A culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour
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.
UN Chief hails Iceland’s contribution to gender parity, international justice
New York, July 2 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended Iceland for its contributions to the international community in such critical areas as international criminal justice, gender equality and regulation of the use of the world’s oceans.
“We have gained significantly from Iceland’s support in critical areas such as international criminal justice, human rights, gender equality and humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Ban <http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=6945> told members of the foreign affairs committee of the Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavik, the capital. “As one of the first countries to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Iceland has claimed its place at the forefront of the advancement of international justice. And your parliament, of course, is among the world leaders in women’s representation,” Mr. Ban said.
Mr. Ban also noted Iceland’s lead role in advancing the international agenda on oceans and the law of the sea, as well as the country’s commitment to international cooperation.
Governments meet in Brisbane to identify a road map for a Pacific free of unexploded ordnance.
27 June – From 27-29 June 2013, governments of Pacific Island States, including those affected by WWII ordnance, will join Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, civil society and mine action agencies, to identify a road map for a Pacific free of unexploded ordnance.
The Pacific Regional ERW Workshop is jointly hosted by ICBL-CMC member organisation Safe Ground (recently renamed from the Australian Network to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions), and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with support from AusAID. Building on the regional meeting on the ‘Implementation of the Pacific Islands Forum Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Strategy’, which took place in Palau last October, the Brisbane workshop is expected to foster a regional approach to the problem of ERW and encourage states to come on board the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Ban welcomes anti-piracy strategy adopted by leaders from West, Central Africa.
27 June – The two-day meeting included Member States of the region, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC). UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon has welcomed the adoption by a summit of African leaders of a regional strategy against piracy and other illegal maritime activities in West and Central Africa. Mr. Ban commended all the participants for their high level of engagement and collective efforts to address and prevent piracy. He also welcomed the adoption of the “Code of Conduct” concerning the Prevention and Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illegal Maritime Activities in West and Central Africa.
CARE applauds bipartisan Senate amendment to Farm Bill to improve food aid
June 4 – CARE applauds the U.S. Senate for unanimously approving an amendment to the Farm Bill sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) that increases authorization for funding for a Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) program. This will increase the flexibility of the U.S. government food aid programming to reach more people more quickly.
CARE commends the sponsors of the amendment, as well as Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), working with Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS) for their bipartisan leadership on improving our international food aid program in the Farm Bill.
Numerous studies of the LRP pilot program, included in the 2008 Farm Bill, have shown LRP saves time and money in getting life-saving assistance to hungry people.
UNICEF and Libya sign agreement to improve basic education system.
25 June -The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and the Libyan Government today signed an agreement that aims to improve the basic education system in the North African country.
The signing of the agreement will kick start action on various policies, including the development of an education management information system, validation of early learning development standards, and the promotion of early childhood care. It will also support teachers’ training, risk education and the establishment of inclusive education mechanisms in schools.
Today’s agreement is a continuation of the initial humanitarian response in 2011, and the 2012 work plan signed for sustainable development cooperation between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
Rwanda: Improving cooking facilities for more than 60,000 detainees
Kigali, 21 June – A new saucepan workshop, part of an innovative project in Huye Prison aiming to improve cooking facilities for around 60,000 prison inmates throughout the country, is being inaugurated today. The project began in 2012 when the ICRC, working in partnership with the RCS, started building a special workshop for producing saucepans and a centralized kitchen-maintenance and stove-construction service covering all prisons under RCS authority. The workshop, which is the first significant achievement of the project, will be managed by RCS staff.
A 200 cubic-metre expansion of the biogas plant in Rubavu Prison is also set to be opened this year. The upgraded facility will result in enhanced environmental safety in and around the prison, and will provide a sustainable source of heating for cooking purposes.
ICRC delegates visit detainees in Rwanda to monitor the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they receive. The ICRC works together with the RCS to improve the living standards of inmates throughout the country.
Economy and development
Brazil and IFAD sign US$40 million loan agreement
Family farming top priority in the State of Ceará, Brazil
Rome 28 June – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$32 million loan to the State of Ceará of the Federative Republic of Brazil to help reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of family farmers. The Spanish Food Security Cofinancing Facility Trust Fund extended a further $8 million loan. This allows IFAD to increase the total amount of external resources available to member states from developing countries within a set period. In addition, the government of Ceará will provide co-financing of $40 million, with the project beneficiaries contributing $15 million, bringing up the total project budget to $95 million.
The new project will aim to reduce poverty, increase incomes and strengthen resilience to climate change by building the capacity of rural women and men. They will be supported to increase their own capacities and that of their organizations such as identifying and prioritizing solutions to problems, and. developing leadership skills to participate in local decision-making processes, particularly on public policies related to family agriculture.
Foreign investment in least developed nations hits record level in 2012 – UN report
New York, June 27 – Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the world’s poorest countries grew by 20 per cent last year to a record $26 billion, led by strong gains in Cambodia as well as five African countries, <“http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=588″> according to a new United Nations report.
The <http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2013_en.pdf> World Investment Report 2013, produced by the Geneva-based UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), adds that the majority of ‘greenfield’ investment in the least developed countries (LDCs) – new investment or expansion of existing investment in recipient nations, as opposed to investment through mergers and acquisitions – originated in other developing economies, led by India.
Subtitled “Global Value Chains: Investment and Trade for Development”, the report notes that growth was led by strong gains in Cambodia (where inflows were up 73 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (96 per cent), Liberia (167 per cent), Mauritania (105 per cent), Mozambique (96 per cent), and Uganda (93 per cent).
