Good News Agency
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.*
International legislation – Human rights – Economy and development – Solidarity
Peace and security – Health – Energy and Safety – Environment and wildlife
Religion and spirituality – Culture and education
Puntland’s presidential poll heralds way to federal future for war-torn Somalia – UN official
January 8 – The top United Nations official in Somalia today hailed the election of a new president of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland as the harbinger of a peaceful, federal solution for the entire Horn of Africa country, which has been wracked by civil war, factional fighting and Islamist extremism for over two decades. “Puntland is leading the way on the development of a federal Somalia,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Nicholas Kay said in a statement released in Garowe, Puntland’s capital. “The United Nations support the people of Puntland and all of Somalia as they move together towards peace, reconciliation, democracy and prosperity”, he added.
Nepal - Pillay welcomes Supreme Court ruling against amnesty for serious crimes
New York, January 6 – A senior United Nations official has welcomed a decision by Nepal’s top court against granting amnesty for serious human rights violations committed during a decade-long civil war calling it a “significant development for the thousands of victims of the conflict”.
“I now call on the Government of Nepal to urgently implement this important decision, in the spirit of working towards genuine and lasting peace, and to respect the demand of the Nepalese people for justice,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
The 2006 peace accord that ended the conflict in Nepal had agreed to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate human rights violations that occurred from 1996 to 2006, during which at least 13,000 people were killed and 1,300 went missing.
In March 2013, the Nepalese Government passed an Ordinance to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and sought to provide it with the power to grant amnesties for serious human rights violations.
The Court ruled on Thursday that the provisions of the Ordinance concerning amnesties, limitations on criminal prosecution and a 35-day limit for filing cases contravene fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal, its justice system and international law.
It also ordered the Commission to meet international standards, including with regard to guarantees of autonomy and impartiality, and ensure the involvement and protection of victims and witnesses.
UN General Assembly adopts consensus text backing right to privacy in digital age
New York, December 19 – Deeply concerned that electronic surveillance, interception of digital communications and collection of personal data may negatively impact human rights, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a consensus resolution strongly backing the right to privacy, calling on all countries take measures to end activities that violate this fundamental “tenet of a democratic society.”
By a text entitled “Right to privacy in the digital age,” the Assembly weighed in on the emerging issue, underscoring that the right to privacy is a human right and affirming, for the first time, that the same rights people have offline must also be protected online. It called on States to “respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication.”
The measure, crafted by Brazil and Germany, was among the more than 65 texts recommended by the Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) yesterday on a range of issues relating mainly to human rights, social development and crime prevention.
UN, partners seek $1 billion to save Syria’s children from becoming ‘lost generation’
January 7 – The United Nations and its humanitarian partners today appealed for $1 billion to save millions of Syrian children from becoming a “lost generation,” doomed by the civil war in their country to a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.
Launched by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Save the Children, World Vision and other non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, the initiative calls for Governments, aid agencies the ordinary public to champion the children of Syria, where well over 100,000 people have been killed and 8 million others driven from their homes, 2 million of them as refugees in neighbouring countries, since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
It calls for a major investment in ensuring safe education and protection from violence, exploitation and abuse for over 4 million children, and a major public engagement campaign under the hashtag #childrenofsyria is being launched, using social media to enlist influential supporters and public contributors.
Holocaust Remembrance Day – January 27
2014 theme: Journeys through the Holocaust
On this day every year the United Nations commemorates the memory of the victims of the holocaust. Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations General Assembly, in designating this International Day, affirmed that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.
Economy and development
Feed the Future helps farmers in Tajikistan with grants, bank loans
Through USAID project, Tajik farmers access modern farm machinery
January 9 – Increasing farm productivity is essential to both strengthening food security and increasing smallholders’ incomes. However, a lack of agricultural machinery has kept Tajik smallholder farmers from being more productive, and many have been unable to access credit to buy machinery, partly because of rigid collateral requirements imposed by financial institutions.
Recognizing these challenges, the USAID Productive Agriculture project, implemented in Khatlon region of Tajikistan as part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, works to help Tajik farmers gain access to modern farm machinery.
