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Good News Agency

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

monthly, year 15th, no. 234 –  10th April 2015


Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities.

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




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

How to recognize women’s leadership


International legislation


Preventing crime to build sustainable development: Crime Congress 2015

April 2 - Every five years policy-makers and practitioners working in crime prevention and criminal justice gather for the United Nations Crime Congress to help shape the agenda and standards of the UN in this area. The Thirteenth Crime Congress being held in Doha, Qatar, from 12-19 April 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of these meetings and is set to consider how best to integrate these important areas into the United Nations' global work in addressing social and economic challenges.

The Crime Congress is the world's largest and most diverse gathering of Governments, civil society, academia and experts in crime prevention and criminal justice. For the past six decades the congresses have had an impact on policies and strengthened international cooperation against the global threat of transnational organized crime. As a global forum, UN Crime Congresses enable the exchange of information and best practices among States and professionals working in this field.



Tribunal throws lifeline to coastal states facing foreign vessel threats to fisheries

April 2, Gland, Switzerland – Countries facing depletion of their fisheries by foreign vessels have been thrown a lifeline, with an international tribunal ruling that countries can be held liable for not taking necessary measures to prevent illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing operations by their vessels in the waters of other countries. The ruling is included in an Advisory Opinion issued today by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the application of the West African Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) – comprised of Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in coastal waters costs the world between $US 10-20 billion annually, undermines fisheries management and robs coastal communities of food and livelihoods.

West African waters are believed to have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37% of the region’s catch.



ICC welcomes Palestine as a new State Party

1 April - The International Criminal Court (ICC) held a ceremony on 1 April 2015 at the seat of the Court in The Hague (the Netherlands) to welcome the State of Palestine as the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty. The ceremony was held in the presence of the President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, a number of ICC Judges, ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart and ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel.

Vice-President Kuniko Ozaki stated: "Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step. As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly." The President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, declared that "such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all."

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said: "As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice. Indeed, today brings us closer to our shared goals of justice and peace."



Paraguay ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions

March 25 – The Republic of Paraguay became the 90th State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, having deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 12 March 2015. The Convention will enter into force for Paraguay on 1 September 2015.

The Cluster Munition Coalition congratulates Paraguay on its ratification and encourages it to actively promote the universalization of the Convention by inviting all states not party to join the Convention, in particular Latin American and Caribbean countries that have not yet renounced cluster munitions.

Paraguay does not use, produce, transfer or stockpile cluster munitions.

The Cluster Munition Coalition supports the call by Costa Rica Presidency of the Convention in aiming to increase membership of the Convention to 100 States Parties by the time of the First Review Conference of the Convention which will be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia in early September 2015.




Human rights


A new step against sexual violence in Northeast India

March 28 – An ethnic armed group from Manipur, Northeast India, the Kuki National Organization (KNO), affirmed its policy to strictly prohibit and punish any act of sexual violence perpetrated by its members. It made its commitment concrete by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination on 22 March 2015.This signature must be considered as a preventive as well as an exemplary measure in a country where acts of sexual violence are unfortunately common. In 2013 alone, 33,707 cases of rape against women, which is only one form of sexual violence, were reported in India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

In addition to this commitment, the KNO also signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. By signing this Deed, it commits to ban the use of children in hostilities and better protect them from conflict related violence. The KNO is the second armed group in India to make this commitment.   Geneva Call will provide training material to support the group’s efforts to disseminate the obligations of the Deeds to its rank-and-file.



Niger: Humanitarian law manual for armed forces

March 25, Niamey – An instruction manual on international humanitarian law was officially presented today to Niger's Ministry of National Defence. It was drafted by the country's defence and security forces with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Since 2003 the ICRC has been helping Niger's forces in their efforts to promote humanitarian law, include its rules in their training and military doctrine, and incorporate it into the process of planning and carrying out operations.

The armed forces are engaged in a number of defence and security operations in Niger. They face a variety of challenges, many arising from the violence afflicting several neighbouring countries. Moreover Niger is a major contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations, in particular in Mali and Côte d'Ivoire. Since early February its forces have carried out operations in Diffa, an area deep in south-eastern Niger, where they are fighting armed groups active on both sides of the border with Nigeria.



UN's Ban welcomes Tonga ratification of key gender equality convention

March 21 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the Government of Tonga for its decision to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, otherwise known as CEDAW.

In a statement issued earlier today, Mr. Ban's spokesperson said the Secretary-General applauded Tonga's announcement as the Pacific island nation would soon join “the global movement to empower women and achieve gender equality” while holding itself to the UN-backed universal standards.




Economy and development


Countries pledge to wipe out sheep and goat plague globally
Worldwide campaign aims for complete eradication of Peste de Petits Ruminants by 2030

April 2, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire- High-level authorities from 15 countries pledged on Thursday to collaborate on a global plan to wipe out forever the devasting animal disease known as ‘Peste des petits ruminants' by 2030, a lethal plague for goats and sheep and the scourge of rural households in vast swathes of the developing world.

Ministerial delegations, along with more than 300 participants from across the continents, representatives of regional bodies and international organizations, agreed to a plan to control and eradicate PPR drawn up by FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and presented at a meeting organized by the two institutions with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire.

PPR is estimated to cause over $2 billion in losses each year, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and its elimination will improve food and nutritional security for billions of consumers and especially the more than 300 million vulnerable households who keep sheep and goats in the affected regions.