However, 20 LDCs reported declines in FDI, the report states, adding that the trend was particularly pronounced in Angola, Burundi, Mali, and the Solomon Islands.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the report, calling it a “source of reflection and inspiration” for meeting today’s development challenges.
FAO Members find consensus on Programme of Work and Budget
Director-General welcomes consensus as sign of commitment to FAO goals
22 June, Rome – FAO Members approved FAO’s Programme of Work and Budget for 2014-2015 at the end of the Organization’s week-long 38th governing Conference at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
“I want to thank and applaud all of you for showing such a clear sign of commitment to this Organization and its goals – to your Organization, and your goals,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told Members. “The consensus showed a willingness to work together to overcome differences. It showed trust. And it showed commitment to work together towards the hunger-free and sustainable future we all want,” added Graziano da Silva.
The budget agreed by Members of $1,028.1 million, representing a 2.2 percent increase over the current biennium, will enable the Organization to deliver its proposed programme of work focusing on five strategic objectives and a sixth objective related to the technical and normative work of the Organization.
Graziano da Silva also called on FAO’s members to support with voluntary contributions the full achievement of the strategic objectives and implementation of the programme of work, which received unanimous and vigorous backing from the Conference.
50 years of ACDI/VOCA: Microfinance Bank Bai-Tushum and Partners
June 16 – Since its creation in 2000, the Microfinance Bank Bai-Tushum and Partners has developed into a model lending institution in the Kyrgyz Republic, and at the end of 2012 it became a full-fledged bank. Its banking license is the first approved by the National Bank of Kyrgyz Republic in more than eight years.
Bai-Tushum has granted $250 million in loans to more than 134,000 Kyrgyz citizens. In only 12 years it became one of the country’s three largest microfinance organizations, with about 20 percent of the sector’s total loan portfolio. Currently it ranks as the seventh largest bank in Kyrgyzstan in terms of asset size and the sixth largest in terms of loan portfolio size.
Small-scale farmers constitute a vital sector of Kyrgyzstan’s largely agricultural economy. To be successful in their livelihoods, these farmers need access to loan capital, a key tool for agricultural growth and modernization. Yet, although the Kyrgyz Republic has been one of the most progressive former Soviet states in terms of market reforms, credit largely remains unavailable to the majority of its small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry notes certification of coffee lab in Ethiopia
Kerry participates in traditional coffee ceremony in Addis Ababa
June 7 – On a recent visit to Ethiopia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry celebrated a milestone in the country’s coffee sector: the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) coffee laboratory became the first in Africa to meet the rigorous quality standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). The SCAA certification indicates that coffee is consistently tested, graded and evaluated via lab inspections that ensure international consistency in the evaluation of specialty coffee.
USAID’s Agricultural Growth Program-Agribusiness and Market Development (AGP-AMDe) in Ethiopia works to sustainably reduce poverty and hunger using a facilitated value chain approach to increase the competitiveness of select agricultural products; enhance access to finance; and stimulate innovation and private sector investment. AGP-AMDe is one of a long line of programs implemented by ACDI/VOCA over the last 18 years to develop the Ethiopian coffee sector through training in cooperative management, credit, marketing and finance.
Rwanda: Significant funding for vocational education and training
June 4 – Education International has welcomed the announcement by Rwanda’s national Education Minister, Vincent Biruta, that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) will again be allocated a considerable part of the Ministry’s budget. This is due to TVET’s acknowledged capacity to promote skills development and bridge existing skills gaps in the labour market. TVET is allocated 38 billion Rwandan francs (RWF) out of the country’s 2013-2014 budget of RWF224 billion. This TVET budget will be allocated to 14 key programmes.
Van Leeuwen (EI General Secretary) also welcomed the fact that EI facilitated the current cooperation between the Syndicat National de l’Enseignement du Primaire Rwanda (SNEP) and the Danish Union of Teachers (DLF). This project aims to strengthen the capacity of SNEP and other teachers’ unions in Rwanda to develop policies as well as organisational, strategic and educational plans. This will be achieved by training around 200 leaders, trainers and school representatives. Union capacity building contributes to quality education, as training union leaders will improve their professional approach in classroom.
WFP welcomes French assistance towards food and education for Afghan and Iraqi refugees in Iran
1 July, Teheran – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warmly welcomed a contribution from the Government of France for its refugee operation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The French donation of €200,000 will allow WFP to purchase 400 metric tons of wheat flour and 48 metric tons of vegetable oil enriched with vitamins and minerals for distribution among Afghan and Iraqi refugees living in settlements throughout Iran.
The UN food agency provides 30,000 refugees with a monthly basket of basic food items that include bread, rice, sugar, lentils and oil. In addition, in order to promote girls’ education and bridge the gender gap, WFP provides a take-home ration of vegetable oil to 3,000 refugee schoolgirls and their female teachers in 19 settlements across the country.
The French Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran H. E. Bruno Foucher, explained: “It is a modest contribution, but it aims to show our commitment to help the Iranians face the tremendous challenge of the Afghan exile”. After Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran hosts the second largest refugee population in the world with some 890,000 registered Afghan and Iraqi refugees in the country.
Construction starts on Djibouti Logistics Hub for humanitarian operations in Horn of Africa
24 June, Djibouti – In a “ground-breaking” ceremony yesterday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – with the generous support of the Government of Djibouti, the Government of Canada and the Government of Finland – officially launched the first phase of building a humanitarian logistics base that will improve storage and transport of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa. The new hub, in the vicinity of Djibouti port, will enable WFP and the wider humanitarian community to dispatch humanitarian assistance more quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively in the region. The port is the main gateway for food entering Ethiopia.
