“A Re Itireleng” is a Setswana phrase, meaning “Let’s do it ourselves”. This is the name the community in and around Groot Marico, in the North West Province of South Africa, gave to this project where the community is taking ownership of their interrelated health, economic, social and climate issues. Population & Sustainability Network members the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Pathfinder International, and Network coordinator the Margaret Pyke Trust, are the project implementers.
The North West is the South African province with the second highest fertility rate nationwide. Whilst the Provincial fertility rate is 2.83 children per mother, the A Re Itireleng project partners estimate that in and around the Groot Marico area, it is actually somewhere between 4 and 5 children per mother.
In the heart of the project area are the headwaters of the Marico River, a watercourse of critical importance to sustain the livelihoods of the local largely agricultural community, as well as the communities downstream, including in neighbouring countries. But the area and its people are increasingly vulnerable to South Africa’s droughts, the impacts of climate change, and the demands being placed on water from a growing population. The Endangered Wildlife Trust had been working in the area for some time, providing training on sustainable livelihoods, when the community self-identified the need for greater access to family planning services.
From these early beginnings, a new integrated “Population, Health & Environment” project has evolved. The Endangered Wildlife Trust is providing the community with sustainable livelihood training, Pathfinder International are undertaking clinical training, and the Margaret Pyke Trust is coordinating activities and leading the integration of project actions, including by developing the community education materials on project themes. By integrating conservation and community health actions, Population, Health & Environment projects, such as A Re Itireleng, have been demonstrated to lead to greater health, gender and conservation outcomes compared to traditional single sector projects.
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