›Last week on the Wilson Center’s Dialogue radio and television program, host John Milewski spoke with Geoff Dabelko, director of ECSP, Roger-Mark De Souza, vice president for research and director of the Climate Program for Population Action International, and George Strunden, vice president of Africa programs for the Jane Goodall Institute. They discussed the challenge of integrating population, health, and environmental programs (PHE) to address a broad range of livelihood, development, and stability issues. [Video Below]
“Many times that we tackle development or poverty and human well-being challenges…we do it in an individual sector – the health sector, or agriculture sector, or looking at issues of water scarcity – and it makes sense in many respects to take those individual focuses,” said Dabelko. “But of course people living in these challenges, they’re living in them together…so both in terms of understanding the challenges…and then in responding to those challenges, we have to find ways to meet those challenges together.”
De Souza noted that the drive for integrated development stems from the communities being served, not necessarily from outside aid groups. “We’ve seen that there’s a greater impact because there’s longer sustainability for those efforts that have an integrated approach,” he said. “There’s a greater understanding and a greater appreciation of the value that [PHE] projects bring.”
Strunden said that the Goodall Institute has found similar success in tying health efforts with the environment in places where previously conservation work alone had been unsuccessful.
The panelists also discussed the role of population in broader global challenges, including energy, water, and food scarcities, and women’s rights.
Dialogue is a co-production of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and MHz Networks. The show is also available throughout the United States on MHz Networks, via broadcast and cable affiliates, as well as via DirecTV and WorldTV (G19) satellite.
Find out where to watch Dialogue where you live via MHz Networks. You can send questions or comments on the program to firstname.lastname@example.org.
›April 28, 2011 // By Schuyler Null“Long-term trends really are what shape the environment in the future,” said Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba in this interview with ECSP. “As we’ve seen recently with…revolution in North Africa, it’s the long-term trends that act together for these things to happen – I like to say demography is not usually the spark for a conflict but it’s the fodder.”
Sciubba is the Mellon Environmental Fellow in the Department of International Studies at Rhodes College. In her new book, The Future Faces of War: Population and National Security, she discusses the importance of demographic trends in relation to security and stability, including age structure, migration, youth bulges, population growth, and urbanization.
One of the most important things to emerge from the book, said Sciubba, is that countries that are growing at very high rates that are overwhelming the capacities of the state (like many in sub-Saharan Africa) really will benefit from family planning efforts that target unmet need.
Afghanistan, for example, “has an extremely young age structure,” Sciubba pointed out. “So if you’re trying to move into a post-conflict reconstruction atmosphere…you absolutely have to take into account population and the fact that it will continue to grow.”
“Even if there are major moves now in terms of reducing fertility, they have decades ahead of this challenge of youth entering the job market,” Sciubba said. “Thousands and thousands more jobs will need to be created every year, so if you have a dollar to spend, that’s a really good place to do it.”
For more on Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba and The Future Faces of War, see her book launch at the Wilson Center with Deputy Under Secretary Kathleen Hicks of the Department of Defense (video) and some of her previous posts on The New Security Beat.
›“Major crises and disasters have massively changed over the last generation,” said Dr. Frederick Burkle, senior public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and senior fellow and scientist at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. “We have to start a new narrative of what we need to do to address [them].”
To discuss the emerging and persistent challenges of disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, Burkle was joined by Paul Born, co-founder and director of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement; Leonard Doyle, Haiti country spokesperson at the International Organization for Migration; Arif Hasan, adviser at the Orangi Pilot Project and founder and chairman at the Urban Resource Centre; and Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro, adjunct professor at McGill University and member of the Presidential Advisory Council for Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“Retrieving the Wisdom of Those in Need”
Unfortunately, disaster responses often fail to “listen and gain a corner on the obvious,” said Born, discussing the need for community engagement and healing in times of disaster and conflict.
After Hurricane Katrina, for example, the formal disaster response failed to use hundreds of available buses to evacuate people, leaving thousands of people stranded in the floods. “If people were engaged, had a role to play, knew what to do, were part of a team, would this have made a difference? Would those buses have been deployed to help people?” asked Born.
