© Daniel de la Torre-Bueno / GIZ


Preserving the environment and staying healthy

OneHealth in action: In Mexico, students learn to protect nature and their own health.

The volcanic region Eje Neovolcánico is the most densely populated area in Mexico, with about 30 million people. The region, which has close to 140 nature reserves, is seeing growing urban sprawl and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year. Combined with climate change, this means that human and animal habitats are increasingly encroaching on each other, endangering biodiversity and health: zoonoses – pathogens that can infect both animals and humans – can be transmitted more easily. On behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working in the region to improve the interaction between humans, animals and ecosystems. The aim: more health for all. This holistic approach is called One Health.

After conducting a comprehensive study of zoonotic diseases in the region, GIZ brought the National Park Service, the Department of Public Education, and a non-profit organisation to the table. The result is an educational programme for students of all ages. So far, more than 1,440 teachers have implemented it, teaching over 40,000 students in nearly 380 schools – with another 300 schools to follow in the current school year.

Putting what you have learned into practice in everyday life

In interactive online sessions and guided activities in nature, children and young people build their knowledge of the relationship between nature and humans. They learn, for example, how high the risk of infection with dengue fever, rabies or Chagas disease is in their community and how they can protect themselves against it. As David García Reyes, who attends a secondary school in Valle de Bravo in the heart of the volcanic region, reports: ‘It was a very good experience and I learned a lot, especially about conservation areas.’ The students also learn practical things they can apply in their everyday life. One example is how to deposit household waste in a way that does not attract wildlife.

For Edgar Olvera Delgadillo, director of one of the biosphere reserves with which GIZ cooperates, the education programme is an important lever in knowledge transfer: ‘Thanks to the programme, we have been able to significantly strengthen our longer-standing environmental education activities.’ He points out that cooperation with the ministry has played an important role in this regard: ‘That opened doors for us and helped us reach out to schools directly,’ Delgadillo says.

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