Through its Mechanization Finance Program, the project provides incentive grants to Khatlon’s smallholder farmers in targeted value chains. These grants go toward investments in tractors, farm equipment and other tools. The grants cover up to 25 percent of the total value of the asset. Additionally, the project helps farmers who do not have sufficient capital to receive loans from financial institutions through an innovative loan product.
The project developed a loan product that does not require collateral beyond the tractors themselves, so farmers with good repayment capacity but with few traditional assets can borrow.
Small-scale organic farming gets a boost in Peru
Lima, January 9 – A new institution set up in Peru will strengthen small-scale organic farming, providing support to some 43,000 exporters of ecological products and another 350,000 who supply the domestic market with environmentally-friendly products.
The National Council for Organic Products (CONAPO) was formed to support the weakest link in the food chain, small-scale agriculture, the very year that the United Nations dedicated to family farming worldwide because of its social and productive importance. “There is no public spending that puts the priority on small-scale farmers,” Moisés Quispe, a Peruvian farmer, told IPS. “The budget for agriculture is reduced year by year, even though over 70 percent of the food that Peruvians consume comes from small farms.”
According to the last agricultural census, carried out in 2012, 72 percent of farms in this Andean country are smaller than six hectares, and they mainly supply the domestic market.
Quispe is executive director of the National Association of Ecological Producers of Peru (ANPE), which groups 21,000 organic farmers, 60 percent of whom are smallholders. For the members of ANPE, the new council represents an opportunity to reach agreements with the state that were never possible before, said Quispe, who has been farming for four decades in the southern department or region of Cuzco.
Agriculture represents 25 percent of all jobs in Peru, around 7.5 percent of GDP and nine percent of exports, according to official figures.
Women farmers in Chile to teach the region agroecology
Santiago, January 4 – An organisation that brings together some 10,000 peasant and indigenous women from Chile is launching an agroecology institute for women campesinos, or small farmers, in South America. For years, the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI) has been training thousands of people through La Vía Campesina, the international peasant movement, working on the basis of food sovereignty, which asserts the right of people to define their own food systems. But today it is undertaking its most ambitious project.
The Agroecology Institute for Rural Women (IALA) will be the first in Latin America to only target women. It is taking shape in the town of Auquinco – which roughly means “the sound of water” in the Mapuche indigenous language – in the district of Chépica, 180 km south of Santiago.
The training sessions have already started, even though the building isn’t ready yet.
The IALA institutes were replicated later in Brazil and Paraguay, as well as Ecuador and the rest of the Andean region. The latest major achievement has been the SURI Campesino University, which opened its doors in Argentina in April 2013.
WFP welcomes German contribution to combat malnutrition and support girls’ education in Yemen
December 23, Sana’a – At a signing ceremony at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Government of Germany formally pledged a contribution of €25 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to combat malnutrition and support girls’ education in Yemen. The German contribution will also support monthly food distributions to severely food-insecure Yemeni households under WFP’s current emergency operation.
WFP is currently providing assistance to some 5 million people in Yemen, including 600,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). From July 2014, WFP will be launching a new two-year, US$500-million Protracted Relief and Recovery operation, aiming to reach some 6 million people with a range of activities, including school feeding, cash and food for work and nutrition support interventions, as well as relief assistance for the most food insecure.
Rome-based UN agencies join forces on food losses: Switzerland to fund $2.7 million project with pilot activities in three African countries
December 20, Rome - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have launched a joint project to tackle the global problem of food losses. Around one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes – or enough food to feed 2 billion people; the food lost and wasted uses 250 km3 of water and 1.4 billion hectares of land, and add 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the earth’s atmosphere.
The three UN agencies will work together on the $2.7 million project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation to target food losses in developing countries, which can occur during harvesting, processing, transportation and storage as a result of inadequate infrastructure or lack of skills and technology. In particular, the three-year project will focus on reducing losses of grains and pulses such as maize, rice, beans and cow peas – staple foods that play a significant role in global food security and have a major impact on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
Major boost for Zimbabwe’s sustainable agricultural development and food security efforts
December 20, Harare/Rome - The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and FAO have agreed on a four-year initiative to support Zimbabwe’s efforts to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity, and build resilience against climate change. The innovative new programme, The Livelihoods and Food Security Programme, will enable poor vulnerable farming households to improve food security, nutrition and income while strengthening their long-term resilience.
