In addition, prior to the partnership, education about how to purify water, prevent disease and practice good hygiene was non-existent. The water wells were open, which exposed available water to contamination from the environment. Through the partnership, wells were covered and pumps were installed to keep the water clean.
The program in Kenya also teaches fishermen how to take care of themselves and the precious waters that provide food and income for nearly 80 percent of villagers. For fishermen such as Mohamed Famau, Khadija’s father, the program built reservoirs to provide access to clean water for men working at sea. It also brought fishermen together to teach them how to sustain the life that’s in the water so that the sea will continue to provide food for many generations.
“We have 1,300 fishermen in our program,” says Ali Mwachui, who leads the USAID/Johnson & Johnson partnership for the WWF from camp headquarters in Kiunga, Kenya. “They’ve learned basic hygiene and lessons about nutrition, such as how eating too much or too little fish can cause diet deficiencies. They’ve learned fish-handling techniques and how to keep their landing sites clean when buyers come for the fish. This is healthier for everyone.”
PROTECTING FORESTS IN NEPAL AND PRIMATES IN THE CONGO
In Nepal, partnership activities focus on protecting forests and improving air quality. Traditionally, villagers have relied on wood-burning stoves and the forest’s trees to fuel them. Today, villagers are learning about the harmful emissions from wood-burning stoves and how to use biogas units instead, which are fueled by cattle manure. “Less woodcutting results in healthier forests, which in turn gives villagers a fruitful place to hunt and gather forest products for nutrition,” says Ali.
In the Congo, programs help villagers understand how hunting for primates, or “bush meat,” can spread disease and damage the environment. Access to health care is another big issue because the area is so remote. “We’re making progress in the Congo. Our challenge is to find ways to get the people in these communities together and integrate conservation programs with access to health care,” says Ali.
In all three areas—Kenya, Nepal and the Congo—family planning is a major focus. “When a population grows, the community must turn to the surrounding environment for its livelihood,” says Ali. “This places a strain on the land, which can deplete natural resources, endanger plant and animal life and increase pollution.”
He adds, “The bottom line is this: A healthy environment is necessary for people to be healthy.”