High population, health issues and unsustainable resource utilization accelerate the destruction of ecosystems which are the source of communities’ livelihoods. This deepens poverty and worsens environmental degradation. Friends of the Nation’s (FoN) advocacy interventions are focused on Sustainable Ecosystems Management and Natural Resource utilization (usually in the areas of Fisheries, Mining, Oil-and-Gas and Water-Sanitation-and-Hygiene); with a goal of building capacities of people to adequately demand appropriate services from duty bearers; and also for citizens to act responsibly in the utilization of ecosystems services that the environment provides humankind.
Acknowledging the inter-connection among humans, their health and their environment, Population, Health and Environment (PHE) initiatives attempt to address the challenges through efforts that simultaneously attempt to improve access to health services, especially birth-spacing (family planning and reproductive health care services) whilst concurrently facilitating communities’ management of local natural resources through practices that improve their health and livelihoods & conserve the critical ecosystems upon which they depend. Education is a leveller of society and it places people in a comparative advantage pedestal to come out of poverty. Therefore FoN has a model it terms Population Health Environment (PHE).
It is of interest to FoN that managing natural resources is not about controlling nature, but rather, facilitating appropriate attitudes and behavior in citizens to manage their ecosystems sustainably in responsible manner to guarantee access and utilization for future generations.FoN therefore operates on the premise that “managing ecosystems is actually about managing people”. Ecosystems do not self-destruct. It is rather irresponsible human behavior and greed that impinges negatively on ecosystem health, with dire repercussions for humans. Communities depend on the natural environment for livelihood sustenance and food security. Where population numbers far outstrips sustainable exploitable limits (Maximum Sustainable Yield), a downward trend which gradually leads to a collapse is inevitable.
In coastal communities, large populations vis-à-vis low fish catches & poor income levels has resulted in a vicious cycle of over exploitation of marine resources through unsustainable methods like light, under-sized mesh nets, chemical fishing and cutting of mangroves for fuelwood for smoking fish both for sale and domestic use.
Broadly, FoN’s PHEE intervention is designed to optimize quality of life for communities by facilitating access to
- Clean water, sanitation and hygiene
- Quality reproductive and sexual health,
- Nutrition and Maternal and Child Health services of mothers and children; and
- Enhanced human, food and livelihood security.