The Government of Canada contributed more than USD 18 million to support the establishment of the hub on a 50,000-square-meter piece of land donated by Djibouti. Finland also contributed US$1.3 million towards the facility, which will offer silo storage capacity, allowing cost savings related to sea freight, port handling, storage and transport.
The structure, which should be completed by 2015, will eventually ease the flow of assistance not only to Ethiopia and Djibouti, but also to Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. About one quarter of the people that WFP assists worldwide live in the Horn of Africa.
A Billion + Change inspires largest commitment of pro bono service in history
National campaign has mobilized 500 businesses to pledge more than $2 billion in service to build nonprofit capacity
Washington, June 20 – Today, A Billion + Change will announce that it has inspired the largest commitment of pro bono service in history. More than 500 companies across the country—from the largest in the Fortune 100 to the smallest sole proprietorships—have committed to provide more than $2 billion worth of skills-based volunteer services to help nonprofits address critical community priorities at home and around the world.
A Billion + Change is a national campaign inspiring the largest commitment of pro bono service in history. It was launched by the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2008 and continues as an initiative of the federal agency. Reinvigorated in 2011 with expanded leadership under the honorary chairmanship of Senator Mark Warner, it is now housed and managed by Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service. The initiative is powered by the support of Deloitte, HP, the Case Foundation, IBM, Capital One and MWW with additional founding support from State Farm, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP and Morgan Stanley. Learn more at: www.abillionpluschange.org
Aspen Institute to fund opportunity youth collaboratives
New fund will award $6 million in grants for innovative cross-sector solutions
Washington, June 20 – The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will commit up to $6 million in funding to support work with opportunity youth, the 6.7 million young Americans who are disconnected from education and the workforce. In July the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will launch the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF), awarding grants of up to $500,000 to communities around the country whose collective impact strategies are designed to channel the untapped potential of America’s young adults.
More than 90% of invited communities have applied for an OYIF grant with aims to further collective impact and community collaborative strategies that increase education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth. Strong partnerships with allies such as the Ford and Gates Foundations are matching that enthusiasm: the OYIF will launch with more community grants than initially expected. Simultaneously, the Aspen Forum will convene roundtable discussions around the country with mayors, community leaders, philanthropies, and businesses to explore successful community collaboratives.
This month the Forum will launch AspenCommunitySolutions.org, a digital hub and information exchange platform for the collaboratives. FollowFacebook.com/AspenCommunitySolutions and @AspenFCS on Twitter to stay connected.
The Coca-Cola Foundation gives back $36 million to raise living standards worldwide
Funding supports global efforts to strengthen communities, promote well-being and protect our environment
Atlanta, Georgia, USA, June 20 – The Coca-Cola Foundation – the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company – awarded US$36 million in grants to 105 community organizations during the first quarter of 2013. The grants support the Foundation’s global priority areas and the Company’s three-part sustainability approach, focused on enhancing people’s well-being, building strong communities and protecting the environment.
During the first quarter 2013, The Foundation awarded: $12 million for physical activity and well-being programs; $12 million for water stewardship, recycling, and environmental programs; and $12 million for local priorities and social well-being programs, such as access to education opportunities, youth development, economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention and other civic initiatives. The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded more than $500 million to support global sustainable community initiatives, including water stewardship, community recycling, active healthy living, and education. For more information about The Coca-Cola Foundation, please go to www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/the-coca-cola-foundation
Japan supports food insecure families and refugees in Northern Kenya
18 June, Nairobi – The Government of Japan has contributed US $15 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food assistance to people in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya and to assist refugees in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camp in the north of the country.“Half of the contribution will bring one-month’s food assistance to 580,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Continued and collective international support is required. The rest of the assistance will go to arid and semi arid areas in Kenya”, said Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Toshihisa Takata.
WFP is currently assisting 580,000 refugees and as many as 465,000 Kenyans living in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya. WFP is responding to food insecurity in Kenya through three separate initiatives: school meals, food assistance to refugees, and food or cash for people working on resilience projects that prevent soil erosion and rehabilitate farmland. In total in 2013, WFP aims to provide food assistance to over 3.4 million people.
Open Society announces fund to support new nonprofit leaders
By Maria Di Mento
June 14 – Open Society Foundations has established a $2-million fund to help new nonprofit chief executives put their ideas to work quickly. The New Executives Fund will provide financial assistance to nonprofits around the world that are working on the causes supported by Open Society, the foundation created by George Soros. Those include public health, education, and promoting social change. Open Society is making grants of $25,000 to $250,000, depending on the size of an organization’s operating budget. (…)
Christopher Stone, president of Open Society Foundations, recalled that having access to unrestricted grant money was crucial in his first year as head of the Vera Institute of Justice in 1994.(…) He said he saw the benefits of such support but on a much larger scale, later in his career when he was teaching at Harvard University. Its then newly appointed president, Drew Gilpin Faust, was starting just as the financial crisis hit and Mr. Stone said he remembers a few alumni coming forward to provide support so that Ms. Faust could move forward with new ideas.
“On a very small scale in my own career, and then watching the same thing happen at one of the world’s largest nonprofits, has left me with an abiding sense of just how valuable this kind of support is to a new director,” said Mr. Stone.
