Improving Lives on World Population Day and Beyond

Jul 10th, 2015 | By | Category: Other Resources

By Suzanne York.

[Photo Credit: “Safia Fungie Hasenna – Climate witness from Ethiopia” by Zeresenay Berhane Mehar courtesy of flickr user Oxfam International]

In honor of World Population Day (July 11th), what better way to recognize the importance of the multi-faceted population growth issue than to look at success on the ground.

In Ethiopia, some of the biggest issues facing the local communities are high population pressure (due to large family size and few family planning services), health problems (especially high maternal mortality), poverty, and environmental problems (namely soil erosion and deforestation).

The government and international and local NGOs have invested recently in the health of people and communities and seem to be getting a handle on stabilizing population growth.

The Guraghe Peoples Self-Help Development Organization (GPSDO) operates in the country’s southwest, where it focuses on reproductive health education and community-based family planning programs, integrating issues related to sustainable livelihoods and environmental conservation.

Recently, the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program released a video Paving the Way: Ethiopia’s Youth on the Road to Sustainability – on this successful project in the Gurage Region, which uses the PHE approach.

PHE, or Population, Health, and Environment, is a development model currently used in many countries around the world.  It is an integrated approach linking family planning, health and conservation that recognizes the interconnectedness of people, their health and their local environment.

Having spent a short amount of time here, I can attest to the feeling of positivity in the communities.  This is the type of thing that Americans (and other developed countries) should support with their tax dollars.

The Wilson Center describes the short video as:

Paving the Way: Ethiopia’s Youth on the Road to Sustainability transports viewers to an innovative development project in Ethiopia’s Gurage Zone where youth and their parents are working together to build a more sustainable future by connecting the dots between conservation, access to health care, and sustainable livelihoods. It is the final installment in the Wilson Center’s “Healthy People, Healthy Environment” trilogy, which explores integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) projects around the world.

Watch the video here:


The time is now to scale up PHE projects around the world. In the face of continued population growth, increasing climate extremes, and overdevelopment for which most communities are not prepared, empowering people to become more resilient is critical.   It is good for families, communities, and the planet.


Suzanne York is a senior writer with the Institute for Population Studies and has been to Ethiopia to learn about PHE project twice.

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