similar approach to agricultural and rural development and prioritize investments in small-scale farming and share the goals of achieving food security and sustainable rural development. The two organizations have already collaborated on a number of initiatives including the development of weather insurance products and support to farmers’ organisations in Africa. Through the Memorandum of Understanding and the loan agreement signed today, the two organizations commit to working closely together in the future, with a focus on increasing investments in rural finance, adaptation to climate change, gender equality and stemming migration.



IFAD to provide US$24.3 million to improve integration of family farmers into new value chains in Argentina

13 March 2017, Rome – Improving sustainable integration of small-scale producers into emerging value chains is the aim of a financial agreement signed here today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Argentina. Some 8,000 rural families (around 37,600 people) will benefit from the programme, that will focus particularly on vulnerable groups, especially indigenous peoples, women and youth. The total cost of the programme, on the economic integration of family producers of northern Argentina, known as PROCANOR, is US$38.9 million. The project is co-financed by the Government of Argentina ($11.4 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($3.2 million). Argentina is one of the largest economies in Latin America and one of the world's major producers of agricultural commodities, especially soybeans and maize. There are some 251,000 family farms in the country, many of which are run by poor families, most of them living in the Greater North region where the programme will be implemented. PROCANOR aims to reverse this situation by engaging family farmers in emerging and dynamic value chains, such as quinoa, Andean potatoes, chia or llama meat and wool, among others. It will also create opportunities for building partnerships among agribusinesses, commercial enterprises and farmers' organizations.






Republic of Korea support enables WFP to scale up Innovative Food Security Monitoring Systems

27 March 2017, Rome - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a donation of US$6 million from the Republic of Korea that will allow WFP to enhance innovative food security monitoring systems in ten countries in Africa, enabling the organization to hear directly from people in need. The funding was raised through Korea’s air-ticket solidarity levy, which is collected from each international flight passenger departing Korea. Known as the “Global Disease Eradication Fund,” it is part of Seoul’s commitment to ending global disease, poverty and hunger. The funds will be used over the next two years to scale up WFP’s mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) initiative, enabling real-time food security and nutrition monitoring of refugees and internally displaced people in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. The mVAM initiative uses mobile phone technology to collect data from conflict zones, remote areas, and in rapidly evolving situations. In addition to SMS and live calls, mVAM uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and two-way communications systems to collect and share data. Looking to new technologies, mVAM is currently testing new methods of remote data collection, such as online surveys, “chatbots” and Facebook’s Free Basics service.



Caritas distributing aid in flood affected areas in Peru

By Caritas Internationalis

22March 2017 – Peru is facing one of the biggest natural disaster caused by the El Niño conditions which has brought torrential rain, landslides and floods affecting thousands of families in the region of Lima, Ica, Ancash, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Arequipa, Piura and Tumbes. Peruvian officials have reported 75 deaths, 263 people injured, 10,538 collapsed houses, 159 bridges destroyed and 1,903 kilometres of road network damaged. Caritas Peru launched a national campaign which aims to meet the most urgent basic needs for families affected by the landslides and floods. Seventy tonnes of aid consisting of non-perishable food items, bottled water, clothing, corrugated iron and pumps, among other things, were collected in the first five days of the campaign. Ángel Allcarima, Risk Management and Climate Change manager at Caritas Peru, reports that forty tonnes of humanitarian aid were distributed through the network of diocesan Caritas. Caritas Chiclayo also received 5.3 tonnes of humanitarian aid for affected families. Caritas Peru will distribute 25 more tonnes of aid in the coming days, reaching the most difficult to reach areas by air and sea.



