The Population & Sustainability Network joins world’s largest environmental alliance

August 31, 2016


The Population & Sustainability Network is proud to announce its membership of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Created in 1948, IUCN is the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of 1,300 member organisations and some 15,000 experts.


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In becoming an IUCN member, the Population & Sustainability Network aims to influence global conservation policy, to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights are given due prominence by the conservation sector. Almost invariably it is rural communities in the developing world which face the greatest barriers to unrestricted access to contraceptive services. These same rural areas, where the conservation sector operates, are those where the inextricable links between poor health, unmet family planning needs, population pressures, environmental degradation, vulnerability to climate change and food security are most obvious.

David Johnson, the Population & Sustainability Network’s Chief Executive, said, “In a world with a population projected to increase by a third, from today’s 7.4 billion, to 9.9 billion in 2050, unrestricted access to family planning information, rights and services are not only critical for women’s health and empowerment, but also many other development issues too. That includes environmental and conservation challenges.” The Population & Sustainability Network questions whether many existing traditional conservation programmes can possibly be successful in the long term, unless these demographic realities are taken into account in conservation programme design. One way to take them into account is to create new partnerships between the conservation and health sectors.

The Population & Sustainability Network is the international programme of the Margaret Pyke Trust, a UK charity founded nearly fifty years ago. The Trust has been at the forefront of contraceptive developments since its foundation, from provision of clinical services in its early days, to academic research, programme delivery and international reproductive health advocacy more recently. Carina Hirsch, Advocacy and Policy Manager said, “We believe we are the first IUCN member, of the 1,300 existing members, with a primary mission focussed on reproductive health. We’re excited about using our specialist expertise to help shape the conservation policies of the future”.

The Trust launched the Population & Sustainability Network in 2004, at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and has promoted reproductive rights as part of sustainable development ever since. David Johnson concluded, “Having already built a reputation in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change processes, such as at the recent COP21 in Paris, IUCN membership builds on the Trust’s advocacy strategy of promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights to a broader audience.”

The IUCN provides a neutral space in which stakeholders including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organisations and others can work together to forge and implement solutions to environmental challenges and achieve sustainable development. The Population & Sustainability Network’s IUCN membership will bring a new and distinct voice to discussions about how to implement those solutions.

Network News: Integrating wildlife conservation and human health in Uganda

August 22, 2016


This month we feature an update on a new program of our fellow Population & Sustainability Network member, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), an NGO improving the lives of the people and wildlife in East Africa. Gladys Kalema Zikusooka, the founder and chief executive of CTPH, writes about her experiences in Uganda, a country with significant barriers to unrestricted access to family planning, and where UN medium variant projections are for the population to quintuple by the end of the century.


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The first time I ever went to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park I was 24 years old, as veterinary student. The rainforest was lush and beautiful—unlike anything I had ever seen. And deep within that forest resides a gentle giant—the Mountain Gorilla. After my first encounter with the gorillas I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to their conservation and I have never looked back.

My first job was working as a veterinarian with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at Bwindi. It was there that I experienced first hand how fragile the balance between wildlife and human health is. In 1996, I led the first team managing the scabies skin disease outbreak in the gorillas. I’ll never forget seeing Ruhara, an infant gorilla, become so weak from the disease that he couldn’t even hold onto his mother. After his death from scabies I began to ask myself how it could have been prevented. Scabies is a disease of poor hygiene and crowded conditions. The rural communities around Bwindi are some of the poorest and most population dense communities in Uganda. I knew then that poor health is a strain on both the communities and gorillas alike.

Driven by my love for wildlife and conservation and my passion to improve the health of my fellow Ugandans, I founded Conservation Through Public Health in 2003. CTPH has an innovative methodology that focuses on the integration of wildlife and human health and conservation. Our mission is to promote biodiversity conservation by enabling people, wildlife and livestock to coexist through improving their health and livelihoods. We are spearheading gorilla conservation through a multi-disciplinary population, health and environment approach because we know that these challenges are all inextricably linked.

We have worked with communities around Bwindi for years training Village Health Teams (VHTs) to integrate conservation and sustainable livelihoods into their public health outreach. Through training, communities learn about conservation and how public health including disease transmission and family planning can affect the environment and wildlife. Thus VHTs add conservation to their work and are transformed into Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs). Furthermore, we provide VHCTs with capital to start Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) through a group project that generates income and allows them to provide loans to community members so that they can continue working in a sustainable way.

One of the projects supporting this VHCT approach is funded by The Global Development Network, which awarded CTPH the Japanese Most Innovative Development Project Award. This award has enabled CTPH to scale the VHCT and VSLA approach to another district around Bwindi, and resulted in additional funding to scale this integrated approach to Mt. Elgon National Park in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya, and the Virunga Mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With this approach, we aim to try and transform the lives of the people and wildlife at this additional project area.


