PHE Is One Great Idea That Won’t Be On the Rio Agenda, Says Roger-Mark De SouzaOctober 17, 2011 By Sean Peoples
“I am now serving as an example to other women in the community because I am not having any more children. I have received training in sustainable agricultural practices, I’m generating income, and I’m educating others,” said Berhane Ferkade, an Ethiopian farmer, to Population Action International’s Roger-Mark De Souza earlier this year. The 39-year-old mother of 11 become one of the community’s model farmers after working with LEM Ethiopia – a local population, health, and environment (PHE) development organization.
At last week’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco conference, De Souza, vice president of research and director of the Climate Program at Population Action International (PAI), told Berhane’s story at the “Three Great Ideas That Won’t Be On the Rio Agenda” panel, which focused on efforts like PHE that won’t be discussed at the upcoming sustainability conference.
“Globally, there are 250 million women across the world who say they would like to have access to reproductive health services and use family planning and they currently are not using these methods” – most of them in developing countries, said De Souza.
However, population remains a taboo subject for the UN and many others. As Rio+20 approaches, it is critical to get population on the agenda. “Population does matter for sustainable development: Family planning is easy to implement, it produces results in a short period of time, [and] it is really what women want,” said De Souza.
For women like Berhane, family planning is also a way to adapt to changes in the climate. A new documentary from PAI, Weathering Change, launched last week at the Wilson Center, focuses on three women in Ethiopia, Nepal, and Peru dealing with the impacts of climate change – from reduced agricultural productivity and household water access to increased migration. Family planning, said De Souza, should be part of the solution to increasing their resilience.