Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Insects as a Valuable Food Source

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recently promoted the idea of using insects as a valuable food source during emergencies. Patrick Durst, a senior forestry officer at the FAO in Bangkok says, “In certain places, insects can very well be seen as part of the solution to hunger.” According to scientists, crickets, caterpillars, and grubs are a reliable source of protein and can safely be eaten as a reliable food source should no other safe option be available. Some restaurants around the world are beginning to put bugs on the menu.

Using insects as a reliable food source during emergencies is becoming an increasingly popular means to combating hunger. However, the challenge lies in organizing insect food operations on the ground in countries most in need. There is almost no infrastructure to raise insects as a food source in the countries that need it most and the challenge of transporting large quantities of these insects’ far distances has not been overcome. There are concerns about the safety of eating bugs and dangers that might come with over-harvesting them. The facts are on the table and many challenges lay ahead, but there is a glimmer of hope for the future of preventable hunger.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Over 6 million children to start a new school year in Afghanistan with the help of the UN

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is implementing a program to ensure that both boys and girls in Afghanistan will be given access to quality education in a safe environment. UNICEF is partnering with local organizations in Afghanistan to build more schools, provide materials for both students and teachers, and providing quality training for teachers.
A major obstacle that remains is gender disparity among boys and girls in schools, child safety, and a limited number of quality teachers. Currently, 32 percent of boys complete primary school while only 13 percent of girls complete primary school. Both UNICEF and the Girls’ Education Initiative are working diligently to enroll an additional 330,000 girls in school this year. “This is a big challenge for all of us, the Afghan nation and the Afghan children, to bring about parity, or equality, for children and ensure that all children, whether they are girls or boys, continue to go to school, and complete their schooling, so that they can contribute not only to their own development, but also contribute to the building of the country,” UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Afghanistan, Sikander Khan, said at a press briefing in Kabul today.
Recent concerns have arisen in Afghanistan as attacks on schools and community intimidation create serious obstacles that prevent children from attending school The government, local organizations, and UNICEF are partnering to implement ways to protect families and schools from extremist attacks and small progress has been made. This year the number of children enrolled in school is 6.2 million, up from 5.7 million last year. UNICEF and the Afghan government hope to continue making progress by working together to ensure access to education and a safe future for their country and its children.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nice Awards

Peace and Cooperation, an affiliate of the United Nations, announced its 2008 Peace and Cooperation School Award. The award was announced at UN headquarters. The theme of the award, “water for all” reflected goals promulgated by the United Nations Development Programme and by the Millennium Development Goals, which Peace and Cooperation recognizes as a vehicle that encourages progressive strides toward expanding clean water to people worldwide.

Airline Ambassadors, a humanitarian group affiliated with the UN, is cosponsoring the award. They have also sponsored international school awards relating to human rights, gender equality, and hunger. They hope that recognizing schools worldwide with the support of the UN will help increase awareness of global issues to teachers, students, and other campus affiliates.

The Peace and Cooperation School Award is one of many awards given by this non-governmental organization to recognize humanitarian efforts conducted around the globe.

Go to to learn more about Peace and Cooperation’s awards and how they use recognition as an educational tool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

UNICEF Partners with Dubai Cares

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is partnering with Dubai Cares, a program recently launched Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai to support education. Together UNICEF and Dubai Cares hope to increase education programs around the work in an effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

There are 92 million children in the world who are not currently receiving primary education. The Millennium Development Goals express a goal to achieve universal primary education by 2015. The funding from Dubai Cares will be used across the globe in Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe to build and upgrade schools.

To learn more about this:

Check out the MDG Monitor to see what the progress is for achieving the Millennium Development Goals:

Read the full article at:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WFP and UNDP Support First Inclusive Nepali Female Everest Expedition

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In an effort to draw attention to climate change on the Himalayas and inspire women all over world to achieve their goals, ten Nepali women will attempt to reach the peak of Mount Everest in the spring, through the help of the United Nations. Both the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Development Programme have raised one quarter of the $200,000 needed for the group to successfully complete their mission and continues to support the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008.

These women are hoping to break down some of the barriers that prevent women in Nepal, and other parts of the world from achieving their goals. They hope that by achieving their goals they can play a significant role in promoting education, and building awareness about the affect climate change has in Nepal and around the world.

If you want to get involved visit the FIWSE 2008 team website at

Friday, February 15, 2008

What you didn't want to know about Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the fourth largest shopping day of the year for millions of American men and women. Although buying chocolates, flowers, and assorted other goodies for the people we care about gets pretty expensive, it seems that people in the developing world are paying an even higher price than we are. V-Day may be a holiday about caring, but the companies that provide us with ways to show someone we love them seem to have completely forgotten about the people that work for them.