I recently returned from Mt. Elgon where my team visited three districts and trained more than 80 VHTs in our innovative program to become VHCTs. Communities in Mt. Elgon have similar needs for family planning and improved hygiene and sanitation as those in the Bwindi region. They also live near a national park where they continue to access resources from the park illegally. That drove our need to bring the integrated approach to human and wildlife Health and conservation to these communities because we know they can really benefit from learning more about the interconnectedness of their health and conservation.

In our Mt. Elgon program we are also trying something new—we want the government to take up more responsibility of the program so we are working more closely with district health and natural resource officers as well as Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). This will benefit communities in creating a sustainable program run by the government that will continue well after donor funding ends. Furthermore, by involving UWA in the program it opened up a much-needed dialogue between them and the VHCTs. UWA and communities around Mt. Elgon have clashed over land use in and around the park for a long time, sometimes leading to violence and loss of lives. It is our expectation that through this program VHCTs will begin to bridge the gap between their own communities and UWA, eventually leading to peaceful relations and better understanding of how communities and UWA can work together to conserve the park and improve livelihoods.

CTPH began as a need to protect the health of people and gorillas. Through our hard work and dedication we have taken our vision and have begun to spread this to other communities living around protected areas in Africa. I am excited to see the future that we are able to build in Bwindi, Mt. Elgon and beyond.

You can read more about CTPH’s work on their website:

Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network makes FP2020 pledge to reach 9.5 million women and girls by 2020

July 14, 2016

SOURCE: PSN and FP2020

The Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network has become one of Family Planning 2020’s (FP2020) commitment makers by pledging to reach over 9.5 million women and girls through improved access to sexual and reproductive health services and information and improved quality of care.


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The Trust joins over 90 commitment makers, including 38 countries, in a global movement that supports the rights of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they want to have.

FP2020 works with governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and the research and development community to enable an additional 120 million girls and women in the world’s poorest countries to use modern forms of contraception by the year 2020.

An outcome of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, the FP2020 global partnership is based on the principle that all women, no matter where they live, should have access to lifesaving contraceptives. Achieving the FP2020 goal is a critical milestone to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights by 2030, as laid out in Sustainable Development Goals 3 (good health and well-being) and 5 (gender equality), and is key to unlocking all development priorities.

The Trust’s commitments

  1. Education and Training: To provide up-to-date SRH training courses for not fewer than 3,250 UK based medical professionals between the beginning of 2016 and end of 2019. Training activities will be expanded and delivered to not fewer than 300 doctors and nurses in FP2020 focus countries, with tailored training to meet local capacity needs, and impact 9.5 million and girls.
  2. Program and Service Delivery: To design and implement not fewer than three integrated development programs in FP2020 focus countries between the autumn of 2016 and the end of 2019.
  3. Issue and Policy Advocacy: To undertake advocacy activities for health and gender organizations, policy makers and funding partners and also for other sectors including environmental and climate change audiences, to help build a broader coalition of organizations working to ensure universal access to comprehensive and voluntary family planning services.

“We’re delighted to be part of the significant global movement that is FP2020, and to join over 90 other governments and organizations across the globe committed to enabling 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020”, said David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Trust. “The family planning community recognizes that programs and services must be designed and implemented with the highest attention to quality and the right principles if we are to realize our promise to millions of women and girls in countries where the need is greatest,” said Beth Schlachter, FP2020’s Executive Director.

FP2020 applauds this new commitment from the Trust, which will help catalyze progress and build sustainability for future generations by focusing on three key pillars of education and training, program and service delivery, and advocacy.”

The Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network is a UK NGO with a vision of a world where everyone can decide freely whether, when, and how many children they want, for the benefit of all people and the planet. Since its foundation in 1969, when the Trust opened its London clinic, which for a period of time became the world’s busiest family planning center, the Trust has been at the forefront of developments in sexual and reproductive health. Today, in the UK, the Trust continues to support contraceptive research and provide SRH training for clinicians, but it is internationally, in FP2020 focus countries, that the Trust is becoming most active.

The Trust’s international program, the Population & Sustainability Network, is a network of 17 diverse organizations, from governmental bodies (like the UK’s DFID), to international SRH NGOs (like the International Planned Parenthood Federation) and even major environmental NGOs (such as Friends of the Earth), which all share the Trust’s vision. With members of this program, the Trust promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of sustainable development. The Trust also works in partnership with Population & Sustainability Network members to implement programs integrating SRH actions with those of other sectors, for even greater impact. In 2016 the Trust formally changed its name to ‘The Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network’, given the Trust’s growing focus on the developing world, FP2020 countries and its work with these partners. “We have translated our work into FP2020 commitments and very much look forward to working with the FP2020 community to further family planning and women and girls’ empowerment”, said Mr. Johnson.

