PPF ZA logoPEACE PARKS FOUNDATION

Reproductive Health: Empowering the women of Mozambique

8 March 2018

Hortencia Tembe (right) with her local reproductive health Activista, Elisa Lindiwe
Hortencia Tembe (right) with her local reproductive health Activista, Elisa Lindiwe
Hortencia Tembe had her first child at the age of 16. She lives in a small, rural village in the south of Mozambique. Having only attended school up to 3rd grade level, she understood the challenges she faced if she had more children. She says, “After the birth of my first child, I immediately started with family planning, but the cost of travelling to a health unit simply became too expensive.” Hortencia, like many women in her village, now has five young children to care for. This is the result of poor family planning support structures within many rural villages - not only in Mozambique, but in most developing countries.
Because of the extreme poverty in the region, large families within rural communities place enormous pressure on natural resources, often resorting to taking much more than the natural systems can restore. Another cause for concern is that as the communities grow, so does the tension between human settlements and wildlife who share the same land, resulting in severe conflict in which both species suffer the consequences.


Concerned about the impact of these problems on communities and ecosystems, Peace Parks Foundation launched a community health programme with a specific focus on reproductive health, as part of its conservation efforts in Mozambique’s Maputo Special and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserves.


The first phase of the project, saw the Foundation enter into a strategic planning partnership with Blue Ventures, a UK-based conservation agency that develops transformative approaches for catalysing and sustaining locally led marine conservation.


Blue Ventures recognises complex links between poor health, unmet family planning needs, food insecurity, environmental degradation and a vulnerability to climate change. To address these challenges holistically, the organisation developed an approach which integrates community health services with marine conservation and coastal livelihood initiatives. Blue Ventures’ population, health and environment support officer, Urszula Stankiewicz shared, “If women have access to family planning, they can be autonomous and be involved in both economic activities and conservation programmes. This promotes food security and decreases pressure on natural resources which ultimately positively impacts conservation in the area.”

The women now have the opportunity to learn about reproductive health and contraceptives.
The women now have the opportunity to learn about reproductive health and contraceptives.
Sustainable solutions investigated

In 2016, Peace Parks Foundation embarked on a journey of discovery to learn as much as possible from Blue Ventures - even travelling to Blue Venture’s projects on Madagascar’s west coast where they spent several days immersed in holistic community-based work and tailored interactive training sessions covering a variety of technical Population-Health-Environment topics.

This collaboration led to the development of a detailed strategy to ensure that communities gain access to family planning services and contraceptives and are informed about their reproductive rights. The process also identified the need for the appointment and training of community-level champions, or so-called activistas (community health workers).


Enter the activista


With the initial strategy as a solid roadmap, AMODEFA, a Mozambican-based non-profit organisation that specialises in community health projects, was appointed mid-2017 as an implementation partner. With support from Peace Parks Foundation, they are responsible for training and supporting 15 activitas as community health representatives. Ten of these activistas have concluded their training and already passionately taken up their new duties in the villages bordering the reserves.


The first trained Activistas
The first trained Activistas
After meeting the activista working in her village, Hortencia was re-motivated to join a family planning programme. She says, “I felt very relieved to learn that I would no longer need to regularly spend about 200 meticais in transportation just to go to the health unit for contraceptives. This motivates my partner to also support my decision to take the medication.”


A lack of formal education also has an impact on women’s attitudes towards contraceptives. Maria Ndala, a 34-year-old mother of six is her husband’s third wife. Her two sister wives each has five children. Her mother had refused to send her to school saying that it was more important for her to start working and contributing to the family’s income. Maria says, “I have always been aware of family planning, but there were many myths surrounding the use of contraceptives, so I was too scared to use them. The costs involved in traveling to the clinic also made it very difficult. After the activista explained how the birth control medication worked I decided to start taking the pills, because our family simply cannot afford to support any more children.”


Maria Ndala is a 34-year-old mother of six who says that her family simply cannot afford to support any more children.
Maria Ndala is a 34-year-old mother of six who says that her family simply cannot afford to support any more children.
Family planning interventions within rural and impoverished communities will go a long way in supporting women such as Maria and Hortencia to meaningfully contribute towards economic growth and development within their communities.


The next phase of this project will aim to include increased access to reproductive health information and services, and broaden the scope of intervention to also include access to information and basic healthcare. Lessons learned from the successes achieved here will be used to develop and implement similar projects in other transfrontier conservation areas across the region.

10 July 2018Congratulations to a true custodian of nature!

Peace Parks Foundation is proud of the passionate and dedicated teams, on the ground in transfrontier conservation areas daily, fighting the good fight to protect southern Africa’s natural heritage!

 read more

15 June 2018Providing water as a life source for people, livestock and agriculture.

As part of the MozBio Water and Agriculture Project, two of four multi-use water systems were this week handed over to the Gala and Guengu communities in ceremonies led by the Matutuine District Perma

 read more

24 May 2018Ellie mom saved from snare

A remarkable rescue mission was undertaken Sunday, 20 May 2018, when a female elephant, with a two-week-old baby right on her heels, was seen early-morning with a snare cutting into her left hind leg.

 read more

17 August 2017Rewilding Mozambique's Elephant Coast

As part of ongoing efforts to develop the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area, a further 2 300 animals are being translocated to Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique during 2017. As o

 read more

9 January 2017 Conscious Conservation

Without fanfare, a conservation success story is unfolding just over the border in southern Mozambique. If you are a lover of wild places, this may just be the best kept secret in southern Africa.

 read more

2 January 2017Where Wildness Lives

Imagine one hundred kilometres of deserted beach, seeing both elephants and whales in a single glance, and spotting endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles silently nesting under cover of night.

 read more

28 November 2016Further training to protect turtles

From 25-26 November, Centro Terra Viva presented a refresher training course for the 46 turtle monitors who cover the area from Ponta do Ouro to Ponta Mucombo in Mozambique. The training comprised bot

 read more

15 November 2016Restocking national parks as part of transfrontier conservation development

A further 573 animals have been translocated to Maputo Special Reserve and 310 to Zinave National Park.

 read more

8 November 2016Wildlife thriving in Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique

At the end of September, the Maputo Special Reserve/Tembe Elephant Park management committee conducted an aerial census to determine the status of the large herbivore species in Maputo Special Reserve

 read more