DFID is providing a $48 million (GBP 30 million) package of funding for an FAO-managed programme to increase sustainability of agriculture, contribute to rural employment and improve nutrition, from childhood to maturity. FAO will be responsible for the overall management of the programme, including coordination of activities, technical quality and reporting on results. The programme will seek to help nearly 300 000 people in selected districts.
The Programme will focus on poverty reduction, but also on addressing specific constraints that smallholder farmers, particularly women, face in boosting agricultural productivity and gaining full access to market systems.
World Bank raises 52 billion dollars for poorest countries
By Carey L. Biron
Washington, December 18 (IPS) – The World Bank has raised some 52 billion dollars, a record amount, for its fund for development in the world’s poorest countries, though some are expressing concerns over the terms under which some of this money is being offered by donor governments.
The bank made the announcement Tuesday in Moscow, where donors wrapped up a two-day pledging summit to top up funding for the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the Washington-based development institution that focuses on boosting development among the poorest of the poor in 82 countries. (…)
Because of the types of countries with which it works, IDA gives out around 20 percent of its funding in grants, with the rest reserved for low-interest loans. As such, the programme’s funding is used up and must be replenished by donor countries every few years.
The Moscow summit this week was the 17th such replenishment, and the funding raised during this round is expected to last for three years, after it is phased in around mid-2014. This timeframe will include the post-2015 period, when the world is slated to set new aims for global development in the aftermath of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The World Bank says the current replenishment will be used to increase focus on climate change and gender equality, as well as to boost efforts to ensure equitable growth.
US$ 85 million IFAD loan to scale up pastoral community development in Ethiopia
December 16, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a loan of US$85 million to the Federal Democratic of Ethiopia to finance a third phase of the Pastoral Community Development Project. The Government of Ethiopia and the World Bank, will co-finance the $218.2 million project.
The project aims to improve access to community driven social and economic services for Ethiopia’s pastoralists and agropastoralists. It is expected to improve their livelihoods by increasing and stabilizing their incomes, improving their nutrition, health and education status, and empowering them to be involved in decision-making on local development initiatives.
Implemented over a 15 year period by the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the project will cover more than 90% of pastoral and agropastoral woredas (districts) in the country. Improved access to public services will enhance the quality of life and support the livelihoods of about 4.7 million pastoralists and agropastoralists.
IFAD approves US$ 88 million for smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change
December 16, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approved US $88 million in grant financing for climate change adaptation efforts in 9 vulnerable countries, funded by IFAD’s new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), which channels climate finance to smallholder farmers so that they can improve their resilience to climate change.
These ASAP-supported projects will benefit poor rural communities in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Djibouti, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Viet Nam. They join the Climate Adaptation and Livelihood Protection project in Bangladesh that passed IFAD Executive Board review in September, and the Pro-Poor Value Chain Project in Mozambique, which is currently under implementation.
ASAP is made possible by the generous contributions of five donor countries: Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
World Economic Forum – Davos, Switzerland, January 22 – 25
2014 theme: The reshaping of the world: consequences for society, politics and business
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos provides an opportunity for leaders of corporations and business to consider global issues together with politicians and civil society representatives. Profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological forces are transforming our lives, communities and institutions. Rapidly crossing geographic, gender and generational boundaries, they are shifting power from traditional hierarchies to networked heterarchies. Yet the international community remains focused on crisis rather than strategically driven in the face of the trends, drivers and opportunities pushing global, regional and industry transformation.
“The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business” is therefore the thematic focus of the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2014. Our aim is to develop the insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges.
Rotary International annual report 2012-13, a very good year for Rotary
The 2012-13 fiscal year was a very good one for Rotary, leaving it financially strong to do good in the world. Contributions to the Annual Fund set a new record, surpassing $115.1 million. Donors also gave a record $20.4 million to the Endowment Fund.
PolioPlus received $23.6 million from Rotarians and friends of Rotary, along with $69.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rotary also geared up for the global launch of its new grant model. During the final year of the Future Vision pilot, 100 districts participated in projects supported by district grants and global grants totaling $26.4 million.