CERF approves $22 million loan to further scale up FAO action to prevent famine in Somalia

21 March 2017, Rome/New York - FAO is further scaling up its activities in drought affected regions of Somalia thanks to a $22 million loan approved this week by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which complements the loans already provided by FAO's Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities. This effort is part of the international response to prevent another famine in Somalia five years after the previous one devastated the country. FAO's action aims to increase rural livelihood support and restore food production, while ensuring that families meet their immediate food and water needs. Across Somalia, 6.2 million people will face acute food insecurity through June 2017. Of these, nearly 3 million people are in Phases 3 (crisis) and 4 (emergency) of the five-phaseInternational Phase Classification for Food Security (IPC). This represents more than a two-fold  increase compared to six months ago. Phase 5 is famine. Most of the 6.2 million people facing acute food insecurity live in Somalia's  rural areas where hunger levels have spiked primarily due to losses in crop and livestock production and other sources of food and income caused by repeated droughts. FAO is scaling up the implementation of its Famine Prevention and Drought Response Plan, which combines lifesaving interventions with emergency livelihood support to address the distinct needs of rural people at risk across Somalia - a twin track approach that provides immediate assistance while offering livelihood support and income opportunities to reduce their dependency on humanitarian aid. Measures implemented under the Response Plan include providing cash (cash-for-work and unconditional cash transfers), meeting immediate food and water needs; providing agriculture and fisheries based livelihood support in combination with cash ("Cash+"), and saving livestock assets and related food and income.



The United States and WFP support food-insecure populations in Sudan and South Sudan

20 March 2017, Port Sudan - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), today welcomed the second of two recent shipments carrying urgently required food assistance for Sudan and South Sudan. The ships docked in Port Sudan and discharged over 47,880 metric tons of sorghum, over 20,000 metric tons of which will be transported through Sudan into South Sudan. In March and April, WFP will receive additional ships carrying 47,500 metric tons of sorghum, more than 5,000 metric tons of lentils and nearly 1,700 metric tons of vegetable oil. The commodities on these ships, also donated by the United States, will feed South Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Sudan. The United States continues to be a long-standing partner and the largest single donor to WFP in Sudan. These contributions of cash and commodities has enabled WFP to provide critical food assistance to severely food-insecure populations in Sudan in a timely and professional manner. In 2017, WFP plans to assist more than 4 million vulnerable people in Sudan—IDPs, refugees, climate-affected populations, and host communities—through a range of activities, including emergency food aid, cash-based transfers, nutritional support, and resilience-building activities to help communities become independent.



Japan makes US$8.4 million contribution to WFP for emergency needs in South Sudan

17 March 2017, Juba - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$8.4 million from the Government of Japan to support its emergency response and the WFP-managed United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in South Sudan. Japan has allocated approximately US$7.4 million to the emergency operation in response to the famine in the country. WFP will use the funds to purchase more than 24,000 bags of sorghum, a staple food in South Sudan, which will ensure provision of food assistance to more than 17,000 people for three months. In addition, the funds will be used to sustain WFP nutrition support with fortified nutritious foods for three months for 26,000 mothers and 37,000 children facing acute malnutrition.  Japan has also allocated funds to support UNHAS, a vital common air service that WFP manages on behalf of the wider humanitarian community. UNHAS provides air transport and cargo services for 240 humanitarian organizations delivering life-saving assistance in South Sudan. The funding received from the Government of Japan will allow UNHAS to continue flying humanitarian workers to hard-to-reach areas of the country where the needs are most severe.



Government of Japan announced USD 7 million to UNHCR, WFP

9 March 2017, Islamabad - The government of Japan has announced a contribution of USD 7 million to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) to support the Afghan Refugees and host communities in Pakistan. The Government of Japan has allocated USD 3 million to UNHCR for implementation of its priority interventions in the provision of legal assistance to refugees in the country and its programmes in the areas of education healthcare and vocational training. This contribution by the Government of Japan will support an estimated 50,000 persons from the refugee population and the communities hosting them in accessing health care and education, as well as some 210 youths who will be undergoing vocational training courses throughout Pakistan. The Government of Japan has allocated the remaining USD 4 million to WFP to support 82,389 beneficiaries including 42,874 children of 6-59 months of age and 39,515 pregnant and lactating women over the period of six months. It will enable WFP to procure a total of 1,097 metric tons of locally produced quality “Ready-to-Use supplementary foods” (Acha Mum and Maamta) that will be distributed in four districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province i.e. Peshawar, Nowshera, Hangu and Kohat, identified as the districts hosting the highest number of Afghan refugees and host communities.



