Population & Sustainability Network member, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP), has this week commenced community based training on family planning and other issues in the rural community of Tshilwavhusiku, in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The community dialogues have been prepared by TVEP and Population & Sustainability Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust.
The community named their project “Nndwakhulu” which, in the local TshiVenda language, means “the big fight!” Nndwakhulu has been designed to respond to the multitude of human rights abuses that are widespread in the area and endured by the community. By raising awareness among community members of their rights, providing them with the tools to better exercise them, and simultaneously working with the public authorities to ensure they deliver the services they are mandated to provide, TVEP and the Margaret Pyke Trust aim to generate long term sustainable change.
Last week, the first 100 community members attended the inaugural community dialogues on family planning as part of “Future Planning”. Family planning is presented as not only fundamental for women and girls’ health and empowerment but also as an important component of women and men’s future planning. In fact, access to quality and voluntary, rights-based family planning formation and services is essential to health, livelihoods and fulfilment of human rights. It is in this field that the work of the Margaret Pyke Trust has focussed. TVEP focal areas are other sexual and reproductive health issues which are faced by the community, including child abuse, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence, minority rights and sexual assault. Over the course of the two year project, a total of 1,200 community members will benefit from five days’ training on these project themes.
The training is facilitated by Community Activists who have been trained by TVEP and who are using the training materials jointly developed by the Margaret Pyke Trust and TVEP. A family planning nurse has been recruited for Nndwakhulu, and a sexual and reproductive health consultant, one of the Margaret Pyke Volunteers, has also volunteered her time to provide technical inputs.
The future planning one day community dialogue covers the various forms of contraception, from male and female condoms, to long acting reversible contraceptive methods such as Intra-Uterine Devices and implants. Participatory group exercises are used to clarify commonly held myths around contraception, encourage men’s positive participation in family planning, and highlight the non-health as well as the health benefits of contraception. The use of contraception is part of planning a healthy future.
Given the high levels of human rights abuses, including abuses of sexual and reproductive rights, it is critical that members of this marginalised, rural community are being empowered to exercise their rights, something which is not going unnoticed in the region. TVEP Programme Director, Fiona Nicholson, said, “We have been overwhelmed by the positive response, not only from this community, but also from the many neighbouring communities that have heard about what we are doing in Tshilwavhusiku. They are urging us to work in their communities as well, so we know that what we are doing is already having an impact”.
Carina Hirsch, Advocacy & Projects Manager of the Margaret Pyke Trust, concluded “We are very excited that the planning stage of Nndwakhulu has now turned into the implementation stage, and people in the real world are benefiting. Collaborating with the TVEP team has been a great opportunity. The Trust has learned so much about Tshilwavhusiku and its challenges and the work of TVEP, and we at the Trust have been delighted to be able to bring our family planning expertise to an organisation which had not previously considered contraception as part of their focus. We are delighted to think about the prospect of the huge potential for impact Nndwakhulu has at the project site itself, and beyond.”
Nndwakhulu is made possible because of the generous funding of the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
For two days in September 2017, Population, Health and Environment (PHE) project implementers, policy makers, and donors gathered in Entebbe Uganda, at the Population, Health & Environment Symposium, hosted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and supported by the K4Health project and PACE. Eight of the 21 members of the Population & Sustainability Network were represented at the Symposium, including Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust, whose Chief Executive spoke about the Trust’s PHE advocacy.
As the guest of PACE (Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced for Population and Reproductive Health), our Chief Executive, David Johnson attended and presented at the Population, Health & Environment Symposium on a platform shared with representatives of the Population Reference Bureau and East African experts on PHE. East Africa is perhaps the region of the world with the greatest understanding of PHE, and greatest number of PHE projects.
The symposium theme was “Enhancing Resiliency and Economic Development through Strengthened PHE Programming”. Topics covered ranged from mainstreaming and scaling up PHE approaches to link with Sustainable Development Goals, to PHE policy advocacy and communication, as well as PHE research, learning and knowledge management.
David Johnson said, “It was a great privilege to be invited to speak at the Symposium, and to speak about the PHE advocacy work of the Margaret Pyke Trust, focusing on what we call ‘new audiences’. We passionately believe that there is great interest in the conservation sector to implement PHE, but that requires us breaking out of our comfort zone and actively promoting PHE to those who do not already know about it.” David presented on the Trust’s current advocacy activities promoting PHE programmes to conservation project implementers, policy makers and funders, which lack any current PHE programmes, and the Trust’s strategy on this point looking to the future.
As PACE kindly sponsored David’s attendance, it also afforded David an opportunity to visit South West Uganda to spend some time at current PHE project sites and potential PHE project sites, which links in directly to the Trust’s plans to expand in the field.
As part of the global Family Planning Summit held in London on 11th July, our coordinating member, the Margaret Pyke Trust, hosted a major event in London, highlighting why reproductive health and rights are not only critical for the health and empowerment of women and girls, but also how family planning can strengthen conservation efforts.
Family planning is one of the most transformative and cost effective tools in global development. When women and girls have access to family planning, they are able to choose if and when to have children, remain in school longer, improve their health, contribute more fully to the economy, and fulfil their potential.
However, 214 million women and girls in developing countries do not have access to family planning. Looking to change this reality are the policymakers, donors and advocates who have came together this week at the London Family Planning Summit, to discuss how to boost investments in rights-based, voluntary family planning programmes. The aim of the Population & Sustainability Network event, was to help shape that summit.
Rural communities often rely on healthy ecosystems for their own health and livelihoods. When ecosystem health is threatened, so too is human health. In developing countries, barriers to family planning services are, almost invariably, greatest in rural areas. The areas of most conservation significance, where communities rely most directly on ecosystem health for their livelihoods (and which are being most directly impacted by climate change) are therefore often the same. These were the issues considered in our event, “A win-win for human and environmental health: How conservation programmes can be strengthened by meeting family planning needs.”
“Human and environmental health are inextricably linked and holistic solutions are needed to address these development challenges”, affirms David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust. Carina Hirsch, Advocacy and Projects Manager, added, “Family planning has been proven to be a “win-win” for human and environmental health, and that is why we held this event, to seek to encourage the conservation and climate change sectors to understand that supporting reproductive health and rights is not only the right thing to do, but it will also strengthen conservation programmes”.
Our event brought together leaders in the field of integrating reproductive health and rights actions, within conservation and climate change projects. Experts presented integrated solutions to these complex development challenges, including the Population, Health and Environment or “PHE” approach. PHE is an integrated, community-based approach to development, acknowledging and addressing the complex connections between people, their health, and their environment. Addressing these challenges in an integrated manner kick-starts positive chain reactions leading to greater development outcomes in all sectors concerned.
David concluded, “Integration remains a much used phrase but still little used in practice. Our event shed light on the importance and effectiveness of such approaches, as human and environmental health depend on it.”
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 sustainabilityJune 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.