The plan developed by FAO and OIE is estimated to cost from US$4 to US$7 billion over a 15-year period. Annual savings generated by eradication are expected to quickly pay back the investment required.



FAO and government team up to restore food security in northern Mali

April 1, Bamako/Rome - The government of Mali and FAO have launched the implementation phase of a $5 million project aimed at restoring the livelihoods of households affected by the armed conflicts and climate change in the northern part of the country. Agriculture in parts of Mali, particularly the north, has been seriously affected in recent years by civil strife and related impacts such as labor shortages due to population displacements, lack of agricultural support services and fragmentation of markets.
This new project will seek to immediately restore production assets to families in the Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu regions. Activities will focus on assisting 25,000 households to restart food and horticultural production and providing 8,000 pastoralist families with feed and veterinary products for their cattle. Beneficiaries will also receive training in farming and nutritional good practices, with emphasis on the needs of women's groups engaged in horticulture.

This project is part of a $100 million -World Bank Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Programme in Mali. FAO is implementing the agricultural component in the north of the country at the request of the government of Mali.



IFAD supports livestock marketing and climate resilience in Sudan

March 31, Rome - A new US $119.2 million programme in the Sudan has been designed to increase food security, and improve incomes and climate resilience for pastoralist communities by strengthening their access to markets and technologies. Agriculture provides employment for about 75% of the labor force in rural areas in the Sudan, however, agricultural productivity remains low because of erratic climatic conditions, degraded soils, and because many rural people have limited access to technologies and financial services.

Currently, the government is diversifying its cash crops -- cotton and gum Arabic remain the country’s major agricultural exports. While livestock production has vast potential -camels and sheep are already exported to Egypt and Saudi Arabia - constraints such as available rural finance and a degraded nature resource base, keep it from becoming a more dynamic sector.

The programme will reach about 100,000 families living in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in the five states of West Kordofan, North Kordofan, White Nile, Sennar and the Blue Nile. Rural women and young people will be of a particular focus.

Since 1979, IFAD has invested some $286.1 million in programmes and projects in the Sudan, benefiting about 566,000 households.



RobecoSAM launches annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices company evaluation

Over 3,400 of world’s largest companies invited to complete Corporate Sustainability Assessment

Zurich, Switzerland, March 31 - RobecoSAM, the investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing (SI), today launched its Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), the annual evaluation of corporate sustainability practices that serves as the basis for the construction of all Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

Each year, RobecoSAM invites over 3,400 of the largest companies in terms of free float market capitalization from all industries to participate in the CSA. This includes 800 companies from emerging markets that are invited to participate and gain eligibility for inclusion in the DJSI Emerging Markets. Following the assessment, companies whose sustainability performance ranks them among the top 10% in their industry are selected for the DJSI World, the gold-standard benchmark for corporate sustainability.

The CSA focuses on companies’ long-term value creation, with more than 100 questions on financially material economic, environmental, social and corporate governance practices.



WFP pilots supplementary School Feeding in Madaba, thanks to Canadian support

March 30, Amman - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the Royal Health Awareness Society and the Ministry of Education, has started a pilot project to provide school meals to around 2,300 students in 10 public schools in Madaba governorate in central Jordan.

Canada is funding the US$173,000 pilot project which introduces a new element to the existing national school feeding programme. The outcome of the pilot phase will be evaluated for further expansion.

The project also aims to improve health and nutritional awareness and boost healthier eating habits through comprehensive nutritional information and educational resources among the schools’ communities.



UN and Government of Sri Lanka launch multi-sector initiative against undernutrition

March 27, Colombo - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched a joint project in support of Government policy to fight undernutrition in Sri Lanka. The ‘Scaling Up Nutrition through Multi-Sector Approach’ was launched on 18 March 2015.

While Sri Lanka has made impressive progress in achieving a number of Millennium Development Goals, undernutrition continues to be an issue, with stunting rates at 13%. School nutrition and education is a priority area for the country and many school feeding initiatives are currently carried out by the government. In consultation with the Ministries of Education and Childrens’ Affairs and other Ministries, FAO/WFP will focus on developing school feeding policy.

WFP will work with the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine and the Ministry of Agriculture on conducting several nutrition-based surveys. WFP also plans to run pilot initiatives to assess the efficiency and cost effectiveness of food fortification as a means to combat undernutrition. The results of the surveys and initiatives will help the government, together with WFP and FAO, decide on which types of interventions and which parts of the country should receive priority attention.



Nepal opens first humanitarian Staging Area, built with Government & UK Aid support

March 27, Kathmandu - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal have today inaugurated the country’s first Humanitarian Staging Area at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

The Humanitarian Staging Area that was officially opened today at the airport was constructed with the generous support of UK Aid, from the British Government through the Department for International Development (DFID). It will act as the main hub for airlifted and overland humanitarian assistance entering the Kathmandu Valley in case of an emergency.



New project to create vital employment opportunities for youth and women in Jordan

March 25, Rome A new US $15.2 million project agreement signed in Rome will aim to reduce rural poverty, vulnerability and inequality in Jordan by creating employment and income-generating opportunities for the rural poor, especially women and youth. The IFAD project focuses on strengthening the export-oriented fruits and vegetables value chain as this is a sector where Jordan has a significant comparative advantage and which can provide significant job openings.