Effective disaster response must utilize “the assets, the skills, and the knowledge that are present,” concluded Born. For example, when the systems in place by the Philippine government in the village of Talba failed to give proper warning to evacuate from a volcanic eruption, “it was a parallel warning system, developed by the community, that warned people, on time, to vacate the area and avoid any loss of life,” said Born. Community preparedness and engagement led to better utilization of available humanitarian assets and mitigated what could have been a much more severe disaster.
The Changing Nature of Humanitarian Emergencies
Increasingly, humanitarian crises are the result of unconventional warfare, causing major challenges for the humanitarian community, said Burkle. Rather than refugees, “what we are beginning to see today is an unprecedented number of internally displaced people.”
Many of the displaced migrate to urban settings, contributing to rapid urbanization which is straining water, sanitation, and public health infrastructure. In these settings, he said, there is sometimes only one latrine for every 200 people, new and infectious diseases are rampant, and high rates of violence and rape are common, putting women particularly at risk.
“It is a lot more than population size – it’s really density of population,” said Burkle. In Mumbai, for example, there is an average of 30,000 people per square kilometer, but there are major areas of the city with over one million people per square kilometer.
“People moving to the cities are still remaining in extreme poverty,” said Burkle. While the majority of the poor once lived in low-income fragile states, recent population data indicates that 72 percent of the world’s poor now live in middle income countries like India, Indonesia, and China. “It’s a total reversal – we’ve spent almost 20 years crafting our foreign aid budgets and policy around this…we have to start a new narrative about what we are going to do.”
“The other issue that I don’t think we hear about, but certainly the young people in the audience will be dealing with on a daily basis, are the biodiversity crises,” said Burkle. “Of the 34 biodiverse areas, 23 have experienced prolonged conflict,” which has had major impacts on the availability of water, food, and energy in these regions, said Burkle.
Moving forward, “we have to change the humanitarian community; we have to have more accountability and more accreditation, leading to a blueprint for professionalizing the humanitarian field,” concluded Burkle.
Community and Communication in Haiti
A little over one year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, 680,000 people remain internally displaced, said Doyle. “About half the population has moved out of the camps, and there is some congratulations to be given to the humanitarian community for organizing that,” he said. “But, when you look at the statistics…only a tiny fraction of these people have reached what you would call durable solutions such as sustainable housing.”
“There is clearly a problem… why has more progress not taken place given the number of international organizations there and the generosity of the funding?” asked Doyle.
“People have a right to communicate and there is a benefit in that communication,” said Doyle. To help make this possible in the Haitian displacement camps, he and his colleagues at the International Organization of Migration (IOM) set up 140 suggestion boxes. The response was amazing, he said, and with the help of a local Haitian organization, IOM has begun broadcasting some of the over 5,000 letters received on a daily radio show.
“We need to help create respectful conversations in countries where we do so much hard work but see so much of it go nowhere,” said Doyle. Information from the letters has been compiled into reports detailing the major challenges faced by people including a lack of jobs, education, and housing. These letters are being used as a monitoring and accountability mechanism through which Haitians can tell NGOs and donors the successes and failures of projects being implemented in their communities. “Through this communication you can see what the community needs, rather than what the experts tell you the community needs,” he said.
Engaging Local Communities
“Regions are sometimes so badly devastated [after a disaster], that to rehabilitate their agriculture, transport, water supply systems, is a very daunting task,” said Hasan. His home country of Pakistan faced all of these challenges after heavy rains and subsequent flooding wiped out 3,000 villages and affected over 20 million people last year.
“Without a governance system, you cannot provide rehabilitation or relief,” Hasan said, citing an added challenge for disaster response in many developing countries. Often the needs of the people are not translated in to policy actions, he said, and “there is a big difference between what people want and what politicians want.”
Hasan offered some insights on how the development community can work with local communities to improve disaster response, pointing out that “pre-disaster situations determine the effectiveness of relief and rehabilitation.” Existing mechanisms to provide development assistance can be used to efficiently deliver goods and services in emergencies, he said. By fostering “true partnerships” international NGOs can help communities and governments should manage reconstruction and relief efforts after disasters using local materials, labor, and technologies, he said. Engaging communities in reconstruction “can be a really important healing process.”
