Welcome to Pathfinder International – our latest member!

June 14, 2017


We are delighted to welcome Pathfinder International into our Network. Pathfinder’s work is driven by the conviction that all people, regardless of where they live, have the right to decide whether and when to have children, to exist free from fear and stigma, and to lead the lives they choose.

With headquarters in Massachusetts, in the United States, Pathfinder is dedicated to ensuring that millions of women, men, and young people can choose their own paths forward. Since 1957, it has partnered with local governments and communities to remove barriers to critical sexual and reproductive health services. Pathfinder works in partnership with governments and local communities in 19 countries around the world to expand access to contraception, promote healthy pregnancies, save women’s lives, and stop the spread of new HIV infections.

Lois Quam, Pathfinder’s Chief Executive Officer said, “Pathfinder International is honoured to be joining the Population & Sustainability Network, a prestigious group of international conservation and reproductive health organisations, with whom we seek to build an even stronger coalition to help us achieve our mission of bringing sexual and reproductive health and rights to communities worldwide. Our success hinges on being able to reach across aisles to find common values and shared strategies, like integrated Population, Health and Environment programming, that bring us closer to achieving truly sustainable development. Pathfinder is partnering with the Population & Sustainability Network to expand the reach of Population, Health & Environment (PHE) projects, from a new project launched in South Africa targeting communities vulnerable to climate change, to global level advocacy that promises to help scale up policy successes we have supported in East Africa.”

David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network added, “We are excited to be working with Pathfinder. Not only does it share our vision of a world where everyone can decide freely whether, when and how many children they want, regardless of who or where they are, but it also shares our integrated approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights, as an integral element of sustainable development. We are delighted that Pathfinder has joined the Network, bringing with it a wealth of experience in the implementation of integrated PHE projects in East Africa.”

Earlier this year, we approached Pathfinder to be a part of our first PHE project, in Groot Marico, South Africa, working with fellow Network member the Endangered Wildlife Trust, where Pathfinder will be undertaking critical work to improve family planning service provision and delivering integrated community training. We look forward to continuing to work together on projects and working more closely on advocacy, to empower more people to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights across the globe.


Choosing sustainability: Future Planning for Climate Change - Making the connections between sexual and reproductive health and rights and environmental sustainability

June 12, 2017


The Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network, jointly with member organisations, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), hosted a Lab Debate on 8 June at the European Development Days in Brussels.

The event showcased innovative integrated projects that demonstrate how addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a key human right, essential to women and girls’ health and empowerment, while also contributing to environmental sustainability and other priority development objectives.

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon emphasised that democratic governance and full respect for human rights are key prerequisites for empowering people to make choices that promote sustainability. Meeting the unmet need for family planning is not only a serious human rights concern, fundamental for women’s and girls’ health and empowerment, but also plays a significant role in sustainable development, including responding to climate change.

Integrated development approaches that can respond to interdependent challenges have begun to get some traction among policy makers, particularly when considering the fulfilment of the SDGs. The EU for example has recognised this important link by ensuring all development programmes include actions on priority cross-cutting issues, particularly climate change and gender equality.

The Lab Debate, hosted as part of the EDDs, showcased an EU funded project in South Africa currently being implemented by the Margaret Pyke Trust, together with the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, whose aim is to improve access to SRHR, furthering human rights for women and girls while also raising awareness on the importance of fulfilling these rights to contribute to environmental sustainability.

DSW presented its work in East Africa at the community level, by explaining how its Bonga project in Ethiopia enables communities to positively interact with their local environment and the resources that are available to them. DSW’s primary focus is to empower youth in order to curb increasing degradation of the forest, improve livelihood opportunities, and address unmet health needs of people who live in communities surrounding the forest. To that end, DSW supports a network of youth clubs to provide peer education on issues regarding SRHR and environmental protection, while also developing the business and leadership skills of club members.

IPPF presented its advocacy and policy work to raise awareness on these linkages among the family planning, climate change and sustainability sectors. In particular, IPPF also featured the publication Climate Change: Time to Think Family Planning prepared jointly with the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network, to promote family planning as a cost-effective, human rights-based approached to climate change.

The event included a debate on integrated programmes and provided recommendations for policies that foster greater health, gender and environmental outcomes. These policies should constitute the cornerstone of sustainable development strategies, should the SDGs ever be achieved. The EU is already promoting this type of approach, which should now be championed, and other institutional donors and policymakers should follow suit in order to ensure human and ecosystem health.

The Lab Debate was part of the EU funded project being implemented by the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme and the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network. The event has been made possible with the assistance of the European Union.

For more information, please contact Carina Hirsch, Advocacy and Projects Manager.

Let’s do it ourselves! Our first Population, Health and Environment Project in South Africa

April 25, 2017


“A Re Itireleng” is a Setswana phrase, meaning “Let's do it ourselves”. This is the name the community of Groot Marico gave the project we are implemented jointly with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and Pathfinder International. A Re Itireleng project actions will address the inter-linked health and environmental challenges faced by this rural and remote community in the North West Province of South Africa.

The community relies on its water supply from the unique and highly sensitive Marico River, a watercourse of national significance, as its headwaters are one of the few remaining free-flowing stretches of river in South Africa. The Marico River is not only an important water source for the community of Groot Marico itself, but also for all the settlements downstream, and is increasingly under threat as this is a vulnerable arid area impacted by erratic rainfall and erosion issues. The area is increasingly vulnerable due to South Africa’s droughts, the impacts of climate change, and increasing demands being placed on water from a growing population.

