It takes a village – the Nndwakhulu video

February 27, 2019


South African documentary film making company, Fireworx Media, has made a short video of our Nndwakhulu project.

Network member, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP), and Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyle Trust, have been working together in Venda, South Africa, for two years.  For many years TVEP has been a leader in combatting sexual and gender based violence, HIV stigma and child abuse, as part of their “Zero Tolerance Village Alliance” model. In 2017 TVEP and the Trust began the process of developing the Zero Tolerance Village Alliance, to add a new topic: reproductive health.

As a result of this partnership, and the financial support of the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights for South Africa, two marginalised rural communities have benefitted from a range of community empowerment actions, as well as provision of training to clinical staff, police officers and others who provide the communities with the services necessary to exercise their rights to sexual and reproductive health services. The South African documentary film making company, Fireworx Media, has made this short video on the project, focussing on the sexual and gender based violence component of the project, as requested by the European Union. As a result of this project, thousands of people in rural Venda have both the agency to demand the sexual and reproductive health services of the state service providers, which are their right, as well as the state entities (clinics, police, and others) being better able to provide those services.

You can watch the video here.

Carina Hirsch on TRT World Roundtable

February 19, 2019


Today 19 February 2019, Carina Hirsch, Advocacy and Projects Manager, spoke about the importance of family planning as a climate adaptation and resilience building strategy on the TRT World Roundtable programme.

Click here to watch the full programme.

Our Chief Executive nominated for Impact 25 Award

January 18, 2019


Pro Bono Australia's Impact 25 Awards honour leaders in the social sector, as nominated and voted for by their peers. There are 337 nominees, and the public votes for the top 25. What can possibly go wrong with a public vote?

David’s nomination is for his work promoting reproductive health and rights as part of sustainable development. Staggeringly, the work of only 2 of the 337 nominees focus on reproductive health and rights. David is the only nominee put forward for his work promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights outside the health sector. Pro Bono Australia’s nomination draws to attention David’s work, highlighting the importance of removing barriers to family planning as an environmental conservation issue, as well as being a health and gender issue.

Click here to vote for David. Voting closes on 31 January 2019 and you can read about the nominees here. Please encourage those you know to vote, and let us try to ensure that one of the top 25 works within the population sector.

Hilary is a Margaret Pyke Marathon Runner!

January 4, 2019


In April 2019, Dr Hilary Graffy will challenge herself to undertake one of the world’s top marathons, the London Marathon. Hilary will be running to raise money for the Margaret Pyke Trust, coordinator of the Population & Sustainability Network, to help to improve sexual and reproductive health around the world.

Hilary has wanted to run the London Marathon for years and now, in 2019, she will achieve this goal! She has generously chosen to run for the Margaret Pyke Trust due to its ongoing support of sexual and reproductive health training in Uganda.

Last year, Hilary was working to support staff and patients at Bwindi Community Hospital in south-west Uganda, where the Trust is also working to support sexual and reproductive health training of healthcare workers and provide public education to community members, as part of its USHAPE programme.

“The average number of children a woman living near Bwindi Community Hospital will have is 6.9, and it is much higher in rural areas! I have chosen to run for the Margaret Pyke Trust, a charity supporting ongoing training and resources in sexual and reproductive health at the hospital, as I believe that providing sexual health education as well as improving access to appropriate contraception can help elevate families from poverty. I am proud to be running for them.” explains Hilary.

“We’re thrilled that Hilary has chosen to run the London Marathon for the Margaret Pyke Trust. She will be joining around 36,000 runners in one of the world’s most famous running events, taking her past some of London’s most iconic landmarks, and we’re honoured that she will be running to support the Trust”, said Kat Lloyd, Programmes and Operations Manager at the Margaret Pyke Trust.

Help Hilary to reach her goal of raising £2,000 for the Trust by donating here.

Hilary’s friend Dan, with his mother.

Conserving endangered cranes whilst improving family planning in Uganda

November 23, 2018


Today in south west Uganda the team from the Margaret Pyke Trust, three conservation NGOs, and the local hospital, finalised the first stage of the design work on a new style of conservation project suited to the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Trust and its partners’ work is being supported by a Darwin Initiative Scoping Award.

The wetlands around Kabale, in south west Uganda, are a classic example of how increasing pressures on wetland ecosystems impact both the ability of people to maintain sustainable livelihoods, and the integrity of habitats on which threatened and endangered species depend. Local environmental problems include loss of ecosystem goods, such as papyrus, soil fertility decline reducing agricultural productivity, and a reduction in access to clean water as wetlands become less able to undertake their natural functions. Wetland degradation is also impacting threatened biodiversity including Uganda’s national bird, the endangered Grey Crowned Crane.

The African Crane Conservation Programme (a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and International Crane Foundation) and NatureUganda are already supporting local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods. But Kerryn Morrison, of the African Crane Conservation Programme, knew Kabale families were reporting that barriers to family planning mean they are having larger families than they would ideally choose. This increases pressures on families themselves, and local ecosystems, and so Kerryn contacted the Margaret Pyke Trust. A cross-sectoral partnership begun to evolve, recognising that generating sustainable livelihoods alone might not be enough for either the cranes or the local communities.  

David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust said, “We know from our experience elsewhere in Africa that integrating sustainable livelihood interventions benefitting ecosystem health, with human reproductive health interventions benefitting human health, is an effective way to help both rural communities and the non-human species relying on the same local ecosystems. We believe that by integrating improvements in family planning provision, with the development of sustainable livelihood opportunities, we will be able to generate greater environmental, health and gender outcomes than if we only focussed on one of those sectors.”

Kerryn Morrison explained, “Successful biodiversity conservation requires taking into account people, our health, and our interactions with the natural world. Integrating ecosystem and human health actions responding to population pressures to enable sustainable utilization of wetland ecosystems really is a win-win.” The project hospital partner is Rugarama Hospital and Dr Gilbert A. Mateeka, their Medical Superintendent, explained, “the need for greater community reproductive health knowledge is acute. Integrated programmes provide one way of reaching more people through outreach, as well as being a way to engage men – who are often one of the barriers to women exercising their right to choice. This is something we will address in this project.”

In addition to the health and conservation actions, the academic partner is the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Professor Susannah Mayhew, who is also a Trustee of the Margaret Pyke Trust said, “We want to analyse the project outcomes, to determine whether the project partners’ assumption that projects integrating human and ecosystem health interventions generate greater positive outcomes compared to single sector health or environment projects is correct.” Achilles Byaruhanga the Executive Director of NatureUganda concluded, “We are working together to develop an integrated programme which will respond to the connected local environmental, health and livelihood challenges. Securing long-term sustainability of wetlands contributes not only to Convention on Biological Diversity goals, but also our need to have a twenty first century approach to conservation, acknowledging the cross cutting nature of the SDGs, and the demographic realities of a world with a fast growing population.”

Grey crowned cranes in the wetlands around Kabale, Uganda