Good News Agency – Year III, n° 14



Weekly - Year III, number 14 – 12 July 2002

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.

Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a non-governmental organization associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. 



International legislationHuman rightsPeace and safetyEconomy and development

 SolidarityHealthEnvironment and wildlifeCulture and education

11 July, World Population Day: UN Secretary-General stresses reproductive health



International legislation



ILO welcomes new foundation to eliminate abusive child and forced labour practices in cocoa farming

Geneva, 1 July - The International Labour Office (ILO) today welcomed the establishment of a new initiative to fight child labour and adult forced labour in cocoa cultivation and processing.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said the establishment of the International Cocoa Initiative - Working Towards Responsible Labour Standards for Cocoa Growing, would support the ILO global campaign to bring good working practices to the cocoa industry. The agreement establishing the Foundation in Geneva was signed by representatives of the world's chocolate, biscuit and confectionery industries, the International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF), Child Labour Coalition, "Free the Slaves" and the National Consumers League (NCL). ()

As part of its earlier commitments, the ILO helped along the process of setting up the Foundation which will oversee and sustain efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products.

The Foundation will provide financial and operational support to field projects and act as a clearinghouse for best practices that help eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the growing of cocoa. (…)



Human rights



In a 'milestone’, UN Human Rights Agency to open office in Mexico

New York, July 2 - In what it described as an "an important milestone," the United Nations human rights agency has reached an agreement with the Government of Mexico to open an office in the country to focus on such issues as torture, indigenous rights and the administration of justice. Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who signed the accord yesterday with Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, said the new office was part of an ambitious programme for her agency and Mexico.

"Our hope is that it will help the government and civil society analyze the human rights situation in depth so as to tackle the problems that still plague the country," said Mrs. Robinson, who was in Mexico on her third visit. "The commitment is there, but there will have to be implementation if we are to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Mexicans."

The new rights office will work with the government and civil society to pinpoint problems and help lay down a national human rights programme.

The technical cooperation programme with Mexico will enter its second phase in August. Mrs. Robinson and President Vicente Fox signed an initial agreement in December 2000.


Delivering a Social Europe: the test for the Danish Presidency

1 July – Social Platform submitted its resolution to the Danish EU Presidency today. The Platform highlighted the challenges for the next six months and called upon the Danish Presidency to take a lead in delivering a socially inclusive Europe, free of discrimination and based upon the guarantee of fundamental rights for all.(…)

The Social Platform urged the Danish government to take a lead in the following issues:

Ø                   The draft framework directive on services of general interest, to be presented by the European Commission to the European Council by the end of the year, should include measures to guarantee the delivery of quality social services in the face of de-regulation

Ø                   The public procurement directive due to be adopted before the end of the year should include strong social clauses.

Ø                   As part of the Open Method of Coordination on pensions, the Presidency should encourage Member States to respect the need for pension systems to be based upon solidarity, equality of rights, and adequate income guarantees to enable older people to live in dignity.

The White Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility should make concrete proposals for re-inforcing the responsibility of enterprises to take measures to fight social exclusion and discrimination.


ILO finds "encouraging signs of improvement" in working conditions in Cambodian garment factories

Geneva, 1 July - The International Labour Office (ILO) today reported "encouraging signs of improvement" of working conditions in some 30 garment factories located in Cambodia which produce apparel for sale in North America, Europe and other developed countries.

The "Third Synthesis Report on the Working Conditions Situation in Cambodia's Garment Sector" provides an overview of progress made by the factories in implementing suggestions made by ILO monitors. The monitoring was done under a technical cooperation project established following an agreement signed in January 1999 by the governments of Cambodia and the United States and amended on 31 December 2001. ()

The latest three-year trade agreement on textile products offers a possible 18 per cent annual increase in Cambodia's export entitlements to the United States, provided the Government of Cambodia supports the implementation of a programme to improve working conditions in the textile and apparel sector, including internationally-recognized core labour standards, through the application of Cambodian labour law. ()



Peace and safety



Armenia/Azerbaijan: Spreading mine awareness in the Nagorny Karabakh territory

28 June - The ICRC has held a two-day seminar on mine awareness for 10 civil defence workers. The seminar, organized in conjunction with Nagorny Karabakh's emergency-rescue service, prepared the participants to train local volunteers from mine-affected communities in methods of making the rural population more aware of the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance.

