›PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PFPI) just released a short documentary, Population-Health-Environment (PHE) Leadership as a Way of Life in All Walks of Life. The video features interviews with peer educators and local government officials who have partnered with PFPI on integrated coastal resource management in the Philippines that combines family planning and reproductive health services with environmental services.
According to those interviewed, an integrated approach is the best way to alleviate food insecurity in the area. “We cannot separate population, health, and environment, they should be implemented hand in hand,” said Marlyn Alcanises, a Fisheries and Coastal Resource Management program officer. “Even if we manage our coastal resources well, if there are many children due to high fertility and population growth, many people are hungry.”
The comprehensive program has been successful in addressing the social and environmental problems in the Verde Island Passage of the Philippines, one of Asia’s most densely populated regions, as well as a marine biodiversity hotspot and sea lane for many commercial ships.
The program uses community-based distribution of contraceptives to increase access to family planning, micro-credit schemes to finance sustainable livelihoods and alleviate poverty, and advocacy campaigns to increase government support for integrated health and environment programs.
Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Cecilia Zulueta praised the integrated approach, saying “it can slow down population growth, decrease the number of malnutrition cases, lessen the number of out-of-school youth, and it can also decrease the crime rate, because if one does not have a stable source of income it may force him to engage in illegal activities.”
In ECSP’s FOCUS Issue 15, “Fishing for Families: Reproductive Health and Integrated Coastal Management in the Philippines,” Joan Castro and Leona D’Agnes demonstrated that PFPI’s Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management project (IPOPCORM) was more cost-effective and had a greater impact on the wellbeing of both human reproductive health and coastal resources than non-integrated programs. In a study measuring the impacts of integrated versus single-sector reproductive health (RH) or coastal resource management (CRM) programs, they found the integrated approach met or exceeded single-sector outcomes for 26 out of 27 indicators.
Reducing high fertility rates reduces pressure on natural resources, decreases high rates of malnutrition, crime and HIV/AIDS, and preserves local fisheries, “making life sustainable for both humans and nature,” as PFPI puts it in the documentary. The hope is that the community leaders featured in the documentary will inspire others in similar situations to take the lead on integrated issues in their communities.
“Even if we are doing environmental conservation through population management in our province but the others are not, it will still create conflict somehow,” said Alcanises. “I believe that whatever program is being done in one province should also be done in other provinces, in order to avoid conflict and promote balance in program implementation.”
Julio Lopez, president of the Galera Association of Managers and Entertainers said, “this land is ours, and we are responsible in taking care of it.”
PFPI, along with the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resource Center and Conservation International, is part of the BALANCED project, which last year launched the PHE Toolkit as a resource for PHE professionals. For more on PFPI’s IPOPCORM program, see ECSP’s interviews with Joan Casto and Leona D’Agnes on our YouTube channel: “Joan Castro – Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management (IPOPCORM)” and “Leona D’Agnes on Population, Health, and Environment.”
Video Credit: “Population-Health-Environment (PHE) A Video Documentary,” courtesy of YouTube user PATHFoundationPhils.
Sources: Population Reference Bureau.
›“We have millions of young children, babies, dying unnecessarily, hundreds of thousands of women dying in childbirth – most of them unnecessarily – in large part for lack of access to health, lack of access to health information,” said David Aylward, executive director of the UN Foundation’s mHealth Alliance. “And while wireless doesn’t solve any of those problems by itself, it is a conduit, a pathway to solve those problems.”
We spoke to Aylward before the Global Health Initiative (GHI) event “New Applications for Existing Technologies to Improve Maternal Health,” at the Wilson Center earlier this week.
“We’ve gone from a billion subscribers to five billion subscribers in the last six years, and 70 percent of those are in the developing world,” he said. “So almost everywhere you go a woman has a cellphone or has access to a cellphone.”
This access allows women in the developing world to do basic things those in the developed world take for granted, like call for help or set up reminders. The most important thing to think about in the future is to continue empowering women with the tools and knowledge to understand their own healthcare and supporting them with better care.
“All of which are possible in the very near term if we can get the different parties to get together and work on them together,” said Aylward, “and that’s what our mission is.”
Check out the the full event summary from GHI here.
›Climate Change and Security,” a short briefing by Paul Rogers of the Oxford Research Group, examines the recent trend of framing climate change in terms of a national security threat and presents some of the pros and cons of this viewpoint. Rogers says the recent uptick in interest by the military is expected – and welcomed – because military planners often perform more long-term analyses than other policymakers. However, Rogers also cautions that the military, in its role as protector of the state, will naturally focus on adapting to the effects of climate change rather than preventing them. Thus, while this willingness to think long-term is appreciated, work remains to convince the international security community of the importance of carbon-cutting measures as well.