Rotary’s consolidated financial activities include those of Rotary International (RI), The Rotary Foundation (TRF), and their wholly owned subsidiaries.
DePaul Industries launches two for-profit benefit companies, expands nationally
Portland, Ore.,USA, January 7 – In order to employ more individuals with disabilities across the nation, Portland-based DePaul Industries continues to blur the lines between nonprofit and for-profit with the formation of two wholly-owned benefit companies.
DePaul Industries, which remains a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has just registered its private-sector staffing and packaging divisions as LLCs under new Oregon benefit company legislation. Benefit companies must consider impact to society and the environment in addition to profit, and DePaul Industries’ mission of creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment is included in the two companies’ bylaws.
DePaul Industries’ staffing arm, now rebranded as PurposeSTAFF to reflect its mission, will be expanding around the nation. DePaul is in talks with potential partners in an effort to open a number of new PurposeSTAFF locations in 2014. DePaul expects the PurposeSTAFF network, which will appeal to the rising number of companies interested in supporting social sustainability, to have an established national presence by 2020. PurposeSTAFF has also earned B Corporation certification, as issued by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
Online gifts rose 16% during holiday season
By Raymund Flandez
January 2 – Online gifts in the last two months of 2013 rose 16 percent higher than in the same months in 2012, according to Network for Good, a nonprofit that processes gifts made electronically. Donations from November 1 to December 31 last year rose to $77.9-million, up from $67.1-million in 2012. The size of the average gift was one reason for the growth: The average donation increased 10 percent, from $157 in 2012 to $172 last year.
Network for Good says the number of donations it handled increased 6 percent, with December 3, a day dubbed Giving Tuesday because nonprofits aggressively promoted donations, providing a boost in online giving.(…)
Using data from Network for Good, The Chronicle tracked daily online-fundraising totals for more than 14,000 charities over three years. View the most up-to-date results now.
South Sudan: 30,000 displaced people receive aid in Awerial
January 1 Operational Update – Tens of thousands of people fearing for their lives have fled violence in Jonglei state. They are crossing the Nile River and seeking refuge in Awerial county, in the centre of South Sudan. The need for humanitarian aid is acute, as more people arrive daily. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the South Sudan Red Cross today began a major aid distribution to meet immediate food, shelter and other needs.
The ICRC’s initial response will provide 30,000 people with basic items such as blankets, tarpaulins, cooking kits, jerry cans and a two-week food supply. In addition, fishing kits are being distributed to over 16,000 residents of Awerial county, whose resources are under strain from this sudden influx of displaced people.
Elsewhere in South Sudan, the ICRC is calling on all parties to take every feasible precaution to minimize civilian casualties, to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, and to allow people to reach health-care facilities safely.
Food and shelter distributions going well in typhoon-hit Philippines.
December 17 – Caritas Switzerland are distributing aid to 570 families in the community during the week. The distribution is peaceful and well organized. A team of volunteers from Caritas’s local partners help to manage the queue, tick people off the list and provide them with 22 items, including rice, canned goods, tarpaulins, buckets, hygiene kits and tools. In total, Caritas Switzerland is supporting 9,000 families on Bantayan and neighbouring islands – some of them only reachable by small fishing boats.
Hilton Foundation approves record number of new grants totaling $38.3 million
Funding supports 33 organizations, furthering the foundation’s strategic initiatives
Agoura Hills, California, December 12 – The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation recently awarded $38.2 million in grants to a record 33 organizations working in its priority program areas, including Catholic Sisters, Children affected by HIV and AIDS, Foster Youth, Homelessness, Substance Abuse Prevention, Catholic schools, and Disaster Preparedness.
“The board’s approval of this many grants for the quarter is a validation of the important work our partners carry out in the field,” said Ed Cain, Vice President, Grant Programs. “Increasingly, we are being more strategic in our areas of interest, trying to make the biggest difference possible with the resources at our disposal, and making sure that these projects deliver tangible results. In the past year, the Foundation has reached a landmark $1 billion in total grantmaking since inception, and this latest round of grants shows that we are well on our way to award an additional $1 billion in funding within the next 10 years.”
