Population, health, and environment (PHE) projects address an impressive range of issues – natural resource management, family planning, maternal and child health, water, sanitation, nutrition, and strengthening health systems – but perhaps their most important advantage is the level of community involvement elicited, said long-time PHE expert Don Lauro in an interview with ECSP.
“There’s a depth to these programs,” Lauro said. Tools like rural participatory appraisal allow communities to map out their problems and then come up with solutions on their own. “If you get deep enough, it becomes they who own the project, and I think that that’s your ultimate goal,” he explained. “You have a much greater prospect for sustainability of that effort, no matter what happens to the funding.”
Lauro recently visited the USAID-funded BALANCED Project in Tanzania as part of a wider look at integrated development projects. He emphasized that what exactly this integrated approach is called – be it PHE, HELP, or HELPS – is insignificant; what matters is that these disparate elements are combined.