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Bahrain News Database: 1
UN System Workshop on Pandemic Preparedness Planning in Countries of
the Gulf Cooperation Council:
with national authorities, the UN Country Teams in Bahrain, Kuwait,
Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar held a meeting on 18 and 19
February 2008 in Manama to review their contingency plans regarding
avian and pandemic influenza interventions.
In view of the commonalities between the countries of the
sub-region, the UN teams suggested to kick off this process with a
sub-regional workshop that would provide an opportunity to exchange
experience with planning avian and pandemic influenza interventions
and reflect collectively on the way forward.
The UN system worldwide has been bracing for a possible influenza
pandemic due to the threat of avian influenza outbreaks for the last
couple of years. In compliance with a request from the UN Secretary
General, UN Country Teams in the region developed contingency plans
in order to prepare for a possible influenza pandemic in early 2006.
In accordance with original guidance, contingency plans have focused
on staff health and safety, specifying medical and non-medical
interventions as well as internal communication arrangements. A
review of these plans is required to reflect more recent UN guidance
as well as changes in national preparedness. Law and order could
break down and economies collapse in the event of a pandemic
outbreak of avian (bird) or human flu, declared UN experts at the
The workshop exposed participants to pandemic scenarios and
familiarized them with challenges, which are likely to arise during
a response to a pandemic. Gaps and areas that need improvement in
existing plans were identified, as well as key preparedness and
response actions, which will need to be further developed at the
country-level. Roadmaps were developed for updating plans in each
country and ascertained the need for regional support.
Although the focus of the meeting will be on mitigating the impact
of a possible pandemic, it will also provide an opportunity to
discuss control of avian influenza and prevention of a pandemic.
Speaking at the workshop, Jean-Luc Tonglet, Middle East, North
Africa, Iran and Afghanistan regional planning officer for the UN
System Influenza Co-ordination and Pandemic Influenza Contingency,
referred to a country plan "to be sustainable, it better be
addressed at each multi-sector level and every country has its own
Domestic Violence Conference February 16 – 17,2008, Manama, Bahrain:
At a conference
organized by the Information Centre for Women, under the umbrella of
the Children and Mothers Welfare Society, the RC, Sayed Aqa, gave a
speech to the participants. Among the talking points, the RC
reiterated that the UN recognizes that domestic violence is
universal and present in every society and culture, and takes
He stressed that sustainable human development cannot take place
without the active participation of women and girls. Domestic
violence against women, whether a spouse or domestic worker, has
real and harmful effects impeding development, peace and gender
equality. The UN responds to these issues through its work to
correct social, economic and political power imbalances through
integration of gender equality perspective.
Mr. Aqa urged urgent action at all levels of society and recommended
a three layer approach to prevent domestic violence: Primary –
Stopping violence before it occurs,
secondary – an immediate response after violence is critical to
limit the extent and consequences, and tertiary – longer-term care
and support for victims.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has made significant progress, Mr. Aqa
acknowledged. The National Action Charter safeguards women’s rights
by stipulating that the country would promulgate laws to defend
women and protect families. The Charter also guarantees the
enjoyment of the right to participate in public affairs and
political rights for both men and women. Bahraini women gained solid
ground by large scale uplifting of their status with the
establishment of the Supreme Council for Women in 2001. Bahraini
women are actively engaged in women empowerment through a number of
successful NGOs including the Mother and Child Welfare Society.
However, challenges remain. The number of women in decision making,
both in the government and the private sector must increase. More
women in policy positions help to support advocacy and policy as
well as the improvement and implementation of laws.
“While we spend a lot of time discussing the role of women in a
Muslim society, any domestic violence awareness campaign must also
address what it means to be a “Muslim man” in a language that
stresses Quranic justice and equity”, said Mr. Aqa. “Empowering
women does not necessarily clash with cultural and religious
principles. Women empowerment does not mean Westernization. By
respecting the Islamic concept of humanity, I am confident that
domestic violence incidents will decline. Furthermore, women will
take their rightful place in development of family, society and the
Mr. Aqa appealed to decision makers to allocate more resources for
women empowerment and adapt zero tolerance against any form of
violence and discrimination against women – at home and at the work
STRATEGIC EVALUATION OF THE ROLE OF UNDP IN THE NCCs OF THE ARAB
and the Government of Bahrain opened this morning a high-level
Stakeholder Workshop at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the Evaluation of
UNDP’s Role in the Net Contributor Countries of the Arab Region.
The Stakeholder Workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss and
get feed back on the findings, conclusions and recommendations
contained in the draft evaluation report. The workshop participants
include ministers, senior government representatives from the main
counterpart agencies in the five countries, senior headquarter
officials from the UNDP Evaluation Office and the Regional Bureau
for Arab States (RBAS), the UNDP Resident Representatives and senior
staff of the five UNDP Country Offices, and members of an Advisory
Panel for the evaluation.
The Advisory Panel consists of senior development specialists with
expertise in the region.
In the Arab Region the NCC countries are the Kingdom of Bahrain; the
State of Kuwait; the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and; the United Arab
The independent evaluation was managed by UNDP’s Evaluation Office
and undertaken in 2007. The key objective of the evaluation was to
assess UNDP’s activities and programmes in the Arab region NCCs in
terms of addressing those countries development challenges and
supporting their aspirations. The evaluation will also contribute to
the formulation of UNDP’s new strategy for the NCCs and the middle
After setting the regional context the workshop will examine three
core issues related to UNDP’s role in the Arab NCCs (a) UNDP’s
response to national Development Challenges (b) UNDP’s Role and
Comparative Advantage (c) Identifying the optimal programming
arrangements and strengthening the implementation capacity to UNDP.
The two day deliberations will help identify appropriate
recommendations that would guide the way forward for UNDP in these
27 January, 2008;
Opening New Opportunities for the Poor.
SIGNING OF THE MICRO-FINANCE PROJECT FOR DISADVANTAGED CITIZENS OF
UNDP, the Ministry of Social Development, and Ahli United Bank
signed a three-year joint Micro-Finance project on 24th January. The
joint project, entitled “Provision of Sustainable Micro-Finance
Credit and Services to Needy Citizens of Bahrain”, aims at providing
small, short-term loans to low-income individuals, especially women.
Thanks to a commitment of US$ 500,000 by Ahli United Bank and
matched in funds by the Ministry of Social Development, more than
3,000 Bahrainis are set to benefit from this joint initiative with
the Ministry of Social Development and UNDP. For its part, UNDP will
contribute a further US$ 400,000 and will help in selecting and
training national NGOs in microfinance procedures and management.
This project is the second of its kind, following a successful
project initiated in 1999. The previous project aimed at providing
small, short-term loans to low-income individuals, including women,
while at the same time creating a system of sustainable credit
delivery and management capacity in three national non-governmental
organizations. The main beneficiaries under the programme were
predominantly financially disadvantaged Bahraini women seeking to be
“This project will have a direct and positive impact on reducing
unemployment in Bahrain”, said Dr. Fatima Al Balooshi, Minister of
Social Development. “In order to sustain the benefits of such an
important grass-root project and to reach more citizens in need,
significant portion of the small loans will be provided to
unemployed youth and women”. She added that this project supports
the aims of national programme for the development of the productive
families, which provides in addition to financial services,
development, training and initiation of micro-finance initiatives.
“This initiative is designed to tackle one of the most pressing
socio-economic concerns facing the country - the availability of
local employment opportunities for the growing national labour
force.”, said Sayed Aqa, Resident Representative of UNDP in Bahrain.
“Sustainability of the scheme and national capacity development are
key objectives of this project. UNDP will also establish partnership
with UNIDO to monitor successful beneficiaries and assist them to
move from Micro to Small and Medium enterprises”, explained Mr. Aqa.
“Ahli United Bank is proud to support this important initiative”,
said Adel El-Labban, Group CEO & Managing Director, AUB.
"Contributing to a program that benefits disadvantaged Bahrainis
will pay dividends in this community for many years to come. We look
forward to seeing a broad range of non-profit organisations involved
in furthering the economic and social development of Bahrain”.
The project will be executed through a “National Execution” modality
in which the Ministry of Social Development will be the implementer.
“We hope this will be the start of many such partnerships with other
private sector companies to address pressing social, environmental
and humanitarian causes in the spirit of social responsibility and
good business practice.”, Mr. Aqa concluded.