WFP and Bishkek City Hall launch meals in city schools with Russian Federation support

9 March 2017, Bishkek - On International School Meals Day, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Bishkek City Hall today launched a hot meals programme in city schools, thanks to valuable support from the Russian Federation and expertise from the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI). More than 1,200 primary school students in Bishkek Gymnasium #64 will be enjoying freshly cooked hot meals every day. This school was chosen as the first city school to pilot the improved school meals model. WFP partnered with SIFI and the city administration to conduct a comprehensive assessment of school meals in Bishkek. The key findings of this assessment served as the basis for the design of the school meals improvement programme and the development of efficient school meals models for city schools. With funding from the Russian Federation, WFP procured high-capacity industrial kitchen equipment for preparation of hot school meals. Over the coming months, WFP will lead the formulation of a plan to improve meals in city schools to enable an upgrade to high-quality nutritious meals. This will be done using funds that the Bishkek municipality has allocated for the project. WFP launched a project in 2013 to introduce a model school meals programme to boost the country’s national school feeding programme that benefits around 400,000 primary school children.




Peace and security


UN chief Guterres welcomes announcement of adherence to ceasefire in eastern Ukraine

31 March 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed yesterday's announcement of an agreement on adherence to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, by 1 April, and on the disengagement of forces and hardware in Stanytsia Luhanska by 6 April. A statement from his spokesman said that the Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the Trilateral Contact Group – a group of representatives from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – of a new agreement on ensuring the full adherence to the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, by 1 April, and on the disengagement of forces and hardware in Stanytsia Luhanska by 6 April.“The fate of the civilian population remains of great concern. The Secretary-General urges all parties to fully abide by their renewed commitment. He hopes that this will enable further progress in the security, humanitarian, political and economic fields,” said the statement. Further to the statement, Mr. Guterres further urged the parties to do their utmost to ensure the safety and security of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.



Possessing nuclear weapons ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with world's aspiration for peace – UN official

27 March 2017 – At the start of a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, a senior UN official highlighted that creating a world free of such weapons is a common obligation of all States – both nuclear and non-nuclear – and called for their inclusive engagement.

“Let us all work harder and more creatively, so that we can achieve our common goal of a world, safer and more secure, without nuclear weapons, and better for all,” said Kim Won-Soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.  Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, he also expressed hope that the instrument will also strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and advance the world closer to the total elimination of nuclear weapons and that it would make important contribution to nuclear disarmament and to our ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament.



Making Movies Helps Children Find Peace in Colombia

15March 2017– Children in Cartagena, Colombia, are using short videos to raise awareness of obstacles to peace in their neighborhoods. Through an alliance with the Ministry of Culture, the USAID-funded Program of Alliances for Reconciliation (PAR) supports the International Festival of Cinema in Cartagena (FICCI). FICCI recently allowed children and youth to make and enter their own short films. Filmmaking has proven a very useful tool for youth to raise awareness of obstacles to peaceful coexistence. Youth are also discovering that their creations can bring about reconciliation in their neighborhoods. PAR supported a two-day workshop where 30 children, aged 8 to 12, engaged in exercises to promote self-awareness as agents of change in their families and communities. Young participants learned hands-on techniques for filmmaking, such as photography, script writing, and acting. The children then produced their own short films, expressing concerns and ideas and sending positive messages to other children about drugs, violence, and environmental preservation. The short films made by the young new filmmakers were later featured before audiences at the film festival, including media and other opinion leaders.






Russia backs FAO work to tackle antimicrobial resistance with $3.3 million

3 April 2017, Rome - Russia is backing an FAO-led effort to promote food safety and prevent the spread of medicine-resistant "superbugs" in food and on farms in five Central Asian countries with a donation of nearly $3.25 million. A new Russia-supported FAO project in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will help national authorities get a better handle the threats posed by antimicrobial resistant microbes in agriculture and food systems. The bulk of the funding will be used to support action on three broad fronts:

The first major push to escalate awareness of AMR in food and agricultural systems in the region will take place next month when FAO and Russia convene an International Conference on Food Safety and Risk Analysis (Sochi, 18-19 May). The event will bring together more than 350 participants from government, the private sector and the scientific community as well as health and nutrition specialists to exchange experiences and best practices on nutrition and food safety -- including AMR. The increased use of antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics in human and animal healthcare - as well as abuse and improper use - has contributed to an increase in the number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to medicines traditionally used to treat them. Food can act as a vector that brings humans into contact with AMRpathogens.



