Efforts to advance sustainable development in Madagascar received a boost last week as more than 20 health and conservation organisations came together to establish new partnerships and share learning about joint initiatives.
Over the course of a four-day workshop organised by the Madagascar Population- Health-Environment (PHE) Network, participants trained each other in their respective sectors and exchanged practical advice about working together.
Several network members are already collaborating to implement integrated PHE programmes that increase access to health services while supporting community- based natural resource management efforts in isolated and biodiverse zones, and numerous new cross-sector partnership opportunities were identified through the workshop.
Madagascar’s PHE movement: rich history, renewed engagement, radiant future!
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Daniel Whyner of USAID Madagascar remarked:
“This workshop comes at an exciting time for Madagascar’s PHE movement; building on a rich history of integrated programmes stretching back 25 years, and renewed engagement demonstrated by a new generation of cross-sector partnerships that have sprung up across the country following the creation of the Madagascar PHE Network in 2014.
Looking ahead, I think we can anticipate a radiant future for Madagascar’s PHE movement; as the nation works towards the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development with a focus on promoting resilience to climate change, PHE represents an ideal framework for achieving shared objectives traversing the health and conservation sectors.”
Ministry endorsement: PHE approach putting Madagascar on a good path for sustainable development
The workshop received strong endorsement from the Ministry of Public Health; the Ministry of Environment, Ecology, Sea and Forests; the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and the Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries.
Representatives from these Ministries highlighted their commitment to working together in line with the Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment, and encouraged the continued development of cross-sector partnerships among members of the Madagascar PHE Network.
“Following the announcement of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development last year, now is the time for all of us to share our experiences and increase our capacities in terms of cross-sector partnerships.
We can’t hope to achieve these Goals without working together across our different sectors, and we’re counting on the Madagascar PHE Network as a leading movement in this regard – both at the national level in Madagascar and at the regional level within the Western Indian Ocean,”said Dr Tiana Alisoa Rasoamanana of the Ministry of Public Health.
Addressing workshop participants at the opening ceremony, Paul Olivier Ralison of the Ministry of Environment, Ecology, Sea and Forests proclaimed:
“Your presence, all of you, here at this workshop is the sign of a strong solidarity which I’m certain is the key to putting Madagascar on a good path for sustainable development. You can be sure that all of the Ministries present at this workshop will accompany you in these efforts to improve the health of Madagascar’s people and ecosystems.”
Technical sessions and small group exercises: building capacity for cross-sector partnerships
Several organisations shared their experiences of supporting community health agents to advance natural resource management efforts and collaborating with environmental outreach workers to improve community health, and the Ministry of Public Health provided a basic training in modern contraceptive methods and health-enhancing behaviours for conservation organisations to promote.
Other technical sessions included monitoring & evaluation of PHE programmes, external communications and fundraising for PHE partnerships. All of these were interspersed with dynamic small group exercises, lively discussions and plenty of time for informal networking.
“It was the perfect combination of practical information, opportunities to build partnerships, interesting presentations and interactive fun,” said Heather Pringle, SEED Madagascar’s PHE Specialist.
Exciting workshop outcomes: new collaborations and a shared monitoring system
Numerous new cross-sector partnership opportunities were identified during the workshop, which concluded with participants making personal commitments to moving these forward by weaving a web of connections using a colourful spool of thread.
As one example, the USAID Mikolo health project linked up with several conservation organisations working in coastal southwest Madagascar including Reef Doctor, Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Blue Ventures & WWF.
“The next step is getting potential partners and interested organisations around a table to talk about concrete opportunities to seize,” said Samy Rakotoniaina, USAID Mikolo’s Communications Manager.
Plans are already in place to provide follow up support to all workshop participants as they cement their new partnerships, with future initiatives including regional meetings and field- based learning exchanges later this year in collaboration with the MIHARI Network.
Meanwhile the technical session on monitoring & evaluation of PHE programmes led to strong consensus for the creation of a simple shared monitoring system within the Madagascar PHE Network, designed to track the collective results of PHE partnerships throughout the country.
This will allow us to collate and communicate key data including the estimated number of unintended pregnancies averted through the provision of voluntary family planning services and the type of community-based natural resource management initiatives supported through PHE partnerships, while streamlining data sharing between partners.
There is great excitement about how this will generate a motivating picture of the growth of Madagascar’s PHE movement, particularly as numerous new partnerships are launched over the coming months!
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The Madagascar PHE Network exists to advance sustainable development efforts integrating voluntary family planning and other health services with community-based natural resource management initiatives in Madagascar’s most under-served and biodiverse zones. It is an informal learning network connecting health and conservation organisations, funders and policy makers to facilitate cross-sector partnerships and share experiences.
Organisations present at the workshop: Association Cétamada, Association FANOITRA, Blue Ventures, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Centre ValBio (CVB), Community Centred Conservation (C3), Conservation International (CI), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education, JSI/MAHEFA, Madagascar Fauna & Flora Group (MFG), Madagascar Wildlife Conservation (MWC), Marie Stopes Madagascar (MSM), MIHARI Network, Ny Tanintsika, ONG MATEZA, Population Services International (PSI), Reef Doctor, SEED Madagascar (formerly Azafady), Stony Brook University, USAID Mikolo (MSH), Voahary Salama, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF.
Photos © Jean-Philippe Palasi & Johanna Medvey.