Peace and security
South Sudan: UN releases $15 million in urgent aid but peacekeeper surge will take longer
9 January – While the United Nations has released $15 million from its rapid response fund for immediate humanitarian operations in war-torn South Sudan, even amid “very substantial progress”, it could take up to eight weeks before the full 5,500-strong surge in UN peacekeepers and equipment is deployed on the ground. “But our goal is to go as quickly as possible and we are grateful to those countries who are helping us to do the transportation because that’s no small feat,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told reporters after briefing the Security Council on the situation in the world’s youngest country, where well over 1,000 people have been killed and some 300,000 others driven from their home since fighting erupted between Government and opposition forces nearly a month ago.
Although he said today that getting the whole surge there could take between four and eight weeks, he stressed that “we are making very substantial progress,” and it was hoped to have a significant number of formed police units, some of which are already deployed and operational, on the ground over the coming days.
This will allow UNMISS peacekeepers who lack the necessary vehicles and are currently deployed on UN bases and camps to defend 60,000 people seeking shelter there, to take on “more proactive patrolling around the bases and beyond because, of course, the situation in terms of violation of human rights remains terrible critical,” he added.
First chemical arms materials leave Syria, joint OPCW-UN mission confirms.
January 7 – The process of removing Syria’s most critical chemical weapons material outside of the country for destruction began today, the head of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations confirmed. Accompanied by naval escorts from Denmark, Norway and Syria, the ship has now sailed for international waters. Maritime security is being provided by naval escorts from China, Denmark, Norway and Russia. The confirmation was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who called it an “achievement” in “the continuing progress in the international effort to eliminate the chemical weapons programme”, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.
UK destroys last stockpiled cluster munition
December 19 – The Cluster Munition Coalition warmly congratulates the United Kingdom on completing the destruction of its stockpile of cluster munitions, in line with its duties under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The UK finished destroying its large stockpile five years earlier than the Convention’s eight-year deadline.
The last Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M26 bomblet was destroyed at Esplodenti Sabino’s facility, Casalbordino Italy, on Tuesday 17th December 2013.
Such an accomplishment is a strong indication of the UK’s commitment to the Convention and its goal of preventing further harm from cluster munitions. Indeed, stockpile destruction has been one of the early success stories of the Convention, with 50% of the States Parties with stockpiles having already finished destruction and many more set to do so in the next couple of years. This represents over 1 million cluster munitions and 122 million submunitions destroyed by States Parties, a significant accomplishment just over three years after the Convention entered into force.
The United Kingdom, like the Netherlands and Belgium which have also finished destruction, had a significant number of cluster munitions and submunitions in its stockpile before joining. Upon joining the Convention, the United Kingdom declared a stockpile of 190,828 cluster munitions and 38,758,898 submunitions.
Santiago conference commits to a cluster munition-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean.
December 14 – Representatives from 24 Latin American and Caribbean states met in Santiago from 12-13 December seeking the establishment of a cluster-munitions free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. States agreed to work together against cluster munitions to contribute to the global efforts to eradicate this banned weapon. Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners attending the meeting called on states to universalise and implement the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions as a means to this end. The meeting reaffirmed the partnership between states and civil society and the Cluster Munition Coalition was represented by campaigners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela.
South Africa, the nation that gave up its nuclear weapons
Former South African President F.W. de Klerk wrote an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times detailing his thinking behind the decision to get rid of South Africa’s nuclear weapons in 1989.
De Klerk wrote, “Nuclear weapons had no value in the kind of border wars we were fighting, and the prospect of using them against neighboring countries was too appalling to be contemplated.”
He continued, “The international community must take concrete steps to control, and finally eliminate, nuclear weapons as a thinkable option. This will require greater support for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and more rapid movement by existing nuclear weapons states toward the reduction and dismantling of their stockpiles. The world should realize that real security does not lie in increasing our power to destroy others; it lies in our ability to live with others on the basis of peace and justice.”- F.W. de Klerk, ”South Africa, the Nation that Gave Up Its Nukes,” Los Angeles Times, December 22, 2013.
NAPF to welcome Noam Chomsky to Santa Barbara – February 28
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will welcome Professor Noam Chomsky to Santa Barbara to deliver the 13th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future on February 28, 2014.