Better Health, Stronger Communities

Healthcare company Glovax joins Business Call to Action by expanding access to vaccinations in the Philippines

31 March 2017 Quezon City, Philippines/CSRwire/ - Glovax Biotech Corp., an integrated distributor and retailer of vaccines in the Philippines, has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide 40 million vaccine doses to the country’s medium- and low-income communities by 2020, reducing the cost of vaccinations by 75 percent and preventing countless disease outbreaks. Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per  international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With a population of 100 million people, only 1 percent of the Philippines’ population gets regular vaccinations, mostly for influenza. Two of the biggest reasons for the country’s low vaccination rate are a lack of availability of vaccines and affordability. Glovax’s mission is to provide affordable access to vaccination for the country’s ‘missing middle’ – the 65 million Filipinos who have not been vaccinated. Glovax’s inclusive business model was initially designed to provide an affordable supply of vaccines for health providers. However, it was soon realized that often discounts provided by the company were not being passed on to consumers. In response, Glovax became fully integrated, offering vaccines directly to consumers through community health centres. The company has now expanded by creating its own vaccination centres, reducing the cost by as much as 75%.



Myanmar: Repair of prostheses close to home brings hope

More flexible physical rehabilitation services allow patients to gain time and save money.

24 March 2017 – For nearly three years, the Myanmar Red Cross has been making a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities through mobile clinics that roam local communities. From July 2014 to December 2016, a total of 1,280 patients from East Bago received services. In a vast country such as Myanmar facilitating these types of services closer to home saves people time and money, while giving them critical support to improve their prostheses. Within one year of the Myanmar Red Cross and the ICRC opening the mobile repair workshops, a network of repairmen such as owners of bike or motorbike shops, come to provide a basic repair such as fixing a foot, or a strap. "The Red Cross aims to invest in the local community for the long term. There was no school in Myanmar for prosthetic technicians until 2015. We sent students to Cambodia to study. There are now 15 graduated professionals in Myanmar…," explains Didier Reck, head of the ICRC physical rehabilitation programme in Myanmar.



From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

23March 2017 – More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent. The synchronized vaccination campaign is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C. The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level  is considered critical to the success of the campaign. 



Zimbabwe: Mental health patients benefit from improved living conditions

23 March 2017, Harare, (ICRC) – More than 300 mental health patients, practitioners and prison staff at Mlondolozi Prison are benefitting from refurbished facilities that enable a more conducive environment for psychiatric treatment, social rehabilitation and preparation for reintegration. The improved facilities were commissioned by the Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Hon. Clifford Sibanda, at a ceremony at Mlondolzi Prison on 23 March. The renovations included transforming the family visit area to enable more contact between mental health patients and their families during visits. The changes also place offices and spaces for engagement between mental health practitioners and patients at the centre of the prison. This pilot project was initiated by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at Mlondolozi Prison due to the unique needs of mental health patients. Extensive works were carried out by ZPCS artisans and ICRC engineers to improve space, ventilation and natural lighting within mental health patients' cells. The works also rehabilitated water and sanitation facilities at the prison, increased the space available for rehabilitation activities, and upgraded kitchens to improve cooking capacity and save energy.



