A pioneering project that combines marine conservation and community health will feature in the latest episode of the BBC2 travel documentary series Indian Ocean, due to be broadcast on Sunday April 29 at 8pm.
The project, described by Sir David Attenborough as “a model for everyone working to conserve the natural life-support systems of our troubled planet“, helps coastal communities to protect scarce resources, whilst simultaneously providing them with the means to plan their families.
The BBC series follows explorer and author Simon Reeve’s mission to visit the world’s most exotic tropical locations, including a locally managed marine area established in southwest Madagascar by local communities with support from British charity Blue Ventures.
On a spearfishing trip with local fishermen, Reeve learns how heavily these communities rely on the ocean. Eating dinner with a fisherman’s family, he hears that it is becoming increasing difficult to feed seven children because of dwindling fish stocks.
A member of the Blue Ventures team in Madagascar, Gildas Andriamalala, explains to Reeve that rapid population growth, caused largely by an unmet need for family planning services, drives unsustainable resource use, damaging the environment and deepening poverty.
Four years ago, when Blue Ventures’ project was launched, many women were having seven children or more; parents often struggled to feed their families.
In response to demands from local communities, the charity set up a network of clinics in the region, along with a community education programme, that responded to their unmet needs for reproductive healthcare and information. As a result, thousands of local women are now empowered to choose the number and spacing of their births.
Speaking about the upcoming broadcast, Blue Ventures’ Medical Director, Dr Vik Mohan, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to the showcase the strength of our integrated approach. By including these health services in the portfolio of projects that Blue Ventures manages, we are able to achieve our health and conservation objectives more effectively.”
Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation, dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments.
Their acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world’s poorest coastal people to develop conservation and poverty alleviation initiatives that protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods. The results of this work help them to propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.
In recent years, Blue Ventures has won international acclaim for innovative approaches to addressing the challenges faced by coastal communities. Amongst other achievements, Blue Ventures has created the largest community-managed marine reserves in the Indian Ocean, and pioneered ambitious research programmes tackling critical issues facing marine biodiversity conservation and resource-dependent coastal communities.
Alongside work in fisheries management and protected area development, their programmes encompass marine and fisheries research, endangered species conservation, and environmental education and community capacity building.
Beyond more ‘conventional’ approaches to conservation, Blue Ventures also manages sustainable aquaculture initiatives, family planning and public health projects, and advocate at national and international levels for fisheries policy reform.