The event is the result of a cooperation agreement for 2002 signed by the ICRC and the rescue service. It is aimed at further developing the region's mine-awareness programme, especially as regards agricultural workers.

The ICRC began spreading the word in Nagorny Karabakh on the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance in 1998. Since 2000, it has worked closely with the Karabakhi authorities and the rescue service to raise awareness among the population of rural areas. One means of warning about the danger is to set up billboards on the subject, which have been placed in and around 46 communities, reaching over 40,000 people.


Youth launch Japanese-language website for anti-landmine Campaigners

Washington, DC, USA, 24 June - Japanese youth anti-landmine campaigners and the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) globally launched the Japanese Youth Action Forum website today at

The Japanese Youth Action Forum includes: news about youth-related events; Information about the landmines issue and available resources; Information about taking action (coming soon); Online Youth Against War Treaty; Calendar of events and a mailing list. (…)

In some countries up to one third of landmine victims are children. Young people in Japan and around the world, whether landmine survivors or concerned citizens, have been taking action to ensure that no more children fall prey to these insidious weapons.



Economy and development



UN Agency launches awards to recognize contribution to human development

New York, July 3  - The United Nations Development Programme today announced the launch of the 2002 UNDP Awards for Human Development, which recognizes the critical role people play in national and regional development processes.

Among the awards, which are to be conferred in December at a ceremony in New York, will be the Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development, named after the pioneer of that concept and the founder of the global Human Development Report. The prize will be presented to a world leader who has most successfully put human development at the heart of the political agenda. (…) Others awards will be presented for excellence in quality of analysis, policy impact, a participatory and inclusive process, human development innovations and support of the Millennium Development Goals. (…)


New irrigation techniques boost Syrian farmers' incomes

3 July -  Farmers in Syria — many of them women — are making efficient use of water to increase their tomato, peach, wheat, cotton and other harvests.

A UNDP project, in cooperation with the Government, has supplied farmers with sprinklers, drip irrigation equipment and training to expand use of modern irrigation techniques. Farmers also learn to use treated waste water — including agricultural drainage and sewerage — for irrigation.

Agriculture consumes about 85 per cent of Syria's available water, making it a priority sector for promoting more efficient water use. (…)

More than 100 technical staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and its subsidiary agencies have studied the use of treated waste water under the project. They in turn taught farmers to use the water with crops and the precautions needed. Representatives of the Peasants' Union participated in demonstrations and training to encourage farmers to use the new techniques. (…)

UNDP allocated US$278,000 for the project and the Government contributed $150,000 in cost-sharing funds and the equivalent of $150,000 in local currency for the revolving fund for irrigation equipment.


Cote d’Ivoire: ADB approves loan to support rural development

Abidjan, 3 July - The African Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of about US $20.4 million to finance a rural development project in eastern Cote d'Ivoire, the bank said in a news release on Tuesday. It said the aims of the Middle Comoe Rural Development Support Project (MC-RDSP) project included increasing on a sustainable basis the productivity of coffee and cocoa, the country's two main crops, and diversifying agricultural production in the Middle Comoe region. The MC-RDSP also aims to reduce poverty in rural areas and to improve the living conditions of about 237,000 rural inhabitants of the region.

The project was expected to promote the recovery of the agricultural economy in Middle Comoe and help increase the incomes of about 12,400 farmers, the ADB said.


Tanzania: Food security outlook good, says WFP

Nairobi, Kenya, 2 July - Tanzania's food prospects for this year appear to be favourable, despite earlier concerns that increased maize exports to neighbouring countries to the south would trigger a severe food shortage crisis, humanitarian sources said. (…)

A combination of a series of good harvests and stocks held by farmers and traders, as well as those in the government's Strategic Grain Reserve, along with adequate supplies of water and forage, had significantly improved the country's food security outlook, USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) said in its latest report. However, it warned that isolated regions in northern Tanzania could be susceptible to a food shortage because of the unfavourable performance of the short and the long rains season in the 2001/02 production year. (…)


Pakistan: USAID back after nearly a decade

1 July - The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will reopen its office in Pakistan in July, a senior Pakistani official confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday, following a meeting between government and US officials in the capital, Islamabad. "There will be an initial funding of US $25 million and this figure is likely to be doubled in the future," the official, who wished to remain anonymous, said. The main areas to be covered by USAID would be education and health, he added. Tuesday's announcement followed a meeting between the Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and USAID's Mark Ward, who will be officially appointed as the new country director for Pakistan in early July.