The Rural Economic Growth and Employment Project (REGEP) is expected to reach some 80,000 people living in rural communities and create over 100,000 jobs mainly in the governorates of Ajloun, Balqa, Jerash, Madaba and Mafraq to start. The total project cost of $15.2 million is made up of an IFAD loan of $10.8 million, an IFAD grant of $0.5 million, and $ 3.9 million from the Government of Jordan as well as contributions from participants themselves.



IFAD-support better connects Indonesia’s small farmers to markets

March 24, Jakarta– Linking smallholder agriculture with the right kind of private sector investments takes center-stage during the visit this week of John McIntire, Associate Vice-President of the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the Republic of Indonesia.

Though Indonesia is the 10th largest agricultural producer and third largest producer of cocoa in the world, approximately 40% of its population still lives on less than US$2 a day.

With more than 35 years of experience in Indonesia, IFAD has a successful track record in bringing together smallholder farmers, development partners and the private sector in mutually beneficial rural partnerships. Since 2011, for example, IFAD-supported work has benefited more than 80,000 rural people in Central Sulawesi. Cocoa farmers there have received training, finance and the opportunity to engage with Mars, the world’s second largest chocolate company, under the Mars Sustainable Cocoa Initiative. By 2015, the programme, which operated in 150 villages, helped raise smallholder farmers’ incomes by 15%.



Japan supports WFP projects empowering rural Kyrgyz women

March 17, Bishkek - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a US$490,000 contribution from the Government of Japan to support women-led businesses and smallholder women farmers in the Kyrgyz Republic. WFP will use this donation to support about 2,000 vulnerable families, primarily women-headed households, with technical assistance and training to help build income-generating assets, create small businesses and strengthen their agricultural skills. Participants will also receive training in marketing, business and financial management, and nutritional awareness.

The grant is part of Japan’s three-year commitment to extend women’s empowerment initiatives around the world. WFP will implement the programme in Kyrgyzstan’s rural provinces of Naryn, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Batken and Talas.  WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic has been implementing activities to increase income-generating opportunities for rural women since 2010. To date, more than 8,700 women-headed households have benefited from programmes focusing on livelihoods and small-scale agricultural production.



USAID Agro Horizon Project promotes agricultural growth in Kyrgyzstan

Stakeholders meet in Osh to strategize, plan for future

March 17 – The four-year, USAID-funded project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA in partnership with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, will contribute to national agricultural production and food security. The project focuses on improving the productivity and competitiveness of Kyrgyzstan’s agricultural producers and agroenterprises working in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, and eggs value chains.

The project targets farmers and agribusinesses in Osh, Jalalabad, Batken, and Naryn oblasts. They will receive training on advanced agricultural techniques, as well as business planning and management practices. A critical component of the project is to facilitate opportunities and economic development for women and youth. The project also promotes improving the business and policy environment and producers’ access to Kyrgyz and foreign markets.






Japan supports WFP food assistance to vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza

April 2, Ramallah - The government of Japan has recently announced a US$5 million donation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to support the most vulnerable Palestinian families living in Gaza. Japan’s contribution will enable WFP to provide nutritious food to approximately 162,000 of the poorest and most needy Palestinians in Gaza for three months. Some of them will receive assistance through WFP’s innovative electronic food vouchers, while others will receive in-kind food rations.

Since 2011, more than US$154 million has been injected into Gaza’s economy through WFP’s local food purchases and electronic vouchers.



Nursing school helps indigenous community survive in Uganda

By Arnold R. Grahl – Rotary News

April 2 – For thousands of years, the Batwa Pygmies lived among the silverback mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of southwest Uganda. But in 1992, the forest was declared a World Heritage Site to protect the endangered silverback, and the Batwa lost their home.Forced to transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers, they did not adapt well, and their very survival was threatened. (...)

Dr. Scott Kellermann, a physician and Rotary member from California, USA, discovered the plight of the Batwa in 2000, when he and his wife, Carol, traveled to the area as medical missionaries to assess the indigenous people's needs. (...)The Kellermanns' survey found that 38 percent of the Batwa died before the age of five - twice the rate of Uganda as a whole - and that the average life expectancy was 28.

Shortly after his first visit, Kellermann and his wife sold their possessions, including his medical practice, and moved to Uganda -- where they stayed fulltime until 2009 -- to help the Batwa. Starting with mobile clinics held under trees and with IVs hanging from branches, they treated “200, 300, sometimes 500 people a day,” Kellermann recalls. Eventually, they launched a foundation and built Bwindi Community Hospital.Kellermann's Rotary connections helped to equip it. Projects supported by a series of Rotary Foundation grants and backed by members in Uganda, the United States, and other parts of the world provided an operating theater, a dental unit, generators, solar panels, and clean water and improved sanitation, and taught the Batwa how to raise small livestock to improve their nutrition.

Now, the infant mortality rate is down to 6 percent, and the number of women dying in childbirth has declined 60 percent. (...)



YourCause expands support for the nonprofit community

April 2, Carrolton, TX, USA - YourCause, LLC, provider of CSRconnect Employee Engagement Platform, announced plans to expand support for the nonprofit community by increasing its investment in tools and services designed to better connect non-profits organizations with workplace engagement programs, manage donor and volunteer information, and increase the efficiency of donors supporting non-profits of their choice despite the organization’s location. The company has already begun the rollout of the planned services and expects to continue new non-profit feature rollouts throughout 2015 and into the coming year.  

