September 3, 2018
Fredrick Mugira

Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a nonprofit organisation that conducts programs to promote biodiversity conservation by enabling people, wildlife and livestock to coexist has launched the award winning Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCT) model in communities living around Budongo Forest in Uganda.

According to the founder and CEO Conservation Through Public Health Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the Selected VHCTs will work towards achieving enabling policies for, “ sustainable use of Budongo forest, reduced destruction of Budongo forest, reduced threats to the chimpanzees and other wildlife, as well as, reduced family sizes and human population growth.”

To achieve this, Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) is working in partnership with Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) Uganda and Budongo Forest Conservation Field Station (BCFS)

The launch was attended by the existing Ministry of Health (MOH) Village Health Teams (VHTs) community volunteers, Masindi district health team and sub-country technical staff as well as project implementation partners.

Kasenene parish was selected for the initial stage of the program as it was agreed that they face the greatest number of challenges.

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka narrates that VHCTs will be selected from the VHTs and trained as Village Health and Conservation Team’s with guidance from the head of VHTs and supervisors from Kasenene, in the presence of other stakeholders.

“The program will increase adoption of modern family planning methods and improve hygiene practices and health seeking behavior, hence improving the quality of life of people and animals surrounding Budongo,” notes Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka further stressing that, VHCTs will also be sustained through, “ creating alternative livelihoods including group income generating projects and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).”

This project will also strengthen linkages with water management committees to increase access to clean water and ensure sustainable community water source management. Creating a sense of community ownership of the project will increase engagement and long-term sustainability.

Kenneth Nyendwoha, the Chairperson Budongo Sub-County, hails development partners and VHTs for their contributions and pledged, “governmental support for the project.”

This VHCT and VLSA model was first introduced to communities of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda when CTPH received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Population Office in 2007.

The success of this model led to CTPH winning first prize of the Global Development Network 2012 Japanese Most Innovative Development Project Award for scaling social service delivery.

In 2015, CTPH received additional funding from the Japanese Social Development Fund supported by the World Bank through the Global Development Network, which enabled the model to be scaled up to Mt Elgon National Park in Eastern Uganda and Mt Tshiaberimu and Mikeno sectors at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Scaling up to Budongo forest was made possible, thanks to the great support of Darwin Initiative, under the project ‘Can Health investments benefit Conservation and Sustainable Development?’ that evaluated CTPH’s model and supported expansion of the VHCT and VSLA model to Budongo Forest Reserve and Mount Elgon National Park.

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