How Family Planning can Help Save the Cheetah

A cheetah in open savanna in Kenya. Photo by: Andrey Naumov / CC BY-NC-ND

LONDON — Conservationists and development practitioners may not have always seen eye to eye, but a new partnership between a cheetah conservation charity and a network of reproductive health NGOs is making the case for why these groups need to work more closely together.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for greater integration and collaboration among all development sectors, including actors working in the health and environment spheres. The intersection of those two sectors is a particular challenge in Africa, where the population is projected to quadruple to more than 4 billion by 2100. The boom will put enormous pressure on dwindling natural resources, negatively impacting wildlife and the environment.

Rural areas — where family planning and medical services are least accessible, and fertility rates highest — will likely face the greatest impact on natural resources. An estimated 214 million women in lower-income countries want effective contraception but are unable to access it, and there is an estimated $20 billion annual funding gap for reproductive health services in developing countries. Furthermore, there is a correlation between countries with the highest unmet need — as identified by the Family Planning 2020 campaign — and the largest areas of wilderness, as well as iconic and endangered species.

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