The BALANCED Project Expands Efforts to Integrate Family Planning and Reproductive Health into Marine Conservation in the Verde Island Passage and Danajon Bank, Philippines


December 20, 2011

Kingston, RI. The Coastal Resources Center (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island (URI) announces 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 Building Actors and Leaders for Advancing Community Excellence in Development (BALANCED) 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).

Awarded in 2008, the BALANCED Project is a five-year Population, Health and Environment (PHE) technical leadership initiative awarded by the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health. CRC and its partners—PATH Foundation Philippines Inc. (PFPI) and Conservation International (CI)—have many years experience in integrated natural resources management, population and health. PHE programs promote holistic approaches to development—approaches that address the complex connections between humans, health and environment.

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. Dr. Joan Castro, PFPI Executive Vice President and BALANCED Project PHE Technical Lead, says, “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.”

According to BALANCED Project Director, Linda Bruce, “USAID/Philippines has provided BALANCED-Philippines with funding from both the health sector and the environment sector. This unprecedented investment by a USAID mission in the BALANCED Project demonstrates the role of the Philippines as a global leader in the international PHE community.”