Population, Health and Environment: Engaging Policymakers to Invest in Integrated Development

Humans and the environment are inextricably linked. Population size and age, fertility, mobility, settlement patterns, and resource availability and consumption all influence the impact we have on the environment. Solving the complex challenges we face today demands a better understanding of how these aspects of population impact the environment, how environmental change impacts our health and well-being, and what can be done to address these issues. PRB’s International Programs improve the well-being of current and future generations and contribute to positive social change, with an emphasis on the developing world. PRB’s Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) program aims to:

  • Increase awareness among decision-makers, professionals, and advocates about population, health, and environment challenges and integrated, rights-based solutions. 
  • Build leadership and capacity to work on and communicate about population, health, and environment linkages.
  • Develop regional networks for information sharing and collaboration.
  • Strengthen journalists’ reporting on population, health, and environment topics.


Jason Bremner, Associate Vice President for Population, Health, and Environment, PRB, provided an overview of global demographic trends. Kristen Patterson, Senior Policy Analyst, PRB, sharee PRB’s new ENGAGE multimedia presentation on “Population, Health, and Environment Working Together,” which highlights the complex and interrelated challenges faced by many families and communities around the world, and shows how the PHE (population, health, and environment) approach can address these challenges.

Event Resources

Find the presentation slides by clicking here.

Watch the full screencast video recording via this link here.

Further resources:

Safiatou Barry of Bala

Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support for USAID/Africa Annual Report for the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group FY2014

Download the ABCG Annual Report FY-2014 here!

With funding from the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) program, ABCG has made excellent progress towards our mission of tackling complex and changing conservation challenges by catalyzing and strengthening collaboration, and bringing the best resources from across a continuum of conservation organizations to effectively and efficiently work toward a vision of an African continent where natural resources and biodiversity are securely conserved in balance with sustained human livelihoods.

Safiatou Barry of Bala
Safiatou Barry and her daughter harvest baobab fruit in the Rural Community of Bala. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Dozoretz /USAID

The BATS program is a multi-partner USAID Bureau for Africa effort that has included International Resources Group (IRG) under the Environmental Policy and Institutional Strengthening Indefinite Quantity Contract (EPIQ II), the USDA Forest Service International Programs under an interagency agreement, Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the Capitalizing Knowledge, Connecting Communities (CK2C) project of new partner Development Alternatives, Incorporated (DAI) and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) under a cooperative agreement. While all groups had separate funding and work plans, the three entities met regularly with USAID to coordinate their activities. This report details the activities of the BATS program over the period from October 2013 through September 2014.

Overarching FY-2014 Accomplishments

ABCG organized, facilitated, and supported the following cross-task outputs in FY2014:

  • Two large thematic meetings.
  • Twelve brown bag talks.
  • More than 35 research and peer-reviewed reports.
  • Six maps to guide resource-use decisions.
  • Four workshops.

Due to unforeseen delays in fund obligations, a number of ABCG activities and deliverables were not completed by September 30, 2014. ABCG obtained a no-cost extension of the award, until March 30, 2015, to complete this work.

Illegal Mining Madagascar

Post-crisis conservation in Madagascar: where to from here?

Madagascar is slowly awakening from a 5 year long political crisis that coincided with the global financial crisis. This period saw withdrawal of nearly all development assistance to the conservation sector, as well as a general weakening of natural resources governance and enforcement on the part of Government. Initial analyses show that the results for the country’s biodiversity have been catastrophic and yet to date Government is struggling to redress the problems facing the sector. Illegal Mining Madagascar In this presentation the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS’s) Country Director for Madagascar, Alison Clausen gave a realistic view of the day-to-day challenges facing conservation work in this biodiversity hotspot and provided a vision of what technical and financial partners should be focusing on to ensure that past conservation gains are protected and that irreversible losses of biodiversity are avoided.

Event Resources:

Download the presentation slides here.

Download the presentation webcast here. NOTE: Due to technical problems, the webinar recording omitted the first part of the presentation.  The recording starts on slide #13 of the slide presentation. 

Diademed sifaka

Dr. Richard Bergl

Improving the conservation of Cross River gorillas with mobile based law enforcement monitoring

A significant challenge in conservation is the quantification of threats, conservation effort, and the impact of conservation interventions.  Conservation staffs of protected areas working to protect wildlife and their habitats are often limited by the availability of data, technical capacity, and access to appropriate technology and analytical tools.  Such limitations are often particularly marked in regions where highly endangered species occur and where the degree of threat is high.  The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is Critically Endangered and occurs in an environment where the threats posed by bushmeat hunting, conversion of forest for agriculture and small-scale logging are significant.  

