Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school

Coronavirus Drives Home the Importance of Hand Washing – ABCG’s Steering Committee Member Janet Edmond

Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school‘Since I was in kindergarten in the little red schoolhouse in coastal Rhode Island, I have received handwashing messages in many forms – upbeat songs, large placards near sinks, and stern warnings from parents and grandparents. Flash forward to today, with repeated handwashing messages to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 reinforcing in my mind the fundamental links between personal hygiene, human health and clean water.

‘Coronavirus drives home the importance of hand washing as essential for protecting human health. We take for granted that many communities around the world can’t simply turn on a tap to practice good hygiene. According the UN, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. Worldwide, two in five people do not have a basic handwashing facility with soap and water at home.

‘Conservation International (CI) works to spotlight and secure the critical benefits that nature provides to humanity. We recognize that reliable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is foundational to achieving our conservation mission. If communities lack WASH, how can they find the time and energy and good health required for environmental stewardship?

‘Since 2010, at CI we have been pushing ourselves and peers in the conservation and human development sectors to connect WASH and watershed conservation. We are driven by a theory of change in which watershed conservation and WASH efforts not only reinforce each other, but their sustained success hinges on their mutual dependence.

‘CI is moving from theory to action through engagement with individual community members up through district and national planners and policymakers.

‘As its name suggests, our WASH in Watersheds (WiW) program integrates WASH and watershed conservation, with a focus on how CI can engage local communities as land and water stewards and achieve more effective and long-lasting conservation and health and well-being outcomes as a result.

CI efforts to date include:

  1. Promoting more cross-sectoral planning at community and watershed scales: With support from the US Agency for International Development-funded Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), CI answered the call for improved integrated programming with guidelines. We have built effective and practical field-level experiences through tested approaches in South Africa and shared lessons learned with our colleagues at the Jane Goodall Institute, who are promoting improved WASH and conservation measures in the Albertine Rift in Uganda. CI leads the ABCG working group on freshwater conservation and WASH.
  2. Proving the WiW theory of change in critical watersheds and water-scarce areas: Since 2011, Conservation South Africa (CSA), the local in-country affiliate of CI, has implemented the WiW framework in the Eastern Cape’s upper uMzimvubu River Basin, to improve water resource sustainability and climate change resilience. One of the main lessons learned from this work is that WASH activities create incentives and co-benefits for conservation in communities. The initiative included a gender analysis report identifying the different ways in which men and women community members should be engaged around sanitation and hygiene activities.
  3. Advocating for improved policy at municipal and district levels: CI and CSA are designing a roadmap for advocacy in the Mzimvubu basin. Building on existing relationships in this landscape, CSA is influencing key stakeholders and local government in adopting best practices and in developing appropriate policies. Together with fellow ABCG member The Jane Goodall Institute and WASH partner IRC, CSA is demonstrating how local-level policy mechanisms can lead to replicable models for scale-up of integrated freshwater conservation and WASH programming.
  4. Highlighting the ABCG Community of Practice recommendations to examine threats to freshwater conservation in Africa: On February 25, 2020, the Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET) and ABCG hosted a dialogue called, “Rapid Urbanization, Infrastructure Development, and Water Conservation in Kenya,” in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants from the public, private and civil society sectors, as well as university students, called on African policymakers to prioritize freshwater conservation as a top development priority in national and regional plans.

‘Over the coming months, CI and partners will be expanding our WiW work to include lessons learned and best practices in more of our in-country demonstration sites, creating tools for engaging all levels of government to adopt an integrated view of water resources, and examining the human health aspects of handwashing and good hygiene as a fundamental component watershed conservation.

‘When I was little, I never imagined how much handwashing would play a role in my work. CI is committed to fostering approaches that meet basic human needs as enabling factors for ecosystem and human health. On this World Water Day, we look for opportunities like this to come together to care for nature and ourselves.