Fueling the Future Force: Preparing the Department of Defense for a Post-Petroleum Era,” by Christine Parthemore and John Nagl of CNAS, is a comprehensive policy paper arguing for the U.S. military to aim for the ability to operate all its systems on non-petroleum fuels by 2040. Parthemore and Nagl outline a broad set of recommendations that address DOD’s consumption habits, leadership structure, finances, acquisition process, and mission goals. Notable, in the context of Paul Rogers’ warning, is that the authors’ argument is essentially one of supply and demand, rather than for cutting emissions to reduce the effects of climate change: “…while many of today’s weapons and transportation systems are unlikely to change dramatically or be replaced for decades, the petroleum needed to operate DOD assets may not remain affordable, or even reliably available, for the lifespans of these systems.”
›October 27, 2010 // By Schuyler Null“The backdrop to the whole issue of scarcity is that demand is rising, but on the supply side, we’re increasingly hitting restraints,” said Alex Evans of NYU’s Center for International Cooperation in this interview with ECSP.
“Global population is growing, a kind of new global middle class is expanding, especially in emerging economies, and that means demand is rising across the board – particularly for energy, for food, water, and air space for our carbon emissions.”
Evans joined Mathew Burrows of the National Intelligence Council this September at the Wilson Center to talk about scarcity, natural resources, and conflict. He argued that building resilience and improving governance of natural resources is key to addressing growing demand, particularly in developing countries.
“With the Millennium Development Goals there’s been tremendous emphasis on increasing access to services, like health and education, which is important,” he said. “But we haven’t always brought the risk management aspect to the fore, and I think the emphasis we’re starting to see now on areas like social protection, climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction – these are areas that are much more concerned with resilience and it’s very welcome that they’re moving to the front of the development agenda.”
Poor governance in some developing countries has resulted in cases like in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where natural resources are seen as more of a curse to the local people than a blessing. The intersection between supply and demand will continue to make these problems more acute.
“Over the last 10 years when international aid agencies have thought about governance, it’s usually been in terms of capacity building in the executive branch – areas like public financial management,” said Evans. “I think increasingly we’ll see more of the very, very political issues surrounding who owns natural resources like land, or water, or fisheries, or forests.”
Evans also highlighted other international governance issues like transboundary agreements (or lack thereof), the resiliency of the international trade system (or lack thereof), and existing legal infrastructure that will be challenged by a changing climate and growing demand.
“We haven’t really begun to think these issues through,” he said, “but these are potential conflict flashpoints for the future.”
›“Demographics are going to be to the 21st century what class cleavages were to the 19th century,” said Christian Leuprecht in this conversation with the Environmental Change and Security Program. Leuprecht is an assistant professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and was one of the authors featured in ECSP Report 13.
“Specifically with regards to demography and security, the challenge that I see is at the sub-national level. That is to say that most of the conflict, if you look around the world – the intractable conflicts, the violent conflicts, the conflicts that have been dragging on for decades – tend to be at the sub-national level,” he said. “Yet much of the academic work and the way data are gathered are at the national level.”
The “Pop Audio” series offers brief clips from ECSP’s conversations with experts around the world, sharing analysis and promoting dialogue on population-related issues. Also available on iTunes.
›not unique to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but the scope and degree to which it occurs in this part of the world, especially in the resource-rich eastern provinces – an epicenter of violence during the war – is alarming and unprecedented.
Walikale, the site of a recent scourge of rapes and violence is not unlike several other cities and villages in the Kivus and in the DRC in general. Rich in both tin and gold, Walikale is beset by a convergence of several opposing military factions: the rebel Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, (CNDP), whose members have supposedly been reintegrated into the official Congolese army; the FARDC, who have been accused of crimes as egregious as those committed by rebel armies; the Rwandan FDLR; Tutsi rebel factions; and numerous other smaller rebel groups and non-Congolese military groups.
The raping of more than 300 women, children, and men that occurred between July 31 and August 2 in the area of Walikale and the village of Ruvungi has made international news headlines and caused an uproar about the role and responsibilities of the United Nation mission in the DRC – MONUSCO (formerly MONUC) – and their capacity to actually keep the peace. UN peacekeepers, stationed about 30 kilometers away from the attacks, were reportedly aware of rebel activity in the area, but were not aware of the mass raping until after the crimes had been committed. Officials went on a fact-finding mission several days later once the rapes were reported by the International Medical Corps. Some, however, argue that officials should have acted differently, dispatching peacekeepers to the Walikale area as soon as they were made aware of rebel activity.
