Philippines

BALANCED-Philippines

In December 2011, the BALANCED Project announced a new $800,000, two-year investment by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Energy and Environment in the Philippines. These funds will complement existing USAID/Philippines investments of $500,000 over two years to improve access to family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) services in this area in the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro, Bohol and Leyte, and to tie these health interventions directly to ongoing or new marine conservation activities. The BALANCED-Philippines Project will use the funds to build the leadership and implementation capacities of national and local governments and stakeholders to respond in an integrated manner to interrelated population, health and marine environmental issues in the globally-significant Verde Island Passage Marine Biodiversity Corridor and the Danajon Double Barrier Reef (Visayan Bioregion).

 With this additional funding from USAID/Philippines, BALANCED-Philippines will build capacity and empower local communities in the two target marine regions to meet their expressed needs for improved health and marine conservation outcomes. PFPI and CI-Philippines, working closely with Local Government Units (LGUs), will increase access to voluntary family planning services and information, build community awareness about the underlying linkages between reducing population pressure and improving coastal resources management, and empower stakeholders to implement environmentally-friendly livelihoods.

The Project also aspires to create an enabling environment among policymakers at all levels, from local to national and international scales, that promotes integration of PHE into governmental policies and frameworks. By demonstrating that integrated PHE approaches like this provide concrete improvements in human health and well-being, BALANCED-Philippines is strengthening the message that cross-sectoral collaboration really works and provides a multitude of benefits to communities.

Background

PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc (PFPI) in partnership with local government units implemented the two-year (2008-2010) David and Lucile Packard Foundation-supported Poverty-Population-Environment (PPE) Project to mainstream reproductive health into poverty alleviation and natural resource management agendas in the Philippines. The PPE Project replicated and scaled-up the best practices of the Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management (IPOPCORM) Initiative and the Alternative Advocacy Project, both of which were pioneered by PFPI. The PPE Project worked in selected municipalities bordering three critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems—Danajon Bank, Verde Island Passage and the Mt. Capotoan-Mt. Cabalantian Watershed Complex—areas with have high rates of population growth and density and above-average incidence of poverty that threaten socio-economic development and the viability of life-sustaining ecosystems.

Over the life of the PPE Project, more than 500 peer educators, community-based distributors and government health personnel were trained and mentored to deliver family planning and coastal/natural resource management information and services to their communities. Twenty two local government units were strengthened to integrate PPE activities and establish/sustain community-based family planning programs. They also provided more than US$72,000 in-cash and in-kind funds to support integrated approaches to poverty alleviation and coastal/natural resource management. These efforts resulted in increased access to contraceptives and improved acceptance of family planning in the focal areas, where more than 30,000 new acceptors of modern methods were served. Behavior monitoring survey (BMS) conducted in selected project areas through supplemental support provided by the BALANCED Project showed that a majority of those surveyed across the sites (>72%) believe food insecurity is linked to “too many people and not enough fish to go around.” Similar proportions agree that “if couples do not practice family planning, there may not be enough natural resources to go around in the future.” Results also indicated a higher rate of illness among those who had observed changes in their local environment/ climate and that all of the observed changes in climate correlated strongly with disease incidence—which may suggest that the impacts of climate change are adversely affecting people’s health.

This is a great video produced by our partners PATH Foundation Philippines Inc. showcasing their integrated population-health-environment programming.