First Arab Human Development Report spotlights gains against poverty

2 July - The Arab Human Development Report 2002, launched in Cairo, Egypt, today, highlights the substantial human development achieved by the 22 Arab states with their 280 million people over the past three decades, while also focusing on the challenges that the region still faces.  Life expectancy in the region has increased by 15 years, the report says, while mortality rates of children under five have fallen by two-thirds, and adult literacy has almost doubled. Moreover, the region's growth has been "pro-poor," and as a result there is much less abject poverty defined as an income of less than a dollar a day than in any other developing region in the world.

But the report also says that much still needs to be done to provide people in the region with the political voice, social choices and economic opportunities they need for a better future. It outlines the challenges faced by the Arab states in strengthening personal and institutional freedoms and boosting broad-based citizen participation in political and economic affairs.

The report, commissioned by UNDP and written by experts from the Arab world, is the first of its kind for the region. (…)

Debt relief for the DR of Congo

The African Development Bank and the African Development Fund jointly approved a mechanism designed to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) clear arrears of US $800 million owed to them. The bank's approval follows similar action by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, "paving the way for the re-engagement of the DRC with the international financial institutions and the international donor community", the African bank reported.


ESCWA to Hold Fourth Session of the Committee on Social Development, 3-5 July 2002

With the aim of providing a forum for its member countries to discuss proposals and recommendations related to the Work Programme of the Social Development Division, the Division is organizing the Fourth Session of the Committee on Social Development at UN House, Beirut from 3-5 July 2002.

The meeting aims to identify the means of addressing the different themes related to Integrated Social Policies in ESCWA's programmes and activities, including: Women Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming; Urban Development and Housing Policies and the provision of Social Statistics. ESCWA will present an overview of activities of the Social Development Division including cooperation and technical assistance that has been provided to member countries since the Third Session of the ESCWA Committee on Social Development (-27-28 March 2001). Based on comprehensive national reports, representatives of ESCWA member countries will provide overviews of developments, obstacles encountered and future plans on the national level relating to issues of social development.






DR of Congo: UN food agency to resume airlifts to feed war victims

New York, July  3 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it was resuming emergency airlift operations - its third in the past year - for thousands of people trapped by war in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). WFP said the operation would enable the agency to transport food to at least 24,000 people in the northern Katanga province, which remains cut off by war. (…)

When the war that started in 1998 spilled into Katanga, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes and sought refuge in the bush. The deployment of UN peacekeeping forces encouraged thousands to emerge from their rural hiding places and seek aid in urban centres.

The current WFP airlift, costing $950,000, will provide 1,100 tons of urgently needed maize meal, pulses, corn soya blend, vegetable oil, sugar and salt to feeding centres in eight villages.


Iran: US quake assistance arrives

Islamabad, Pakistan, 3 July  - A US-chartered plane carrying 45 mt of humanitarian assistance for victims of last week's devastating earthquake in northwestern Iran arrived in the capital, Tehran, on Tuesday afternoon, a UN official confirmed to IRIN. This is the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that Tehran, which has no diplomatic ties with Washington, has accepted humanitarian governmental aid.

"This is the first donation that we have received specifically for our earthquake response," Luc Chauvin, a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in Tehran, told IRIN. "We welcome this substantial donation from the US government, which is well needed in the field," he added. UNICEF will hand over the aid to the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the Ministry of Interior and monitor its distribution. (…) The goods, which were valued at US $300,000, came from the governmental United States Agency for International Development.

UNICEF has already donated 20 mt of humanitarian aid placed in the country for the Afghan crisis as part of the effort and is continuing to provide assistance to victims. (…)


ADRA responds to flooding in Argentina

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, July 1 - Since late May, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Argentina has been distributing emergency food supplies to nearly 4,000 people who have been affected by flooding in the northern part of the country. Heavy rains that began in mid-April caused the worse flooding in 90 years. Eighty percent of the city of Presidente Roque Saenz Pena was affected, and many crops in the surrounding region were destroyed. (…)

Until August 2002, ADRA Argentina volunteers will be distributing boxes of food to families who have been identified as being in greatest need in Presidente Roque Saenz Pena. The food items include wheat flour, maize (corn) flour, sugar, rice, spaghetti, vegetable oil, salt, and powdered milk. ADRA International, ADRAs regional office for South America, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Argentina, and ADRA Argentina have allocated funding for this relief project.


