ABCG TNC invasion removal in Tanzania photo. Credits to Roshni Lodhia

Success Story: Empowering Communities to Clear the Way for Healthier Grass in Tanzania

In a region where healthy grass means everything, the encroachment of sickle bush has been an unwelcome new challenge. For years, community members have been looking for a solution. Uprooting would take a lot of work, and no one could afford to divert time and energy from income-generating activities to try an untested solution.
Africa Biodiversity collaborative group and member, The Nature Conservation, with funding from USAID—launched a pilot project to control the spread of sickle bush that was dominating about 75 percent of grazing land in Selela and Lemooti villages, and over 18,500 acres in Randilen Wildlife Management Area.

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ABCG at IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille France

Held once every four years, the recently concluded IUCN World Conservation Congress that was held in Marseille, France, and online, on September 3-11, 2011, brought together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.

Floods, climate change, fires, alarming loss of biodiversity, are some of the complex global challenges that humanity needs to work together to solve. In an increasing interdependent world, these challenges call for greater cooperation among various actors, and innovative solutions to address them. The Congress provided a platform for diverse stakeholders to come together and discuss ways to tackle these pressing and urgent global challenges.

With an urgent call for everyone to get to work and protect our planet, actor and environmental activist, Harrison Ford speaking at the Congress opening ceremony said that, “as inhabitants of this planet, we all need to work together to protect our planet. We have to get to work and make things happens”.

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) organized a number of events on, land use planning, climate change, integrating freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Population, Health and Environment. The sessions shared lessons and best practices by ABCG, a coalition of seven international conservation non-governmental organizations working in Africa that include: the African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, the Jane Goodall Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.

ABCG shared how this community of practitioners, together with other local partners is jointly addressing complex conservation challenges, by sharing examples of on the ground interventions, and offering practical tools that they have developed to enhance conservation.

ABCG events included:

The congress set the nature conservation agenda for the next decade and beyond and had a strong focus on post-COVID recovery, the biodiversity and climate crises, and on the role and rights of indigenous peoples in conservation.

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Benefits of Population, Health and Environment Approaches for Conservation

The World Population Data Sheet 2021 reports that Africa’s population is rapidly growing. The report further reveals that Africa has the highest fertility rate at 4.3% and the highest projected population growth rate of any region worldwide. All of the world’s countries with fertility rates of over 5 children per woman are in Africa.

Speaking at a recent webinar by the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) on Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approaches and benefits for conservation on August 19, 2021, Tess McLoud, Policy Advisor for the People, Health, Planet program at Population Reference Bureau gave a presentation on population dynamics in Africa and the implications for PHE. The webinar featured panelists from ABCG members World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, and partner Population Reference Bureau.

The panel discussion focused on the benefits of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approaches for Africa’s biodiversity conservation. Discussions were centred around population dynamics and environment in Africa and their implications for PHE, World Population Data Sheet 2021 highlights, ABCG PHE lessons learned from the ABCG PHE project in Southeast Cameroon and ABCG PHE insights on the benefits for conservation.

Tess McLoud, Policy Advisor for the People, Health, Planet program at Population Reference Bureau (PRB) gave a presentation on population dynamics in Africa and their implications for PHE and PRB 2021 world Population Data Sheet highlights, focusing on the trends and implications for sustainable development and PHE in Africa.

Tess stated that Africa has a population of about 1.4 billion which is 18% of the world population. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa of at least 211 million. She further stated that 42 % of sub- Saharan population is under 15 years and the youngest of any sub-region, and 43 % of Africans live in urban areas. She highlighted that Africa has the highest fertility rate of 4.3, with the highest projected population growth rate of more than 60% of the global population from 1.4 billion in 2021 to a projection of around 2.5 billion in 2050.  Understanding demographic trends and their drivers help us inform policy and programs to improve health, reduce poverty, build gender equity, and foster a sustainable relationship with the environment.

Romanaus Ikfuingei, Programme Manager WWF Lobeke National Park in Cameroon shared about ABCG PHE project lessons learnt in Cameroon. He highlighted the main activities they are implementing, challenges, solutions, lessons learnt and opportunities for future PHE interventions. He also gave an insight into the purpose of the PHE project in Lobeke National Park. Which was to inform organizations seeking to improve the ecosystem, health and conservation outcomes along with improved human well-being, for people living in and around areas of key biodiversity areas. The project sought to recognize and respect local knowledge of both women, men and most marginalized groups who depend on natural resources for survival.

“PHE approaches have offered an entry point for addressing community needs in a holistic manner, enabling positive conservation behavior change,” said Janet Edmond, the Senior Director for Inclusive Partnerships at Conservation International and the lead for the ABCG PHE working group.

Click below resources to learn more:

Webinar presentation

PHE reference data sheet

PRB 2021 world Population Data Sheet highlights

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Advocacy for Ecosystem and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Training

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) will be holding a course on “Advocacy for Ecosystem and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)” which was launched on August 4, 2021 through a webinar. The course is set to start on September 13- 30, 2021, with 15 participants.

The course is targeting individuals who work in Africa. Learning will be through a facilitated virtual instruction with self-guided activities, group discussions and feedback with live, lab and self-guided sessions, with a maximum of two hours a day, and with flexible engagement hours between those staying in Africa and America. Participants will be professionals interested in advocacy with past or present project that they can relate to the basics of the course. Further, participants should have a good understanding of the local political environment, policy gap structures or tap into others in the organization.

