East Africa Population-Health-Environment Conference Kicks Off in KigaliFebruary 23, 2009 By Rachel Weisshaar
Rwandan Minister of Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi officially launched the meeting of the East Africa PHE Network this morning, stating that Rwanda’s highest-in-Africa population density of 365 people per square kilometer—which he argued leads to environmental degradation and poor human health in both rural and urban areas—compels an integrated approach to development. Kamanzi said that Rwanda’s National Environment Policy and national development plan, Vision 2020, both recognize population-health-environment (PHE) links, and he expressed Rwanda’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the First Inter-ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa, which was co-hosted by the World Health Programme and the UN Environment Programme in Gabon in August 2008.
The men and women at this conference—who hail from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda—are the best and brightest practitioners of integrated development in East Africa. Even so, Jason Bremner of the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) challenged them to truly let down their disciplinary boundaries, limit their use of sector-specific jargon, and instead think holistically about the links between population, health, and environment.
Each country in the East Africa PHE Network has its own working group, and they detailed their impressive accomplishments since the East Africa PHE Network was founded at a November 2007 conference in Addis Ababa:
- The Rwandans helped conduct an assessment of PHE linkages and projects in Rwanda, and also recruited new working-group members, such as the Ministry of Health and various universities.
- The Ugandans helped carry out a similar assessment in their country; they also had newspaper articles published on their programs and convinced a radio station to grant them a one-hour time slot twice a month for PHE programming.
- The Kenyans engineered the inclusion of two environmental variables—land holdings and food security—in the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey. They also successfully petitioned the Kenyan government and the UN Population Fund to include PHE language in their seventh country program.
- The Ethiopians formalized their working group into the Consortium for the Integration of Population, Health, and Environment (CIPHE) and gained the support of Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis. By convincing many of the country’s largest associations of environmental and health professionals that it is in their best interest to coordinate their efforts, CIPHE has built an email list of more than 2,000 individuals.
Rachel Weisshaar is attending the meeting of the East Africa PHE Network in Kigali,
, which is hosted by PRB and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. See other posts on the New Security Beat: “East Africa PHE Network: Translating Strong Results Into Informed Policies,” “Rwanda: More Than Mountain Gorillas,” and “Specialty Coffee Project Brings Jolt of Attention to Agriculture, Health in Rural Rwanda.” Rwanda
Photo: Stanislas Kamanzi, Rwandan Minister of Natural Resources, opens the meeting of the
East AfricaPHE Network. Photo courtesy of Rachel Weisshaar.