Dr. Richard Bergl

In 2008, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and several national agencies, we implemented a mobile computer-based monitoring system across the range of the Cross River gorilla to assess both threats to the gorillas and the extent of law enforcement activities.  
This system, based on the Cybertracker software application, has allowed us to quantitatively measure threat, protection and biological data using information collected during the course of ranger, ecoguard and research patrols and surveys.  The use of an intuitive user interface designed in consultation with the end-users, ruggedized hand-held computers, and an easy to use suite of analysis tools has allowed us to document both successes and failures in Cross River gorilla conservation.  Lessons learned in the deployment of the Cybertracker-based system are now being used to inform the SMART law enforcement monitoring tool, recently developed by a broad partnership of conservation NGOs.

Event Resources:

Find the presentation slides here

Find the speaker’s audio recording here

Safiatou Barry of Bala

Synergies of Nature, Wealth, and Power: Lessons from USAID Natural Resource Management Investments in Senegal

The Synergies of Nature, Wealth and Power report, is a retrospective study that “tells the story” of the historical context and evolution of USAID’s long-term commitment to sustainable development in Senegal through NRM program assistance. The study, completed by the US Forest Service International Programs and World Resources Institute, is designed to contribute to a greater appreciation of the achievements and impacts of USAID investments in environment and natural resource management projects, and to contribute to USAID’s institutional memory in this area. It aims to capitalize on key lessons learned from these projects and to provide guidance to increase the effectiveness of interventions aimed at addressing poverty alleviation, economic growth, environmental governance and climate change adaptation as well as improved natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and related sustainable development objectives. 

Safiatou Barry of Bala
Safiatou Barry and her daughter harvest baobab fruit in the Rural Community of Bala. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Dozoretz /USAID.

This study focuses on the last ten years of NRM programming in Senegal, which centered around the Nature, Wealth and Power paradigm implemented via the Wula Nafaa program. In viewing Senegal as a case study of ten years of the NWP approach in action, this document examines what has been achieved and explores programmatic complexities to provide recommendations for future initiatives. 

Publication Resources:

Download the Executive Summary via here

Find the full report by clicking here.

Humbo Ethiopia forest ecosystem restoration

Technocrats, financiers and carbon; a thorny alliance with communities and conservation?

This presentation summarizes selected findings from a USAID/FCMC study, conducted in 2013, of four forest carbon projects in three eastern African countries that combine carbon credits with community and biodiversity objectives. The projects exhibit different ecological, governance, social, carbon standard and natural resources management circumstances, yet the comparative study reveals several generalizations. Among key findings: 

Humbo Ethiopia forest ecosystem restoration
Humbo Ethiopia: Forest ecosystem naturally (farmer-assisted) regenerating from bare, eroded landscape. Photo courtesy of Ian Deshmukh.
  • Community-based carbon projects provide a long-term institutional framework for reforestation or afforestation, but no guarantee of permanence.
  • Investment costs are high, needing large financial input from proponents and high labor and opportunity cost inputs from community members.
  • While net financial benefits to proponents are likely over the long term, the low carbon price implies that basic financial assumptions of “payment for environmental services” or “polluter pays” schemes are not met.
  • Community members regard carbon credit payments as inadequate for the labor and land invested, but value social, livelihood and perceived environmental benefits that the projects promote.
  • Biodiversity benefits are apparent, but remain largely unquantified despite being requirements of the voluntary standards used.

Event Resources:

Click here to download the presentation slides

Click here to watch the presentation webinar

Click here for a summary report of the Eastern Africa – Forest Carbon Projects Study via FCMC-USAID

Click here for the full report of the Eastern Africa – Forest Carbon Projects Study: FCMC Program via FCMC-USAID

Ian Deshmukh
Dr. Ian Deshmukh.

Ian Deshmukh is engaged with USAID’s Washington-based Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC), and Africa and Latin American Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC) programs, as well as USAID/Uganda’s Environmental Management for the Oil Sector Activity. Dr. Deshmukh is also team leader on the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility-funded Strategic Social and Environment Assessment as part of Liberia’s REDD-Readiness program.

Wash workshop group discussion

Highlights from the Integrated Freshwater Conservation and WASH M&E Workshop

For the past three years, ABCG has been exploring linkages between biodiversity protection and the relationships between water conservation, water pollution and human activities. While ABCG has invested and produced policy papers and analysis on forest, woodland and savannah ecosystems, our member organizations had not focused very much on freshwater ecosystems and the myriad of threats to biodiversity in rapidly changing landscapes In Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has considerable aquatic treasures, containing a rich diversity of life. For example, the Zaire river basin is the most species rich in the world, while the Great Lakes – Tanganyika, Victoria and Malawi – each harbor rich diversity of fisheries. Unfortunately the productivity and diversity of Africa’s ecosystems are threatened by deforestation, agricultural production and municipal and industrial production.

