PATH Foundation’s Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management (IPOPCORM) Initiative Philippines
IPOPCORM (2001 – 2008) is a flagship PHE program that by virtue of attaining its health and environment objectives, has become a source of best practices for the international PHE field. The goal of IPOPCORM is to improve food security and quality of life of human communities that depend upon coastal resources while maintaining biological diversity and productivity of coastal ecosystems. Its purpose is to encourage and support the integration of population management and reproductive health (RH) strategies into coastal resource management (CRM) agendas in selected biogeographic zones characterized by high marine biodiversity and high population growth and momentum. . Within these coastal "hot spot" areas, PATH Foundation works through local government and NGO partners to: 1) improve RH outcomes; 2) enhance community-based management of coastal and marine resources; 3) support alternative livelihood options; and 4) increase policymakers' awareness and support for integrated approaches. .
Between 1966 and 1986, the productivity of the Philippines coral reefs dropped by one-third as the national population doubled. More recent data showing that population growth has outstripped food fish production in coastal Visayas indicates the beginning of a crisis in the security of food from aquatic resources. This was acknowledged by the government in a 1999 report: "if current trends of over fishing and environmental degradation continue, coastal resources will not be able to provide enough food for the Philippines growing population."
Results of IPOPCORM’s baseline ecology and population surveys (2001) reveal evidence of environmental degradation and critical overfishing” in coastal and island ecosystems surveyed in Northern Palawan. High levels of fertility, childhood malnutrition, poverty and chronic food insecurity were also found in households surveyed in the same areas.
IPOPCORM’s change theory is based on Marten’s “linked eco-social system” concept and the belief that small improvements in social and/or ecological systems reinforce one another and can turn around both systems from degradation to health. Trends observed in the aforesaid baseline data informed the project’s holistic approach to improve human and ecosystem health, incorporating integrated coastal management (ICM) as a strategy for food security, and family planning as a "strategic intervention" to reduce fishing effort and population pressures in the coastal zone
IPOPCORM works at international, national, provincial and local levels to support the impact and sustainability of community-driven field interventions. It also works at the cutting edge to document synergies and capture successful approaches to PHE scale-up. Lessons learned from a province-wide scale-up in Siquijor (2006) and ongoing ecosystem-wide scale-up in the Danajon Barrier Reef (Central Visayas) continue to inform PHE strategies and programs around the world. Key IPOPCORM activities are summarized as follows:
- Policy advocacy at international, national, provincial and local levels
- Community organizing, participatory planning and resource assessment
- Community-based and ICM activities including habitat protection, enforcement of fisheries code, alternative livelihood development and population-environment IEC
- Community-based family planning and RH management including contraceptive social marketing, AIDS prevention education, and RH referral services
- Program monitoring and behavior change monitoring (illegal fishing, FP practice etc)
- Operations research to test the hypothesis that integrated approaches yield bigger payoffs that single sector approaches.