WFP launches relief operation for 2.1 million indonesians gripped by poverty, displacement

Jakarta, 1 July – With more than one million internally displaced people in Indonesia now competing with a growing urban poor underclass for survival, the World Food Programme is launching a $65-million relief operation to ease the country’s grave humanitarian crisis.

The WFP operation, running from 1 July to 31 December 2003, will help 2.1 million Indonesians who face the highest risk of hunger and malnutrition because of the spiralling costs of food, petrol and other commodities during a period of slow economic recovery.

“The operation is designed to solve at least one problem for these people -- getting enough to eat -- so they can grapple more effectively with serious setbacks of poverty, unemployment and poor health,” said Mohamed Saleheen, WFP Country Director for Indonesia. (…)

WFP first worked in Indonesia from 1963 to 1996 in both emergency and long-term development settings. In 1998 WFP returned to Indonesia to provide emergency and protracted relief assistance. Until the new relief operation begins, WFP is providing complementary assistance with the Government of Indonesia to 1.8 million people, including 300,000 IDPs.


Sierra Leone: ICRC finishes distributing aid to needy farmers

28 June - Over the past two months the ICRC has successfully carried out a massive distribution of seed, farm tools and other items essential for the survival of over 40,000 vulnerable farming families in the Kono and Kailahun districts of eastern Sierra Leone. Working in cooperation with the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, the ICRC began planning this operation in June 2001. The objective was to boost the limited resources of farmers returning to their homes now that the fighting has ended, and provide them with the means to resume food production as soon as possible. ()

The ICRC worked in close cooperation with the Sierra Leonean agriculture ministry and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to procure seed meeting the ministry's standards. In addition, an agreement was reached with the World Food Programme to provide beneficiaries with one-month food rations to ensure that the seed was planted and not eaten. This distribution, which was the largest ever undertaken in eastern Sierra Leone, should help meet the ICRC's 2002 objective of reducing the suffering of the most vulnerable people.


Ronaldo, Zidane and African footballers campaign against poverty

28 June - Football star Ronaldo (…) and Zinédine Zidane, another football great, are joining in a call as Goodwill Ambassadors for UNDP for global action against poverty.

In a related initiative, Web surfers can sign a virtual banner to support an appeal by UNDP and the African Football Confederation to help Africa overcome poverty. The banner, woven and decorated in Mali in a traditional African style, is the centrepiece of a campaign coinciding with the World Cup for more international aid and urging people to take action against poverty, such as volunteering to give literacy training and buying 'fair trade' products. (…)

 The message from Ronaldo and Zidane has appeared in more than 150 publications in Europe and across Asia. The two stars are part of Teams to End Poverty, a global partnership initiated by UNDP to generate awareness about the toll of poverty in all its dimensions and mobilize action against it. (…)


New projects help communities near Kazakhstan nuclear test site

27 June - Three new projects funded by Japan are underway to help communities recover from a legacy of environmental damage and poverty left by 40 years of nuclear weapons testing in the Semipalatinsk Region of Kazakhstan.

The Soviet Union detonated more than 500 nuclear devices there between 1949 and 1989.

The projects will support entrepreneurs, small loans for poor women and small grants for community organizations and other civil society groups. UNDP is carrying out the projects in close cooperation with the Semipalatinsk local government.

The international community began mobilizing support for the region's recovery in recent years.

Japan has contributed US$1.1 million for the three projects to the Trust Fund for the Semipalatinsk Relief and Rehabilitation Programme that UNDP established for the Government of Kazakhstan to facilitate contributions and ensure transparency and accountability. Such projects draw on UNDP experience in Kazakhstan and the expertise of the UNDP global network. (…)


Rotary volunteers provide reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft palate

Barcelona, Spain, 24 June - Seeing a child smile for the first time is priceless. Hundreds of Rotary volunteers get to experience this every year by participating in a volunteer medical project called Rotaplast - Rotary Plastic Surgery - that has worked to restore the physical and emotional lives of impoverished children through free reconstructive surgery for more than 10 years. Nearly 4,000 children have been helped at a cost of US$20 million in donated medical services. (…)

The number of countries hosting Rotaplast teams includes Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Vietnam and the Philippines. The program has been able to expand due to the support of hundreds of medical and non-medical volunteers who give their time, and organizations such as hospitals and medical equipment companies which give supplies. An average of over one hundred children are helped on each mission.