Recovery and Resilience
“When you have a community that has been reduced to ashes, how can you retrieve hope so that transformation can happen?” asked Ubalijoro, stressing the importance of building community resilience after disasters. “We’ve been talking about disasters, but it’s important to remember how we learn to dream again together.”
Baskets of Hope is a project that aims to help Rwandan women recover from the genocide by providing training and jobs weaving baskets that are sold internationally. In addition to providing a source of income, the project also provides information about health and nutrition. With this multi-pronged approach, Baskets of Hope helps families to recover and move forward. “There’s an interesting relationship between weaving these baskets that are allowing these women to have economic empowerment and what it requires after a time of trauma to reweave the fabric of society,” said Ubalijoro.
Youth who have survived man-made or natural disasters are particularly vulnerable, said Ubalijoro. She and her colleagues work to link Rwandan youth with Holocaust survivors so that they can share their memories, pictures, and stories with one another. “Retrieving the wisdom from those who have gone through the unimaginable and having them share their experiences shows youth that even though they’ve lost everything, there are ways to move forward.”
Sources: Conservation International, Institute of Development Studies, International Organization for Migration, USAID.
Photo Credit: “Pakistan Floods” courtesy of flickr user IRIN Photos.
›April 27, 2011 // By Schuyler NullBoth the civilian and military sectors have key roles to play in achieving energy security as the United States addresses the national security implications of its oil dependency. Yesterday, the White House hosted a forum with senior officials from both the public and private sector to highlight avenues toward achieving that security. Co-hosts Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman and Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn were joined by Woodrow Wilson Center President Jane Harman, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, and John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The panelists discussed ongoing cooperation between the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, and Harman in particular highlighted the power of the military to drive innovation and more efficient production of energy-efficient technologies.
“‘Energy security’…reminds us that important domestic energy developments have international consequences, and important international events have domestic consequences,” said Deutch, pointing out the linked, global nature of energy markets and climate change.
Deputy Secretary Lynn highlighted the tactical tactical benefits of reduced petroleum dependence with the example of a solar panel pilot program being conducted by the Marine Corps in Afghanistan:
The regiment selected to try out the solar panels deployed to one of the most violent districts in Helmand province. The operational gains were immediate: Marines ran two patrol bases completely on solar power and cut diesel fuel consumption at a third base by over 90 percent. On one three-week foot patrol, flexible solar panels eliminated battery resupply needs entirely, ending supply drops that previously were required every 48 hours.Watch the full forum above, and see also the recent National Conversation at the Woodrow Wilson Center that focused on “A New National Security Narrative.”
›April 27, 2011 // By Wilson Center StaffThe original version of this article, by Marissa Mommaerts, appeared on the Aspen Institute’s blog.
The first months of this year brought the second global food price crisis in just three years, with soaring food prices against a backdrop of bad weather, poor harvests, and political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. This year will see another milestone: the planet’s population is set to surpass seven billion, with most of the population growth occurring in countries least equipped to meet rising demands on agriculture and the environment. As part of its 7 Billion: Conversations that Matter roundtable series, the Aspen Institute’s Global Health and Development Program brought together three experts to discuss “The Revolution We Need in Food Security and Population” on April 12.
Dan Glickman, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, noted that one out of every seven people worldwide already go hungry. The pressures on the food supply will only increase with world demand, which is expected to double in the first half of the 21st century due to structural factors such as changing diets from rising incomes and growth in population.
Echoing his recent op-ed in the Daily Caller, Glickman underscored that volatility in the price of food commodities and the resulting food insecurity create conditions ripe for political instability – as was manifested by food riots in 30 countries during the previous food crisis (2007-2008) and the role of anger at high food prices in the recent upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia. Because of the issue’s profound implications for public health, human rights, and global security, he explained, the U.S. has revamped its efforts “to rebuild food self-sufficiency in the developing world,” primarily through its new Feed the Future initiative.
Continue reading and watch video of the event on the Aspen Institute’s blog.