UN workers and other international organizations may have known about the rapes while they were occurring, and in retrospect the international community can criticize their inaction during the perpetration of this massive atrocity, but there are larger questions that loom: Why has the DRC become the “rape capital of the world?” And what can we do to enable UN peacekeeping forces to actually keep the peace?
More than two months after these crimes were perpetrated, rapes are no doubt still occurring across the region. The UN has declared that militias will be charged for the crimes in Walikale, arrests have already been made, and there are people doing good work to help the victims of sexual crimes after the fact. But despite these efforts and the ongoing presence of MONUSCO and efforts to integrate and train the FARDC as a legitimate army that protects the citizens of the country, sexual violence against civilians, and especially against women, has continued at an outrageous level.
The mandate of MONUSCO, carried over in part from its predecessor, MONUC, is to both protect civilians and backstop the efforts of the FARDC – a sometimes conflicting mandate. Designed to keep the peace and monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, to “facilitate humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring, with particular attention to vulnerable groups including women, children and demobilized child soldiers” (emphasis added), the UN mission has clearly not been able to successfully fulfill this mandate, even after almost 12 years on the ground. While the UN charter does not explicitly include the word “peacekeeping,” and there are those who argue that it is not properly structured to act as a peacekeeping body, the UN has more than 60 peacekeeping missions under its belt since its first mission in 1948 and the DRC is its largest ever. Still, the weak record of success of MONUC and of its successor MONUSCO together with the unreliability of the FARDC does not inspire confidence for the safety or security of civilians in the DRC.
Why the rapes continue and why neither MONUSCO nor the Congolese authorities are unable to stop them are complicated questions. Explanations range from political complications preventing peacekeepers from becoming involved in day-to-day human security to a simple lack of mission resources. The rapes in Walikale occurred in an area with abundant tin deposits and some of the largest gold mines in the country. The DRC, and the east in particular, is ripe with resources, and historically, underdeveloped regions characterized by such a heavy concentration of natural resources are often more cursed than they are blessed. The competition over resources and violence spurred by an unequal distribution of rents is perhaps part of the reason for such intense violence; it does not, however, explain why rape has become a weapon of choice, why women have become a target of war crimes in general, or why the level of violence against women in the DRC in particular has risen to such a horrifying level.
Justine Lindemann is program assistant with the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Sources: AFP, AFRICOM, AllAfrica, BBC, Congo Siasa, IPS News, The New York Times, Panzi Hospital of Bukavu, UN, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, VII Photo Agency.
Photo Credit: “Congo kivu,” courtesy of flickr user andré thiel.
›Severely eroded and deforested, Ethiopia’s land is increasingly turning to desert, due to the country’s high population growth, unsustainable land use, and lack of land ownership. Featuring footage from my trip to Ethiopia last year, this video looks at the efforts of two projects to combat these devastating trends by meeting the country’s complex challenges with integrated solutions.
Ethiopia’s population is estimated at 85 million. Since 1900, the country has grown by nearly 74 million people, and the United Nations predicts this rapid growth will continue, reaching nearly 120 million people by 2025.
“Family planning is very crucial” to sustainable development, said Gebrehiwot Hailu of the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), located in the northern region of Tigray. “If the family has more children… he can’t feed them properly, he can’t send the children to school, because there is a food gap in the household.” REST uses a watershed planning model jointly developed by the community, health workers, and government agencies.
Realizing there is no silver bullet to development, projects like REST integrate population, health, and environment (PHE) programs to engage these challenges from all angles.
The Ethio Wetlands and Natural Resource Association (EWNRA), located in Ethiopia’s Wichi watershed, uses a combination of techniques to restore the watershed, create alternative livelihoods, strengthen health systems, and improve reproductive health.
“Through this integrated watershed intervention, the wetland is regaining its natural situation,” Shewaye Deribe of EWNRA told me. “The communities with their own bylaws, with their own watershed committee, with their own organization… are protecting these remaining forest patches.”
Sources: Population Reference Bureau.
›Today marks the release of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) annual State of the World Population Report. But the 2010 edition, “From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change,” is unlike those that have come before. In lieu of the traditional statistic-driven report, this year’s edition has enlisted another tool to document living conditions across the world — storytelling. In addition to demographers, the UNFPA looked to journalists to fan out across the world to gather stories on the ground and paint a portrait of the challenges and opportunities facing today’s global population that goes beyond the numbers, with particular focus on gender issues and human insecurity.
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