Developing Synergies at the Intersection of Human Health and Biodiversity Conservation: Lessons Learned from an Integrated Population, Health, and Environment Approach in Cameroon and Tanzania

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On August 16, 2017, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) presented the interim results from two pilot studies to integrate Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) guidelines into biodiversity conservation, as well as key findings from a comprehensive literature review on cross-sector linkages between PHE, nutrition, and food security in its presentation titled, Advancing an Integrated Vision that Incorporates Health Outcomes into Biodiversity Conservation.

ABCG’s thematic working group on Global Health Linkages to Biodiversity Conservation: PHE provides methodological guidance to advance a vision that incorporates health outcomes into biodiversity conservation and sustainable development by employing PHE guidelines to identify and develop synergies between critical ecosystem services, and human health and well-being. Click here to view the PHE Factsheet.

PHE working group members presented 1) an analysis of existing integrated PHE approaches, their achievements, and lessons learned thus far from pilot sites in Southeastern Cameroon and Western Tanzania. Activities explored interrelationships and interdependencies in PHE, by combining actions to reduce deforestation, improve food and nutrition security and conserve watersheds.

The meeting commenced with opening remarks by Rebecca Goodman, ABCG’s Coordinator. Nathalie Simoneau, Senior Gender and Inclusion Specialist at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), then shared progress on pilot activities in Southeastern Cameroon, followed by reports from Kimberly Holbrook, Manager of External Affairs in the Africa Region at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Alice Macharia, Director of Africa Programs at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) (remotely), on their respective activities in Western Tanzania.

Literature Review

The comprehensive literature review titled, Exploring Cross-Sector Linkages between Population, Health, Environment,Nutrition and Food Security: A Review of Best Practices and Lessons Learned, documents best practices for integrating nutrition and food security interventions into existing PHE projects and presents recommendations for incorporating cross-sector indicators. Key recommendations include:

  • Understand gender roles and use and decision-making around resources
  • Recognize and respect local knowledge
  • Incorporate WASH into nutrition and food security programs to enhance health and nutrition outcomes
  • Assess local context to address local priorities
  • Incorporate nutrition objectives and indicators into project designs to identify synergies with economic, social and environmental objectives

Pilot Activities

In Lobeke National Park, Cameroon WWF focuses on integrating PHE guidelines into communities by training health and environment scouts, and school clubs and conducting campaigns on sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

Through their efforts, they’ve succeeded in training over 500 women in nutrition, feeding practices and food security. In addition, 30 school clubs developed an action plan on hygiene, sanitation and the environment.

TNC, in collaboration with Pathfinder International, spearheaded the Tuungane project based in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem, Tanzania where they are working to empower communities to create healthier families, forests and fisheries by establishing Model Households as teaching tools and promoting alternative environmentally friendly livelihoods.

TNC has recruited 1,258 Model Households to exemplify the benefits of following PHE guidelines and successfully trained youths to use drama for development techniques to teach less literate populations about PHE. Additionally, 375 smallholder farmers adopted climate smart agricultural techniques.

JGI focuses on the Gombe Masito-Ugalla Corridor and works to raise the profile of PHE in Western Tanzania. They’ve created a PHE network in Tanzania’s western zone to bring together key actors working in the region, such as TNC and the Belgium Technical Corporation. JGI has also carried out educational sessions on PHE for organizations and local leadership.

Overall recommendations from these activities for effective PHE integration:

  • Assess receptiveness and understanding of locals prior to commencement of activities
  • Gain the support of local authorities and government
  • Build trust with locals and identify best methods for trust-building

Next steps

In the final year of ABCG’s current Phase II, the PHE working group will identify and synthesize all lessons learned from pilot studies to share through a workshop with ABCG partners, PHE project stakeholders, decision-makers, etc. End-line surveys must be conducted to determine whether PHE practices were continued by communities and the impact of activities in these regions. Results and best practices from these activities can then be used to inform future PHE projects.


For more information, please contact Nathalie Simoneau at

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