›Population, Poverty, Environment, and Climate Dynamics in the Developing World,” in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, by Jason Bremner, David Lopez-Carr, Laurel Suter, and Jason Davis, attempts to illuminate and clarify the complex relationships between environmental degradation, population dynamics, and poverty. Population growth is a key driver for the degradation of ecosystem services which has a direct impact on livelihoods and human well-being, write the authors, especially for the poor. They argue that “population growth itself, however, remains an insufficient explanation of the relationship between population, ecosystems, and poverty.” While the field has a come a long way since its “original Malthusian roots,” they write, the relationships between these dynamics differ greatly depending on the area in question, and much work remains to be done on the less well-studied ecosystems.
An End to Population Growth: Why Family Planning Is Key to a Sustainable Future” from the Solutions Journal, Robert Engelman reminds us that population projections are not set in stone and that the widespread belief that population has to reach nine billion before leveling off is wrong. Nor is coercive “population control” necessary, he writes: “Population growth rates and average family size worldwide have fallen by roughly half over the past four decades, as modern contraception has become more accessible and popular.” Unfortunately, there remains a large number of people around the world without access to family planning, the majority of whom live in developing countries. Engelman points out that while the number of people of reproductive age has steadily increased in these countries over the last decade, donor support has declined. He argues that research, courage, and creativity are needed to reverse this situation, but in a world where most of all pregnancies were intended, population growth would slow long before reaching nine billion.
›This PHE Champion profile was produced by the BALANCED Project.
Rukia Seif is a population, health, environment (PHE) peer educator who promotes simple economic, environmental, and health behaviors that make sense. In many ways, the Mkalamo village where Rukia lives is a typical rural Tanzanian agricultural village. In another important way it is very different. Mkalamo abuts the biodiversity rich Saadani National Park – the only wildlife park in Tanzania that borders the sea. Ironically, this park does not make life easier for people living in Mkalamo but more difficult. In the park, there is a ban on the cutting of wood, making it difficult to find enough to fuel villagers’ cooking stoves. Also, increasing numbers of the park’s wild animals often destroy the villagers’ precious crops.
As a PHE peer educator, Rukia talks with her fellow community members about simple things they can do to improve their lives. Her messages are clear:
improve a family’s life and protect the environment. At age 36, she is a mother of three girls, ages 14, 12, and one and a half. Rukia and her husband, Seif Ramadhani, are taking measures to plan their family. Rukia used pills before they decided to have their last daughter. Now they are using condoms as a back-up while Rukia is breastfeeding the baby. Through her work, Rukia meets and talks to many people every day. She discusses family planning and if someone is interested, she refers them to community-based distributors and the dispensary for family planning services.
- By planning their families, women can ensure their own and their children’s health and can decide the optimal number of children that they can provide for.
- By using fuel efficient stoves, women can spend less time collecting fire wood, freeing up time for other chores or livelihood activities and reducing the amount of needed fuel, thus helping sustain the forests for future generations.
- By joining community-led savings and credit associations, women and men gain access to capital, allowing them to scale-up current livelihoods or diversify to new sources of income.
“I talk to my peers about planning their families so we have enough natural resources to meet the needs of the villagers who depend on these resources,” she said. “Also, when you plan your family, you will get more time to perform other activities.”
An active member of the savings and credit association, where she also acts as the accountant, Rukia is living proof of this last statement. Through savings and loans, Rukia has diversified her income by buying a sewing machine and a fuel-efficient oven. Today, she generates income from cow and poultry husbandry, tailoring, bread-making, selling soft drinks, and constructing fuel-efficient stoves. With this increased income, Rukia and her husband have been able to put an iron sheet roof on their house and send their first-born daughter to secondary school – a great achievement in a country where only five percent of women stay in school beyond the primary level.
Rukia demonstrated her two fuel-efficient stoves: one is a metal oven that she uses for baking breads and cakes, the other is a simple mud stove that she uses for cooking. The mud stove, which costs less than $2 to build, is getting increasingly popular in the community. It saves fuel wood, prevents fires, produces less smoke (a serious health hazard), and cooks the food faster!