Read the original article by Janet Edmond, WASH and Watershed Conservation go hand in hand, published in the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy News, Mar 22, 2020.

About the author

Janet Edmond is Senior Director, Inclusive Partnerships for Sustainable Conservation, at Conservation International (CI). She has worked on the social components of conservation and human well-being, including helping to build CI’s rights-based approach. Janet works to foster effective partnerships with health and development NGOs, promote transparent and transformative stakeholder engagement and address conflict in environmental management. She has more than 25 years of experience in development and conservation, with a focus on linking human health and ecosystem health. Janet is also ABCG’s Steering Committee member from CI.  

Photo description: Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school. Photo credit: JGI

2019 Frankfurt Zoological Society Brownbag Banner Image

Get Up to Speed On These Innovative Biodiversity Conservation Approaches and Solutions

2019 Frankfurt Zoological Society Brownbag Banner Image

One of our key goals at ABCG is to encourage the exchange of information and knowledge among stakeholders while providing an opportunity for technical experts to connect and engage.

In 2019, we co-hosted 11 brown bag presentations and events on diverse and critical topics on biodiversity conservation. The topics ranged from family planning and conservation, illegal wildlife trade, the conservation of rhinos in various parts of Africa, innovative conservation initiatives such as Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD) and innovative approaches for engaging local communities in conservation.

We have summarized these presentations and made available the webinar recordings on the ABCG website. Here is a listing of the events:

  1. Healthy People Healthier Planet – Why Family Planning is Relevant to Conservation, by Giulia Besana, The Nature Conservancy
  2. Local Communities: First Line of Defense against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD), by Holly Dublin and Akshay Vishwanath, IUCN 
  3. Rhino Conservation Forum: A Private Screening and Panel Discussions Forum 
  4. Engaging local community in sustaining the large population of elephants in Tsavo-Mkomazi Landscap, by Kenneth Kimitei & George Okwaro, African Wildlife Foundation 
  5. Black Rhinos of the Serengeti: A Success Story for Tanzania by Rian Labuschagne, FZS- Serengeti Conservation Program 
  6. Conservation Through the Eyes of Communities: An Innovative Approach to Community-Led Conservation in Northern Kenya, by Tom Lalampaa, Northern Rangelands Trust
  7. Cranes: Flagships for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa, by Richard Beilfuss, International Crane Foundation 
  8. The African rhino situation: Is it getting better? by Michael Knight, World Wildlife Fund 
  9. Establishing Wildlife Crime Units to Boost the Fight Against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Congo Basin, by Alain Ononino, World Wide Fund 
  10. Conservation International’s Virtual reality film ‘My Africa’ & From conflict to coexistence: How peace and security underpin conservation in Northern Kenya, by Matthew Lewis, Conservation International 
  11. SMART: Improving Effectiveness of Protected Areas Globally, by Drew T. Cronin, Program Manager, SMART Partnership 

The protection of our environment requires a coordinated approach and an important step in this is through information and knowledge sharing. To participate as a featured speaker, please contact Evelyn Namvua at and view the Guidelines to Speakers here.

Madagascar countryside

Recommendations for Policymakers from The African Landscapes Dialogue in Arusha

Madagascar countryside

In November 2019, ABCG together with other organizations supported to host the African Landscapes Dialogue that was held in Arusha Tanzania. The dialogue brought together 136 landscape leaders from 18 sub-Saharan countries implementing different initiatives in the landscapes to share knowledge, experiences and lessons on the integrated landscape management approach.

Integrated landscape approaches have been widely accepted by major global policy instruments as they offer better efficiency in meeting landscape and global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and food production.

A policy brief synthesizing discussion from the dialogue on the role of integrated landscape managemen has been published. The report provides 10 recommendations on how integrated landscape management can contribute to the CBD Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.