Professor Chomsky, a long-time critic of nuclear weapons and U.S. nuclear policy, will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.
India celebrates three years polio free
January 10 – On Monday 13 January 2014, a significant milestone in the worldwide effort to eradicate polio will be reached when India celebrates three years since its last new case of the disease. Official certification of the country as polio free will take place in March and a celebration is planned in February.
Long considered the hardest place in the world from which to eradicate polio, India is now a case study for mounting a successful disease response effort under complex circumstances. In 2009, India was home to almost half of the world’s polio cases. The country then launched a comprehensive polio eradication effort to create a health infrastructure to eliminate the disease. This included a surveillance network of more than 33,000 sites, an army of 2.3 million vaccinators deployed during national immunisation days and strategies to reach children in the country’s hardest to reach areas. This resulted in the delivery of 900 million doses of polio vaccine in 2011 alone.
Rotary has been at the forefront of the fight to end polio since it helped launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in the 1980′s. This year, every dollar raised for the End Polio Now campaign will be match funded 2:1 by the Make History Today campaign, which will match funds to a total of US$35 million per year until 2018.
Recovery efforts move ahead two months on from Typhoon Haiyan
by Patrick Fuller, IFRC
January 8 – (…) Despite the unsanitary living conditions endured by thousands of homeless families, one of the success stories of the operation so far has been the absence of any significant public health emergency. The Red Cross has helped to prevent major disease outbreaks by providing emergency medical services through Basic Health Care Units as well as producing and distributing more than 3.4 million litres of clean water to over 1.1 million people in Tacloban, Tolosa and Dulag on Leyte Island. Maintaining good health and preventing disease is a core component of the Red Cross health programme and more than 138 Philippine Red Cross volunteers have been trained to work with local communities. More than 7,000 people have been reached with hygiene promotion messages.
One of the most urgent needs amongst survivors is shelter. (…) As part of the wider humanitarian response to the typhoon, the IFRC leads the Shelter Cluster – established to provide coordination between humanitarian organisations working in the shelter sector and the Government.
So far, agencies working within the cluster have provided over 324,000 households with emergency shelter materials, including tarpaulins, tents, tools and ropes. The focus now is on supporting families to return to rebuild their homes to a safer and higher standard. (…)
Iran – Childhood Cancer Survivors’ Day celebration at ngo MAHAK
On December 27, MAHAK family gathered to hold a ceremony celebrating ‘Childhood Cancer Survivors’ Day’ under the theme of “Cancer is not the end”. Guests included the MAHAK Board of Trustees and Directors, survived children, their family members, celebrities, social VIPs, volunteers and MAHAK staff. This non-governmental organization concentrates on children with cancer at a national and international level in the three domains of charity, treatment and research. The highly specialized pediatric cancer hospital, which has access to the world’s latest technology in the field of pediatric cancer diagnosis and treatment, plays a vital role in the region.
MAHAK mission is to completely support children with cancer and their families with the aid of the Charter of Patients’ Rights, new and efficient methods, the latest achievements of medical science, and the most up to date diagnostic, treatment and prevention methodologies. At the moment 16200 cancer-stricken children have covered by MAHAK and enjoy support services provided by the charity to resolve anxieties and fears about cancer diagnosis and treatment.
MAHAK is a non-profit, non-political, and non-governmental charity organization supported by fundraising and humanitarian assistance in the form of money, goods, services and technical expertise.
Rotary helps close out the year with gains against polio: examples of successful operations
by Dan Nixon, Rotary News
December 16 – The persistence by Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has helped reduce the number of polio cases in Nigeria by half, as compared to this time last year. Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where the transmission of polio has never been stopped. Overall, polio cases in the three countries have decreased by 35%, thanks in part to Rotary’s advocacy with government and business leaders, PolioPlus grants, and mobilizing support on the ground.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative made a difference in 2013: a year without type 3 polio. The last case of type 3 wild poliovirus (WPV3) occurred in Nigeria on 10 November 2012. Rotary and its GPEI partners have helped reduce transmission of WPV3 to its lowest levels ever.