Burkina Faso: People in north receive food aid
13 June, Geneva/Ouagadougou – Beginning 13 June, farmers and herders in Oudalan province, in the north of Burkina Faso, will be receiving food aid provided by the Burkinabé Red Cross Society with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). By 16 June, some 9,000 needy people will benefit from enhanced food security, which should see them through until the next harvest in October.
Since February 2012, Burkina Faso has been dealing with the consequences of the crisis in Mali by taking in almost 50,000 refugees. The influx has strained an economic situation that was already difficult for the resident population. “The inhabitants of this remote part of the Sahel have accommodated thousands of refugees from Mali, and have been sharing their meagre resources with them. Because the refugees brought their livestock with them, their arrival tripled the number of animals using already inadequate grazing resources,” said Romain Kima, in charge of disaster preparedness and response at the Burkinabé Red Cross.
Like Hadiza W. Mohamed, a widow and mother of three living in the village of Gandafabou, each family will be given 50 kg of millet, 10 kg of beans, 5 litres of cooking oil and 1 kg of salt. The food aid should also help ease tensions between the local population and the refugees.
Because this year’s harvest in Burkina Faso went relatively well, all of the food aid provided could be purchased in Ouagadougou markets and then transported to Oudalan province.
First prize of THE ONE 2013 awarded to Valerie Ann Taylor from United Kingdom
THE ONE, a project by Rotary International District 3450
Every day we wake up to a world of news accentuating violence, pain and suffering. To offset this imbalance we need to draw our attention to the goodness of mankind that exists in the world. THE ONE was created with the intention to find and empower an individual who is the epitome of the compassion and selflessness that lives within us all.
On June 6th, in Hong Kong, Rotarians, celebrities, and friends alike gathered together to celebrate the lives and works of four amazing finalists. Among them, the first prize was awarded to Valerie Ann Taylor: “Her work restoring the lives of the paralysed here in Bangladesh is truly unparalleled. She has great compassion for the neglected members of Bangladesh’s society”
Our special winner, Valerie Ann Taylor, is the epitome of THE ONE. A physiotherapist and humanitarian, Valerie has given over 43 years of selfless sacrifice to the poor and the disabled of Bangladesh. She has always seen the humanity in the disabled and believes that the rehabilitation of these victims is paramount.
Entering her 70’s, Valerie never thinks of her personal interests or about retiring. She has dedicated her life unreservedly to her cause, and her life-long dedication to service has earned her much respect and recognition. The award money will be used to further her humanitarian-cause and service projects.
To find out more about THE ONE and our finalists, or to nominate a candidate for THE ONE 2014 please visit ourm web site:
Peace and security
U.S. Conference of Mayors passes Nuclear Abolition Resolution
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the nonpartisan association of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000, passed a resolution at its annual conference on June 24 calling on the United States to provide leadership in the global elimination of nuclear weapons and to redirect military spending to meet domestic needs.
The resolution highlights several important new multilateral disarmament initiatives and calls on the President and the U.S. government to demonstrate good faith by constructive participation in those initiatives, including a High Level Meeting at the UN General Assembly on September 26 and a follow-on conference to the February 2013 Oslo Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, to be hosted by Mexico in early 2014.To read the full resolution, click here.
DanChurchAid is providing urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Mali
June 20 – DanChurchAid (DCA) has deployed a Mine Action team to assist the conflict affected populations in northern Mali. Thanks to collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid, an ACT – Alliance partner, DCA has been able to rapidly respond to the crisis and mitigate the risk of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) at an early stage. Since March 2013 DCA has trained 114 school teachers in Timbuktu how to educate their pupils about the risks associated with different types of unexploded ammunition. Thus far, 8,109 children have attended risk education sessions, so they are better informed about what to do and – more importantly – what not to do when coming across an UXO. Spreading these lifesaving messages to as many children as possible is essential to reducing the number of accidents involving these deadly remnants of war.
To determine the scale of contamination, DCA is engaged in community liaison with a variety of local actors such as teachers, municipality authorities, elders, etc. Gathering this information is crucial, both in terms of marking where the dangerous areas are, but also to speed up the process of actually clearing the contaminated land once clearance assets have been deployed.
Through a grant from the United Nations Mine Action Service, DCA will soon be able to deploy a clearance team to dispose of landmines and UXO in Northern Mali.
Germany contributes €15 million to WFP food assistance for Syrian refugees
18 June, Gaziantep – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a generous contribution of €15 million from the Government of Germany that will help provide critical food assistance to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled the fighting in Syria. The latest contribution brings total German support to WFP’s Syria emergency operations to close to €25 million.
WFP has an innovative instrument for improving the food security of Syrian refugees; instead of giving them food, WFP provides a credit card which opens opportunities for refugees to go to the supermarkets and buy the food they need. This system also helps the local economy grow and reduces the pressure on hosting communities. WFP and the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) provide assistance via Electronic Food Cards to around 100,000 Syrians in 13 of the 20 Government-run camps, and are planning to expand assistance to support 180,000 Syrians in Turkey by the end of the year. Each card is loaded with 80 Turkish liras (US$45) per family member per month.
Since the beginning of 2013, through the voucher and E-card programmes, around US$68 million in assistance from WFP has flowed into the local economies of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. WFP will use this recent contribution to continue to provide assistance to a growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing Syria every day, through electronic food cards and vouchers. WFP needs to raise around €20 million ($US26 million) every week until September to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict in Syria.
