ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko
and I recently attended
“Population, Health, and Environment: Integrated Development for East Africa,” a conference
held in November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference was attended by more than 200 development practitioners from around the world, including many from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
Throughout the conference, organizers, presenters, and participants all professed the many benefits of integrating population, health, and environment (PHE) initiatives. President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and Ethiopia’s ministers of health, environment, and agriculture and rural development opened the conference by praising the comprehensive basket of services that PHE offers. All that said, perhaps the best evidence that this conference was a success, and that PHE’s integrated approach is both necessary and valued in countries like Ethiopia, came in comments from Glenn Anders, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Ethiopia Mission Director, during the closing ceremony:
As I wrote in my previous post, it is rare that a conference galvanizes such momentum and captures the imagination of so many people from so many countries. It’s good to know that policymakers are listening.
I myself have been in development for over 25 years. I know first-hand the challenges that arise from addressing a development issue as one problem with one cause and one solution. Sometimes it might seem like a more simple approach, but we know that development—and life—is much more multi-faceted and complex. The only way to find a common ground, common solution, and common funding is to recognize the interconnectedness between people and their surrounding environment.
Integrated programs touch more lives, improve program efficiency, and strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration. We see better, measurable results from an integrated approach, and that is something we certainly all want …
Let me share with you how USAID in Ethiopia is utilizing this holistic approach. We support the government of Ethiopia’s community health extension workers, who work on the ground in communities addressing much more than just health. There have been over 18,000 workers deployed to date across the country. All of the community health workers are women and they are empowered to educate their neighbors. The workers are immunizing children and providing family planning services in the community. The program is also improving water and sanitation, introducing clean water and hygiene practices. The community health extension workers in Ethiopia are combining development solutions to address environment, health, population, and gender issues. We applaud Ethiopia’s vision to prioritize this program, and we will continue to support its implementation.