With more than 64,000 charities receiving nearly $150,000,000 in donations during 2014 (an increase from $75,000,000 in 2013), the company is positioned to build upon the growing base of non-profit relationships to deliver new technology offerings and enhanced services. Additionally, YourCause now has more than 23,000 verified site non-profit administrators able to manage the information exchanges within the CSRconnect Employee Engagement platform. YourCause currently adds between 40-50 new site non-profit administrators daily.



Cambodia: emergency response in cash

by Thilde Marie Skaanning

April 1 – In the fall 2013, a tropical depression caused excessively heavy rainfall and resulted in flooding in many provinces of Cambodia. Under normal circumstances, rainwaters would have drained off relatively quickly. This time the high water levels of Cambodia’s main lake, Tonle Sap, meant that the water had nowhere to go.

Thus, this tropical depression gave rise to serious and prolonged flooding for thousands of families.Poor farmers lost their livestock and fields were ruined. Wells were flooded and water supplies contaminated. Stagnant water led to sickness and damaged houses.

ChristianAid/DanChurchAid teamed up with local partners and handed out cash grants to the families who were the most affected.Each family received a grant equivalent of USD 60, which they spent on whatever they needed the most. For the families the cash was a new beginning.



Vulnerable Afghans to receive Saudi Arabian dates for Ramadan

March 31, Kabul -  Thousands of Afghan students and their families will be receiving dates in the coming months, thanks to a contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The dates will arrive in WFP’s warehouses in early April and will be distributed to more than 27,000 students in Badakhshan, Nuristan and Nimorz provinces. The dates are not only a healthy snack for school children and their families, but are also a gift to help poor households celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. Additionally, they serve as an incentive for parents to send their children to school.



Project HOPE joins U.S. Navy for humanitarian mission to Central and South America and the Caribbean

Six-month mission will offer lifesaving medical care to underserved communities in eleven countries

Millwood, VA, USA, March 30 – Medical volunteers from Project HOPE, the global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, embark from Norfolk, Virginia today on a humanitarian mission aboard the USNS Comfort, the U.S. Navy hospital ship. The six-month mission, known as Continuing Promise 2015, will offer medical and dental care and health care education to communities in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The USNS Comfort will sail from April to September, anchoring offshore in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti, where Project HOPE volunteers together with Navy medical staff will provide primary care, surgical interventions and health education to communities in the region.  Volunteers participating in Continuing Promise 2015 include general surgeons, primary care physicians, pharmacists, and the full spectrum of nursing professionals.

Continuing Promise 2015 will be Project HOPE’s 35th humanitarian mission in partnership with the DOD and sixth Continuing Promise mission.



Russia’s Kamaz Trucks support WFP operations in East & Central Africa, including Uganda

March 25, Tororo/Uganda - A contribution of 67 KAMAZ trucks, donated by the government of the Russian Federation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), will assist its distributions and deliveries in Uganda and throughout the East and Central African region.

The vehicles are part of a Russian global contribution to WFP of 218 trucks, valued at US$21 million, accompanied by mobile workshops, spare parts, technicians and an additional US$1.6 million to cover operational costs related to the trucks.

The sturdy trucks will form part of a regional fleet based in Kampala and serving WFP operations in Uganda and nearby countries. Fifty-three of them will be dispatched to South Sudan immediately while the rest will be stationed in Uganda. Another 61 of the 218 trucks are expected to arrive later this year for use both in the region and elsewhere in Africa.



Japan contributes US$ 19.5 million to United Nations Agencies in Myanmar

March 19, Nay Pyi Taw - Four United Nations organisations today welcomed a generous and timely contribution of approximately US$ 19.5 million from the Government of Japan to support humanitarian and development activities in Myanmar.

UN-Habitat received a contribution of US$ 5.2 million which will contribute to helping Myanmar’s poor and vulnerable communities affected by conflicts and natural disasters. UNHCR received a contribution of US$ 2.3 million which will support the agency’s activities in assisting the Myanmar Government in its response to the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs). Japan's contribution of US$ 3.75 million to UNICEF will help to improve maternal and child health and equitable access to Infant and Young Child Feeding counselling, micronutrient supplementation and the management of acute malnutrition. Japan’s US$8.2 million contribution to WFP will support life-saving food assistance to internally displaced people in Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan States.




Peace and security


Western Sahara: the Polisario Front destroys stockpiles of anti-personnel mines

March 31 – On 30 March, the Polisario Front destroyed a stockpile of anti-personnel (AP) mines in Tifariti, Western Sahara. The total number of destroyed AP mines still has to be confirmed. This is the fifth destruction since the Polisario Front decided to ban this weapon in 2005 by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning AP mines. Since 2005, the Polisario Front has destroyed more than 10,000 of such stockpiled weapons.

To answer a request from the Polisario Front, Geneva Call also conducted a four-day training of trainers on international humanitarian norms for 13 Polisario Front military instructors and one representatives of the Sahrawi Human Rights Commission. The course included topics such as means and methods of warfare, protection of civilians and those hors de combat (such as detainees), and civil and political rights in refugee camps.



