GLASGOW LEADERS’ DECLARATION ON FORESTS AND LAND USE. Photo COP 26

What are the next steps post COP26: Are we on the right track?

We strongly believe that the UN Climate Change Conference and subsequent meetings are necessary and worthwhile to helping achieve some of ABCG’s biggest objectives, including mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into economic development at the community level in African countries, reaching women and youth. We are particularly encouraged by private sector commitments, as well as climate financing, pledged to advance the roles and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

UNFPA Mozambique photo

Integrating Population, Health, and Environment into Community-Centered Conservation Work in Tanzania

Theory of change (TOC) of integrating family planning with biodiversity conservation is aimed in building a resilience of families, with the assumption that when people access to family planning will help them improve access to food security, improved livelihood by providing linkages to livelihood intensities, and provide better education to their children

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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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.

Population, Health and Environment

The Contribution of Voluntary Family Planning and Reproductive Health to Global Health and Sustainable Development in Cameroon

There is a strong and direct link between human health and ecosystem health, both depend on each other. The current COVID-19 pandemic continues to exemplify this interrelationship and the need to find a balance where both nature and people thrive.

To promote this healthy interrelationship, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) through the Population Health and Environment (PHE) working group, is implementing effective approaches that integrate biodiversity conservation and activities that contribute to improved global health. Centered on a holistic approach to health and environment, the PHE project includes the promotion of proper nutrition and food security through training on sustainable agriculture. It also incorporates improving sanitation and access to clean water through activities such as reducing deforestation, improving water quality and reducing pollution to nearby watersheds. Moreover, the approach focuses on providing knowledge and promoting better access to health services such as access to family planning and reproductive health services, to improve family well-being.

The human health aspect is important to environmental health because, a healthy community is better placed to take care of their environment and improve the welfare of the ecosystem. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a member of ABCG is leading the execution of the PHE project working with community members to improve human and environmental health in the buffer zones of Lobeke National Park, Southeast Cameroon.

“We are working with members of the community, in collaboration with our government health partner and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to address multiple factors that affect their health by imparting them with knowledge and building their capacity on health issues,” says Nathalie Simoneau, Lead Specialist, Gender and Social Inclusion at WWF.

As part of the project efforts on building capacity of different stakeholder groups on health issues, in 2019 WWF staff mobilized and sensitized 474 key stakeholders in order for them to have inputs in the project design, framing and implementation. The stakeholders comprised of the WWF and the Ministry of Forests and Fauna conservation staff, administrative, health and municipal authorities and community leaders (men and women of the Baka and Bantu groups) in Cameroon.

Improving skills and capacity of adult women and youth is an important avenue for ensuring the uptake of the PHE approach. WWF’s health partners conducted 12 capacity building sessions for women community focal points where a total of 280 adult women and teenagers from the Baka and Bantu groups actively participated. The sessions highlighted three themes: human reproduction and reproductive health, prevention of unwanted pregnancies in teenage girls and adult women, the prevalence of early pregnancies and prevention of maternal and child mortality, during pregnancy and post-natal. The sessions also addressed the health risks associated with teenage pregnancy and consequences that early pregnancy can have on the potential of teenage girls to live a productive and healthy life.

The women focal points were involved in activities such as group discussions, brainstorming, short presentations and sharing among participants and trainers. The trainees also had an opportunity to explore the root causes of high maternal and child mortality rates in their communities. Poverty and a lack of means to feed pregnant mothers and young children, complications during pregnancy and at birth, and high frequency of pregnancies were identified as leading causes of high maternal and child mortality.

Apart from capacity building sessions, the project also promotes reproductive health services and voluntary access to family planning methods to women and couples through the help of trained community health focal points. Trained community health focal points promote the use of barrier methods like male and female condoms and natural methods (fertility awareness in women) among the community members, and provide guidance on how to access hormonal contraceptives from the health centers as needed. 

In the months of January to March, 2020 women focal points led the equal distribution of 21,336 condoms to Moloundou, Yenga and Salapoumbé Health Centers. They also referred health-related issues like family planning counselling or pre and post-natal visits to the nearest health centers.

“Through our health partners’ efforts, we are providing these services to promote women and infants’ health outcomes thereby supporting to decrease child mortality and morbidity rates in the project area. Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies result in fewer medical complications for women and lead to healthier mothers and babies,” Nathalie Simoneau adds.

Community members who live around Lobeke National Park can now boast of improved knowledge and health to enable them to take better care of the environment they so deeply depend upon.

For more information contact: Nathalie.Simoneau(at)wwfus.org