Freshwater conservation efforts are designed to protect or restore freshwater biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services. The term biodiversity refers to the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms and the ecosystems in which they occur. Ecosystem refers to a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and the nonliving environment interacting as a functional unit. And ecosystem services are the benefits that people obtain from these systems – things like flood control or the provision of drinking water and food.

Wash workshop group discussion
Workshop participant in a group session. Photo © Kamweti.

In order to protect and conserve freshwater and its biodiversity in Africa, ABCG has supported this work to bring together ABCG member organizations and several development organizations  to promote policies, plans and projects that integrate access to water supply and sanitation with the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater resources. With the M&E framework, there is an opportunity to continue to collaborate and meet our mutual development and conservation goals.

As many of us already know, conservation is a multisectoral practice and we need to continue to work with diverse partners and stakeholders across the development world to increase our mutual successes. Biodiversity underpins all sustainable development and it will take our collective efforts to protect it.

Event Resources

SMART Workshop Participants 2014

The SMART Partnership: Training of Trainers Builds Capacity for Adaptive Conservation Protection

The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) Approach has been developed in response to the recognition that traditional tools, technologies and resources are not stemming the illegal killing and trading of endangered species and the resulting loss of threatened and highly valued biodiversity. The approach is a combination of software, training materials and implementation standards providing protected area authorities and community groups with the ability to empower staff, boost motivation, increase efficiency, and promote credible and transparent monitoring of the effectiveness of anti-poaching and other efforts to address illegal activities. At its core, SMART helps rangers document where patrols go, what they see, and how they respond. Whether collected by direct observation or GPS, data is fed into a central system back at park headquarters. There it is converted into visual information in near real-time to help managers understand where the greatest threats are and how best to deploy patrols.

SMART Partnership

The SMART Partnership, currently comprised of CITES-Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), Frankfurt Zoological Society, North Carolina Zoological Park, Panthera, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London, launched the tool in March 2013, and it is now being implemented at 128 sites across 27 countries worldwide.

The SMART Partnership is committed to developing a global network of trainers using standard, open source training materials to ensure the roll out of the SMART Approach is cost effective, locally adapted and global in nature. To that end and in order to enhance the capacity to implement this adaptive management approach and expand the user base, the SMART Partnership hosted a regional training in South Africa to help improve monitoring of illegal activities across Africa. The training, which was funded by CITES-MIKE and USAID’s Africa Bureau through ABCG, was conducted at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) between the 16th and 20th June 2014. A total of 28 participants from 16 African countries, representing 19 organizations joined the workshop. Attendees fell into two different core audience groups:

  1. SMART implementers who work in important wildlife conservation areas within Africa, have committed to using SMART and who will take back the skills gained during the training to begin implementing SMART in their respective sites; and
  2. A new user group consisting of representatives from wildlife colleges and training institutes in Africa interested in incorporating a Law Enforcement Monitoring module using SMART within their training curriculum.
SMART Workshop Participants 2014
Group photo. Courtesy of Robbie Green, Southern African Wildlife College.

The course covered a range of topics, including: the philosophy of adaptive patrol management and the role SMART plays in facilitating this; how to use the SMART software and adapt it to the needs of the site, with introduction to brand new SMART plug-ins; and the process of implementing SMART at a site. Additionally the wildlife college participants evaluated the training curricula for SMART implementation, and how to adapt the training for their needs.

Hands on tablet datasheet
Three gentlemen using the tablet/data sheets for SMART data collection.
Photo: Alexa Montefiore, SMART Partnership.

Overall, the workshop was a success and helped extend the SMART capacity-building approach, expand the active community of users and conservation practitioners who can share experiences and have a say in improving and sustaining SMART over the long-term, as well as strengthen the ability of conservation programs to combat illegal activities, such as poaching and logging, by developing capacity in staff responsible for oversight of law enforcement efforts.

SMART spatial data processing
Gentleman using SMART on his computer.
Photo: Ruth Starkey, Wildlife Conservation Society

If you have questions about SMART, please check out our website at Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool or email Also, join the growing SMART community, ask questions, post lessons learned, and share experiences by signing up for the SMART community forum!