Gates Foundation joins with Rotary to boost polio endgame support
By Dan Nixon and Arnold R. Grahl
25 June – An announcement at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, set the stage for a bold new chapter in the partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the campaign for polio eradication. “Going forward, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018,” said Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s chief executive officer, in a prerecorded video address shown during the convention’s plenary session on 25 June. “If fully realized, the value of this new partnership with Rotary is more than $500 million. In this way, your contributions to polio will work twice as hard.”
The joint effort, called End Polio Now – Make History Today, comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The estimated cost of the initiative’s 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is $5.5 billion. Funding commitments, announced at the Global Vaccine Summit in April, total $4 billion. Unless the $1.5 billion funding gap is met, immunization levels in polio-affected countries will decrease. And if polio is allowed to rebound, within a decade, more than 200,000 children worldwide could be paralyzed every year.
Rotary and the Gates Foundation are determined not to let polio make a comeback. (…)
On 1 July, all Rotary districts will begin using the Rotary Foundation’s new grant model, which has been known as Future Vision. Future Vision Committee Chair Luis Giay lead convention attendees in a countdown to the launch of the grant model Tuesday, as the plenary video screens displayed a rocket blasting off into space.(…)
Central African Republic: MSF distributes essential items to 5000 displaced in Batangafo
MSF witnesses signs of malnutrition amongst displaced children and an increase in malaria cases
21 June – Médecins Sans Frontiéres teams in Batangafo, Central African Republic, have just completed a distribution of essential items, including plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and blankets to more than five thousand people who were forced to flee their villages after they were burned down during heavy fighting with nomadic herdsmen coming from Chad.
The distribution carried out by MSF has provided more than one thousand families (five thousand people) with shelter, mosquito nets to prevent malaria, jerry cans to collect and store water and personal hygiene items. Along with the distribution MSF teams are holding three mobile clinics per week to provide care to a population of 2100 displaced people. (…)
Helen Keller International ChildSight® Program to provide free vision screenings to thousands of Kon Tum children and training for local optic shops
June 15, Kon Tum, Vietnam – This year, 14,000 primary and secondary students in Kon Tum Province will receive free vision screenings, and, if needed, free quality eyeglasses. This is all part of Helen Keller International (HKI)-Vietnam’s ChildSight® Program, which aims to improve the vision of children in Kon Tum Province by strengthening the ability of health personnel to provide pediatric eye care services.
In addition to the screenings and eyeglass distribution, the project will train private optic shops in Kon Tum City and eight districts on how to produce quality eyeglasses. This is the first initiative of its kind in Vietnam and it will continue through March 2014, expanding HKI’s school-based eye care activities from 44 to 83 schools in Kon Tum City and two surrounding districts.
The Grand Challenges Canada-funded project will address gaps in the school-based vision care system in Vietnam and help improve skills and capacity of the private optic shops in Kon Tum that can be adopted by the departments of Health and Education and Training and replicated throughout Vietnam.
Somalia launches campaign to vaccinate adults as well as children against polio
June 11, Mogadishu, Somalia, – President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was first in line to receive a polio vaccine as Somalia’s senior government officials gathered today at the Presidential Villa to launch Somalia’s first-ever polio campaign to vaccinate adults as well as children. This round of the campaign runs from 12 – 19 June, targeting different areas.
In Banadir Region – which includes the capital Mogadishu, where the first case was identified – adults as well as children are being given polio vaccination in an effort to stop the outbreak before it spreads into other regions and possibly into neighbouring countries. While polio mainly affects young children, adults can also catch the virus.
Somalia reported its first case of wild polio for more than six years on 9 May. Already 12 children have been paralyzed , including a 13-year old boy, all in southern Somalia. A further five cases have also been confirmed across the border in Kenya. “Polio has returned to Somalia after more than six years and now threatens not only our children but anyone who has not been vaccinated,” said President Hassan. “This is why we will be vaccinating everyone in Banadir, mothers, fathers, teenagers and elders as well as children.”
Rotary and Germany help mothers and babies in Nigeria
Maternal health project in Nigeria to expand from 10 to 20 Nigerian hospitals thanks to additional funding of €350’368 from Germany
Rotary’s maternal health pilot project will double its hospitals in Northern Nigeria as it accomplished a decrease of maternal mortality by 60 percent and neonatal mortality by 15 percent in ten pilot hospitals over the past three years. Rotary’s Maternal and Child Health Project offers training for health workers, ante- and postnatal care for mothers, medical equipment for treatments and family planning counseling for mothers.
After significant reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality at the first 10 pilot hospitals in Kano and Kaduna states since 2008, the next 10 will offer care in the rural areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja as well as in Ondo State. An awareness campaign in the four states including community dialogues about health care during pregnancy and childbirth, postnatal care and family planning, malnutrition, AIDS prophylaxis as well as FGM (female genital mutilation) is also part of the project. In April 2013, a review meeting with representatives of all 20 participating hospitals was conducted. “The scaling up of this pilot shall further reduce maternal and newborn mortality in Nigeria,” stated Rotarian Robert Zinser, Ludwigshafen, initiator of the Project. The scaling up is co-financed by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ with a contribution of EUR 350’368 over the next two years, and EUR 150’158 from Rotary.
The State Governments of Kano, Kaduna, FCT Abuja and Ondo have committed themselves in Memoranda of Understanding to continue the system of quality assurance after the project ends.
More information about Rotary’s area of focus ‘Maternal and Child Health on project website www.maternal-health.org
Helen Keller International awarded US$29.2 million to combat vitamin A deficiency and child mortality
New York, June 8 – The Canadian Government signed a CDN$29 million (US$29.2 million) grant today with Helen Keller International (HKI) to drive further reductions in child mortality in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The three-year grant is evidence of Canada’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goal for child survival and continues their consistent investments that have positioned vitamin A supplementation as a central pillar of child survival programming.
In 2012 UNICEF announced major progress in reducing child mortality — especially in some of the poorest countries in Africa. The great unsung hero of these reductions is the simple vitamin A capsule. The World Health Organization estimates that vitamin A supplementation reduces deaths in children 6-59 months by a stunning 24%. HKI’s Vice-President, Regional Director for Africa Shawn Baker said, “Canada’s unflagging commitment to vitamin A supplementation and Child Health Days in Africa has been one of the single most important factors in driving the success we see today. The goal posts have changed and national governments now recognize the vital importance of investing in these essential child survival services.”
HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition. Headquartered in New York City, HKI’s programs prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition in 21 countries in Africa and Asia, as well as in the United States.
Australia pledges $80 million to end polio
Renewing its stance as a global leader in polio eradication
30 May – The Australian Government pledged an additional AUD$80 million for polio eradication this week, taking the country’s total commitment to AUD$130 million.
The government’s announcement was made during a whirlwind visit by Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist, Bill Gates, on 28 May. Addressing a room full of journalists and politicians at a function hosted by the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Gates said, “Finishing polio really is worth it. It’ll improve these health systems and save so much money.”
Australia’s renewed funding will go towards the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, which was shared with world leaders at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi late last month and was recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly. The plan has so far received overwhelming support, with governments and private philanthropists making substantial pledges, including Mr Gates – who announced that his foundation would be chipping in US$1.8 billion to end this disease.
Energy and safety
US Energy Department announces investment to accelerate next generation biofuels
July 1st – The Energy Department today announced four research and development projects to bring next generation biofuels on line faster and drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels from biomass. The projects—located in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin—represent a $13 million Energy Department investment.
The research projects announced today build on the Obama Administration’s broader efforts to accelerate the next generation of biofuels by bringing down costs, improving performance and identifying effective, non-food feedstocks and conversion technologies. These projects will help maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be converted to fuels from biomass and improve the separation processes in bio-oil production to remove non-fuel components—further lowering production costs.
U.K.‘s Opus Energy enters hydroelectric power market
By Michael Harris
June 28 – Northampton, England European utility Opus Energy is expanding its generating fleet to include the company’s first hydroelectric power projects, saying “businesses diversifying into renewables makes sound economic sense.” The deal, announced earlier this week, will see Opus Energy purchase power from a trio of small hydropower plants located in Scotland.
Though Opus Energy had not yet previously entered into the hydro power market, the Northampton-based company said it has already expanded its portfolio to include other solar, wind and biomass power sources. A poll conducted by the company showed that its customers were in favor of even more renewable energy. “The survey results were really exciting in showing that business are switched on to the idea of generating renewable power,” company official Steve James said.
USA – Central Texas dreams big for Solar Energy Center
By James Montgomery
June 28, Austin, Texas — Texas A&M University-Central Texas (TAMU-CT) is opening the doors for what it claims will be the planet’s biggest solar energy test facility, a 50-MW undertaking spanning both commercial demonstrations and testing, with an incubator program to shepherd newer technologies. The system also will produce all of the university’s power requirements (achieved via net metering), housing enough renewable energy to power the entire TAMU-CT’s campus.
Projected to cost nearly $600 million, the Center for Solar Energy will cover up to 800 acres in Bell County, TX, adjacent to the campus and neighboring Fort Hood. PPA Partners is developing the project, with “one of the 10 largest domestic electric contractors and renewable EPCs” handling installation of all the PV systems. The project will be built out in stages, or “blocks,” according to Bruce Mercy, executive director of the CSE. One financier (choosing to remain anonymous for the next 90 days or so) has already committed $25 million to build out the first block; another has been tentatively lined up and will be announced a few weeks after that, he said. Groundbreaking will begin shortly thereafter.
USA – Negotiations net big wins for energy efficiency, coal plant closure and low-income assistance
June 26, Olympia, WA – A combination of rulings that some are calling the most important utility regulatory decision in decades paves the way for Puget Sound Energy to boost energy efficiency savings, make low-income families’ homes more livable and facilitate a fair and orderly end to coal-fired power production in the state.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which regulates Washington’s utilities including PSE, on Tuesday adopted innovative ratemaking mechanisms supported by UTC staff, NW Energy Coalition, PSE, and The Energy Project. The ruling allows PSE to help its customers to save even more energy and money, and to move away from coal and other highly polluting energy sources. It also addresses PSE’s fiscal challenge of declining per-customer power use.
The final order adopts a comprehensive “decoupling” provision that will help the utility achieve even greater energy efficiency savings while making its revenue more predictable. http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2013/negotiations-net-big-wins-for-energy-efficiency-coal-plant-closure-and-low-income-assistance
World’s largest water risk news database – aquaNOW – debuts
OOSKAnews to offer global water intelligence tool in partnership with Global Water challenge and US Water Partnership
Arlington, Va., USA, June 24 – The world’s leading provider of water related news, OOSKAnews, announced today the launch of a new database and search engine. aquaNOW.info, the World’s Water Data engine, will allow water professionals to access the world’s most substantive database of water-related news. The new database empowers users to search through over 300,000 tagged data points across 26,000 water news articles compiled from around the world.
aquaNOW is a water-risk and water-opportunity decision support tool. Users can search the database by using a map-based interface delivering detailed results at watershed, country and local levels. aquaNOW also permits topic-driven search in over 25 subject areas including corporate risk, environment, health, energy and food security, regulation and transnational issues. Excerpts of all aquaNOW information can be accessed at no cost at www.aquaNOW.info .