The training is intended to increase the impact of individuals working on the WASH/ ecosystem nexus by adding advocacy in their programmatic work and for those who are engaged in advocacy to strengthen capacity in advocacy more. The training will layout steps for conservation, health and development practitioners to develop an advocacy strategy to design messages and activities to urge donors, policymakers and colleagues of the need to unite and join forces to bring change in policy planning or financing in conservation and health.

This course is built on the previous work of the ABCG methodology and IRC WASH systems academy, focusing heavily on looking at how this integrated approaches functions and lessons from pilot sites by ABCG in South Africa and Uganda, led by ABCG members Conservation international and the Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda respectively, and IRC.  It is based on freshwater conservation, and the course is assembled from ABCG WASH advocacy strategy workshop facilitators guide and IRC WASH System Academy course “advocating for universal”.

The course will introduce trainees to what is advocacy, and how to formulate an effective advocacy strategy. Trainees will also be able to define the type of change they what to see, and who has the power to make that change. Apprentice will also be learning different approaches of advocacy that include; writing policy briefings, campaigns and more others.

The advocacy training will also give an insight on 8 key steps of an effective advocacy strategy road map and understanding of the partners to partner with, and the impact of partnership in executing an advocacy strategy. The training will also equip participates with an understanding of how to engage different decision-makers and how to craft powerful advocacy messages.

Advocacy is a critical step in enabling integrated freshwater conservation and WASH management and must be closely tied to ongoing stakeholder engagement and field implementation of freshwater management strategies.

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What is New in the World of Population, Health and Environment?

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) Population, Health and Environment (PHE) sub task of the Global Health Linkages to Biodiversity Conservation aims to demonstrate a strategic holistic approach to meeting people’s needs for health including family planning and reproductive health and maintaining restoring ecosystem services for greater environmental and social impact at multiple levels.

In a recent webinar held on July 22, 2021, ABCG and partners, the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Endangered Wildlife Trust, had a robust conversation on new developments in the world of PHE.

The webinar highlighted new issues, ideas and next steps in PHE including the newly published ABCG PHE Reference Guide, Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) PHE learning initiative updates, and the IUCN Motion on the importance of the conservation of nature of removing barriers to rights-based voluntary family planning.

David Johnson, who co-leads the IUCN task force on reducing barriers to family planning outlined key issues they are and have put in place to ensure success in the motion in the quest of reducing barriers in family planning that included:

1. Setting up a task force across commissions to develop guidance on how and why removing barriers to rights-based voluntary family planning can strengthen conservation outcomes in addition to promoting the health well-being and empowerment of women and girls.

2. Try to reach out to IUCN members state to include the importance of reducing barriers to family planning in their national plans under the convention on biological diversity.

3. Urging IUCN and other members to undertake internal training on what PHE is, and what barriers to family planning are and to consider a pilot PHE project. He also called upon conservation organizations to address family planning issues irrespective of whether they are implementing the PHE project.

Megan Morrison, a key leader on the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) PHE Learning Initiative gave a background and an update about the project on how the groups of conservation organizations are working together to improve the design, managing and overseeing of conservation outcomes, and the learning initiative. The learning initiative is aimed at; improving CMP’s and, more broadly, the conservation sector’s understanding of PHE and its value to biodiversity conservation; identifying barriers that prevent uptake of this type of approach, and recommend actions the PHE community and others can take to remove those barriers.

Janet Edmond, the Senior Director for Inclusive Partnerships at Conservation International and the lead for the ABCG PHE working group discussed the potential and application of the PHE Reference Sheet. The PHE Reference Sheet is designed to help conservation teams test assumptions and measure progress of integrated PHE projects over time. The tool can also help with potential project design and implementation of integrated cross-sectoral PHE projects. 

Click here for more on the presentation and to listen to the webinar recording

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ABCG News Digest: August 2021

The August 2021 Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) News Digest features our latest news and upcoming events. Get to read about lessons learnt in the application and implementation of Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH) advocacy strategies in South Africa and Uganda in translating projects to policies. As well as, lessons from Africa to the Navajo nation on freshwater resources management.

Read on the efforts made by ABCG to empower communities adopt to climate change in Zimbabwe by developing Community Based Adaptation Projects that will address climate-driven impacts. And, how the ABCG new business plan is guiding us in the journey to achieving greater impact for the conservation of Africa Biodiversity.

Most significantly, save the dates for the upcoming events on Population, Health and Environment Approaches and Benefit for Conservation on August 19, 2021 and World Water Week 2021: Advocacy in Africa – Tools for Integrating WASH-Conservation in local agendas on August 24, 2021.

Read the digest Here

ABCG/Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

ABCG Initiates Five Community Based Adaptation Projects in Zimbabwe to Empower Communities to Adapt to Climate Change

The uncertainty that is caused by climate change has resulted in disruption of lives and livelihoods of many communities. Among the worst affected communities are communities whose livelihood is dependent in livestock, agriculture and fisheries. Farmers living near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North province whose livelihood is mainly dependent on crop production and livestock keeping are experiencing insufficient water and an increase in prevalence of pests.