Rotaplast began in 1994 as a project of the Rotary Club of San Francisco. In 2002, Rotaplast will send 450 volunteers to 14 sites, treating almost 1,500 children.


DR Congo: UN sets aside US $67,600 for Ikela residents

Nairobi, Kenya, 2 July - The UN has set aside US $67,600 for a two-year project to distribute seeds directly to 1,800 people, and indirectly to the entire population of the Ikela area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's northern Equateur Province, after completion of a pilot phase, Noel Tsekouras, an official of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN on Tuesday. He said the project, from which the entire local population would benefit, should improve the food security situation and support economic recovery in Ikela, where some 75 percent of the residents are farmers.

Ikela is under government-control, but has been inaccessible to the humanitarian community for two years because of fighting between government and rebel forces, and because of Kinshasa's refusal to authorise access to the area. (…)

Meanwhile, CARITAS has announced the completion of its drive, funded by the UN Children's Fund, to distribute medicines and train health personnel at the health centres of Boende, Bokungu, Befale, Djolu and Ikela.






Central Asia: Former soviet republics polio free

Islamabad, 3 July - The international fight against the paralysing disease polio, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is being won in the five Central Asia countries, though more work needs to be done in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan. (…)

WHO officials told IRIN that the five Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - were certified polio-free by the world health body last week. "Its a major achievement," a WHO official told IRIN from Kyrgyzstan. For certification a country must confirm that there had been no polio case in three consecutive years.

The WHO has been carrying out these programmes all around the world with the help of local health authorities and UNICEF with the aim of eradicating the disease globally by 2005. (…)

WHO officials say that polio cases decreased by 99.8 percent to 600 in 2001 from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988, when the global programme was launched.


Burkina Faso: World Bank to fund anti-AIDS campaign

Ouagadougou, 3 July - The World Bank agreed on Wednesday to provide funding to the sum of US $856,944 for anti-AIDS campaigns over the next six months in seven of Burkina Faso's 31 ministries. The agreement was signed in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, by the Bank's representative in the West African country, Jean Mazurel, and Joseph Tiendrebeogo, permanent secretary of the National Council against HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The money will be used for activities such as prevention, sensitisation and care for the infected workers in the ministries of: environment and well-being; agriculture and water resources; defence; basic education and literacy; animal resources; the promotion of women; and secondary and higher education. (…)


World AIDS Campaign 2002-2003

Stigma and discrimination is the theme of the two-year World AIDS Campaign 2002-2003

Stigma and discrimination are the major obstacles to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Fear of discrimination may prevent people from seeking treatment for AIDS or from acknowledging their HIV status publicly. People with, or suspected of having, HIV may be turned away from health care services, denied housing and employment, shunned by their friends and colleagues, turned down for insurance coverage or refused entry into foreign countries. In some cases, they may be evicted from home by their families, divorced by their spouses, and suffer physical violence or even murder. The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS may extend into the next generation, placing an emotional burden on children who may also be trying to cope with the death of their parents from AIDS.

With its focus on stigma and discrimination, the Campaign will encourage people to break the silence and the barriers to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Only by confronting stigma and discrimination will the fight against HIV/AIDS be won.


Beginning of construction work on new WHO/UNAIDS building

Geneva, 28 June - The design for a new World Health Organization (WHO)/Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) building has been unanimously selected following an international design contest. The new construction which will be built with the generous support of the Swiss Government and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, will house the new headquarters of UNAIDS. The building will be constructed on a site adjoining the WHO headquarters ("Les Crêts de Pregny") in Geneva and will create 480 new workplaces over an area of almost 14,000m2. Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2005.

The jury unanimously selected a design entitled "Permeability" by Austrian architects Baumschlager & Eberle as the winner of the competition.

The competition was organized by the Foundation of Buildings for International Organizations (FIPOI), with the collaboration of the Federal Office for Construction and Logistics (OFCL). Ten architectural firms from seven countries were selected by the Jury to participate in the competition.


