Making ‘Healthy People, Healthy Environment’: A Look Inside Integrated Development
“We need dynamic approaches. We can’t just keep going with the single sector approach and hoping that a conservation project will do really more than it’s intended to do,” said ECSP’s Multimedia Editor Sean Peoples in an interview with Dialogue at the Wilson Center. “These people are living integrated lives. How can we have integrated solutions for them?”
In the recently launched short film, Healthy People, Healthy Environment: Integrated Development in Tanzania, Peoples and director of photography Michael T. Miller profiled a series of integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) projects run by the BALANCED Project and supported by USAID.
The film focuses on three women from Tanzania’s Pangani and Bagamoyo districts: Rukia, Mahija, and Fidea. The women have benefited greatly from an integrated – rather than single sector – approach to development. Clean-burning cookstoves use less firewood, reduce local deforestation, and allow the women to sell bread too. Improved access to contraception and knowledge about how to use it allows them to decide when and if they want more children. Education about natural resource management allows them to choose more sustainable livelihoods, like seaweed farming as opposed to dynamite fishing. And gender workshops, combined with this knowledge, gives them a stronger voice in community affairs.
Peoples sees these women as the cornerstone of the integrated approach. To be sustainable, he said, development programs need “strong, dynamic people” who can buy into the approach and “take their experiences and speak the praises of why integration matters and why it works for them.”
The PHE approach empowers these champions and therefore stands a better chance of enduring if and when the original program funding dries up.
“We Want to Put You in That Village”
Miller grew to appreciate the integrated approach after arriving in Tanzania and seeing how effective holistic programs can be. “The challenge is trying to share that ‘A-ha!’ moment with people who aren’t familiar with the work and aren’t familiar with the area,” he said. “It’s something that you don’t really understand until you get there on the ground.”
Filming over a short period of time in a developing country can be a challenge, Miller said. “You have to be able to roll with the punches, and also follow the story too.” While they did a great deal of planning prior to arriving in Tanzania, Miller said that they “met some people in the field who turned out to have really great stories to share.”
The film is the opportunity to share the importance of integration and “engage new audiences looking at this PHE approach,” Peoples said.
“We wanted to put the audience in that village and show how that work is done,” he said.
“The dynamic, integrated approach itself is spreading,” Peoples said. “All over the world there are these PHE integrated programs.” And while “this is a small community in a very large world,” it is setting an example that he hopes will spread further.
“This approach really tries to empower the villages themselves to grow sustainably,” he said. “With an integrated approach, you have a harmony that you didn’t before.”
Video Credit: Dialogue at the Wilson Center.