Ten Recommendations from Africa for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Agenda

Provide policy support for locally-led landscape partnerships
1. Support and strengthen long term, locally-led and area-based landscape initiatives
2. Create national policy and enabling frameworks that make space for community-led
landscape initiatives
3. Plan with communities and promote more broadly land use planning methods that embrace integrated landscapes at larger scales (regional, national and transboundary)
4. Work through existing integrated landscape initiatives

Build ‘green’ landscape economies
5. Manage agricultural systems for biodiversity conservation
6. Integrate biodiversity consideration and natural infrastructure into urban landscape planning
7. Generate direct community benefits from protecting wildlife and biodiversity and link wildlife economy to market
8. Mobilize finance for integrated landscape investments that support biodiversity.

Measure landscape-level performance
9. Set landscape biodiversity targets
10. Build local skills and invest in Community Resource Centres for locally-led landscape
monitoring and research

Photo: ABCG

FWWASH COP Meeting 2020 Group Photo

Getting Urban Infrastructure and Sustainable Water Resource Management Right

Originally published by the African Wildlife Foundation

FWWASH COP Meeting 2020 Group Photo

‘The Freshwater Conservation and Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) Integration Community of Practice meeting on the theme, Rapid Urbanization, Infrastructure Development, and Water Conservation in Kenya, took place in Nairobi, Kenya on February 25, 2020. Convened by the Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET) and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), the meeting attracted participants from the public, private and civil society sectors as well as university students.

‘As Africa changes, it is essential that healthy ecosystems are included in development plans. There is a need to negotiate space for conservation as well. It helps to identify threats and solutions around access to water to eventually improve efficiency, collaboration, and impact. Water security is indispensable in sustainable growth as well as in development.

At the meeting, discussions revolved around three key themes, 1) An understanding of water resource management and the value of freshwater ecosystems, 2) The role of water governance and urban planning in mediating urban water demand and supply, and environmental protection, and 3) The cost of meeting FW-WASH challenges in the face of rapid urbanization.

“ABCG, through its thematic working group focusing on the integration of freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygience (WASH), initiated this community of practice to bring together stakeholders working in conservation, development, and WASH sectors to learn and exchange practical experiences and resources as well as to address pertinent issues,” said Evelyn Namvua, ABCG Communication and Engagement Specialist.

ABCG FW-WASH CoP Meeting Nairobi February 2020

While discussing on the benefits of freshwater ecosystem, participants observed the need to increase awareness among citizens about the importance of the critical (provisioning, supporting, regulating, and cultural) services provided by the ecosystem as an important requirement that could positively transform how we treat and protect our environment.

The role of the government in sustainable water management was stated as critical to the success of many intervention projects. There’s need for a structural revolution particularly in integrating politics into program design to ensure that the program attains its full benefits. On the other hand, civil society organizations and other actors involved in water resource management need to engage with the local and national governments to support them in planning and coming up with policies that would ensure sustainable water resource management.

“As the national government is budgeting for water resource management, it is important that county governments also plug in and include it in their budget plans. Banks can also fund some of the infrastructure. However, all these revolve around sustainable governance,” said Martin Mulongo, the Water and Sanitation Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

‘United Nations-Habitat estimates that by 2030, the urban population in Africa will double. Therefore, the meeting sought to find a balance between the provision of clean water and the protection of Kenya’s water catchment areas while promoting urbanization without any compromising the other. Across the continent, key water catchment areas are facing severe degradation due to land-use changes, poorly planned infrastructure, urbanization, and population growth.

‘Urbanization brings about not only a national but also a positive global change. It facilitates the growth of hubs for innovation, creativity, and growth. Additionally, it accounts for 85 percent of global Gross Domestic Product. With the proper development of urban infrastructure, national and regional Sustainable Development Goals can easily be attained.