Language classes and health information sessions help migrants to a good start in Azerbaijan

By Caroline Haga

22March 2017 – Along with its neighbours in Europe and Central Asia, also Azerbaijan has in recent years welcomed many migrants primarily from Afghanistan and South East Asia. As the country’s largest humanitarian organization, the Red Crescent of Azerbaijan plays an important role in supporting their integration into society. One of the key support services provided by the Red Crescent are language courses – vital pre-requisites for both adults and children to find jobs and enroll into schools. More than 200 migrants have successfully completed the courses which are the free-of-charge in the past three years. (…) Health care, psychosocial support and promoting healthy lifestyles are also important in ensuring the welfare of local population and migrants alike. Through its regional centres and local branches, the Red Crescent organises information sessions and activities on a variety of topics including first aid; psychosocial first aid; awareness-raising of illnesses such as breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; and healthy life style factors. In particular, children, teenagers and their mothers are invited to learn about healthy living to ensure a good start in the youth’s lives. (…)



Innovative Supply Chain Information Platform will help prepare for the next pandemic

9 March 2017, Tokyo - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and NEC Corporation today announced their collaboration for the development of the first ever information platform to provide end-to-end visibility of supply chains for pandemic interventions, on behalf of the Global Pandemic Supply Chain (PSC) Network. The government of Japan has provided US$1 million for the PSC Network;the Global Pandemic Supply Chain Network was formed in response to lessons learned from the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak. The founding members of the Network, representing the public sector, include WFP, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank, and representing the private sector, Henry Schein, Inc., Becton, Dickinson & Co., and UPS Foundation. The challenges faced during the West Africa Ebola outbreak included severe warehousing and distribution capacity constraints, limited visibility of the overall supply and demand of critical items, access constraints caused by border closures, and a lack of public-private sector coordination resulting in duplicate efforts and an inefficient response. Supply chain logistics are fundamental to any emergency intervention. Inadequate preparedness and response capacity leads to critical delays, costs lives and wastes precious resources. The new information platform will promote timeliness and cost efficiency as well as aid in continuous improvement. NEC was the first Asian company to join the PSC Network, and will focus on designing a logistics visualization system that will enable end-to-end tracking of pandemic response items, such as protective clothing and medical equipment within a country facing an outbreak, helping to ensure quick and appropriate delivery of supplies to people in need.




Energy and safety



This old mine is now British Columbia’s largest solar farm

By Dave Quinn

31 March  2017 – For over a century, the landscape north of Kimberley, British Columbia, was used for intensive industrial hard-rock mining — but now it’s home to the largest solar farm in all of British Columbia. Over the decades, the site of Teck’s (formerly Cominco’s) Sullivan Mine hosted a steel mill, fertilizer plant and tailings ponds, rendering the area tree-less for the foreseeable future. What to do with an elevated, south-facing slope that could never again see natural shade? Ecosmart, a Vancouver-based nonprofit, had a brilliant idea in 2008. Why not mine the sun? (…) The solar potential of the sunny Kootenay region of British Columbia is obvious to residents(…),particularly in Kimberley, a town of 7,500 people at 1,120 meters above sea level (…).Monitoring activities from 2008 to 2010 showed that Kimberley bakes in the sun for more than 2,150 hours per year, and the sun shines on more than 300 days. This makes the south-facing slope in the Teck lands prime solar power real estate. With land and capital contributions from Teck, the Province of B.C. Innovative Clean Energy Fund, and a $2 million loan to the City of Kimberley approved by 76 percent of voters, Kimberley’s SunMine project powered up in June 2015. (…) SunMine is the largest solar tracking facility in Western Canada, the largest solar project in British Columbia and the first solar project in the province to sell power directly into B.C. Hydro’s power grid. After the first full year of operation, the numbers are looking good. The SunMine’s 4,032 solar cells generated 1,681 MWh of electricity, which was just over 87 percent of projected production. (…)



New Global Solar Capacity Outpaced Wind in 2016, IRENA Says

31 March 2017 - Last year marked the first time since 2013 that solar energy growth outpaced wind energy, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Solar saw a record 71 GW of new capacity in 2016, while wind increased by 51 GW.Global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 GW in 2016, making the strongest year ever for new capacity additions and bringing the global total capacity to 2,006 GW, according to the report Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017. “We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said in a March 30 statement. “This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables, which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment.” Asia accounted for 58 percent of new renewable additions in 2016, according to the data, giving it a total of 812 GW or roughly 41 percent of the global capacity. Asia was also the fastest growing region, with a 13.1 percent increase in renewable capacity. Africa installed 4.1 GW of new capacity in 2016, twice as much as 2015.