Investments in entertainment education as a way to catalyse and sustain social and behavioural change

July 7, 2016


'Entertainment education' success stories will be showcased at an event at the Rockefeller Foundation Office in New York on July 12, 2016. The event will feature case studies from our Network members, Population Foundation of India and Population Media Center.

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‘Entertainment education’ (EE) is used across the world to educate, inform and influence social and individual behaviour. Through carefully crafted stories, social issues are woven into popular dramas, which have the potential to reach millions and bring about social change.

As the field of edutainment and its allied investments grows globally, questions of evaluation, evidence and sustainability become paramount. Recognising this, the Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, UNICEF and UNFPA, are convening a day-long meeting on “Investments in Entertainment education as a way to catalyze and sustain social and behavioral change,” at the Rockefeller Foundation Office in New York on July 12, 2016.

At this meeting, three case studies from three continents – Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything) from Asia, Soul City from Africa and East Los High from North America - will showcase how EE formats, particularly, “soap operas” are being used in very different socio-economic, cultural and geographical contexts to engineer change on a wide range of social and health issues.

Evaluation specialists will engage with communication researchers and various EE programmers to examine the existing evidence of change, identify gaps and discuss robust evaluation techniques for digital media interventions.

This event on EE will provide an opportunity to not just share learnings, discuss evaluation and devise strategies for growth and sustainability, but also provides a forum to explore synergies for those working in the field of development and EE around the world.

Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything)

Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH) is an Indian trans-media (TV, radio, internet, mobile phone and social media) edutainment initiative launched by Population Foundation of India (PFI) in 2014 to challenge the prevailing social and cultural norms around family planning, early marriage, early and repeated pregnancies, contraceptive use, domestic violence and sex selection.

The key plot elements in MKBKSH are based on real life situations and characters, which serve as role models to bring important family planning concepts to life. Positive storytelling and an easily relatable and captivating storyline are used to build women’s agency and steer people’s perceptions on various social determinants of health.

Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon revolves around the inspiring journey of Sneha, a doctor working in Mumbai. She represents the young Indian woman of today, who thrives on challenges.  As the story progresses, Sneha returns to her village and finds herself embroiled in a series of family dramas. Her sense of family responsibility, along with her no-nonsense approach to responding to the drama around her, makes her a role model for many young Indian women who face similar realities

Emotionally torn between family and society, between professional aspirations and personal commitment, her struggles and triumphs form the core of this memorable soap opera. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, but it will also make you think. It is entertainment like you’ve never seen before.

PFI is a national non-governmental organisation at the forefront of policy advocacy and research on population, health and development issues in India. It leads advocacy efforts and works as a think-tank dedicated to promoting and advocating for the effective formulation and implementation of gender sensitive population, health and development policies and national programs.

PFI addresses population issues within the larger discourse of empowering women and men, so that they are able to take informed decisions related to their fertility, health and well-being. It works with the government, both at the national and state levels and with NGOs, in the areas of community action for health, urban health, scaling up of successful pilots and social and behaviour change communication.

Why I’m running for reproductive rights

June 23, 2016


PSN’s project and communications manager, Kathryn Lloyd, is taking part in the Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon, for the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population and Sustainability Network. Here she tells us why reproductive rights are so important to her and why she’s decided to run a half marathon to prove it.


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This September I’ll be joining over 57,000 runners for the 13.1 mile journey from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields to take part in the world’s largest half marathon , the Great North Run. I’m not a natural runner, actually, to be frank, I find the whole thing really challenging but this year, I decided to move out of my comfort zone for a good cause.

I’m running for the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population and Sustainability Network, a sexual and reproductive health charity that works in the UK and internationally, providing training to doctors, nurses and community health workers in contraception and reproductive health, and providing education materials for communities and young people in Africa and Asia. In particular, we work for all the women and girls around the world who do not have unrestricted access to sexual and reproductive health services including voluntary family planning.

Why I’m running for reproductive rights

Living in the UK, I’m so lucky to be able to access free and quality healthcare, whenever I want. I have the choice to decide if and when to have children, and if and when I do become pregnant, I won’t live in fear of not being able to access skilled healthcare professionals at any point throughout my pregnancy.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case for many women around the world. There are an estimated 225 million women in developing countries who have an unmet need for modern contraception. These are women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern form of contraception (such as condoms, coils or the contraceptive pill). Reasons for this include a lack of access, a lack of training of healthcare professionals, contraceptive fears and myths and lack of knowledge.

Not being able to access contraception and trained healthcare professionals has a direct impact on the lives of women and girls. Reproductive rights are human rights. All women should be free to choose what happens to their bodies and their health, and no woman should ever live in fear of pregnancy.

If you, like me, love reproductive rights and would like to sponsor me on my journey, please visit my sponsorship page.