The North West is the South African province with the second highest fertility rate nationwide and in rural areas, such as around Groot Marico, the rate is higher still. This is partly due to barriers to accessing family planning information and services. In fact, the community self-identified the need for greater access to family planning services, as well as training in alternative and sustainable livelihoods to improve their health, well-being and future. This integrated “Population, Health and Environment” project addresses these complex and related challenges.

We are leveraging our long standing history of improving knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights to improve community knowledge of the links between human and ecosystem health and the relevance of rights-based family planning as contributing to environmental sustainability, in addition to improving women and girls’ health and empowerment. The EWT is providing training to emerging farmers on sustainable and alternative livelihoods to empower the community by allowing them to generate an income from their land while also preserving it and respecting the surrounding environment. The population, health and environment messages are being delivered as an integrated training package jointly by a family planning nurse and a community trainer, working for the third partner, Pathfinder International.

Pathfinder International’s project family planning nurse was appointed in March 2017 and immediately begun assessing medical facilities, to find out what family planning methods and services are available and how to improve these services.

We are confident that through the community and clinic level interventions, this community will take control of the challenges facing them with resulting improved health of the community members and their surrounding environment.

Improving the sexual health and contraceptive use of homeless young people in London

April 10, 2017


Our UK parent charity, the Margaret Pyke Trust, has a long history of supporting research into sexual and reproductive health. In the last few years it has continued to do so by contributing towards the fees of a PhD study, which aims to improve the sexual health of vulnerable young homeless people.

Our UK parent charity, the Margaret Pyke Trust, has a long history of supporting research into sexual and reproductive health. In the last few years it has continued to do so by contributing towards the fees of a PhD study, which aims to improve the sexual health of vulnerable young homeless people.

The PhD is being undertaken by Fiona McGregor, a Specialist Sexual Reproductive Health Nurse, and is being carried out under the supervision of Professor Jill Shawe and Dr. Ann Robinson at the University of Surrey. The study aims to shed some light on the under-researched area of sexual and reproductive health amongst homeless young people in Central London. Homelessness for the young has grown significantly in recent years, but very little is known about their sexual health knowledge and attitudes. Fiona's PhD also aims to develop a sexual health care model, which will be able to be used by healthcare providers across the country.

The fieldwork was conducted over a five month period between 2015 and 2016 in hostels and day centres for homeless young people in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington. During this time observations and interviews were recorded with homeless young people (aged 16 – 21 years) and their key workers, to establish their attitudes towards, and knowledge of, sexual and reproductive health.

Preliminary themes indicate that homeless young people’s background experiences of abuse, fear, and danger considerably affect their perceptions surrounding their sexual health needs. Other themes highlight the unpredictability of their sexual health behaviour, and their fluctuating relationships with the staff they come across because of their homeless situation.

With the project due for completion in the Autumn of 2017, the data continues to be analysed and will eventually be used to determine a model of sexual health care for this particular vulnerable population Oral and poster presentations have been given at conferences locally, nationally and internationally. Whilst today the Trust is more active internationally undertaking advocacy and project actions in the developing world, supporting this important research is a way to continue to Trust’s academic legacy.

Leading sexual and reproductive health clinician, Dr Chelsea Morroni, appointed to improve family planning in South Africa

March 21, 2017


At the beginning of March, Dr Morroni began her secondment to work with us on family planning service provision in South Africa, as part of our EU funded project.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Chelsea Morroni, a Sexual and Reproductive Health clinician, as a part time secondee, to assist us with our family planning work in South Africa. Chelsea will be providing training and mentorship to a specialist family planning nurse and will strengthen family planning service provision under our EU funded project in Limpopo province, which will improve community knowledge of, and access to, family planning rights and services.

Dr Morroni has extensive experience in strengthening family planning, and sexual and reproductive health service provision more broadly, in resource poor settings. She has lived and worked in this field in southern Africa for nearly 20 years. She currently directs the Botswana Sexual and Reproductive Health Initiative, and is a medical advisor to the Botswana Family Welfare Organisation (the only non-governmental provider of family planning services in Botswana) and is a special advisor to the Botswana Ministry of Health Family Planning Programme.

In addition to having experience of public health programmes in developing countries, Dr Morroni also brings with her an extensive academic pedigree. She has a BA in social anthropology from Harvard University, an MPH and medical degree from the University of Cape Town, an MPhil and PhD in epidemiology from Columbia University, a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Diploma in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare from the UK Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. She is currently appointed in the Institute for Women’s Health and the Institute for Global Health, University College London, with honorary appointments at the University of Cape Town, the University of Botswana, the Botswana Harvard Aids Institute Partnership and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Under our two year EU funded project, we will be working closely with partner organisation, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, to empower two marginalised rural communities. The project will address both family planning and other human rights issues, as community members are generally unaware of their sexual and reproductive rights. Indeed, it is notable that the South African constitution refers to the right to access health care, and expressly states that this includes reproductive health services. The project focus is to not only promote the exercise of these and other rights, but provide training to clinicians and others, to ensure that when services are requested, they can in fact be provided.

The project will provide community members with vital family planning knowledge, and enable them to hold their local government and service providers to account if services do not meet the levels which department mandates require. Project staff will work with local clinics to address barriers to family planning, improve service provision and contribute to health system strengthening.

These actions are extremely important given the local patriarchal social structures, a high level of gender inequality and appalling levels of violence against women and girls. A 2013 study demonstrated that 77% of local women had experienced gender based violence and 57% of girls interviewed in a 2011 study reported that their first sexual encounter had been forced. Few of these girls or women are fully informed of their sexual and reproductive health rights, and as a result they often do not access services, such as accessing Post Exposure Prophylaxis or emergency contraception. We are therefore delighted that Dr Morroni is joining our team and will be making a valuable contribution to improving the sexual and reproductive health of the poor rural communities at our South African project site.