Tuungane Project
The Greater Mahale Ecosystem in Tanzania is home to rich biodiversity, but an impoverished human population. Pathfinder International, a global nonprofit organization focused on reproductive health, HIV prevention, and maternal health, has launched the Tuungane Project to address reproductive health and natural resource management.

Because Pathfinder sees a direct connection between the health of the environment and the health of the people, they partner with organizations that focus on threats to biodiversity, while they target what they call “improving health of the communities by increasing sustainable livelihoods and increasing access to contraceptives, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, maternal, neonatal, and child health, and primary healthcare services.”

The Tuungane Project’s projects include land and fisheries management, health system strengthening, and reproductive health services. As a result of their efforts, seven new medical personnel have been posted, 66 community health workers have been trained, and 1,106 new latrines have been built by community members. Prior to these improvements, populations of between 3,000 to 5,000 people sometimes had access to only a single health professional.

Key players in sanitation efforts are the beach management units, which have eliminated cases of cholera, a bacterial disease usually spread in water, for the past two years.

The lives and livelihoods of the population depend on the rich natural resources of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy, a charitable environmental organization, partners with Pathfinder to create a healthy future for this area. By teaching best practices regarding how to best extract resources from their environment, the organization helps villages meet community needs and attain food security. One of the Nature Conservancy’s major efforts aims to enhance fisheries management on Lake Tanganyika, which holds 17 percent of the world’s fresh water.

By uniting conservation efforts with community development, local governance is strengthened, family health is possible and the population can achieve a sustainable livelihood.

Emily Ednoff

Sources: Pathfinder International, The Nature Conservancy
Photo: Flickr