Population, health, and environment (PHE) expert Don Lauro has worked on integrated projects for decades as a scholar, an implementer, a donor, and an evaluator. He recently visited the USAID-funded BALANCED Project in Tanzania as part of a wider look at this integrated approach. In an interview with ECSP, Lauro said the effort “made me think more broadly…about this area that we call population, health, and environment and what’s really in a name like that.”
“We commonly say PHE, and we all know what we’re talking about,” Lauro said of the population and development community, “but when you look deeply into these projects – or even not so deeply – you see that there’s other things going on as well.”
For example, Lauro pointed to the focus on livelihoods that many PHE programs have: “In the project I saw in Tanzania, there were many microcredit groups on the ground – mostly women – taking small loans for developing little enterprises that they had, like baking bread, raising bees, buying a cow…little enterprises to make their lives a little bit better.”
“Some people don’t use the term ‘PHE’…maybe it’s a ‘HELP’ project; that is health, environment, livelihoods, and population,” Lauro said. “Other people would say it’s maybe something even longer, ‘HELPS’ – health environment, livelihoods, population, and sustainability (or ‘security’ – Ed.).” When he was at the Wilson Center, Gib Clarke coined the “HELP” term in ECSP’s FOCUS Issue 20, arguing that livelihoods is such a critical component that it ought to be more formally recognized.
But, said Lauro, “on the ground they don’t use these terms – they say things like, ‘this is a healthy community program’ or ‘this is a green community program.’”
“I think it’s very important for us to realize what happens on the ground is lot different, and maybe more real, than how we talk about it.”