FW-WASH Indicators Session

Drafting an Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Freshwater Conservation and WASH

Find the workshop summary report here

Water, poverty and environment are intrinsically connected. Areas of high endemism and biodiversity are usually relatively remote and as a result human communities living in close proximity to these areas tend to be impoverished with little to no access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities. Conversely, in the downstream reaches of rivers, acute water shortages are becoming the norm in some areas as the myriad of stakeholders take up water to meet their disparate needs which include heavy industry, irrigation for agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and municipal water and electricity utilities. The impacts on human health linked to the lack of access to improved water and sanitation facilities range from water-borne diarrheal diseases such as typhoid, giardia and cholera to water-washed diseases such as roundworm, trachoma and scabies.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects are a cornerstone of human development. Access to water (in relative proximity) translates into increased economic productivity and healthier communities. Well-planned sanitation infrastructure can both minimize the risk of water-borne diseases and result in healthier, more vibrant communities and ecosystems.

An USAID-funded 2012 report entitled, “ Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Experiences from sub-Saharan Africa” found that there are numerous organizations and projects in Sub-Saharan Africa that are integrating WASH and biodiversity conservation on an ad-hoc basis. The report, produced by the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), called for more comprehensive guidelines on how to integrate the two disciplines in different scenarios, ecoregions and climates.

Building on this report, in 2013, ABCG members collaborated with a number of development organizations specializing in WASH, to develop the Freshwater Conservation and WASH Integration Guidelines: A Framework for Implementation in sub-Saharan Africa guidelines for the design and implementation of integrated projects to improve freshwater conservation and human well-being. During the development of the guidelines, “monitoring and evaluation, indicators, and measuring results were themes that came up repeatedly as areas that were lacking research and guidance. Although each sector has existing frameworks for evaluating, for example, the number of people impacted by a WASH project or hectares restored within a watershed, there are no existing resources that evaluate the benefits of an integrated project.

To that end, ABCG members, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Conservation International (CI), and the Nature Conservancy (TNC), co-hosted a workshop from July 15-17, 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya, for African conservation, health and development practitioners to design a WASH and freshwater conservation monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework. The workshop was co-sponsored by the USAID Bureau for Africa and ABCG. This event, entitled the Workshop on Integrated Indicators for Freshwater Conservation and WASH Programming, wasthe first time that WASH and freshwater conservation sector professionals came together to craft an integrated M&E framework for improved health, development and conservation goals.

More than 26 health, development and conservation experts from Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda contributed technical advice and strategic inputs on the overall framework for how WASH and freshwater conservation projects can be measured in a more holistic, mutually-reinforcing manner. The workshop participants included representatives from AWF, Catholic Relief Services, CI, Jane Goodall Institute, Kenya Water Towers Agency, Kenya WASH Alliance, Millennium Water Alliance, Neighbours Initiative Alliance, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Total LandCare, TNC, Water for People, Water Aid East Africa, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Wetlands International, World Vision, and the ABCG program officer.

FW-WASH Indicators Session
Workshop participants discussing value-added indicators. Photo courtesy of Kamweti Mutu /ABCG.

By the end of the three days, workshop participants had reached agreement on a draft M&E framework and indicators for integrated programming, and CI, in collaboration with ABCG members, workshop participants and WASH and conservation partner organizations, will refine the framework in the coming month. The group also developed an outreach plan for disseminating the draft framework with donors, multi-sectoral partners and other conservation, health and development practitioners in sub-Saharan Africa. For questions on the M&E framework and guidelines, please contact Colleen Sorto at

Related Resource:

Click to download and read the workshop summary here

Watch and download presentation material of Highlights from the Integrated Freshwater Conservation and WASH M&E Workshop, September 2014.

Firewood Climate Change Daniel Tiveau

Studies of Climate Changes Direct Impact are Abundant, but Little Knowledge Generated on Indirect Human Response

A recently published peer-reviewed journal article by Dan Segan (Wildlife Conservation Society), David Hole (Conservation International) James Watson (Wildlife Conservation Society) and other co-authors reveals the highly disproportionate effort in the scientific community in investigating the direct consequences of changing climactic conditions on biodiversity, and in favor of much longer time scales.

The article is titled Publishing trends on climate change vulnerability in the conservation literature reveal a predominant focus on direct impacts and long time-scales, published in Diversity and Distributions, is open-access and available in its entirety here. It reports on an analysis of 941 articles published between 2000 and 2012, with remarkable revelations including a gap in social science focus of climate change, and a discussion of the inherent difficulties of studying complex processes like land use change.

Firewood Climate Change Daniel Tiveau

Dan, David and James are long-time members of ABCG’s Climate Change Adaptation thematic task which was not involved in nor funded this feature article. Along with other group members, ABCG has produced a raft of valuable scientifically-based information, some of which include: