PATH Foundation’s ‘Population, Health, and Environment Leadership as a Way of Life’October 29, 2010 By Hannah MarquseePATH 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.