“What set this research apart from earlier work on integrated programming was the rigorous evaluation design that was applied,” said D’Agnes. “What this design aimed to do is to evaluate the integrated approach itself. Most of the previous evaluations that have been done on integrated programming were impact evaluations — they set out to evaluate the impact of the project.” This most recent research project, on the other hand, sought to evaluate the effectiveness of cross-sectoral interventions based on “whether or not synergies were produced,” said D’Agnes.
Although it took her team six years to generate statistically significant findings in Palawan, D’Agnes reports that the synergies of PATH Foundation Philippines’ PHE intervention took the form of reduced income poverty, a decreased average number of children born to women of reproductive age, and the preservation of coastal resources, which helped bolster the region’s food security.
Going forward, D’Agnes said, an integrated approach to environmental conservation should also prove appealing because of its cost effectiveness. “This has huge implications for local governments in the Philippines, where they are struggling to meet the basic needs of their constituents in the face of very small internal revenue allotments that they get from the central government,” she said. “They can really pick up on this example to see that at the local level, if somehow they can do this integrated service delivery that was done in the Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management (IPOPCORM) model, that they’ll be able to achieve the objectives of both their conservation and their health programs in a much more cost-effective way, and, in the process, generate some other [positive] outcomes that perhaps they didn’t anticipate.”
D’Agnes expects the study’s results will prompt a fresh look at cross-sectoral PHE programming. “I hope that this evidence from this study will help to change the thinking in the conservation community about integrated approaches to conservation and development,” she said.