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.

WWweek 2021, credits: Trond Larsen

Turning Concepts into Action: ABCG and IRC Hold Session on Advocacy in Africa at World Water Week 2021

Improvement of the health of freshwater ecosystems is one of the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) key focus areas. In support of the USAID Biodiversity Policy, ABCG is linking freshwater conservation and water, sanitation, and hygiene (FW-WASH) to proactively engage diverse, local community actors in advocacy efforts for improved policies.


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


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


Lessons from Africa to the Navajo Nation on Freshwater Resources Management

I come from the Diné (Navajo) people and live on the Navajo reservation. In my culture, we have a deep respect for water because all life needs water to exist. We also value water because there is so little on the Navajo reservation. The Navajo Nation is in the southwestern part of the US, bordering Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. About one-third of the Navajo population lacks access to running water in their homes. This problem of water scarcity is unfair because the Navajo Nation is right in the middle of one of the richest countries in the world.

My name is Hanson Mike. I am in my senior year of my undergraduate studies at Fort Lewis College. The school is a public liberal arts college that is located in Durango, Colorado, USA. My major is in Environmental Studies which teaches students the natural world and problems that come with it. As a summer intern at Conservation International (CI), I am learning about how the WASH in Watersheds program in South Africa is responding to similar struggles with water. My internship helps selected students gain experience in the real world with tribal nation building, which is learning to build self-governance that is appropriate to ones’ own indigenous tribe and background, and how to solve problems such as food sovereignty, water quality, climate adaptation, and health services.

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) task on Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH), led by Conservation International and the Jane Goodall Institute, are working to fix many of these problems by linking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) with the protection of freshwater ecosystems. A big difference between the situation in the ABCG task pilots in South Africa and Uganda and the Navajo reservation is that there are only a few groups like CI advocating for change with how water resources are being used. The ABCG pilots not only built upon others seeking change, but they also developed a methodology for teaching others how to be advocates in order to raise more voices for change.

On the Navajo Nation, there was controversy with freshwater resources and the extraction industry. These freshwater resources are precious because that is the only source of water for the people who live there. A coal company was using the water from an aquifer that our tribe and the Hopi depend on for a coal slurry pipeline. This wasteful use of potable water had inspired my academic career so that I might prevent such things from happening again.

Conservation South Africa (CSA) and Alfred Nzo District Municipality (ANDM) partners show school children how to conduct a river health assessment and see impacts of land uses and invasive species on water resources during national Water Week. Eastern Cape, South Africa. Photo Credit: CI/N. Kwayimani

I have found the examples from Africa that resonate very much with the experiences of my community quite informative, enriching and astounding during my internship. This is because of the socio, economic, environmental and cultural differences of the two regions, which are also miles apart. However, I’m intrigued by the work, particularly the community partnership and participation from the people who live in South Africa. The focus on educating community members about water resources and WASH is also very interesting to me because I have always felt that everyone should know where their water comes from and how to use that water. Those two aspects of the ABCG FW-WASH task jump out to me because on the Navajo Nation, community learning and partnerships are basically nonexistent on a local level.

On June 24, 2021 ABCG launched a Lessons Learned Report that reflects on their experiences during one year of applying a methodology to make changes in policy, planning, or funding for water resources through advocacy. I aim to learn more about the ABCG methodology, their key lessons, and how I can apply it back where I live. By doing that I am sure my community would see positive changes in the landscape and bring some of the ABCG lessons to life in my home.


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.

ABCG PHE Cameroon stakeholder mobilization and sensitization activity

To Realized Positive and Lasting Global Health Outcomes, Stakeholder Engagement in Key

One key lesson that ABCG learned at the onset of the Population Health and Environment project was that a difference of perception between actors involved in the activities caused differential levels of engagement. Therefore, one of the most important activity of the project is the mobilization of different stakeholder groups around the project. These mobilization events ensure sufficient and clear understanding of the project’s goals, specific project objectives and expected results.


Water Means Building Resilience among Vulnerable Populations through Integrated Programming: World Water Day 2021

We join the rest of the world in marking World Water Day celebrated on March 22, 2021 by promoting integrated freshwater conservation and WASH (FW-WASH). This year’s theme on valuing water, raises awareness of the vital importance of water to safeguard human security and maintain the health of the planet’s ecosystems. ABCG is reducing watershed degradation and improving the health of freshwater ecosystems through linking freshwater conservation and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).