World Without Mines supports vital emergency risk education in South Sudan

March 16 – The organisation World Without Mines (WWM) has granted 49,300 USD to facilitate DCA’s emergency Risk Education operations in South Sudan, that seeks to inform and educate the internally displaced people in the areas around the Northern border about the threats of the Explosive Remnants of War. The grant from WWM allows DCA to send emergency response teams to the rural areas to prepare the IPDs for what they might find when they return home, or if they move on to another location. They will learn about what unexploded and abandoned ordnances might look like, how they should avoid them, report them, and protect others in the community from them.

Furthermore, with the grant from WWM, DCA will provide Community Focal Point training to selected members of the community, who will be able to provide peer-to-peer training to those who are most at risk, but unable to attend the direct RE sessions provided by DCA. This way the safety messages continues to be shared even when the project ends.

The project starts the 1st of March and has a duration of six months.



Global movement for a culture of peae and non-violence

March is the month for women, beginning with the celebration of International Women's Day on March 8. This year the international advocacy organisation Women Deliver marked the day by celebrating 15 journalists who have dedicated their work to gender issues. Besides India and Liberia, other honorees hailed from Argentina, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.

Each year in March the United Nations convenes the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year it was dedicated to analyzing progress and following up the Declaration and Platform of Action adopted by the World Conference on Women in Beijing twenty years ago. Setting a new record, more than 1,100 NGOs and a total of 8,600 representatives registered to participate in the Commission's work this year. In some areas there has been great progress. For example, the global rate of maternal deaths is reducing faster than any time in history, according to a new report presented to the United Nations entitled "Saving Lives, Protecting Futures." Maternal mortality has been nearly halved since 1990, and in 2013, 6.4 million fewer children under age five died compared to 1990.






Bangladesh introduces inactivated polio vaccine

April 2 – On 21 March, the Extended Program on Immunization (EPI) in Bangladesh launched both the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine into their Routine Immunization programme. With polio stopped in 2000 and 94% routine coverage by 2 years of age, Bangladesh has many lessons to share with other countries on how to provide strong protection against vaccine preventable diseases.

EPI in Bangladesh is remarkable for the ownership felt for the program at all levels, from the Government to health workers to parents who actively seek out vaccines. This commitment is evident in the dual introduction for IPV and PCV, which enabled streamlining on training, logistics and the health workforce.

Movement around the country has been limited since January, due to road blockades for political reasons, giving the introduction a challenging backdrop. Innovative transportation techniques, the incredible commitment of staff and the power of the yellow EPI banner which shines out from every vehicle and denotes every EPI clinic made it possible to get the new vaccines to healthcare centres, despite the challenges.

Before any vaccine introduction, a cascade of improvements for the entire EPI system takes place. To accommodate two new vaccines into the system, international partners helped government to assess cold chain capacity, secure vaccine stocks, train all health workers and engage influential leaders.



Liberia: Rebooting public health services

April 2 – While the number of Ebola-infected patients in Liberia has steadily declined, MSF (Medicins sans Frontieres) is assisting the local health system to safely restore medical services.

Although Ebola management centers are now in sufficient number in Liberia, people still struggle to access regular public health services. Today most medical facilities have reopened, though with a level of activity lower than before the outbreak. Many patients are still reluctant to go in search of care.

After consulting with the Ministry of Health, MSF decided to open a new pediatric hospital to increase the capacity to treat non-Ebola related medical emergencies in Monrovia. This 24/7 hospital has opened with 46 beds for children under 5 years old with the capacity to extend up to 100 beds. Reinforced protocols of infection prevention and control have been implemented to protect the staff and the patients from any potential Ebola contamination. (…)

In parallel, MSF has been assisting James David Junior (JDJ) Memorial Hospital in Paynesville in upgrading the free pediatric and maternal services up to standards that now take Ebola into account. Many admissions are for newborns whose mothers had to deliver at home. MSF has also supported 23 health clinics in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties to implement safer practices. http://www.msf.org/article/liberia-rebooting-public-health-services


Lebanon: providing life-saving knowledge

April 2 – In March 2015, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched refresher first-aid sessions for members of different factions in the Palestinian refugee camp in Ein El Helwe, in the Lebanese city of Sidon. The training is combined with information sessions on the rules of armed conflict as well as the importance of respecting healthcare personnel. The project was launched a year ago and has reached more than 170 people so far.

This overpopulated camp with an estimated 100,000 inhabitants living just on a 1.5 km2 plot of land and over a dozen armed groups present there, is an area of concern in the event of armed clashes. With limited emergency healthcare capacity and because of extremely narrow streets that make it virtually impossible for ambulances to reach many of the Ein El Helwe areas, residents rely on a network of volunteers set up by the Human Call Association, a Palestinian organization providing medical services in the camp.

The first-aid project focuses on creating a life-saving casualty chain that aims at stabilizing the wounded, either on the spot or in one of the two first-aid posts that were set up and equipped by the ICRC in strategic locations around the camp, before finally transporting them to one of the three ICRC-supported hospitals for further treatment. The ICRC also spreads among the participants basic knowledge about humanitarian rules and principles applicable in situations of violence.


ViiV Healthcare launches new global positive action programme focused on MSM and transgender populations

London, United Kingdom , March31 - ViiV Healthcare today announced the launch of a new initiative designed to support and inform the global effort to alleviate the impact of HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations around the world. Through Positive Action, ViiV Healthcare has committed to invest £2 million per year to encourage MSM and transgender community-led interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and/or HIV status.  The first phase of the new programme will cover a period of two years.

With the ultimate goal of enabling MSM and transgender individuals around the world to safely seek culturally competent HIV care and services, the programme will support these communities as they develop their capacity to lead, participate in policy-making and address the severe health disparities and health service access issues affecting MSM and transgender individuals.



Hebron clinic provides medicine and health education

March 27 – Dozens of patients feeling under the weather sit waiting their turn to see the doctor at Hebron’s charitable medical center. “Fluctuating weather conditions, such as the conditions we are currently experiencing, can weaken one’s immune system, making it more susceptible to bacteria and germs that thrive in such a habitat,” explains Wael Rajabi, the medical center’s family doctor.

Luckily for the center’s patients, ANERA recently received a shipment of medicine from Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), which included a large donation of Azithromycin antibiotics. ANERA delivered the medicine to several charitable clinics, centers and hospitals in the West Bank, including Hebron. The medication is given free of charge to the neediest patients.

And, it’s not just the patients who benefit. The donated medicines help the charitable center sustain its services. Like several healthcare providers across the West Bank, the Hebron center has a longstanding partnership with ANERA, which provides nearly 75% of the center’s medicine supply. These donations are considered the center’s driving force. Significant donations like the recent supply from CMMB have enabled the center to use its resources to renovate and upgrade the facility to provide even better services for their patients.



Finishing what He started

March 20 – April marks the 60th anniversary of the announcement that Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) was safe and effective; his work is playing a more important role than ever in securing a polio-free future

Some moments in history carry a greater significance than others. Sixty years ago on the 12th of April, a vaccine developed by Jonas Salk proved to be safe and effective in protecting children against polio. This gave the world one of the critical tools needed to begin the fight against the crippling disease. Since then, the polio programme has been one of the most successful public health programmes in history, reducing polio cases by 99%. Now, the final 1% is tantalizingly within reach. As we commemorate Jonas Salk’s remarkable achievement, the vaccine that began this journey – the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) – is playing an important role in the final steps towards eradication, and ensuring that the virus will never be able to return.

Now, on 12 April 2015, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the introduction of Salk’s IPV we are reminded of more than 10 million people walking today who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio.In the past six months, just two countries have reported cases of wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a polio-free world comes into sharper focus, Salk’s vaccine is once again demonstrating its importance.



Del Mar Rotary medical training project improves odds for newborns in Ethiopia

In an effort to improve neonatal care and life expectancy there, a Rotary-sponsored vocational training team recently certified health professionals in neonatal resuscitation. The two-year project was made possible by more than $100,000 in grants. “Rotary is what made it possible,” said Dr. Karin Davies, the Rotarian and retired pediatrician who led the team. “I had no idea what was possible through Rotary. It allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

As a child, Davies lived in Ethiopia for two years. In the 1950s, her father helped establish an agricultural and technical school in Jimma, the largest city in southwestern Ethiopia.

About three years ago, Davies and her brothers visited Ethiopia for the first time since they were children. To their surprise, the small school their father helped launch with 80 students and seven faculty members was now Jimma University, a leading national university with 40,000 students. “When we were in Ethiopia, we felt such a connection to the people there,” Davies said. “I just felt so proud of the contributions my parents had made. I really wanted to do something as a way of honoring them.”




Energy and safety


Philippines NIA announces plan to bid up to 200 micro hydropower plants

By Michael Harris

April 2, Manila- The Philippines National Irrigation Administration has said it plans to bid between 150 and 200 micro hydropower plants with a goal of increasing the country's hydro generating capacity by a cumulative 50 MW.The projects will be bid in groups of three to five, according to an NIA official interviewed by Asian news sources last week, with each project costing at least US$1.346 million. The bidding process is reported to take place in May, allowing construction to start later this year. NIA said that the size of the proposed projects will make it possible to complete many of them to be completed within six months.The plan is intended primarily to benefit the Philippines' isolated farming communities and will focus on installing hydropower components on existing small-head irrigation canals.

The Philippines have shown a particular interest in small hydroelectric growth in recent months, with the country's Department of Energy approving pre-development and development contracts for more than 20 new projects in January.



Costa Rica has been running with only renewable energy for nearly 3 months

March 27 - Costa Rica has reached an extraordinary milestone in the history of green energy, with the country operating solely on renewable energy for nearly 3 months. The strong rains in the region have allowed the country to completely give up fossil fuels and feed itself almost entirely with electricity generated by four hydroelectric plants.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute announced the news, pointing out specifically that they haven’t had to resort to energy generated by fossil fuels throughout all of 2015 so far. Costa Rica has a small population of 4.8 million inhabitants, abundant rain to feed its four hydroelectric plants and a multitude of volcanoes for geothermal installations.

Diversification is also important. Around 10% of energy was generated by geothermal plants in 2014, and the government has approved a geothermal project costing US$958 million for this year. Financed in large part with loans from European and Japanese banks, the project is composed of three installations that will supply an additional 150 MW of green energy.




Environment and wildlife


Reducing risks for vulnerable people in the North Jordan Valley

By Hanne Sorine Sorensen, IFRC

April 2 – In order to reduce the risk of disasters in the North Jordan Valley in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the Palestine Red Crescent Society has implemented a number of disaster risk reduction initiatives targeting 5,000 people in the area.The North Jordan Valley is located in the so-called Area C of the West Bank, where movement restriction, lack of access to land and resources, lack of planning and permits for construction of infrastructure represent huge challenges for residents, as their homes, fields and pastures are not under their own control.An assessment carried out by the society shows that the population in this area is both marginalised and vulnerable, and so five communities in the North Jordan Valley were approached and offered assistance to them. (…)

The Palestine Red Crescent Society’s’ Disaster Reduction Project in North Jordan Valley will build community resilience and is supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies with a donation by the British government’s Department for International Development.



Afghan Red Crescent responds to devastating avalanche across the country

By Hossein Sharifara, Afghan Red Crescent Society

April 1 – Recent heavy snowfalls, rain and avalanches took a deadly toll on the lives and properties of the people in 22 provinces of Afghanistan leaving 230 people dead and 35 wounded. Over 6,000 homes were also damaged or destroyed.

Among the affected provinces, Panshir, northeast of Kabul, was the worst affected where two metres of snow caused avalanches which damaged 100 homes and killed almost 200 people.  (...) Afghan Red Crescent Society’s disaster response and mobile health units from Kabul and neighbouring provinces joined local teams in affected areas to undertake rescue and recovery operations while also assessing longer-term needs for those affected.The rapid assessment process revealed immediate needs for drinkable water, food items, health and hygiene kits, warm clothes, blankets, tents, tarpaulin, jerry cans and heaters. Red Crescent staff and volunteers distributed items to the affected communities in spite of another drop in temperature and continued snowfall. (…)




Religion and spirituality


Exploring God through multi-faith lens in Minden

“Looking for God” — the seven-week long discussion about religion and God lead by experts of various religions/denominations will be launched on May 6 in Minden, Nevada, USA.

Organized by Shelby's Book Shoppe owner Linda Finch and religious statesman Rajan Zed, it would provide a platform for Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders to give scholarly presentation about their faith and approach to the divine and answer questions from a diverse audience.

Speakers include Professor of Religion at University of Nevada-Reno Kenneth G. Lucey, President of Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed, Roman Catholic Pastor Nathan Mamo, Jewish Rabbi Evon J. Yakar, United Methodist Pastor Tony Hoefner, Northern Nevada Muslim Community President Sherif A. Elfass, and Buddhist Priest and Meditation Guide Jikai’ Phil Bryan.

Purpose of this event is to promote interfaith harmony and unity, create a culture of love and peace, encouraging interreligious dialogue and cooperation, and building better relationships among people of diverse beliefs in the region.



Symposium reframes dialogue on secular society, religion, and the common good

4 April, Vancouver — Leading Canadian scholars, public servants, and civil society actors gathered here for a symposium at the University of British Columbia from 22 to 24 March to explore the meaning of building a "whole society" and the constructive role of religion in the secular, public sphere.

Organized by a national committee representing a cross-section of civil society organizations in Canada, including the Public Affairs Office of the Canadian Baha'i Community, the conference, titled "Our Whole Society: Bridging the Religious-Secular Divide", involved some 140 participants.

The conference featured plenary sessions addressing several overarching themes: the proper role of religion in the public sphere; the merits and limits of secularism; the process of reconciliation between diverse peoples; how to define the common good in the context of religious pluralism; the scope and limits of religious freedom; and the role of youth in society.




Culture and education


Towards the creation of a network of women for a culture of peace in Africa

31 March - “Building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena." This vision, expressed by the African Union, is at the heart of the Operational Strategy of the UNESCO for the Priority Africa. UNESCO has recently reiterated this message on the occasion of the first Crans Montana Forum for African Women, which was held in Brussels from 19 to 22 March 2014, whose honorary committee was co-chaired by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, and the Director General of the ISESCO.

The closing session of the Forum, chaired by Ms Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO for Africa, was the occasion to present the objectives and actions of a new network dedicated to "Women for a culture of peace in Africa". Organized in partnership with organizations with expertise in the field of culture of peace and gender equality in Africa, the session showcased their experience on three main themes: the role of women in education and intergenerational relationships, their empowerment through entrepreneurship training, and promoting women's leadership, particularly in the media as well as in anticipating and resolving conflicts.



In Vanuatu, UNICEF launches ‘back-to-school’ relief as country recovers from Cyclone Pam

March 31 – As schools reopen across the cyclone-battered nation of Vanuatu, 30,000 children will begin receiving targeted assistance in order to help them resume classes and continue with their studies, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today.

In a press release, the UN agency confirmed it would begin providing “urgent assistance” in the form of school education and recreation supplies, tents for use as temporary classrooms and school kits as part of the Organization’s wider humanitarian relief efforts in the archipelagic nation.



Global citizenship essential for gender equality: Ambassador Chowdhury

By Josh Butler

United Nations, March 25 (IPS) - At a recent panel discussion on women’s leadership during the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury was the lone male voice.

In front of an audience of every creed, colour and culture, the decorated diplomat and former president of the United Nations Security Council tied the advancement of women’s causes to one of his pet causes: the idea of ‘global citizenship,’ of humans growing and learning and acting and working with consideration of their place in the global community. “Being globally connected, emerging as global citizens, will help women achieve equality and help them show leadership,” Chowdhury told the packed room on Mar. 17. (...)

Through decades in diplomacy, the Bangladesh-born Chowdhury has served in some of the U.N’s highest posts, including under-secretary-general and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, president of the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and vice-president of the Economic and Social Council, as well as serving two terms as Security Council president. This idea of global citizenship is one he has proudly championed, pushing for greater education for young people to know and appreciate their place in the world, and how they can understand global challenges. (...)



