Tuungane: Creating a Healthy Future for People and the Natural Resources They Depend On
The Greater Mahale Ecosystem is home to more than 90 percent of Tanzania’s endangered chimpanzees and more than 300 species of fish. The human population in the Mahale Ecosystem is growing rapidly in conditions of extreme poverty and ill health.
This population, health, and environment project is an integrated rural development initiative that addresses reproductive health and natural resource management. Pathfinder works with partner organizations The Nature Conservancy and the Frankfurt Zoological Society to achieve the overarching goal of reducing threats to biodiversity conservation and natural resources degradation in the area, while simultaneously improving health of the communities by increasing sustainable livelihoods and increasing access to contraceptives, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, maternal, neonatal, and child health, and primary healthcare services.
Initial measures to strengthen local governance, and the community development of action plans to conserve ecosystems, set the stage for the continued success of integrated activities. Some features of the project include:
- Land and fisheries management
- Health system strengthening
- Reproductive health demand, supply, and services
- Community conservation microfinance banks
- The establishment of community forest reserves
Since the beginning of 2015, Tuungane has scaled up its efforts from 6 pilot villages to all 24 villages in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem area.
The first stage of the project has led to an inspiring set of results—in reproductive, maternal, and child health, and for the natural resources on which these populations depend:
- After intense advocacy by the project, the District government posted seven new medical personnel in the area, six of whom are nurse-midwives. Previously a single staff person had to serve populations from 3,000 to more than 5,000.
- After recruiting and training 66 community health workers in maternal, child, and reproductive health education and counseling, the project had 892 new family planning clients in the first several months of operation.
- Four new beach management units have now been formed and received legal recognition, and more than 700 fishers have joined the groups. They are key players in project-led sanitation efforts: village leaders enthusiastically reported that there have been no cholera cases for the past two years in the six pilot villages.
- In a 12 month period between 2013 and 2014, 905 new latrines were constructed in pilot villages, reducing the percent of households without latrines from 23% to 16%.
- Tuungane is about to launch an approach that has been piloted by Pathfinder and its partners in the Uganda HoPE-LVB project: model households. Five Tuungane staff participated in a study tour to Pathfinder’s HOPE project in Uganda this year to see the Model Household approach in action and determine how to adapt and apply it in western Tanzania.
Video produced by Pathfinder partner organization The Nature Conservancy.
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