Population, Health, and Environment (PHE)
Across the world, the hope for sustainable and equitable development is being threatened by poor health and environmental degradation—particularly poor access to reproductive health care, needlessly destructive extraction of natural resources, and inadequate local governance structures. The resulting high rates of disease, maternal and child death and disability, irreparable harm to natural environments, pressure on food systems, and the loss of local livelihood undermine the quality of human life everywhere. The urgency and interconnectedness of these challenges require integrated solutions—such as the global development approach known as Population, Health, and Environment (PHE).
Pathfinder International’s Population, Health, and Environment approach seeks to improve access to reproductive health services while empowering communities to manage their natural resources. This must be done in ways that conserve critical ecosystems and contribute to better health outcomes without sacrificing economic opportunity. Experience with PHE programs in remote rural areas demonstrate that simultaneously addressing challenges to both reproductive health and the environment can have greater impact on improving reproductive health and natural resource management outcomes and be more cost-effective than approaching each separately.
Achieving these benefits depends on:
- Community engagement in all aspects of program design, implementation, and assessment
- Strong data collection for evidence-based interventions
- Participatory activities that are relevant to addressing the current behaviors and beliefs of the local people
- Ongoing coordination at the community level by the conservation and health groups to maximize the impact of PHE programs
- Effective project management to ensure efficiency and timely problem-solving
In 2011, Pathfinder accepted the challenge to contribute to the next generation of Population, Health, and Environment programs by collaborating with conservation and development partners around Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria in East Africa. Working with these partners within a comprehensive PHE approach helps us broaden the reach of essential health services to the communities in remote locations.
Pathfinder believes that working on PHE programs through our Integrated Systems Strengthening approach will also allow us to develop and refine a robust model that promotes a rights-based approach to sustainable development. Expanding the current PHE conversation, Pathfinder and its partners are emphasizing gender equality, building community advocacy capacity, and strengthening local governance. In our work with our partners to strengthen health and community systems, we are designing scalable strategies from the start to ensure rapid dissemination of project success. In both lake regions, Pathfinder contributes project leadership, staffing, and technical expertise. The specific combination of interventions in each locale has been chosen based on local priorities and resources.
With the human population in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem growing rapidly, in conditions of extreme poverty and ill health, this project used a model of population, health, and environment to address reproductive health and natural resource management.
The HoPE project reduces threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem degradation in the Lake Victoria Basin while increasing access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health to improve maternal and child health in local communities.
SCIP is designed to increase quality of life at the household and community levels by improving health and nutritional status and advancing household economic viability.
Model households are a key aspect of the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin, an integrated Population, Health, and Environment project with sites in Kenya and Uganda.
A new approach to conservation in the basin is the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin project. It seeks to reduce threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem degradation while simultaneously increasing access to family planning and reproductive health services.
In order to address the urgent, interconnected challenges in the Lake Victoria Basin—poor maternal and child health, a lack of access to contraception, dwindling fish supply, deforestation, and more—interventions must also work towards gender equality.
Since the launch of the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin project, staff and partners have engaged key district, national, and regional health and environment officials in Kenya and Uganda.
Bussi Island is located in the Wakiso district, which suffers a deforestation rate of 86.7 percent. To promote hassle-free cooking and a healthy environment for women in their homes, the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin project introduced two types of energy-efficient smokeless stoves.
Forging a new path is part of Pathfinder’s DNA. Last year, in 26 developing countries, we pushed through barriers to ensure millions of women, men, and young people are able to access critical sexual and reproductive health care and choose their own paths forward. Read more in our 2015 Annual Report.