In response to requests for technical support from environmental organisations collaborating with health service providers in isolated and biodiverse areas across Madagascar, we’re delighted to share this comprehensive PHE partnerships guide and integrated PHE community outreach tool.

The guide consists of 15 chapters covering the core values, skills and knowledge needed to develop and implement effective cross-sector Population-Health-Environment (PHE) partnerships. It starts with a thorough introduction to the PHE approach, followed by an organisational capacity assessment and development planning section to enable different organisations to tailor the use of the rest of the guide to their specific needs. The guide draws on the PHE implementation experiences of Blue Ventures and other members of the Madagascar PHE Network in order to provide practical advice with case study examples. As such it will be highly relevant to organisations working in Madagascar, and should be applicable to organisations working in other countries as well.

Laura Robson, who provides technical support to the Madagascar PHE Network and authored the guide, explains the rationale and vision for this resource:

“Although there are already several fantastic PHE programming manuals and toolkits, as PHE partnerships between environmental and health organisations are proliferating here in Madagascar, we identified an unmet need for a resource designed specifically for organisations wishing to develop competencies for effective cross-sector collaboration.

 

We wanted to produce something that would be accessible to both the managers and the community-based staff of such organisations, and that would walk them through each step of developing and implementing a collaborative PHE initiative in detail. Much of the guide is drawn directly from our work supporting different organisations in their PHE journeys, addressing common questions in a conversational format. We’re very much considering it as a living document, so we look forward to receiving and incorporating feedback from all of its users in due course.”

The guide is accompanied by various complementary resources including a set of illustrated PHE story cards, designed to be used as an integrated PHE community outreach tool by community health agents and/or the community-based staff of environmental organisations. The cards can serve as a visual aid for facilitating small group storytelling and discussion sessions in both marine and terrestrial contexts, with the aim of enabling communities to express and explore their understanding of PHE linkages. It’s hoped that this tool will be effective in fostering critical thinking among community members, leading to the development of health-promoting and environmentally-friendly social norms. The cards are accompanied by a short facilitation guide, which will be elaborated as feedback is received from initial users.

Nantenaina Andriamalala, who coordinates the Madagascar PHE Network and developed the concept of the tool, explains the rationale and vision for this resource:

“Integrated community outreach can be considered as the glue that binds all of the components of a PHE initiative together; it ensures that the different workstreams within a PHE initiative aren’t implemented in parallel but rather complement and proactively reinforce each other. Integrated community outreach is also key to advancing gender equality in natural resource management and family health.

 

While there are many excellent health-focused and environment-focused community outreach tools available in Madagascar already, we identified an unmet need for a practical integrated community outreach tool that would enable environmental and health organisations to facilitate concrete discussions with communities about PHE linkages.

 

We’re offering these PHE story cards to all organisations interested in trialling them with community members at their PHE sites, and we’ll be developing them further in line with all feedback received. We hope that they’ll prove to be a valuable resource for organisations endeavouring to do truly integrated community-based PHE work, and we’re open to commissioning additional illustrations for use in cultural and environmental contexts beyond Madagascar.”