Read the article on the AWF website: AWF Promotes Freshwater Conservation as Top Development Priority, published March 03, 2020

Photos: Click here to view the event photos 

About ABCG Freshwater Conservation and WASH activities

ABCG is working to reduce watershed degradation and pollution to increase the health of watershed ecosystems and species by linking freshwater conservation, access and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Pilot projects in Uganda and South Africa, examine the effectiveness of implementing integrated development and conservation projects from a freshwater ecosystems perspective. Activities are contributing to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems and improving efficient use of diminishing water resources due to climate change, that lead to increased access to potable water and improved human health.

About the FW-WASH CoP

Recognizing the need to better share information on FW-WASH initiatives, the ABCG FW-WASH task group initiated the CoP with the aim of establishing an integrated learning and knowledge sharing platform between FW-WASH practitioners in a supportive and collaborative environment. The main goal of the CoP is to bring together WASH and conservation practitioners to reduce water catchment degradation and pollution, and improved health of freshwater ecosystems and people. 

Zebras drinking water in Amboseli National Park by Fabrizio Frigeni/unsplash

Our 2019 Annual Report

Zebras drinking water in Amboseli National Park by Fabrizio Frigeni/unsplash

ABCG’s overarching goals of mainstreaming biodiversity in human well-being and development agendas, promoting good conservation practices, and strengthening the role of social and development institutions in biodiversity conservation and human well-being, are being pursued within the context of six thematic foci:

  1. Land Use Management
  2. Global Change Impacts on Biodiversity
  3. Community-Based Forest Management
  4. Global Health Linkages to Conservation: Population Health and Environment
  5. Global Health Linkages to Conservation: Fresh-Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  6. Gender Integration

Our 2019 Annual Report provides progress made on these thematic tasks.

Implementation highlights in these thematic foci include:

Land Use Management (LUM): The working group made significant progress in developing a land-use planning training course, which will provide an introduction to the theory and practical starting points of integrating biodiversity into land-use planning. The training course will build capacity of African governments and stakeholders in the use of tools and methodologies in order to influence land use planning. The training course will be released in the second quarter of FY 2020. The working group has also been working to infuse LUM recommendations into land use plans for 13 villages within the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Kilombero Cluster. The planning aims to sustainably improve agricultural practices for 2,000 farmers while considering conservation and ecosystem service values where farms encroach on Kilombero Nature Reserve and Ruipa Wildlife Corridor habitat and connectivity areas.

Managing Global Change Impact (GCI): In 2017, the Global Change Impacts group (GCI) identified how changes in climate are affecting livelihoods and how communities’ responses to those changes are affecting biodiversity through community interviews. The results show that 35% of the total adaptation responses conducted by local communities have a negative impact on biodiversity. Many of these spontaneous responses to climate change also reduce communities’ resilience and the ability to adapt to changing future conditions. The working group has conducted workshops with the communities that they interviewed in Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar to report on the findings from the analysis of survey responses and discuss pilot adaptation projects that will help communities adapt to climate change while protecting biodiversity. These projects will be implemented in FY 2020.

Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM): Three local community forest concessions (CFCL) dossiers (files of required documents for allocation) in Walikale province, DRC that would enable communities secure rights to manage their land and sustainably manage the forests were finalized by this working group. The working group also created a Community of Practice to contribute to the understanding and implementation of CBFM management plans in DRC. In order to have a better understanding of the working context in DRC, the working group has been holding consultations with different stakeholders engaged in the community forest policy process.

Global Health Linkages to Biodiversity Conservation—Population, Health and Environment (PHE): The PHE working group members collaborated on a series of planning meetings with health and development organizations with complementary PHE goals, including Population Reference Bureau (PRB), Pathfinder International, and John Snow International, as well as USAID staff. The meetings were aimed at leveraging collaboration with partners, sharing task activities and expected outcomes, and receiving feedback on how to improve and strengthen activities.

Global Health Linkages to Biodiversity Conservation—Fresh Water Sanitation and Hygiene (FW-WASH): The FW-WASH task has been focusing on translating on-the-ground successes into policy action. The working group organized successful advocacy trainings for project teams in USA, Uganda, and South Africa to enable project teams scale up their work through influencing key stakeholders and local government to adopt FW-WASH best practices and in the development of appropriate policies that conservation.

