by Rachel Yavinsky, policy associate, International Programs
After 45 minutes on Lake Victoria in a wooden fishing boat, my PRB colleague and I arrived on Busi Island, one of the Ugandan sites of the HoPE-LVB (Health of People and the Environment-Lake Victoria Basin) project. PRB, who partners on this project, came to Busi Island to see HoPE-LVB in action. Pathfinder International is an implementer on the project.
The growing population of the island (currently about 40,000 people), combined with the cutting of wood for sale to the mainland, is diminishing fuel resources and increasing the amount of time that women must spend collecting firewood. The main sources of living on the island are fishing and small-scale agriculture. Almost all households rely on wood for cooking, so I was particularly impressed with the project’s work with energy-saving stoves.
Busi Island, one of the Ugandan sites of the HoPE-LVB. Photo: Rachel Yavinsky/PRB.
I visited two homes that are serving as HoPE-LVB model households, meaning that they practice sustainable agriculture and resource planning, have additional livelihood sources such as livestock and home gardens, and have healthy understanding of reproductive health and family planning. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the past few months, the Sahel drought has sparked attention of news media and concerned citizens around the world. Throughout this media blitz, I have been struck by the sharp contrast between this coverage and how the devastating effects of malnutrition are usually portrayed. Malnutrition is often overlooked in favor of more “newsworthy” diseases, and it takes a crisis to focus our attention on this public health issue. Yet an emergency such as this drought—affecting more than 18 million people, including nearly 2 million children—is difficult to ignore.
Sahel, Africa. Photo: Center for International Forestry Research / Flickr.
As the third in a series of droughts in less than a decade in the Sahel, this crisis has affected parts of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. This year, the region experienced low rainfall, locust attacks, and violence in Nigeria and Mali. Grain production decreased by one-fourth, and prices increased to the point where few people can afford the food they need. The violence in Nigeria and Mali has prevented people from moving to areas with better harvests, and thousands of refugees have settled into countries without the resources to feed them.
What many may not know is that every year more than 475,000 children die in the region from nutrition-related causes, even when there is no crisis. In fact, the Sahel region has one of the highest rates of stunting—or chronic malnutrition—worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »
by Rachel Winnik Yavinsky, policy associate, International Programs
Bwindi district is located in the southwest corner of Uganda, about a 12-hour drive from Kampala. The district is the site of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to around 300 of the world’s estimated 740 remaining mountain gorillas. Bwindi’s other residents, the humans who surround the park, face many challenges, including lack of sustainable livelihoods, poor sanitation infrastructure, high fertility rates, and human, wildlife, and livestock conflict. Many of these difficulties are being addressed by a local PRB partner, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH). CTPH was originally founded to monitor disease among the gorilla population, and prevent these rare and special animals from acquiring illnesses from the local humans and livestock. Today, CTPH manages a comprehensive and integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) program that seeks to improve the health of humans, livestock, and wildlife, and promotes health and conservation education and cooperation in the communities. PRB has been supporting CTPH for three years to steer the Uganda PHE working group and promote the PHE approach in the region.
Photo: Rachel Winnik Yavinksy/PRB
I recently joined staff from the Uganda Health Communications Alliance and journalists from many of Uganda’s major news outlets on a study tour of CTPH projects. These study tours aim to help journalists better understand PHE connections and thus improve reporting on population and family planning. We visited CTPH’s Gorilla Research Clinic, where they track the health of local wildlife, and met with CTPH partners, the friendly and passionate staff at the clean and well-stocked Bwindi Community Hospital. CTPH also maintains a partnership with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which shares CTPH’s mission of protecting the health of gorillas and other wildlife.
It is the poorest people whose lives are most undermined by changes in the weather, said Chair of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive HealthMary Robinson at a side event on “Healthy Women, Healthy Planet” during COP-17 in Durban, South Africa. “When farmers don’t know how to predict the seasons, when there is more flooding than there was, when there are longer periods of drought and then flash flooding,” she said, people need more resilience. “They have to be even stronger in being able to cope with the drought and flooding.”…
by Jason Bremner, program director, Population, Health, and Environment
This past week at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning, four practitioners from the field traveled from remote parts of Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Tanzania to Dakar, Senegal to share their successes and challenges in reaching remote communities with an integrated package of health, livelihood, and environment services. Together they made up the panel, “Reaching the Hardly Reached: Delivering Family Planning Through Population, Health, and Environment Integration.”
