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
The World Population Data Sheet 2021 reports that Africa’s population is rapidly growing. The report further reveals that Africa has the highest fertility rate at 4.3% and the highest projected population growth rate of any region worldwide. All of the world’s countries with fertility rates of over 5 children per woman are in Africa.
Speaking at a recent webinar by the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) on Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approaches and benefits for conservation on August 19, 2021, Tess McLoud, Policy Advisor for the People, Health, Planet program at Population Reference Bureau gave a presentation on population dynamics in Africa and the implications for PHE. The webinar featured panelists from ABCG members World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, and partner Population Reference Bureau.
The panel discussion focused on the benefits of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approaches for Africa’s biodiversity conservation. Discussions were centred around population dynamics and environment in Africa and their implications for PHE, World Population Data Sheet 2021 highlights, ABCG PHE lessons learned from the ABCG PHE project in Southeast Cameroon and ABCG PHE insights on the benefits for conservation.
Tess McLoud, Policy Advisor for the People, Health, Planet program at Population Reference Bureau (PRB) gave a presentation on population dynamics in Africa and their implications for PHE and PRB 2021 world Population Data Sheet highlights, focusing on the trends and implications for sustainable development and PHE in Africa.
Tess stated that Africa has a population of about 1.4 billion which is 18% of the world population. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa of at least 211 million. She further stated that 42 % of sub- Saharan population is under 15 years and the youngest of any sub-region, and 43 % of Africans live in urban areas. She highlighted that Africa has the highest fertility rate of 4.3, with the highest projected population growth rate of more than 60% of the global population from 1.4 billion in 2021 to a projection of around 2.5 billion in 2050. Understanding demographic trends and their drivers help us inform policy and programs to improve health, reduce poverty, build gender equity, and foster a sustainable relationship with the environment.
Romanaus Ikfuingei, Programme Manager WWF Lobeke National Park in Cameroon shared about ABCG PHE project lessons learnt in Cameroon. He highlighted the main activities they are implementing, challenges, solutions, lessons learnt and opportunities for future PHE interventions. He also gave an insight into the purpose of the PHE project in Lobeke National Park. Which was to inform organizations seeking to improve the ecosystem, health and conservation outcomes along with improved human well-being, for people living in and around areas of key biodiversity areas. The project sought to recognize and respect local knowledge of both women, men and most marginalized groups who depend on natural resources for survival.
“PHE approaches have offered an entry point for addressing community needs in a holistic manner, enabling positive conservation behavior change,” said Janet Edmond, the Senior Director for Inclusive Partnerships at Conservation International and the lead for the ABCG PHE working group.
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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.