8/26/2010

Community Action

WWF - Community Action - Coral Trian…

Coral Triangle: Protecting Palawan Island
Palawan is one of few remaining large islands in the Philippines with relatively intact ecosystems and abundant marine biodiversity. WWF led a project here to improve access to family planning, deliver integrated messages about conservation and health and improve the ability of local groups and government to manage resources sustainably WWF Community Conservation Unit manages a USAIDfunded population, health, and environment (PHE) project called Successful Communities from Ridge to Reef. The project provides Reproductive Health Information and Family Planning services in key areas where population growth has serious impacts on natural resources and biodiversity.

Barangay health workers, captains, family planning motivators and trained coastal resource monitoring volunteers at the parade for the launching of the Family Planning Commodity Distribution System of Roxas, Palawan, Philippines. © WWF

The PHE project is located on the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines. Palawan is one of the last Philippine provinces with relatively intact ecosystems and waters abundant with marine biodiversity, and yet the island’s marine life is severely threatened. The human population is predicted to double in less than 30 years, and furthering the stress on the environment, harmful fishing practices are on the rise. Meanwhile, the decentralized local governments still have weak capacity in enforcing marine laws or managing demographic change. In the two years since its inception, the project has worked with the district government and local communities to bring a new contraceptive distribution system to the area; educated and mobilized midwives, fishermen, government and community groups to deliver integrated messages about conservation, health, and family planning (FP); and improved the capacity of local marine-watch groups and the government to enforce marine laws. The Roxas Family Planning Commodity Distribution System In 2005, supplies of free pills and condoms that had been distributed in the Roxas municipality were suddenly unavailable. At the national level there were no funds to pay for the supplies. However, within months of the outage, the WWF PHE Project was initiated to fill the commodities gap. Partnering with the Municipal Health Officer, the project
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A Philippine fisherman practicing seaweed farming - a sustainable alternative when fish stocks are under pressure. © WWF / Judy Oglethorpe

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helped motivate the passage of a municipal resolution urging the barangays (local village governments) to allocate funds for the purchase of contraceptives and the establishment of a commodities distribution system. This time, however, they were no longer going to be distributed for free but sold at prices calculated to ensure sustainability of the program and accessibility to the poorest members of the municipality. The system was launched on November 27, 2006. The supplies are dispensed by community-based distributors and local pharmacies who sell oral contraceptives, injectables, and condoms. In addition to commodity distribution, several Barangay Health Workers and other FP outreach workers conduct informational sessions about family planning, Family Planning Action Sessions, for couples with an unmet need for family planning. Family Planning Action Session (FPAS) Outreach Workers Melogen Tipon, a 32-year-old mother of three, became an FP outreach worker after attending a training session conducted by WWF-Philippines and Save the Children. She is one of 25 FP volunteers in Roxas who have been trained by the PHE Project. The volunteers conduct meetings with couples in their communities to talk about the links between population, health and environment and the importance of planning family sizes so that families can continue to be healthy, and parents can provide for their children without negatively impacting the environment.

WWF - Community Action - Coral Trian…

Melogen Tipon with her husband and two sons. © WWF

In her role as an FP outreach worker, Melogen says that she has improved her knowledge of reproductive health and contraception. “With the new knowledge I was able to explain not only to my husband but also to my neighbors about contraception and other FP methods that are available for men and women. So far I have talked to four other women who are interested in using IUD. Being a user myself, I can really talk to them about my own experience and can correct any misconceptions they have about the IUD." Saving Dugong on the Coral Triangle The gentle Dugong inhabits shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific, wherever sea grass is most abundant. Like other sea cows, the Dugong lives a long life but breeds slowly making it vulnerable to local eradication. A beached dugong was saved from certain death when 15-year-old Mark Florende found the marine mammal and reported it to the PHE Project. A rescue team of local volunteers and WWF staff was immediately dispatched. After ensuring it was unwounded, the volunteers gently towed the Dugong to safety allowing it to swim off. Amidst cheers, the team watched the Dugong disappear into Palawan’s turquoise waters. Mark attributed his ability to identify the Dugong and realize its importance to a poster
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used by the local PHE Project. The poster described the Dugong, the threats it faced, and provided contact information in case of sightings of Dugong catching or beaching. After Only Two Years There is growing evidence that integrated PHE programming increases community comprehension of the complex linkages between population, health, and the environment and can lead to quick improvements in marine conservation outcomes. After only two years, already the program’s success is evident. The government has passed resolutions providing increased support for marine enforcement, boat fuel, and purchase of family planning commodities Many couples are attending premarital counseling sessions on family planning that, through the project’s efforts, have now become a standard protocol for the district Stakeholders are now motivated and participating in demarcating new marine protected areas The project has measured increased participation of communities in reporting and monitoring marine turtles, dugongs, and illegal fishing practices like dynamite and cyanide poisonings

WWF - Community Action - Coral Trian…

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