Yesterday (February 14, 2008) the United Nations hosted a briefing to raise awareness about the suffering of farm labourers in Africa and Latin America, some of whom work in near slave conditions to supply goods to a ­predominantly western market. Here are some facts that they thought it was important for us all to realize:

1) CHOCOLATE- According to the International Labor Rights Forum the world’s leading chocolate companies, including Nestle, M&M/Mars and Hershey, had failed to meet a promised 2005 deadline to provide consumers with a “child labour-free chocolate” certification programme and now faced a new agreed deadline of July 2008.

2) FLOWERS- 90% of cut flowers sold in the US come from Venezuela and Ecuador. Most of the flower workers are women who suffer from sexual harassment as well as health problems from the toxic pesticides used.

3) DIAMONDS- Many of our diamonds come from West Africa where diamonds have been identified to fuel armed conflicts throughout the region (that's what people are referring to when they say "blood diamonds"). Although the diamond industry's contribution to such conflicts has decreased in the past few years since the creation of a new certification process, there are still massive problems in the Congo and widespread corruption in countries such as Angola.

So, what can you do...?

Although it is probably too late for this Valentine's Day, there are changes that you can make in your daily life that will ensure your money is not hurting people in the developing world. Fair trade products are everywhere. Although coffee is the most visible, there are also Fair Trade chocolates, bananas, and even flowers ( sells them!). There are also plenty of causes that you can support through organizations like Global Watch and Oxfam International (just run a google search).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Art in Action

The power of expression was celebrated as over 12,000 children across the globe created priceless pieces of art. After the United Nations Postal Association (UNPA) declared an art competition with the theme “we can end poverty,” children from about 130 nations participated in the International Children’s Art Competition. The competition was held in honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The winners of the competition were granted the honor of designing stamps that will circulate internationally. The UNPA will use 5 stamp designs created by young winning artists from Armenia, China, Indonesia and Zimbabwe to represent the poverty eradication theme.

See the joyous pieces of art and visit the gallery where the pieces are displayed in a slide show.

To learn more about how are can be used as activism on behalf of the United Nations, contact UNDP-USA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stopping Traffic

Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 13) the United Nations will hold the first ever global forum on human trafficking in Vienna, Austria. The forum will cover a wide array of topics that fall under this subject heading ranging from forced labor and sexual exploitation to the removal of organs and other body parts.

The three-day conference, which runs through Friday, will bring together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, NGO representatives and trafficking victims from 116 countries.

UNODC chief Costa said that "a lack of information and a disjointed response have enabled human trafficking to flourish."He said it was one of the fastest-growing crimes and had many forms, "always in collusion with other unlawful activities like illegal migration, forced labor, pedophilia, child exploitation, civil conflicts and organized prostitution."

"It's time for the world to open its eyes to this modern form of slavery," Costa said.

Workshops will be held on a wide range of topics, from forced labor and sexual exploitation to the trafficking in persons for the removal of organs and body parts.

Although it is incredibly difficult to collect data, according to UN estimates, about 2.5 million people from 127 countries have been trafficked to 137 countries for purposes such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, the removal of organs and body parts, forced marriages, child adoption and begging.

Among those scheduled to attend the conference is pop star Ricky Martin and Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Ever want to choose when you go to school. Pick what books are assigned? Go to recess or take a break whenever you want?

Now, you can.

With the Cyberschoolbus, an online teaching tool/website produced by the UN, you can control your education while exploring global issues, watching webcasts, delving into country profiles, and of course, learning about the UN agencies of your choice.

The site is currently available in six different languages, thus increasing the possibility of having schoolmates with different backgrounds. It fosters ideals that promote diversity and appreciation for international institutions. So stop reading this blog and check out the site at

Monday, February 4, 2008

UNHCR’s commitment to providing identification for internally displaced people worldwide

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is taking steps to ensure that all internally displaced persons (IDP) around the world have identification that is recognized by their respective governments. This is an increasingly important issue.

Without identification, IDPs frequently cannot receive the humanitarian aid or government assistance after fleeing their homes. Governments and international organizations cannot determine the number of people needing aid without identification.
Identification is also necessary to ensure government-sponsored education reaches all children. If the government doesn’t know its citizens exist, there is no way for it to provide for them the necessary education, security, and healthcare facilities.

The UNHCR has worked with IDPs for over thirty years but they have recently increased their participation and activity. In Colombia, which has over three million IDPs within the country (the second largest IDP situation after Sudan), the UNHCR has already helped in registering 2.3 million people with the government. With twelve offices located throughout Colombia has already provide 500,000 people with identification cards. These programs have given out identification specifically to those groups which are most vulnerable to exploitation: indigenous and afro-Colombians and women.

Identification can be a matter of life and death in Colombia. The UNHCR’s efforts in Colombia and worldwide are working to make sure that all people can be recognized by their specific governments.

To Learn More:

Visit the UNHCR website:

Read some interesting articles and find out how you can help:

Colombia: Millions Displaced by Conflict Denied Basic Rights

UNHCR seeks $90 million for internal displacement operations