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Mark Dubois: Linking Health and Environment - A People Centred Ecology
 

Mark Dubois: Linking Health and Environment - A People Centred Ecology

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Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice ...

Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice

http://www.steps-centre.org/events/stepsconference2010.html

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  • This presentation explores the potential for the application of a people-centred ecology for research and practice that brings environment and health together and emphasises peoples capabilities and knowledge as the starting point for efforts to improve human wellbeing and ecosystem health .
  • Despite some progress, environmental factors still dramatically affect the health of many people. WHO estimates that globally, approximately three million children die each year from environment-related causes.
  • Endemic food shortages/ high levels of poverty and poor access to productive resources and DM arenas As Cambodia seeks to find new ways to bring community based natural resource management into alignment with new decentralized governance structures, there is widespread concern that high incidence of environmental degradation and limited access to productive resources is eroding the ability of the majority of rural people to cope with health and environment shocks.
  • This lack of knowledge argument often missed the significance of peoples own knowledge and aspirations and the social context and constraints in which people operate. Largely biomedical approach which was based on diagnosing and treating specific pathologies and focusing on health care service delivery and its infrastructure without adequately considering the connections between factors such as poverty and malnutrition. narrow interest in ecological aspects focused on the interactions between the disease organisms and their hosts and the implication of environmental degradation and pollution. Wetlands have often figured as a source of health threats such as vector borne diseases, thus pitting health and conservation objectives against each other.
  • From the conservation sector there is an increasing focus on people rather than solely the natural environment , in which people are regarded as custodians of NRs, & their knowledge and capabilities are seen as central for future sustainability.. . . From the health sector there is a growing interest in the role of natural resources upon which people depend for their food security, nutrition and well being. From both, this interest has two clear aspects…….how managing NRs can derive human benefits and how NR deficits can manifest in adverse human impacts. The balance is between the health of ecosystems and the people who live in them – what are the trade off mechanisms required
  • There are four essential, over-lapping elements. The research is central as the entry point that links to the other three  overlapping elements. The starting point is to build on local people’s knowledge, aspirations, values and capabilities in order to strengthen their capacity to assess, plan and manage their resource base – whether the resources are fisheries, water, food or health resources. Focus on knowledge – accept what is known but not to emphasise that it is correct, but as the basis for identifying ‘research priorities’ for social learning – and for then identifying and negotiating solutions Clearly, strengthened capacity is only meaningful if it can be put into action. There are three inter-dependent dimensions to this kind of action. However, the availability of these resources does not necessarily mean that they will be turned into livelihood benefits, and that these benefits will be distributed equitably. Specific measures need to be implemented to ensure that the resources deliver benefits. A key factor in people’s vulnerability and poverty is that poor people tend to be excluded from decision-making processes, particularly those led by the state. When people are better able to represent their own interests and needs, and to do so in a convincing manner, they are more likely to exert some influence on the state and service providers to provide the services that are needed in a way that is needed. This is particularly important for people and resources that still remain marginal to state development priorities.
  • Social research and collective action – Outlining the potential for local people to act as leaders in charting their own pathways to environmental sustainability and social justice
  • – and perhaps also allows for greater influence on policy processes when people themselves represent their interests based on their research, rather than only the research of external actors.
  • 1. whether the resources are fisheries, water, food or health resources. This approach suggests that if people can take on these responsibilities actions are more likely to be locally relevant, applicable and sustainable. Focus on knowledge – accept what is known but not to emphasise that it is correct, but as the basis for identifying ‘research priorities’ for social learning – and for then identifying and negotiating solutions 2.
  • – and perhaps also allows for greater influence on policy processes when people themselves represent their interests based on their research, rather than only the research of external actors.

Mark Dubois: Linking Health and Environment - A People Centred Ecology Mark Dubois: Linking Health and Environment - A People Centred Ecology Presentation Transcript

