Natural conservation and making improvements in the health and livelihoods of our communities are not at odds, although sometimes it feels this way. In reality, they are inherently connected. For example, in many rural communities where access to quality health services is low and jobs are few and far between, poverty-stricken people depend on exploiting natural resources to survive, which actually harms their quality of life long-term. Luckily, there is a better way of doing things that doesn’t force communities to choose between their livelihoods and local flora and fauna.
The Population, Health and Environment (PHE) approach proposes a way to improve access to reproductive health, while also helping people find alternative livelihoods, sustainably manage natural resources and preserve ecosystems. The nonprofit PATH Foundation Philippines, which has reached hundreds of thousands of Filipinos with its programs, is one of the pioneers of this approach.
Joan Castro, the Executive Vice President of this organization, talks about:
- How sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, natural degradation and population growth are interconnected
- Why it makes more sense to address all the issues through an integrated approach rather than individually
- How PATH Philippines tackled food insecurity problems and resource depletion in Danajon Bank and Verde Passage
- How they made family planning services accessible 24/7 by using small convenience stores instead of only village clinics
- How they addressed harmful social norms and misconceptions about contraception
- How they helped to improve management of close to 2,000 hectares and to establish 44 marine protected areas
- Where else the PHE approach is applied
Joan Castro is a licensed physician, who has more than 20 years of experience in sustainable and community development initiatives in rural and urban settings in the Philippines. Joan serves as the Executive Vice President of PATH Foundation Philippines.
If you want to learn how soap operas improved the lives of more than 500 milion people, check out my interview with Bill Ryerson, Founder of Population Media Center.