The Energy in the Room Was Electric
On December 1, from 7-9 pm at the conference center where the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar has been taking place, over 70 people packed a tiny room to attend Pathfinder's launch event for our new Lake Victoria Integrated Community-Managed Population, Health and Environment Project, funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and USAID through its technical partners. The project will unfold in Uganda and Kenya, in collaboration with three local NGO partners: the Ecological Christian Organization and Conservation Through Public Health in Uganda, and Osienala in Kenya.
Six policymakers from Uganda were present at the launch event, as were officials from the Kenyan national government, along with prominent family planning experts, conservation experts, journalists, USAID officers, private foundation donors, and global advocates. The Honorable Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, a Ugandan Member of Parliament, showed strong support as he stated: "This project is now in your hands, but the future is in our hands." He emphasized the urgency and importance of such projects for all of the countries that are dependent on Lake Victoria for survival, and offered his full support to making this project a big success. The room was packed from the beginning to end as Lucy Shillingi, Pathfinder Uganda country representative, gave a very vivid account of the local situation and the appalling lack of health care in the project communities. This three-year project is supported through an unusual collaborative partnership among three donors, both private and public, which also adds to its uniqueness.