Integrated biodiversity conservation, health and community development

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Conservation through Public Health

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Conservation through Public Health

In Uganda, gorillas represent a significant source of foreign exchange earning as they generate around $1,460,000 per year through tourism. They, therefore, contribute indirectly to community development.

But did you know that gorillas and human beings can infect each other, particularly in areas where people have low access to health and hygiene practices?

Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health – CTPH and one of the GDN Award Finalists for the Most Innovative Development Project, presented today the work of  her organization.  This aims at protecting gorillas by enabling humans, wildlife and livestock to coexist through improving primary health care in and around Africa’s protected areas.

CTPH works closely with community volunteers, Village Health and Conservation Teams – VHCT, to support wildlife health monitoring. Bringing about a positive behavioural change is the key strength of community volunteers, who work to raise the community members’ awareness not only about health and hygiene practices for their own safety, but also regarding biodiversity conservation with the aim to reduce environmental destruction.

CTPH facilitated the formation of VHCTs, where over 200 community volunteers in national parks in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo are creating positive behavioural change in more than 50,000 people at the household level by promoting family planning, hygiene, sanitation and good nutrition. Educational training on biodiversity conservation and eco-friendly agricultural practices are also conducted, where monthly data collection on human and wildlife health is shared with the Ministry of Health, towards better human and wildlife health policies.

The striking intelligence is that the VHCT model was replicated in the Lake Victoria Basin (Uganda and Kenya) in 2012. VHCT proves to be a sustainable and scalable model for uninterrupted provision of community-based social services, meeting health and livelihoods needs of both human beings and animals.

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