Population pressure in rural areas places increasing stress on environmental resources and biodiversity, in turn undermining the livelihoods of rural communities. Environmental conservation efforts have often been perceived as conflicting with community interests for resource access. Family planning efforts have likewise failed to motivate communities. Over the past two decades, a grass-roots model of integrated development interventions has evolved, which combines
environmental protection and restoration with health and family planning, sanitation and livelihood initiatives, empowering community members as change agents and achieving greater change in each sector than single-sector projects. From tentative beginnings in the Philippines, the Population Health and Environment (PHE) model has taken root from Nepal to East Africa. The model has increasingly attracted interest from governments and aid donors largely through the strength of participant testimony. Quantitative impacts are somewhat tentative to date, but where sufficient data are available, they suggest impressive rates and extent of beneficial changes. PHE is now being integrated into national development policies in East Africa.
About the Speaker:
Dr Jane O’Sullivan studied agricultural science at the University of Melbourne, largely motivated by the question of how humanity could subsist sustainably. After a postdoc in the UK, she joined the University of Queensland in 1992 and led a number agricultural development projects in the Pacific and South East Asia, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and AusAID. These projects focused on soil fertility constraints in the production of tropical root crops in subsistence and semi-subsistence farming systems. She has since turned her attention to the role of population growth in poverty, food insecurity and environmental harm, and in the barriers to its effective reduction.