“I can even wear my best clothes and put on some lip shine when I use this stove, because it does not foul up the air,” Rukia explains with a laugh. Seeing the benefits of the fuel efficient stoves, she has inspired ten community-based distributors and five village leaders to join the team of individuals showcasing the fuel efficient technologies.
Rukia is a perfect example of practicing what one preaches. She is improving her own life, helping others learn to do the same, and protecting the very natural resources upon which almost everyone in Mkalamo depends.
This PHE Champion profile was produced by the BALANCED Project. A PDF version can be downloaded from the PHE Toolkit. PHE Champion profiles highlight people working on the ground to improve health and conservation in areas where biodiversity is critically endangered.
›Download Reaping the Divided: Overcoming Pakistan’s Demographic Challenges from the Wilson Center. Excerpted below is the introductory essay, “Pakistan’s Demographics: Possibilities, Perils, and Prescriptions,” by Michael Kugelman.
On July 11, 2010, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani delivered a speech in Islamabad to commemorate World Population Day. He announced that in order to highlight the crucial connection between demographics and economic growth, 2011 would be designated “Population Year” in Pakistan. “All hopes of development and economic prosperity would flounder if we as a nation lose the focus and do not keep [the] population issue in the spotlight,” he declared.
Hopefully that spotlight comes with a long shelf life. Pakistan faces acute population challenges. If they are to be overcome, they will need to be illuminated for far more than a year.
Yet, there are exciting opportunities here as well. A long-term approach to managing the challenges presented by Pakistan’s burgeoning population, if accompanied by effective policies and sustained implementation, could spark a monumental transformation: one that enables the country to harness the great promise of a large population that has usually been viewed as a hindrance to prosperity. Indeed, demographers contend that Pakistan’s young, growing, and rapidly urbanizing population can potentially bring great benefits to the country. If birth rates fall substantially, and if young Pakistanis are properly educated and successfully absorbed into the labor force, then the nation could reap a “demographic dividend” that sparks economic growth, boosts social well-being, and promotes the rejuvenation of Pakistan.
The Young and the Rising
Because Pakistan has not conducted a census since 1998, estimating the country’s total population size is a highly inexact science. The Pakistani government lists the current figure at about 175 million people, while the United Nations believes the number is closer to 185 million. However, while the precise figure may be in doubt, the population’s rapid rise is not. Though no longer increasing at the 3 percent-plus rate seen in the 1980s, Pakistan’s population is still growing at a 2 percent pace. According to the UN Population Division’s latest mid-range demographic projections, released in 2009, the population will rise to 335 million by 2050. More than 60 million people are expected to be added in just the next 15 years.
This explosive increase, however, merely represents the best-case scenario, and will prevail only if the country’s fertility rates drop from the current average of about four children per woman to two. Should fertility rates remain constant, the UN estimates the population could exceed 450 million by 2050, with a total population of nearly 300 million as early as 2030.
Pakistan’s population is not only large and growing, but also very young, with a median age of 21. Currently, two-thirds of Pakistanis are less than 30 years old. As a percentage of total population, only Yemen has more people under the age of 24. Additionally, given that more than a third of Pakistanis are now 14 years old or younger, the country’s population promises to remain youthful over the next few decades. In the 2020s, the 15-to-24 age bracket is expected to swell by 20 percent. Pakistan’s under-24 population will still be in the majority come 2030. And as late as 2050, the median age is expected to be only 33.
Pakistan’s demographic profile contrasts with what is happening in much of the rest of the world. Sub-replacement level fertility rates (about two births per woman) prevail not only throughout the developed world, but also across much of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. As one commentator has noted, “the twenty-first century’s hallmark [demographic] trend appears to be a fertility implosion.” South Asia, along with sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the last regional bastions of youthful, rapidly proliferating populations. Yet even within South Asia, Pakistan stands out. Excluding Afghanistan, of all the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – Pakistan has the highest population growth, birth, and fertility rates; the youngest median age (tied with Nepal); and the largest percentage of people 14 years old or younger.
Continue reading “Pakistan’s Demographics: Possibilities, Perils, and Prescriptions,” or download the full report from the Wilson Center.
Michael Kugelman is a program associate with the Asia Program.
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