Integrating Gender and Vulnerable Populations in Activity Design and Implementation: ABCG technical leads and gender experts convened for a day-long Gender Integration Workshop. Following the workshop, ABCG technical leads agreed to incorporate at least two gender indicators concerning the learning question. By integrating gender dimensions in all thematic and cross-cutting program components, ABCG aims to more explicitly address the issues that limit the ability of women and vulnerable populations to participate fully in conservation and natural resource management.

Download the report here>

Community interview, Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo Credit: Nikhil Advani, WWF

Climate Change Updates: Supporting Communities Adapt to Climate Change

Community interview, Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo Credit: Nikhil Advani, WWFClimate change continues to be a major threat facing the world. The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) has been documenting human responses to climate change and their impacts on biodiversity, through its thematic working group on Managing Global Change Impacts on Biodiversity. Through this activity, we are aiming to have a better understanding on the impacts of climate change on livelihoods, how communities responses to climate change are affecting biodiversity, and provide opportunities to reduce human vulnerability to climate change while at the same time benefitting biodiversity. Since 2016, ABCG and partners have conducted over 600 interviews in communities engaged in farming, fishing and pastoralism across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Uganda.

Country Reports

Facing declining rainfall, warming temperatures and shifting seasonal patterns, local pastoralist communities in Kenya have adopted several coping techniques to deal with loss of livelihood and resource scarcity due to climate change. Some of these coping strategies include, selling livestock, traveling to other areas such as parks/reserves in search of natural resources, fencing property, and pursuing alternative livelihoods. Some of these responses adversely impact biodiversity by increasing rates of human wildlife conflict, encroaching on habitat, and restricting wildlife movement.

Similarly, in Madagascar, decreasing rainfall and changes in the timing of seasons have led to reduced abundance of fish, crop failure, reduced availability of freshwater resources and increased prevalence of disease among other impacts. Many of the strategies that people have turned to in order to cope with climate change pose potential threats to marine and forest ecosystems. These include destructive fishing practices involving the use of illegal gear and fishing in ecologically sensitive areas, such as mangrove channels. Several respondents also note that farmers have turned to fishing to cope with poor crop yields. Increased reliance on forests for logging, hunting, and foraging for wild foods was also frequently cited in the responses, leading to deforestation and forest degradation.

Results from interviews with local communities show that 35% of the total adaptation responses conducted by local communities have a negative impact on biodiversity. Many of these spontaneous responses to climate change also reduce communities’ resilience and the ability to adapt to changing future conditions.

Download other country summaries on the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Crowd website.

Helping Communities Adapt

In 2019, ABCG began reporting back these findings to the communities to inform communities of the impact of their adaptation responses to the biodiversity. At these reporting back sessions, best practices that can support communities to adapt livelihoods to climate change with minimal impact to biodiversity were discussed. ABCG further worked with communities in selected countries to identify livelihood intervention projects that will support communities to mitigate or reduce these negative impacts of climate change while at the same time realizing positive benefits to biodiversity. ABCG will work with these communities to provide capacity and resources in the implementation of the selected projects in 2020.

Participatory Land Use PlanningRecent Conservation International Publication: Indicators to Measure the Adaptation Outcomes of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

This paper published in the journal, Climatic Change, by Donatti et. al, identifies the outcomes and indicators that can be used to track the adaptation benefits provided by nature. Nature can provide many benefits to people, including helping them adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) refers to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of ecosystems, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity to address the impacts of climate change on people’s lives and livelihoods.

The range of adaptation outcomes precludes the use of a single common indicator to measure adaptation outcomes in the same way that mitigation is measured (i.e., in terms of avoided greenhouse gases emissions). In the open access paper “Indicators to measure the climate change adaptation outcomes of Ecosystem-based adaptation”, 13 adaptation outcomes have been identified that can be achieved through EbA and seven indicators to monitor the success of EbA in achieving adaptation outcomes.