ITT announces partnership with Engineers Without Borders
White Plains, N.Y., USA, June 24 – ITT Corporation today announced a partnership with Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA), an organization that partners with communities around the globe to develop sustainable solutions for basic infrastructure needs. ITT’s initial $10,000 contribution will help fund ongoing EWB-USA initiatives and support a current infrastructure project underway in Usalama, Kenya.
ITT’s partnership could support EWB-USA projects that harness solar energy to power local health clinics, construct bridges to provide access to local markets, and build new schools and educational facilities in communities across the world.
Save the Children supports Child Care Development Block Grant
Washington, D.C., June 10 – Save the Children is pleased to announce its support for S. 1086, the Child Care Development and Block Grant Act of 2013, which would greatly improve the safety of children in child care facilities in the event of a disaster.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the main source of federal funding that provides assistance to child care programs and families. For the last several years, Save the Children, along with numerous other organizations (including the former National Commission on Children and Disasters), has been advocating for quality preparedness planning at child care facilities. During a normal work week, nearly 68 million children are in school or child care settings, and most parents assume that when they drop their kids off for the day, they will be safe if disaster strikes.
“Two-thirds of our nation’s states do not require basic emergency preparedness regulations for child care facilities,” said Kathy Spangler, Vice President of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. “With the beginning of the hurricane season, as well as the recent devastation in Oklahoma, it is more important than ever to focus on meeting this essential need for children.”
Not only would this legislation help child care centers prepare for emergencies, but it would also improve the overall quality of child care services including new workforce training standards and more comprehensive early learning and development guidelines.
Treadle pumps for irrigation in Zambia
June 6 – One of the biggest challenges that small scale farmers face is irrigation. The traditional method of carrying buckets from the water point to the garden is a laborious task no matter how physically strong you are. This often discourages farmers from having bigger gardens and in turn they produce less and have less disposable income. For a few fortunate farmers in the Southern province of Zambia, this problem seems to belong to the past after benefiting from the treadle pumps under the Social Empowerment of Marginalised Rural Communities in Southern Province Zambia (SEESZ) project. The SEESZ project was implemented by JCPZ partner Women of Change (WfC) and was co- funded by the EU and DCA.
Irrigation boosts agricultural productivity through better nourished crops, which enables gardeners to grow a variety of crops during the dry seasons of the year. According to the JCPZ calculations, most farmers have seen their yearly net income increase to an average of $1,000 (762 Euros). Not bad in a country where over 60 per cent of the population in rural areas still lives on less than one US dollar per day. The consequence of this is improved livelihoods for families, who now have access to a variety of food, and a disposable income.
Environment and wildlife
Netherlands and WFP work with Bangladeshi communities to cope with natural disasters
1 July, Dhaka – People in the disaster-prone districts of south-west Bangladesh will be better prepared in future, thanks to a contribution of US$3 million from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The contribution will enable the government and WFP to support 7,000 men and women with cash/food for work and training, and another 7,000 women with trainings on income generation, a cash grant for investment and a monthly allowance. Including the participants’ family members, 70,000 people will benefit from these activities in Shyamnagar, Kalapara and Dacope.
Since the start of this year, WFP has assisted 7,000 women and men so they can repair and reinforce embankments and raise roads, excavate canals and ponds and elevate the ground around their houses in order to protect their communities from flooding, water-logging and increasing salinity.
All activities are part of a joint programme between the Netherlands and the UN in Bangladesh with the aim of building community resilience to climate change and natural disasters through integrated water management
Russia sets tougher penalties for trafficking endangered animals
23 June – Russia’s State Duma has approved legislative amendments that mean tougher punishments for poaching and trafficking of rare species will come into force. It means anyone found smuggling “endangered species” can be prosecuted under criminal law. This March, the government increased the compensation due from anyone convicted of killing or taking from the wild tigers and leopards and other endangered species, including certain birds of prey, to RUB1.1 million (US$35,000), a move that has now been endorsed through a new bill by the State Duma. Species classified as “endangered” include the Amur tiger, Amur leopard, polar bear and snow leopard.
In 2012, a review of Russian wildlife legislation carried out by TRAFFIC and WWF proposed amendments to Russian federal law that would tighten the penalties for illegal harvest and trafficking of rare species and their derivatives and highlighted the loophole that had allowed poachers and traffickers to get away with insignificant fines.
Gulf of Mexico Whales, Dolphins Protected from Industry’s High-Intensity Airgun Surveys in Landmark Agreement
June 21- Washington, D.C – Today, a coalition of conservation groups (the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Gulf Restoration Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club) announce a major settlement agreement with the Department of the Interior and oil and gas industry representatives, to protect whales and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico from high-intensity airgun surveys. The settlement requires new safeguards, including putting biologically important areas off-limits, expanding protections to additional at-risk species, and requiring the use of listening detection devices to better ensure surveys do not injure endangered sperm whales. The agreement was filed in the case of NRDC v. Jewell, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Mexico approves measure to save world’s rarest marine mammal
7 June – The government of Mexico has taken a decisive step to save the vaquita – a porpoise threatened by extinction – and to promote sustainable fisheries in the upper Gulf of California for the benefit of fishers and their families, says WWF-Mexico. The new regulation, called an official norm, comes after over 38,000 people from 127 countries signed WWF’s petition to Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto requesting measures to save the vaquita and allow fishers to continue to earn a living through sustainable fishing.