SyriaThe SRTF launches a new EUR 4.9 million project to repair the medium voltage electricity network of Dar’a Governorate

13 March 2017 – The Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF) Management Unit announced today that the fund’s Management Committee has approved a new “Rehabilitation of the Medium Voltage Grid in selected Areas of Dar’a Governorate” project. At a total cost of EUR 4.9 million, the project aims to address critical problems facing the electricity sector as a result of a vast destruction of the medium voltage grid in the selected areas of Dar'a Governorate. The project is expected to deliver improved and reliant electricity services for approximately 500,000 inhabitants with permanent residence in the moderate opposition-controlled areas of the governorate. Many internally displaced families present in these areas will also benefit from the improved electricity supplies. The project will also provide the beneficiaries with benefits in other sectors such as pumping potable water to residential areas, hospitals, schools.




Environment and wildlife


Norway and FAO launch unique, state-of-the art oceanic research ship
The “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen” will conduct marine science research to support sustainable fisheries, study climate change impacts on oceans

24 March 2017, Oslo/Rome - FAO and Norway have today launched a brand new, state-of-the-art marine studies vessel, among the most advanced of its kind — and the only research ship on the globe that flies the UN flag. Its mission: To investigate some of the planet's least-explored oceans, using cutting-edge technology and sophisticated equipment to help developing countries assemble scientific data critical to sustainable fisheries management and study how a changing climate is affecting our oceans. The new Dr. Fridtjof Nansen — the 3rd ship to bear that name during an ongoing 40-year partnership between FAO and Norway — houses seven different laboratories packed with high tech gadgetry. Since the 1970s, scientists working under the Norwegian-FAO effort aboard Nansen research vessels have collaborated with almost all African coastal countries to help them assess fish populations, survey ocean properties such as temperature, salinity and oxygen content, and sample the seafloor to understand better its nature. Such data is essential for the development of fisheries policies that promote better, more sustainable use of marine resources, which are a major source of food and income for millions of the world's poorest people. Designed by the Norwegian firm Skipsteknisk and built at the Astilleros Gondan shipyard in Spain at a cost of about US$80 million, the Dr Fridtjof Nansen is owned by Norway's Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and operated by IMR.



Kenya: Gripped by drought, 14,000 Kilifi residents get ‘e-water’ access

22 March 2017 – Residents of Kilifi County along the coast of Kenya are bearing the agony of watching their cattle and goats die every day. A biting drought for the last six months has led to the deaths of over 20,000 livestock and left little water for domestic use. The last rainy season in November brought little water, accelerating the crisis. In response, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) commissioned a joint project to address this problem in Jaribuni, a small village in the county. The project will see 14,000 residents in Jaribuni and neighboring villages get access to reliable water at a reduced cost. Water has been tapped from the main pipeline serving Kilifi and neighboring Mombasa County, which get its water from River Sabaki, the second river in Kenya. Using solar power that complements the national grid, the water is then pumped to collection points in the villages. The solar panels – introduced to boost the reliability of the water distribution and lower its cost – have helped overcome the power cuts that hobbled the previous water distribution system. The project has also adopted an innovative system for revenue collection, which community leaders refer to as the first ''e-water'' service in the county. Users buy prepaid tokens from various suppliers and swipe them at the automated tap stands, which then dispense the requested amount of water.



RWANU Supports Sustainable Water Management in Uganda

21March 2017

Promoting Sustainable Water Management for Improved Nutrition and Health in Uganda

Traditionally, people living in southern Karamoja in arid northeastern Uganda have relied on rivers and streams for their water. In recent years, however, unreliable rains and long dry seasons have led to reduced water availability and small harvests, putting vulnerable households at risk of malnutrition. When water is available from these sources, it can be easily contaminated and harbor waterborne disease. In this region, clean water can be scarce—potentially causing conflict within communities.

