Helping communities in the Green Heart of Africa

Healthy communities, healthy ecosystems

Lazo Basege, chief health worker, examines a patient at the community health clinic Epulu Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
In the Congo Basin forests lurk invisible agents that spare neither humans nor wildlife. While some are benign, others are virulent killers - ebola for instance.

Diseases are wiping out not only threatened species but also the very people who are trying to save them. WWF gets to the heart of the problem.

With the support of Johnson & Johnson, a global manufacturer of healthcare products, WWF is focusing on several areas:

  • Training health scouts to provide basic community health care and organize conservation awareness campaigns.
  • Supporting communities of BaAka and Bayaka forest people who play a central role in protecting their forests.
  • Addressing unsustainable population growth and HIV/AIDS through family planning initiatives.

Training and operation of community health scouts

Using hunting revenues to support health care reinforces the value of sound wildlife management. In Lake Lobéké National Park, Cameroon, health scouts have been selected to cooperate with village committees responsible for managing the revenues from wildlife hunting.

These funds are allocated to local communities. Health scouts have been provided with basic medical training and information linking health issues, family planning, and sustainable use of natural resources.

Further to the east, in Dzanga-Sangha Dense Forest Special Reserve, health scouts provide health care services and organize regular community information sessions on issues such as family planning, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene.

Support for health-care infrastructure

In Lobéké, WWF has also supported the construction of health-care huts with basic medical equipment while in Dzanga-Sangha, a small clinic has been erected and additional health posts have been established.

WWF also provided support to the Bayanga Maternity and Health Care Clinic. A logging operation based in Dzanga-Sangha has become an economic pole of attraction for immigrant workers and their families, resulting in the rapid growth of Bayanga, the town adjacent to Dzanga-Sangha.

Dealing with immigrant pressure

With the immigrant influx also comes an increased risk of communicable disease such as HIV/AIDS, Sexually-Transmitted Diseases, etc. and a great need for reproductive health care and family planning.

Johnson & Johnson’s support has made possible the expansion, staffing, and equipping of this community clinic as a central focal point for expanded health related activities in Bayanga. The programme has also allowed for expanding the extension programmes and health-care huts in outlying villages and camps.

Communications and awareness

In both Lobéké and Dzanga-Sangha, WWF has expanded a series of communications tools, including posters, cartoons, video and rural radio programmes to provide training on general health issues, linking them to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. A focus has been the human health impacts of the bushmeat trade.

Through this groundbreaking approach, measurable results can be achieved to ensure healthy communities and healthy ecoregions - efforts which could serve to inspire others to replicate our innovative model.

I can not stay a long time at the same place. I like meeting with communities, I need to immerse myself in the daily life of rural or forest people, to understand their customs, their needs, and their expectations. That is what I'm passionate about.

Bertin Tchikangwa
WWF sociologist

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