A villager in Ntola is photographed after completing the ABCG WASH household survey. Pcredit CI_Patrick Nease

Integrating Gender and Vulnerable Populations in Natural Resource Management

A villager in Ntola is photographed after completing the ABCG WASH household survey. Pcredit CI_Patrick NeaseWomen play critical land and natural resource management roles. According to a 2017 ABCG One Health report, “based on gender differentiated roles, women are primarily responsible for care work that occurs in the domain of the home, including cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Their high influence over water usage at the household level means they are most responsible for seeking and securing water resources. Women all over the world experience a far greater burden than male counterparts in terms of water collection, storage, and protection”.

However, these roles are typically unrecognized or undervalued. Minorities and disadvantaged groups are integral to local conservation constituencies. Therefore, the role of these groups is especially important to consider in the construction of sustainable conservation strategies.

In working to ensure that women’s role are fully recognized, ABCG is employing a participatory approach that seeks to provide improved access to opportunities (meetings, workshops, decision making on natural resource use, etc.) for women and vulnerable groups. This includes ensuring that gender considerations are included in project design and implementation. By integrating gender dimensions in all thematic and cross-cutting program components, ABCG aims to more explicitly address the issues that limit the ability of women and vulnerable populations to participate fully in conservation and natural resource management.

ABCG’s gender thematic activities include two objectives, first, to promote a favorable institutional and policy environment for mainstreaming gender equality and social inclusion in biodiversity conservation, and second, to enhance capacity of partners and stakeholders to enable women and socially excluded groups to claim their rights in natural resource management.

In order to ensure that this pillar of work is efficiently addressed throughout all working groups, an ABCG task force with members from Conservational International, the Jane Goodall Institute and World Wildlife Fund organized a workshop in August 2019. The workshops covered the following areas:

  • Know basic concepts of gender (What)
  • Understand the role of gender in effectiveness and sustainability of conservation initiatives (Why)
  • Know the process of effective incorporation of gender at the design and implementation phases of a project (How)
  • Describe how basic gender concepts relate to ABCG overall goal and respective task objectives – land use planning, climate change, community-based forestry, and global health (freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Population, Health and Environment)
  • Identify gender integration process and specific activities per task
  • Select one gender indicator per task group

In addition, ABCG is working to see that gender indicator are incorporated into its activities. These indicators are built around the learning questions: Does the increased focus on gender-related activities during work planning, monitoring and team training, lead to an increase in gender integration of critical actors/stakeholders in project activities? And, Does the increased representation by women in project activities lead to improve women leadership to get involved in decision-making roles in community-based groups/committees/others, etc.

Gender is an important component of development interventions because of the different roles and responsibilities men and women have in the household and community, and the different needs, access and control to the different natural resources. The integration of women’s needs and input within conservation is therefore critical to achieving successful outcomes.

ABCG PHE Experts Workshop held at WWF-US November 21 2019

A Strategic Holistic Approach to Meeting Peoples Needs for Health for Greater Environmental and Social Impact

There are strong linkages between biodiversity conservation and human health, the health of domestic animals, and ecosystem health. People and nature co-exist together with numerous benefits recorded from having a harmonious relationship. Focusing on the synergies between human health and ecosystem health and including a wide spectrum of development and conservation targets, such as the sustainable management of natural resources, improved livelihoods, food security, and nutrition, can lead to more effective biodiversity conservation while simultaneously improving conditions for local people.

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) Population, Health and Environment (PHE) working group provides methodological guidance to advance a vision that incorporates health outcomes into biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

On November 21, 2019, PHE members planned a PHE Experts meeting in Washington USA. More than 20 health, development and conservation experts provided insights, research and evidence on the benefits of integrated Population, Health and Environment programs for the African context, recognizing that human population growth is a main threat to biodiversity loss in sub-Saharan Africa.