Left to right: Didier Mazongo, WWF; Vik Mohan, Blue Ventures; Baraka Kalangahe, Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership; and Jason Bremner, PRB at the "Reaching the Hardly Reached" panel discussion.
The panelists came from four environmental organizations whose starting point for working in these remote places was the protection of the biodiversity and natural resources upon which all life depends. Dr. Vik Mohan, physician and medical director for Blue Ventures, talked about how he and his organization transitioned from focusing initially on the conservation of coastal marine reserves and coral reefs to now working to improve health care, including access to family planning. Blue Ventures, in response to community and women’s needs, opened a family planning clinic, and on the opening day 20 percent of the women of reproductive age in the community came out to request contraceptives. Today they offer a whole spectrum of short- and long-acting contraceptive methods through partnerships with Marie Stopes International, Population Services International, and various funders. Blue Ventures reported that contraceptive prevalence had risen from 8 percent when they began in 2007 to 35 percent today.
Another of our panel participants, Dr. Didier Mazongo, had traveled from the remote jungles of the Congo Basin where he’s been working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve the lives of some of the most underserved people in the world. WWF-DRC has been working with communities in and around Salonga National Park in central Democratic Republic of Congo to improve community wellbeing, decrease dependency on unsustainable use of forest resources, improve reproductive health, and ensure the long-term conservation of the biodiversity of the Salonga National Park. Dr. Mazongo shared the experiences from WWF-DRC’s program and Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) program in the conflict-torn North Kivu Province. In both areas the projects began with women reporting absolutely no access to family planning services because they were completely beyond the reach of government and other development organizations services. Both WWF and JGI face extreme transportation challenges just to reach these communities and ensure consistent contraceptive supplies, but their dedication to the communities and their responsiveness to people’s needs has opened new opportunities for them to work more closely with communities on conservation.
PRB’s map, built using their DataFinder tool, shows the world in 2050 in terms individual country growth rates between now and then. Japan, Russia, and countries in Eastern Europe are set to grow more slowly than anywhere else, and some of that group will actually shrink by 10 to 20 percent of their current size. Western, Central, and Eastern Africa will be home to the highest increases. Niger’s 2050 population is expected to be 340 percent its 2011 size – the largest growth of any country.
PRB’s map, echoing its 2011 World Population Data Sheet, shows a world where sub-Saharan Africa will bear the brunt of population growth. The average country in Africa in 2050 is projected to be slightly more than twice its 2011 size; the average European country is expected to barely break even. Africa is home to more countries whose populations are estimated to least double (34) or triple (4) than any other continent. Europe, meanwhile, is home to more countries whose populations will stagnate (8), or even shrink (19), than anywhere else. Interestingly, the Caribbean is a close second in terms of countries whose populations are projected to stay the same (seven to Europe’s eight), and Asia is second to Europe in terms of countries whose populations are projected to shrink (Georgia, Japan, Armenia, South Korea, and Taiwan).
More People, More Climate Change, More Vulnerability
Samson’s map takes on the same time period but projects where people will be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“For the first time in human history, more than one half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and some of the largest and fastest growing population centers in the world – countries like India, China, parts of sub-Saharan Africa – are in areas where water resources are becoming more and more scarce,” said Water.org’s Rich Thorsten in a recent interview with ECSP.
Thorsten serves as director of international programs for Water.org, which partners with local communities, governments, and NGOs across Central America, South Asia, and Africa to bring improved water sanitation to at-need rural and urban populations. He emphasized that ensuring access to clean water has a number of positive spillover effects, ranging from improved prospects for economic development to greater social stability, since access to non-polluted water supplies removes one potential source of tension within and between communities.
The frequency of – and costs associated with – natural disasters are rising in part due to climate change, said McGrady, particularly for complex emergencies with underlying social, economic, or political problems, an overwhelming percentage of which occur in the developing world. In addition to the prospect of more intense storms and changing weather patterns, “economic and social stresses from agricultural disruption and [human] migration” will place an additional burden on already marginalized communities, he said.
Paul O’Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns at Oxfam America said the humanitarian assistance community needs to galvanize the American public and help them “connect the dots” between climate change, disaster relief, and security.
When discussing long-term population trends on this blog, we’ve mainly focused on demography’s interaction with social and economic development, the environment, conflict, and general state stability. In the context of climate change, population also plays a major role, but as Brian O’Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research put it at last year’s Society of Environmental Journalists conference, population is neither a silver bullet nor a red herring in the climate problem. Though it plays a major role, population is not the largest driver of global greenhouse gases emissions – consumption is.