On 12 November Rotary, Brazil’s government, and the Pan American Health Organization signed a Declaration of Commitment and Collaboration toward the Goal of a Polio-Free World. Rotary members in District 4420 in Brazil also announced their commitment to donate 40% of their District Designated Funds to PolioPlus. Through the End Polio Now: Make History Today fundraising campaign and World Fund match, these funds will be matched 2 for 1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and generate $250,000 for polio eradication.
Energy and safety
Water systems from SolarWorld, Water Missions International and Rotary aid 35,000 people in Perù, Haiti an Malawi
January 12, Hillsboro, OR – A partnership among SolarWorld, the largest solar manufacturer in the United States and Europe, and nonprofit partners Rotary International and Water Missions International (WMI) has helped a total of 35,000 people in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean gain access to clean, safe drinking water.
At the close of 2013, SolarWorld, Rotary International, a global network of humanitarian volunteers, and WMI, a Christian water-engineering nonprofit, celebrated installation of 25 solar-powered, community-based water-purification systems in Haiti, the Peruvian Amazon and Malawi. The three organizations share a chief humanitarian goal of promoting water quality to enhance the health, quality of life and economic status of the world’s poorest people.
“These projects unite WMI, Rotary International, SolarWorld and Grundfos in leveraging their technological expertise to maximize the humanitarian impact of curbing the spread of disease and death from contaminated water supplies,” said George Greene IV, President and Chief Operating Officer of Water Missions International. “The result: clean, safe and sustainable water — a foundation for community health, education and economic vitality”.
SolarWorld and WMI teamed with various local Rotary clubs in the United States, Peru, Haiti and Malawi to provide systems. In Peru, for example, the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., led a fund-raising effort that, in combination with a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, garnered over $300,000 for water and sanitation projects in Peru.
Construction begins on new Virunga hydropower plant
December 19 – A second hydroelectric project was started Monday on a river that runs through Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Once online, the hydropower plant will provide 12.5 megawatts of clean energy to communities living around the park, more than doubling the existing hydroelectric capacity. The facility is also expected to provide fresh drinking water to more than one million nearby residents. Funding for the US$19.7 million project was provided by American philanthropist Howard G. Buffett.
Analysis commissioned by WWF found that hydroelectric plants powered by Virunga National Park’s watershed have the potential to generate US$10 million per year and could spark an economic stimulus leading to the creation of 10,000 jobs.
Sustainable development of hydropower, fisheries and ecotourism in the World Heritage Site present an alternative to potentially damaging oil extraction, which is currently being pursued by an UK company. Soco International PLC is planning to begin invasive exploration activities on Virunga’s Lake Edward, which provides fish and drinking water to 50,000 people.
Environment and wildlife
Building Climate Solutions – January 28-30, near Washington D.C.
14th national conference and global forum on Science, policy and the environment
Over thirty organizations are partnering with the Building Climate Solutions conference to engage participants in new and ongoing initiatives that advance solutions to climate change.
Assessments need to be built on a strong foundation of knowledge and tools to be useful for adaptation and mitigation decision support and for improving scientific understanding. This session will focus on lessons learned in the process of developing the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA3) report, which is due for release in the spring of 2014.
Leaders in the production of NCA3 will provide insights gleaned from their efforts. The outcomes from the track will be synthesized into transferable lessons that can be integrated into other assessments and the new Sustained Climate Assessment process that is now being implemented at the US Global Change Research Program. Some of the most challenging components of building a sustained climate assessment process will be addressed.
We will explore the status of the science and how to create a global coalition of cities to advance the science and develop tools for decision-makers. The targeted outcome is to develop the basis for an international coalition of cities and sub-national planning and regulatory agencies where nations can work cooperatively to enhance the science needed to advanced measurement capabilities supporting decision-making tools for local authorities as well as regional and national interests.
Snow Leopard cubs a sign of hope for species on the brink
December 26 – Images of two snow leopard cubs frolicking in the remote mountains of Siberia is evidence that the once decimated population is bouncing back. The photos from camera traps partly financed by WWF were captured in the Argut River Valley in eastern Russia. The area is estimated to have been home to nearly 40 individuals at its peak two decades ago.
During the 1990s this population of snow leopards was almost entirely destroyed by poachers.