ABCG PHE Experts Workshop held at WWF-US November 21 2019The objectives of the meeting were to better articulate the key assumptions that could be tested over time and/or learning questions that could be tracked and/or ways of measuring the concept and/or best practices on how to effectively implement such complex projects. The group explored key questions about why PHE integration is so important to address human population growth and conservation and how to better measure the benefits or value added of these approaches. The experts shared lessons from projects in Madagascar and Tanzania about how communities are adopting better conservation or natural resource management practices if they are integrated with family planning and PHE approaches.

Three presentations framed the current thinking on PHE approaches:

  • Kristen Patterson from Population Reference Bureau gave an overview of the PACE Project’s accomplishments providing country support to high priority family planning countries with capacity building, knowledge management, and policy advocacy, which complement the ABCG PHE task objectives.
  • Laura Robson from Blue Ventures presented a brief overview of their latest research on PHE in Madagascar, which unpacked assumptions around PHE programming in coastal environments.
  • Cheryl Margoluis from Pathfinder International shared lessons from the PHE work in Tanzania about how communities will adopt better conservation or natural resource management practices if they are integrated with family planning and PHE approaches.

Following the presentations, the group explored one of the fundamental assumptions of the value of PHE projects – that there are synergistic benefits to implementing and cross-sectoral “integrated” approach to meet human and ecosystem health outcomes. Over the past 20 years, many health and conservation organizations have implemented PHE projects and conducted research to demonstrate these benefits or value added. Nevertheless, both conservation community and donor agencies are recognizing a consistent knowledge gap and lack of consensus on why we integrate health activities into conservation projects; what added benefits are expected (and are realistic), and how exactly integrated PHE leads to improved conservation outcomes (the Theory of Change).

Participants agreed by the end of the workshop to use the following definition for developing the ABCG PHE reference sheet in 2020. “A strategic holistic approach to meeting people’s needs for health including reproductive health and maintaining restoring ecosystem services for greater environmental and social impact at multiple levels”.

Uganda primates photo credit Nina R on Flickr

The Pearl of Africa: Uganda’s Future Through the Lens of Conservation

Uganda primates photo credit Nina R on FlickrLocated in East Africa, Uganda is a country that is endowed with rich biodiversity. It is among the 10 most biodiverse countries in the world and carries about 40% of the continent’s mammal species with half of the world’s mountain gorillas found in Uganda. The country is home to over half of all the 2000 bird species in Africa’s bird species making it a birder’s paradise.

Like in many parts of the continent and across the globe, the country’s rich flora and fauna faces environment management challenges that threaten the existence of these resources. The leading threat is human wildlife conflict that results to the loss of lives and injures to both humans and wildlife. Other threats include, human wildlife conflict, increasing human population at a rate of 3.3 % per annum, high poverty level, and industrialization including oil discovery in the country.

Sudi Bamulesewa, African Wildlife Foundation Uganda Country Director provided an overview of how the African Wildlife Foundation with a vision to ensure that wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa, in Uganda, is applying a holistic large landscape approach that will see its biodiversity thriving. Sudi was speaking at an Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group speaker series event held on November 14, 2019.

This approach includes activities aimed at building capacity of government institutions in the protection of biodiversity, working on tourism development, supporting communities adjacent to protected areas through education, and agro- based enterprises and ecotourism in a bid to see that communities living with wildlife benefit from biodiversity.

For more information, click to listen to the event’s webinar recording>

About the speaker

As AWF’s Uganda Country Director, Sudi oversees the successful implementation of programs in Uganda, works with AWF senior management to design new programs and grows AWF’s conservation and development portfolio in Uganda.

Sudi holds an MSc. Degree in Forestry for Rural Development (Twente University Institute of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation – ITC, the Netherlands), and a Post Graduate Diploma in Institutional Management (Uganda Management Institute, Kampala, Uganda).