  • Mark Dubois Research Fellow Policy, Economics and Social Science at the WorldFish Center Linking Health and Environment A People Centred Ecology STEPS Center Annual Conference Richard Friend Social Anthropologist
  • Unprecedented Environmental & Health Changes in the Mekong 40-70% of fisheries production losses from proposed dams >75% of forest land under concession agreements Between 80 and 90 percent of diarrhea cases are caused by environmental factors’ Incidence of zoonotic and water borne disease
  • Can an Eco-Health approach improve human wellbeing and ecosystem health in Cambodia? Decision making arenas Health Resources: Ability to Pay Yes, Maybe, No! - It depends on the starting point & context Natural Resources Land Tenure Poverty/ Food insecurity Governance and rights crisis
  • Most of us have a sense that healthy ecosystems = healthy human systems. But what of the starting point?
    • How conservation became interested in people
    • From fences and exclusion
    • Began to consider people and their poverty……threats!
    • Persistent argument around a lack of knowledge of NRs & major threat to conservation.
    • Missing the significance of peoples own knowledge and aspirations
    • How health became interested in natural resources
    • Took an essentially biomedical approach
    • Fairly narrow interest in ecological aspects focused on the interactions between the disease organisms and their hosts and the implication of environmental degradation and pollution.
    • Wetlands as a health threat
  • Bringing conservation and health together
    • Contemporary approaches - important areas of commonality:
    • Conservation thinking has shifted . . . . people are regarded as custodians of NRs, & their knowledge and capabilities are seen as central for future sustainability
    • From the health sector there is a growing interest in the role of natural resources upon which people depend for their food security, nutrition and well being.
    • From both, this interest has two clear aspects…….how managing NRs can derive human benefits and how NR deficits can manifest in adverse human impacts.
    • Increasingly conservation, health and development sectors use similar conceptual approaches:
    • Emphasising wellbeing and peoples capabilities and framing interventions in terms of strengthening capacity, encouraging participation in decision making and asserting rights.
    • From the perspective of resource users & the nature of local livelihoods, health and conservation can also come together with people talking about and utilising their natural resources as sources of food health and wellbeing.
  • Striking a balance calls for an operational framework Fig. 1 A Simple framework for putting people at the center of development implementation: Adapted after Friend, R. 2008 and MWBP Livelihoods Report More effective & responsive decision-making Enhancing productivity and sustainability of natural / health resources Generating benefits to people from natural / health resources
  • Putting ‘people first’ in practice
    • Grown out of a social movement (Tai Ban)
    • Locally driven process
    • Built upon local priorities
    • (It was villagers who first
    • proposed a research focus
    • on health and environment)
    • Based on local Knowledge
    • Action oriented
    • Locally owned
  • Putting ‘people first’ in practice
    • A process of social research known locally as Sala Phoum
    Country Outline Map [ Top ] Koh Langor Vern Sien Koh Sneng Koh Khondin
  • Sala Phoum Research Outcomes Community Produced Media Insert Scans of VDO cover, fish book, posters etc
    • Medicinal
    • plants
    • Fish ecology
    • Health and disease
    • Food behaviour
    Not scientific. No mandate to conduct research Research Topics & Results
  • Creating spaces for change?
    • " Salaphoum research contributed to local capacity building among many villagers. Some research findings have already been integrated into commune development plans ", Man Lihor, O'svay commune chief.
    • ‘ In the past, I saw trees differently from the way I see them now. I know how important they are in sustaining the livelihoods of my family and fellow villagers, and I can see the need to be able to conduct research on my own and to learn more about the ways to protect our resources for use as medicines and in supporting local livelihoods’. Mr. Heng Thorn
    • ‘ In addition, the findings from the research have been incorporated into the commune development planning process. This means that our research has the potential to influence decisions on the use of commune funds and on the designation of priority areas for investment.’ Anon.
    • ‘ The knowledge we gained through participation in the research has earned us recognition and respect from the other villagers. For instance, Si Chandorn has been appointed Villages Head and Commune Councillor since joining the Salaphoum project’.
  • Lessons learned and implications
    • CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT
    • Strengthened capacity is only meaningful if it can be put into action. There are three inter-dependent dimensions to this kind of action. In order for there to be both livelihood and conservation benefits it is essential that the resource base itself is accessible, productive and sustainable.
  • Lessons learned and implications
    • PEOPLE
    • The starting point is to build on local people’s knowledge, aspirations, values and capabilities in order to strengthen their capacity to assess, plan and manage their resource base
    • REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNANCE PROCESSES
    • For people who have historically been largely marginalised from state service provision, this research approach has improved people’s ability to represent their interests.
    • POWER RELATIONS
    • Understanding access issues and demands made of the state and possible repercussions.
  • Lessons learned and implications
    • DIFFERENTIATION
    • Preliminary analysis from other areas suggest need for political, social, economic, spatial differentiation.
    • INTEGRATED APPROACHES
    • The approach highlights how from local perspectives, wellbeing is so closely associated with environmental and human health.
    • This kind of approach may answer some of the challenges of translating health research into policy and practice (cf Jonsson et al., 2007).
    • But this approach presents challenges, particularly for the conservation and health sectors.
  • Conclusion
    • A key factor in people’s vulnerability and poverty is that poor people tend to be excluded from decision-making processes, particularly those led by the state. When people are better able to represent their own interests and needs, and to do so in a convincing manner, they are more likely to exert some influence on the state and service providers to provide the services that are needed in a way that is needed. This is particularly important for people and resources that still remain marginal to state development priorities.
  • Conclusion
    • Power and politics in Cambodia shape the context and outcomes of processes of social research, with a failure in access, assets and capabilities having the potential to undermine the entire process.
  • What sorts of shift in focus does this require?
  • Thank you www.wetlandsalliance.org