Of all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the only one endemic to Mexico, has the most restricted distribution (it only lives in the upper Gulf of California), is the smallest (reaches a maximum length of 1.5 meters) and faces the highest risk of extinction. It is estimated that less than 200 vaquitas currently survive. Its main threat is incidental entanglement and drowning in drift gillnets used to catch shrimp, sharks, rays and other fish. Vaquitas also continues to die trapped in gillnets used in the illegal fishing of totoaba, a fish which is also endangered.
The new regulation establishes shrimping standards in Mexico and defines the fishing gears permitted in different zones of the country.
Religion and spirituality
Japanese award for peace, inter-religion dialogue goes to PIME missionary
June 12 (Asianews) – A top Japanese Award for peace and inter-religious dialogue has been awarded to the Movement “Sisilah” founded by a missionary in the Philippines. Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missionas – PIME, won the 2013 Goi Peace Award, the Goi Peace Foundation announced recently. The Japanese agency, founded in 1999 in Tokyo, is committed to the promotion of peace, overcoming barriers formed by race, religion or political beliefs. The jury said it wanted the prestigious award to go to the Philippine Movement because it best mirrored the foundation’s own values. For the promoters of Sisilah, the award is a confirmation of its work in favour of inter-religious dialogue over the past decades.
The award ceremony will be held on November 27 in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Founded in 1986, for more than 20 years Sisilah has been offering projects and initiatives and training courses for young Christians and Muslims. In recent years the movement has become a point of reference for the ongoing reconciliation between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which for 40 years have fought a war that cost over 100 thousand lives.
Interreligious dialogue – Film as a model for healing
This 2013 year historic healing is occurring among citizens of diverse faith traditions in adversarial villages and towns of Cote d’Ivoire —http://traubman.igc.org/vid-nigeriaivorycoast.htm — and the Democratic Republic of Congo — http://traubman.igc.org/vid-nigeriadrcongo.htm by applying the principles and face-to-face practices of the how-to film, DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future. In the 65-minute documentary, Nigerian Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba clarifies the imperative of citizen-to-citizen engagement to overcome humankind’s famine of communication skills, poverty of relationships, and the worst disease of HRV, Human Relationship Deficiency Virus — http://traubman.igc.org/nigeriahrv.htm The co-producers Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group in California — http://traubman.igc.org/dg-prog.htm — continue to gift and mail the film-on-DVD without cost to peacebuilders, educators, and trainers worldwide by e-mail request to LTraubman@igc.org
Culture and education
UNICEF and Libya sign agreement to improve basic education system
2014 Spring semester, deadline for application: 1 January 2014
New York, June 25 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Libyan Government today signed an agreement that aims to improve the basic education system in the North African country.The agreement was signed by Mr. del Rooy and the Minister of Education, Ali Abed, in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The signing of the agreement will kick start action on various policies, including the development of an education management information system, validation of early learning development standards, and the promotion of early childhood care. It will also support teachers’ training, risk education and the establishment of inclusive education mechanisms in schools.
West Bank teachers train to be teacher trainers
June 18 – ANERA initiated the training program in 2010 with eight teachers and two supervisors from two preschools in Bethlehem and 12 teachers from Nablus. The two-year diploma program is part of ANERA’s early childhood development (ECD) program, which provides preschool educators comprehensive classes on teaching methods for young children. The program is funded by Dubai Cares. The eight teachers from that first class now are completing more advanced classes to become certified trainers.
The Training of Trainers (ToT) course gives them theoretical and practical training on how to train other teachers. At the same time, 37 more preschool educators have started their in-service training. They come from 14 preschools in disadvantaged communities around Jerusalem and Hebron for the free training they could not otherwise afford.
ANERA’s ECD program also rehabilitates and equips target preschools to create safer, cleaner classrooms and play areas. The preschools receive essential games, toys and books to help create stimulating learning environment. ANERA works closely with the education ministry and local communities to ensure that all stakeholders are invested in the program’s progress.
“New” GPE to enhance quality education worldwide
28 May-The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) must support quality education in developing countries and ensure teachers’ involvement in local education group plans. It was the message delivered by EI at the Board of Directors meeting, held from 21-22 May in Brussels, Belgium and attended by over 100 participants and observers.
The GPE Board of Directors approved US$439 million in grants to 12 developing countries, providing critical funding and momentum toward quality education for all children. Targeted countries are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tanzania (Zanzibar), Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This new financing reflects GPE priorities: increasing access to basic education in fragile states, improving the quality of education, generating measurable results and championing girls’ education.)
Joint UNITAR – UOC International Master’s Degree in Conflictology
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research is pleased to announce the launch of the International Master’s Degree in Conflictology – a joint UNITAR – Open University of Catalonia (UOC) online Master’s Degree which presents empirical knowledge and insight on conflict resolution, transformation, mediation and management in an educational setting.
Through this programme, practitioners and academics from prestigious universities, the United Nations and peace research institutes get together with participants from different countries in a virtual environment to share experiences about peace and security and to prepare for professional practice. This programme trains participants in all applications of conflictology and facilitates the development of professional projects by giving participants access to the largest network of people working to promote peace.
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Next issue, after the August interval: 13 September 2013.
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