Efficient Use of Water Resources for Improved Nutrition

To improve the ability of families to grow food, the USAID-funded, ACDI/VOCA-implemented Resilience through Wealth, Agriculture, and Nutrition (RWANU) project trained nearly 3,500 women in the construction and maintenance of keyhole gardens. Keyhole gardens are easy to maintain and require only a small amount of water to flourish. To conserve resources, women can also easily re-use wastewater from household chores to water their plants. To date, RWANU has assisted in the construction of more than 7,000 keyhole gardens across southern Karamoja.




Religion and spirituality


ASIA/PAKISTAN - Planting trees in madrasas and to break fasting together: Christian-Muslim initiatives

30 March 2017 -  Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "Our goal is to encourage and foster a culture of peace, understanding and harmony between religions in Pakistan, especially between Muslims and Christians": says Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. He expresses the spirit of the work of the Catholic community in the aftermath of two initiatives promoted by the Commission: a meeting with several Muslim leaders, in which Christians and Muslims shared iftar, the breaking ceremony of the Islamic fasting, the holy month of Ramadan; the planting of some olive trees in the Islamic district of Markiz Bilal, Lahore, led by imam Shafat Rasool Nuri, which includes a mosque and a madrasa.



ASIA/CHINA - A Lenten journey of interreligious dialogue and spirituality

30 March 2017 - Zheng Zhou (Agenzia Fides) - A Chinese Buddhist monk shares his experience as a pilgrim in India and his great personal devotion to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and shows the medal of the Saint, blessed on the day of her canonization in St. Peter’s square to the young Chinese Catholics: this happened during the interreligious meeting in the parish of the Sacred Heart of the diocese of Zheng Zhou, in the province of He Nan. The initiative is part of the parish Lenten journey, marked by interreligious dialogue in the parish Year of spirituality.



WPPS & URI-Africa Sign Agreement to Promote Culture of Peace in Africa

28 March 2017 - The World Peace Prayer Society (WPPS) and United Religions Initiative-Africa (URI-Africa) signed a partnership agreement to enhance the working partnership at the national, sub-regional and continental levels in Africa to promote a culture of peace.

The objectives of the agreement are:



AMERICA/CHILE - Meeting of Bishops and leaders of the Indigenous Pastoral of the Southern Cone

16 March 2017 - Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - The representatives of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile will be present to share their experiences and pastoral plans from 15 to 17 March, in Santiago, Chile.
The meeting aims to share experiences, criteria and pastoral action lines for the peoples of the American Southern Cone region, in the light of the Latin American and universal Magisterium. CELAM informs that the conference is part of the program of the Culture and Education Department in its work with indigenous peoples and is the second regional meeting to be held in this four-year period.




Culture and education


UNRWA delivers education to 53,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria

4 April 2017 - Its name may not be as well known globally as other United Nations agencies like UNICEF or UNESCO. But UNRWA has been helping Palestinian refugees since 1949. It has educated three generations, or four million refugee children. And it currently provides free education to more than 500,000 children and youth in over 700 schools and training centres. With the Syria crisis now in its seventh year, UNRWA has played a crucial role in ensuring Palestinian refugee children from Syria are able to get a quality education. Its Education in Emergencies (EiE) programme has been working to ensure access to quality education for Palestinian refugees - both in Syria and those whose families fled to neighbouring countries.

UNRWA - whose full title is United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - has released statistics for that work up to March 1.

53,135 children have been supported by UNRWA EiE

101 UNRWA schools are operating in Syria

44 schools are operating in UNRWA facilities

22 recreational spaces for children in Syria

By the end of 2016, 13,739 children accessed self-learning materials through the programme.

UNRWA Director Pierre Krahenbuhl said today: "Despite the dangers and the damages to many of our schools, education services were never interrupted and UNRWA can humbly claim that it truly has left no one behind."



