Conservation Through Public Health – Population, Health and Environment (PHE) around Bwinde Impenetrable Area

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Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) is a Uganda-based NGO that promotes conservation and public health by improving primary health care to people and animals in and around protected areas in Africa. CTPH works in three primary fields: 1)Wildlife Health Monitoring, Human Public Health and Information, Education and Communication; 2) Controlling disease transmission where wildlife, people and their animals meet, and 3) cultivating a winning attitude to wildlife conservation and public health in local communities. CTPH implements a significant amount of its work in the area surrounding the Bwinde Impenetrable Area (BIA) in Uganda, one of the last refuges for wild Mountain Gorillas. CTPH works to mitigate wildlife/human conflict and reduce threats to the Mountain Gorilla caused by growing human populations.

Development Challenge
Bwindi is home to approximately half of the world’s estimated population of 700 mountain gorillas. The mountain gorilla population is also surrounded by parishes with some of the poorest people in Africa who have limited access to modern health services and who have very high population densities of 200 to 300 people per square kilometer. Gorilla tourism contributes up to 50% of the tourism revenue for the country. The principle threat to the survival of the mountain gorillas, and to the important economic impact they bring, is human/wildlife contact and conflict due to a high human population density around the BIA. Gorillas often leave the park boundaries to eat peoples’ crops, because there is no buffer zone between the park and the surrounding communities. This is where gorillas are at greatest risk from getting preventable infectious diseases from people, such as scabies, TB and amebic dysentery. Population growth is high around the park and human encroachment and resource use in park buffer zones and core areas are increasing.

CTPH will integrate family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) interventions into ongoing CTPH activities, and into the work of local Health Clinics. CTPH will also mobilize dormant community health workers and engage in large scale information, communication and education activities that will help to reduce family size in zones bordering the protected areas. Reproductive health and family planning will ultimately lead to reduced human/wildlife conflict, increased survival of the mountain gorillas and greater tourism revenue and income for the local population, who will in turn have a smaller family size and budget to make better use of the family income.

CTPH will re-activate community health workers and train new community workers in PHE activities. These workers will identify and engage couples with information on FP/RH, and link them to commodity providers, who will strengthen systems for commodity provision and access. Additionally the community workers will saturate the community with messages through theatre, target couples of reproductive age with individual messages that are reinforced by radio listener groups. Leveraging dormant capacity, already prepared IEC materials, existing capacity and platforms will help couples address their demand for RH/FP. Finally, CTPH will develop specific IEC materials on the links between family planning and sustainable environments, which will be distributed at the drama shows.

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