In 2011 WWF-Russia in collaboration with a number of other organisations including the Altai Project and Snow Leopard Conservancy, launched a project on snow leopard research and restoration in the Argut River Valley.
This project involved a crackdown on poaching that included several anti-poaching raids in previously unpatrolled areas, retrieving illegal weapons and destroying snares.
Several expeditions organized this year by the project proved that at least five to eight snow leopards currently inhabit Argut, the photos were obtained on the most recent expedition, which was organised by Arkhar, a local conservation NGO.
Religion and spirituality
Winter Feast for the Soul – a 40-day worldwide spiritual practice period
Starting on January 15, people around the world from different spiritual paths are invited to join their intention for personal and planetary peace by comitting to forty minutes of spiritual practice each day for forty days. Although the Feast marks the Northern Winter participants are from northern and southern hemispheres.
We hold a vision of a world at peace that surpasses the imagined boundaries of creed, culture, and philosophical beliefs. We embrace all spiritual traditions and organizations in a synchronized period of practice where we become part of a shared dream for a consciousness of oneness and peace on our planet.
Culture and education
Education a top priority in response to the Syrian crisis says UNESCO Director-General
January 14 – The 2nd Pledging Conference for Syria takes place in Kuwait on Wednesday 15 January. UNESCO Director general Irina Bokova is attending the meeting to call attention to the importance of education. The needs are immense, both inside Syria, where 2.3 million have stopped attending school, and in refugee-hosting countries, where over 60 percent of the school-age refugees (735,000) are not enrolled in school.
The Director-General will in particular seek funding for two major UNESCO initiatives. These will focus on (i) providing critical support for teachers to sustain the quality of teaching and learning, and (ii) promoting Youth Education for Stability and social integration (YES).
Over the past three years, UNESCO and several partners, including the European Union, have been responding to urgent educational needs, providing support to Syrian children and youth in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and in Syria. UNESCO is also deeply engaged in the UNRWA education programme that benefits Syrian Palestinian refugees, more than half of which have been uprooted by the Syrian conflict.
The World Food Programme welcomes Chad’s Historic contribution to school meals
January 9, N’Djamena – For the first time since the beginning of its operations in Chad 50 years ago, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a contribution of 182 metrics tons of food from the Chadian government for its school meals programme. The donation is worth US$400,000 dollars.
Every morning, hundreds of children go to school on an empty stomach in Chad. This prevents them from concentrating on their lessons and makes them less likely to attend school regularly. To address this problem, WFP is working with the Ministry of Education and Literacy in proving school meals to more than 800 schools in the Sahelian belt, which is the part of the country most affected by food insecurity. Hot meals, served daily to more than 200,000 students, encourage them to attend school and provides an incentive for their families to send them to school rather than to work in the fields. Through this school meals programme, WFP hopes to strengthen its partnership with the Government and with local farmers, in order for most of the food required for the school meal programme to be grown and purchased locally. This not only helps support the local economy but also means the whole community is involved in this school meals initiative.
Youth take the front seat in shaping the future for girls’ education
by Kulsoom Rizvi
January 8 – Meet Nargiza Khojaeva and Munisa Sharifkhojaeva – two ambitious 15-year-old girls from the Gharm district of Tajikistan. Both girls spent most of their childhood in Rasht Valley, a traditional, rural community in Gharm located in the northeastern part of Tajikistan, which has the highest school dropout rates than the national average for both boys and girls – ranging from 11 per cent to 14 per cent. Much of rural Tajikistan carries a restrictive view of the role of women in society. Girls’ education continues to be a major concern in the country with enrollment rates in the upper grades low and dropout rates high. (…)
Through Counterpart International’s Young Leaders Program (YLP), the girls saw a window of opportunity for their future and shaping the future of other girls to come.
Nargiza and Munisa attended a 10-week civic education course organized by YLP that educated 222 youth participants from Rasht Valley on the core principles and values of volunteerism, civic participation and human rights. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the program supports active, civically engaged, and socially conscious youth in Tajikistan, providing young people with the tools and experience to take ownership of their future. (…)
Nargiza and Munisa hope to start a debate club for girls in their community, continuing to expand the dialogue on gender issues.