UNESCO supports summer school in Germany to share insights on plastics in aquatic environments

31 March 2017 - Among the multiple human pressures on aquatic ecosystems is plastic litter. Increasingly detected and quantified in marine and freshwater systems, there is growing concern about the potential negative effect of plastics. The UNESCO Regional Bureau for science and Culture in Europe is supporting the Summer School on Plastics in Marine and Freshwater Environments to take place on 16-21 July 2017 at the German Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz, Germany. The summer school will provide the state of the art in research, measures and management options of plastics in marine and freshwater environments. Thereby, the focus of the school will be to initiate an international network of scientists, politicians and other experts in this field, in order to share insights into the current (country specific) situation, discuss related challenges and enhance collaboration opportunities in the future. The summer school will include topics such as: Awareness raising; Education and capacity development; Monitoring and management (regulations); Impact and risk assessment (societal, economic etc.); and, Plastics industry.

The Summer School will brings together scientists, young professionals, experts from different governmental authorities and technicians from the water and environmental sector from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.



EUROPE/SPAIN - "A toy, an illusion": solidarity initiative for children in Africa, Asia and Latin America

30 March 2017 - Madrid (Agenzia Fides) - The campaign "A toy, an illusion" will be committed to sending, in the coming months, 350,000 new toys to children in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as games and educational materials in schools, childhood centers and hospitals. The initiave was disseminated by Radio Nacional de España (RNE) and the Fundación Crecer Jugando, organizers of the event based on the concept # DevuelveEl31, referring to Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thanks to the collaboration with NGOs and institutes engaged in various cooperation projects for children, the children of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Panama, Honduras, Algeria, Benin, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Jordan will receive the toys. The campaign will send musical instruments, costumes, trucks, dolls and balls, to every Country mentioned and will deliver games that encourage community activities. Since its establishment in 2000, according to data of the XVII edition, the solidarity initiative has delivered about 6.5 million toys. (AP)



Mobile solutions to empower, educate refugees and displaced persons take spotlight at UN forum

28 March 2017 – Several initiatives to improve learning through mobile technologies were presented during the Mobile Learning Week 2017, a recently-concluded five-day event held at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).Mobile Learning Week, which wrapped up last Friday, gathered hands-on education specialists, private sector and policy makers, and focused on the theme ‘Education in Emergencies and Crises.’



An Internet Governance Glossary for Arabic language speakers to enhance international cooperation

27 March 2017 The Internet Governance Glossary (IGG) for Arabic speakers is launched to facilitate their participation and dialogue on the use of Arabic language on the Internet, in an effective and coherent manner. The empirical evidence demonstrates that some linguistic communities could have limited opportunities to be engaged in international debates, such as the debate on internet governance, if they are not supported with suitable language tools. These communities are likely to face complications in formulating and articulating their position, contributing to debates and transmitting their messages. The IGG is a noticeable outcome of a joint project of UNESCO, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the International Centre for Terminology (INFOTERM). The IGG is a language tool which includes more than two hundreds terms and provides concrete recommendations for the further application of the language tool at the national and regional levels. The overall initiatives of UNESCO on the promotion of multilingualism in cyberspace are undertaken by the Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, which is responsible as well for the realization of the concept of knowledge societies that are built on the key principles of inclusion, openness, diversity and pluralism.



Building peace requires culture, education – message of historic UN Security Council resolution

24 March 2017 – Univocally condemning unlawful destruction and pillaging of cultural heritage such as religious sites and artefacts, the United Nations Security Council today adopted an historic resolution that is expected to strengthen protections for such heritage during armed conflicts where they are most vulnerable. Today’s briefing by Ms. Bokova to the Security Council was the first time a head of UNESCO has been invited in that capacity. In her briefing, she explained that since the adoption of Resolution 2199 (in 2015), which prohibits trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria, efforts were well-underway to disrupt terrorist financing through the illicit trafficking of antiquities.
Through the newly-adopted resolution, the Security Council also underlined that such destruction can hamper post-conflict reconciliation, undermine economic and cultural development and, that, in certain conditions, could constitute a war crime.




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Next issue: 12 May 2017.


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, Community of Living Ethics, Elisa Minelli. Webmaster, media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations, NGOs, service associations, high schools and colleges as well as over 26,000 Rotarians around 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.


* 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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