South Africa: campaign against drug abuse

28 June - South Africa celebrated the International Day Against Drug Abuse on Wednesday with the launch of a pilot drug awareness campaign aimed at helping people overcome the pressure to take drugs. The "Ke Moja" or "No Thanks, I'm fine" campaign aims to provide people with the knowledge to make the right decision, UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODCCP) Southern Africa Representative, Rob Boone, said at the launch of the initiative in the South African capital, Pretoria.



Environment and wildlife



Sustainable Tourism Council created in Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil, 3 July - Environmentalists, tourism businessmen, and experts from all over the country met in São Paulo on 2829 June to officially found the Brazilian Sustainable Tourism Council (CBTS is the acronym in Portuguese). The mission of the new organization is to promote sustainable tourism in Brazil by establishing an independent certification system, with social and environmental quality standards which are appropriate to Brazil. (…)

The chief goal of certification of sustainable tourism is the identification and characterization of tourism's activity components and products of the tourism trade which are environmentally adequate, economically viable, and socially just. After careful evaluation, certifiers will vouch for such qualities by issuing a label. Such certification plays a valuable role in the identification of sustainable tourism activities and encourages greater responsibility and competitiveness in the tourism trade. The seal, a marketing label, will be issued only to business that reach a certain efficiency and performance standard, thus allowing consumers to identify the suppliers of responsible service. (…)


Eritrea: conversion to eco-friendly traditional stoves

Asmara, 1 July - An innovative scheme to convert 500,000 traditional injera stoves across Eritrea will cut thousands of tons of carbon emissions each year and help to conserve the country's precious supply of firewood. (…) The ministry estimates that each new stove reduces carbon emissions by 0.6 of a ton annually and saves 366 kg of firewood per household each year. The government hopes that every one of the 500,000 households currently thought to own a stove in Eritrea will convert to the new style.   If this happens the environmental savings would be enormous. The health benefits are also significant. Without the thick smoke pouring into their kitchens, women and children are less likely to suffer from the respiratory diseases and eye problems that affected many who used the old stoves.

The new mogoggo is already proving popular. In a scheme run by the government and backed by small grants from the British Embassy, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, and non-governmental organisations, dozens are being built in villages around the country every week. More than 5,000 households have already converted. (…)


IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network) - UNIDO Conference for Skillshare to NGOs working on POPs - Arusha, Tanzania, 15 - 19 July 2002 

Hosted by the AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development, the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) is a worldwide network of over 350 NGOs active in POPs issues.  For the Africa region over 130 NGOs have subscribed.  The Conference will address issues related to the role of NGOs implementing the POPs Convention.  Participation is invited particularly by NGOs that provide support in cleaner production and sustainable use of pesticides, policy implementation and media and communication strategies, community monitoring and toxic loading, as well as aid to community and information dissemination. UNIDO will provide assistance to NGOs in order to develop and implement the National Implementation Plans in countries where UNIDO is involved. Support to the Conference includes participation of the African NCPCs, preparation of promotional material and finalizing the proceedings of the Conference. Other regional conferences will be planned for similar promotion for NGOs to get involved in the implementation of the POPs Convention. A registration form is available at the IPEN site. More info: Mohamed Eisa, Tel. (+431) 26026-4261,  E-mail:



Culture and education



International media seminar in Copenhagen on question of peace in Middle East

9 July - The question of peace in the Middle East will be the subject of an international media seminar organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) on 17 and 18 July in Copenhagen, Denmark. Co-hosted by the Foreign Ministry of Denmark, the two-day meeting will bring together present and former policy-makers from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and European Union, as well as senior United Nations officials, international experts, and representatives of the world media. (…)

Under the overall theme of “Ending confrontation:  Building peace in the Middle East,” the seminar will provide a forum for media representatives and international experts to discuss the lessons learned since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993.  Participants will discuss the issues that continue to divide the Israelis and Palestinians and the role of third parties, especially the United Nations, in restoring confidence and building trust.  A separate session will be devoted to discussing the role of the media as a partner for peace.

Source: UN Information Centre, Rome


European recognition of non-formal education?

From the 4th till the 7th of July 2002, European students and NGOs’ representatives are gathering in Tartu (Estonia) to discuss the future of European education. The international conference “Non-Formal education and the Role of NGOs” is organized by European Students’ Forum (AEGEE) in the framework of EURECA – European Students’ Campaign.