Sudi started his professional career back in 1992 as an Agronomist with Uganda Tea Growers Cooperation. He later joined Uganda Local Government as District Environment Officer (Jinja District). In 2001, Sudi joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Uganda where he served for a period of 13 years, first as Program Management Specialist in the Economic Growth Office, and later on as Team Leader for the Environment and Natural Resources Management Unit. Prior to joining AWF-Uganda, Sudi was managing Director of ABEAT Associates (U) Ltd, a private agribusiness and forestry enterprise development firm.

Land owners registering land for lease to conservancy for 25 years_pcredit Daniel Sopia_MMWCA

Scaling Up Community Conservation In The Greater Mara Ecosystem

Land owners registering land for lease to conservancy for 25 years_pcredit Daniel Sopia_MMWCA

The Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania and Kenya is an important ecosystem area that is estimated to carry about 40% of Africa’s remaining large mammals. The Greater Maasai Mara contains 25% of the ecosystems larger mammals despite making up only .05% of Kenya’s land mass. This figures were being shared by Daniel Sopia, the CEO Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) at a recent Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group speaker series event held on October 29, 2019. Living harmoniously with the wildlife in the Greater Maasai Mara, are hundreds of thousands of the Maasia population who are traditional pastoralists.

Daniel noted that despite its importance, over half of the area in this ecosystem is unprotected. This exposes the wild animals to high threats as a result of habitat loss due to land privatization, fencing for agriculture or alternative land use, human-wildlife conflict and other land use pressures.

The adjacent land owned by local communities form key dispersal and diversity areas and are designated as Wildlife Conservancies that surround the National Reserve. Daniel’s presentation noted that a conservancy pools hundreds of individually owned land parcels into larger wildlife, tourisms and livestock management entities. Wildlife conservancies play a critical role in conserving the land and securing it from land conversion that lead to habitat loss and ensures the prosperity of biodiversity and wildlife in the region.

MMWCA has been in operation since 2014 and was formed as a membership organization for current and future wildlife conservancies in the Greater Maasai Mara. MMWCA has a mandate from landowners and tourism parties to play an overarching coordination role for the Greater Mara Ecosystem stakeholders. The association activities involve sustaining and creating Mara Conservancies, conservancy governance and transparency, community advocacy and awareness, gender education, sustainable revenue development and local capacity building.

This model has resulted to numerous benefit for wildlife, livestock and humans. Among these benefits include guaranteed monthly income for the communities, grass banks that allow land owners to access grazing in the conservancy, conservation where land and resources are conserved, employment through access to jobs in the tourism industry and conservation and development projects including health centers, water, classrooms and road.

For more about this model, download and listen to the webinar recording:  – audio recording

Click to download the slide presentation>

About the speaker
Daniel Sopia, MMWCADaniel Sopia is an accomplished leader in conservation, with a track record of working with local communities to protect Kenya’s diverse ecosystems. He brings to MMWCA a great mix of leadership, inspiration, and passion for conservation. He possesses management experience in the conservation and tourism sectors. He serves on the Board of Greater Mara Trust/Greater Mara Management Limited as well as the Board of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association representing the Maasai Mara region. As a founder member, Daniel has done a remarkable job with MMWCA’s formation, firstly as the Chairperson of the Conservancies Council prior to joining the Secretariat as Chief Programs Officer then CEO. Daniel is a Silver rated Professional Tour Guide who left active tour guiding to help set up Olare Motorogi Community Conservancy Trust in Maasai Mara. He co-steered Olare Motorogi Conservancy as a Director from 2006 to 2008, a Trustee and as a Community Development Manager in the year 2013. He has also served in the capacities of Board Member for Olare Motorogi Conservancy and Vice Chair of Olpurkel Company Limited, the Management Company managing the conservancy. Currently, Daniel has also been appointed as a Member of the Human-Wildlife Compensation Schemes Task Force.