We run projects with partners integrating family planning and conservation action.
GREY CROWNED CRANE - UGANDA
The wetlands of Rukiga District, Uganda, are critical for both the local human communities (for their food and water security, livelihoods and to prevent flooding) and Uganda’s stunning national bird, the Endangered Grey Crowned Crane (for their nesting habitat). With our partners, the International Crane Foundation/Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership and Rugarama Hospital, we are empowering communities to conserve wetlands and cranes. We recognise the connections between human and environmental health and so, working with the local partner communities, developed a “population, health and environment” project.
By providing alternative sustainable livelihoods and healthcare services (reducing unplanned pregnancy and improving infant and maternal health) and undertaking habitat restoration and soil and water conservation, we can enable long-term wetland health for people and cranes. Before working in the area, the near total lack of family planning services was leading to larger families than couples wanted. A cycle of poverty and poor healthcare provision increases pressures on families and wetlands, so wetlands become progressively less capable of supporting cranes and livelihoods. To break the cycle we are addressing these interrelated challenges. As pressures on families and ecosystems reduce, ecosystems are better able to support the human and non-human species relying on them. Greater conservation, health and gender outcomes result from these integrated projects. The primary donor of our work in Rukiga District is the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.
EASTERN CHIMPANZEE – UGANDA
Although more famous for its population of Endangered Mountain Gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwest Uganda is also home to Endangered Eastern Chimpanzees. In 2016 the British Zoo, Wingham Wildlife Park, and Emory University in the United States, through its Yerkes National Primate Research Center, began funding our work undertaken with Bwindi Community Hospital, a Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau healthcare institution situated literally on the fence line of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Wingham and Emory University wanted to support a more holistic approach to conservation, responding to all three of the primary “risk factors” for chimpanzees.
Bwindi has an estimated population of around 300 chimpanzees. These chimpanzees face the same threats as the Mountain Gorillas: habitat loss, communicable diseases and poaching/trafficking of the babies. Although today the world is all too fully aware of the impacts of pandemics and cross-species transmission of viruses, our work around Bwindi has taken this into account since 2016. The work of the Margaret Pyke Nurse at Bwindi Community Hospital focuses on all three of the risk factors, by implementing our USHAPE family planning training programme and providing clinical outreach, and by including within our work education on communicable diseases and poaching.
MARICO RIVER - SOUTH AFRICA
Our first “population, health and environment” programme, integrating family planning and conservation action, was a partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Pathfinder International, in and around Groot Marico, in the North West Province of South Africa. The community named the project “A Re Itireleng” the Setswana phrase for “Let’s do it ourselves” as they understood their interrelated health, economic, social and climate issues and wanted a project name recognising that they owned the response.
In the heart of the area are the headwaters of the Marico River, a watercourse of critical importance to sustain the livelihoods of the local largely agricultural community, as well as the communities downstream, including in neighbouring countries. The area and its people are increasingly vulnerable to South Africa’s droughts, the impacts of climate change, and the demands being placed on water from a growing population. The Endangered Wildlife Trust had been working in the area for some time, providing training on sustainable livelihoods. When the community self-identified the need for greater access to family planning services, the Endangered Wildlife Trust contacted us. Over time, the project evolved, with clinical training and sexual and reproductive health service provision being integrated into the conservation livelihood work.