SAT-7 provides on-air school for Syrian and Iraqi refugee children

Nicosia, March 19 (SAT-7) - A new on-air school launched this week to enable displaced Syrian and Iraqi children whose education has been disrupted by conflict to start learning again as they watch the SAT-7 KIDS satellite TV channel. Education is a desperate need for refugee children in the Middle East, as opportunities for schooling are often scarce. UN Global Education Envoy Gordon Brown highlighted this when he called for a multi-million dollar emergency fund for education to give refugee children “the hope and opportunity it provides” and prevent future wars.

Because many displaced children - even children in refugee camps - are still able to watch television SAT-7 KIDS is from this week broadcasting a new Pilot - programme called My School five days a week. The presenters in this 90-minute block will teach young viewers core curriculum subjects - such as Arabic, English and Maths. My School is aimed at four to seven year olds but will also be helpful for older children who have missed out on school. Initially, it is a 90-minute program each weekday with three different teachers. The on-air school’s curriculum has been planned with help from Heart for Lebanon, an NGO that works closely with displaced children and runs a school in a refugee camp.



The European Association Summit 2015 - Brussels, 5-7 May

Is your association pioneering the future?

Now in its third year, the European Associations Summit has established itself as the annual peer-to-peer education and networking forum for international association executives and senior staff. Building on the success of the first two editions, the EAS 2015 explores further the pioneering role and innovative services and practices which leading international associations are developing to the benefit of their members.

Exchanging information and sharing best practices with professional colleagues across countries and sectors will throw light on what “champions” have undertaken to revitalize their associations and how they went about implementing new working models. The EAS 2015 program features success stories on cutting-edge practices in diverse areas of association management such as communication, new technologies, human resources, finance, governance, members relations.




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The flight of humanity’s spirit cannot be sustained by one wing only  (Helena Roerich, 1879-1955)

In sintony with this fundamental thought, and with the consent of the author, Good News Agency includes the following article.


How to recognize women’s leadership

by David Adams         


April 2 - Over the years at CPNN (Culture of Peace News Network - publisher’s note) we have seen the global movement for a culture of peace developing in thousands of articles about initiatives throughout the world.  Looking over these initiatives, we can see that women are usually in the lead, and in any case, they are involved as essential players.  This month’s bulletin illustrates this clearly.  Initiatives of the United Nations for peace, initiatives of the civil society such as Nonviolent Peaceforce, various prizes for peace, in all of these we see the predominant role of women.

As we remarked in an earlier blog, “the linkage between women’s equality, development and peace is essential to replace the historical inequality between men and women that has always characterized the culture of war and violence.

This is not to say that women will save us by themselves.  Instead, what is needed is collaboration between women and men on the basis of equality.  It is necessary that not only women, but also men struggle for the equality of women, and that everyone becomes conscious of its importance.  As a first step, it is necessary that men are involved in the struggle to eliminate violence against women.

When I was working at UNESCO and responsible for developing the initial drafts of the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, many of my colleagues, both men and women, urged me not to include equality of women as a distinct domain of the culture of peace but to include it in a broader category of equality in general, including race, sexual orientation, etc.  Fortunately, I resisted their pressure and we were able to include women’s equality, put simply, as one of the domains of action for a culture of peace.

Of course, it is important to struggle for equality of all people with regard to race, sexual orientation, etc., but we need to recognize the special significance of gender.  From the beginning of humanity, as far as it can be determined, women were excluded from warfare, and hence they were excluded from the power of violence which has continued to characterize human culture up until the present time, and especially the nation-state.  To arrive at a culture of peace, both the subordination of women and the political dominance of violence will have to be reversed, and the two struggles are intrinsically related.

In this regard, we need to take another look at our conception of leadership.  Is it by chance that when we speak of leadership for a culture of peace and we mention Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, we are mentioning only men?  Where are the women leaders?

In reading this month’s article in CPNN about Ela Bhatt, I recall how I met her a number of year’s ago in Hamilton, Ontario, after giving a talk at Hamilton’s annual Gandhi festival.  I had spoken about Gandhi’s message as being important for a culture of peace.  Afterwards, this little lady, very modest, approached me to say that she had appreciated the message.  I didn’t recognize her, so I asked her who she was.  Ela Bhatt, she replied.  I didn’t recognize the name, but asked if she was involved with the culture of peace.  She told me that she was visiting family in Hamilton, but back in India she did trade union work with women.  I asked more and discovered that she has done amazingly courageous and effective work in organizing thousands (millions?) of women in India into a trade union for their basic human rights.

Ela’s demeanor was so modest, that one had to ask and listen patiently in order to know of her exemplary leadership.

From this we can draw an important lesson about recognizing leadership.  Great leaders are not necessarily in the news.  They are not necessarily involved with the politics of nations.  They may be modest.  And they may be women!

Fortunately, there are those who recognize this.  Go to the website Theelders.org and and there, at the same time as you can read about the work of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter, you can also read about the work of Ela Bhatt, Graça Machel, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Mary Robinson and Hina Jilani.

It was by reading Theelders.org that I found the article about Ela Bhatt.




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Next issue: 15 May 2015.


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


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries,  to 3,000 NGOs, 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 24,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered, not-for-profit educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


* 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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