Evaluating Population, Health, Environment Program Effectiveness: The Need for Stronger, Varied Methods
Samuel Sellers, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Population, health, environment (PHE) programs are an increasingly popular strategy to address population growth, adverse health outcomes, and threatened biodiversity through integrated service delivery. Although the approach has existed for nearly 15 years, few studies of its effectiveness have been published in academic journals. While advocates argue that numerous programs have increased contraceptive uptake and reduced biodiversity loss, there remains a dearth of knowledge within the academic community about how effective PHE programs actually are. This paper provides an overview of PHE and details what is known about PHE program effectiveness in the academic literature, as well as the limits of our knowledge. I argue that academics should develop stronger partnerships with PHE practitioners to strengthen program evaluations, in turn furthering research efforts. Additionally, I call for a broader array of methods for evaluating PHE programs, given the challenges associated with using experimental techniques in open systems.