Students from Youth NGOs and students’ unions are coming to Tartu on the 4th of July for a European conference “Non-Formal education and the Role of NGOs”. They will be accompanied by university professors and representatives of municipalities and European Institutions. (…)

The conference is organized in a framework of EURECA – European Education Campaign, the leading project of AEGEE in the year 2002. Its aim is to present, by the end of the year, a draft of a new education program for Europe. EURECA has already received support of Members of European Parliament: Lissy Groener, Roy Perry, Luis Marinho, Christa Randzio-Plath; College of Europe and Klaus Landfried, President of the German Rector's Conference. The media partner of the project is EurActiv.


Ghanaian doctor honoured with UN Population Award

New York, July 1 - In a ceremony held at UN Headquarters in New York, Dr. Kwasi Odoi-Agyarko, Executive Director of Rural Help Integrated in Ghana, was presented with the UN Population Award for his outstanding leadership and achievements in promoting community-based reproductive health services in his country. His organization - located in the Upper East Region, one of Ghana's poorest and least accessible, and one that faces issues such as female circumcision - provides culturally sensitive reproductive health care in a model project that has received international attention for its scope and quality. Dr. Odoi-Agyarko has also integrated the RHI model into the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana and has made substantial progress towards the promotion of women to leadership positions.


Next AVSO Partnership Building Seminar

The next AVSO (Association of Voluntary Service Organisations) partnership building and training seminar takes place outside Prague 16-20th October 2002.  It is organised within the framework of the large-scale project promoting voluntary service in Central and Eastern Europe.  The event expects to attract 60 organisations, approximately half from candidate countries to the EU. (…)


800-year-old afghan minaret heads 9 properties named to UN World Heritage List

New York, June 27 - An 800-year-old minaret in Afghanistan, threatened by erosion and vandalism, heads a register of nine natural and cultural properties named to the World Heritage List today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The 65-metre Minaret of Jam, in west-central Afghanistan, was among the sites designated of "outstanding universal value" by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Budapest for its 26th session. (…)

The other sites designated today include the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and the historic centres of Stralsund and Wismar in Germany, the Saint Catherine area in Egypt and the Tokaji wine region cultural landscape in Hungary. India's Mahabodhi Temple complex at Bodhgaya and Italy's late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto were also placed on the UNESCO List, along with the ancient Maya city of Calakmul (Campeche) in Mexico and the historic inner city of Paramaribo in Suriname. (…)



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Reproductive health a key tool in wider battle against poverty, UN Secretary-General says in message for Population Day, 11 July



Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for World Population Day, 11 July:


   The theme of this year's World Population Day, "Reducing Poverty -- Improving Reproductive Health", focuses on the role of family planning, safe motherhood and the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the global fight against the squalor and despair that plague so many members of the human family.

   Eight years ago, at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the nations of the world committed themselves to the goal of providing universal access to reproductive health services by the year of 2015 as part of a larger package aimed at empowering women, promoting gender equality, slowing and eventually stabilizing population growth, and fostering sustainable development.

   Since then, improved levels of schooling, higher survival rates of children, and better access to reproductive health services including voluntary family planning have helped to advance the Cairo agenda. Birth rates are dropping faster than expected in several large developing countries, and global population growth is slowing.

   This virtuous circle in turn makes further progress possible. When individuals and couples are given a real choice, many decide to have smaller, healthier families and invest more in each child's future. And because there are fewer dependents to support, the downturn in fertility translates into potential economic growth within a generation. East Asia took advantage of this demographic bonus in the 1980s. Other regions where poverty is widespread, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, could enjoy the same benefits by putting in place economic and social policies that call for greater investments in health and education.

   Even though global population growth is slowing, there will still be a billion more people in the developing world by 2015. And the most rapid growth is occurring in the world's least developed countries, where the population is expected to triple over the next 50 years from 658 million to 1.8 billion. Already, these countries are least able to provide basic services and among the most severely challenged by hunger, HIV/AIDS, water scarcity and environmental degradation.

   On this World Population Day, let us recognize reproductive health as one of the key tools in the wider battle against poverty. And let us resolve to mobilize the resources and the political will to work for reproductive health as a means to building a healthier, stronger, more prosperous human family.


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Next issue: 26 July 2002



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